Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Baloch Resistance during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's Era: Causes and Consequences

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Baloch Resistance during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's Era: Causes and Consequences

Article excerpt


Rising insurgency in Balochistan is one of the most serious threats to the federation of Pakistan. The Baloch tribal homeland is a vast area of desert and mountains. Geographically the province of Balochistan is considered the largest province of Pakistan while demographically it is smallest. Balochistan is the most underdeveloped province of Pakistan and this under-development reveals the alarming situation .Since 1947 Baloch have been facing different forms of deprivations and this sense of deprivation amongst Baloch has become one of the major reasons to give birth a number of uprisings against the federal government. Political arrangements under long military rules added doubts in the minds of Baloch people who had a scant representation in military and civil services of Pakistan. This situation has become a major source to strengthen sense of nationalism among the people of Balochistan. This study will highlight various causes of third Baloch insurgency during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's era and its impacts on Pakistan.

Key Words Insurgency, Nationalism, Deprivation, Coercive Means, Confidence building measures.


In a federation powers are distributed among federal government and federating units according to the constitution. Bothe federal and provincial governments perform their functions within their prescribed limitations. A federal system can be more successful and stable when there is smooth functioning of federal government and federating units. In Pakistan since its inception rulers either civilian or military have been trying to accumulate maximum power in the hands of federal government. Actually these rulers have this perception that Pakistan can be more stable internally as well as externally under the centralized political structure. All constitutions of Pakistan have shown a common tendency towards a stronger federal government and the question of provincial autonomy has secured special attention in Pakistan's politics. The province of Balochistan has been posing a major threat to the federation of Pakistan through various uprisings. Baloch have transformed their struggle from political efforts to military means. Baloch have been resisting against various federal governments and federal government has been suppressing them through coercive means. Federal government tried to resolve grievances of the people of Balochistan through tribal chiefs but these chiefs did not serve the interests of federal government. There is a need to initiate different strategies to deescalate the issue of Balochistan for strengthening the federation of Pakistan.

Causes of Resistance

The government of General Ayoub Khan remained unable to control agitation in both wings of Pakistan (West Pakistan and East Pakistan) and handed over authority to General Yahya Khan. General yahya abrogated the constitution of 1962 and took various initiatives for restoring the peace of the country. Under these initiatives he tried to concluded an agreement of cease fire with insurgent groups of Balochistan who were involved in resistance movement against General Ayoub Khan's government. He made an announcement to abolish One Unit Plan and declared Balochistan as a consolidated province. Indeed One Unit Plan was highly unpopular in Balochistan and stood for alien control over the resources and destinies of its people. (Ahmad,1992:154) Baloch were given an opportunity to hold their first free general elections along with other provinces of Pakistan. Yahya Khan was directly involved in political cooperation with tribal leaders. He repealed arrest and deportation sentences with respect to prominent tribal leaders. He encouraged tribal leaders to contest elections, and to have dominant position in their respective regions through democratic process.

Former East Pakistan emerged on the map of the world as an independent state with the dismemberment process of Pakistan in 1971. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto being leader of PPP (Pakistan People's Party), which emerged as a major party in West Pakistan during first general elections in the history of Pakistan in 1971, got an opportunity to become President and Civilian Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan on 20th December 1971. …

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