The Book; Baba – Bizanjo.
By Shah Mohammad Marri
Reviewed by Manzoor Mosiani
Mir Ghouse Bakhsh Bizanjo (1917 – 1989) was one of the leading man on the political scene of Balochistan for around five decades; prima facie he preached a short program to practice, but deep down he practiced a wide range of themes to be preached. Less was more for him, as he kept in sight, mile stone to mile stone progress, made in the long journey. He was seen in many political robes, as always engaged in maneuvering as a pragmatic politician, but is remembered for his absolute commitment to the Baloch nationalism as well as his endurance, sense of family life, adherence to the true Baloch cultural values and the acceptance of changing realities. The year of October Revolution saw him coming into life, describes Shah Mohammad Marri, the author of the book Baba Bizanjo, in its third edition on the centenarian of the Bizanjo. He writes in the backdrop of the Communist Revolution to express his own inclination – political thoughts revealed as well.
Likewise, highlighting the significance of the same year; the book Glimpses of World History, educates, ‘1917 – was one of the memorable years of history when a great leader, with a heart full of love and sympathy for poor and suffering, made his people write a noble and never-to-be-forgotten chapter of history. In the very month, Lenin started the great Revolution which has changed the face of Russia and Siberia.’
The Bizanjo had opened his eyes in an ambiance air of the Shank Jahoo, presently at District Awaran. He had to learn to walk while listening melodious chirps of Titers and looking to the beautifully colored Katangars, Sind ibex and Ravine Deer around in the nearby forests of Kahoor, and Kunar, Gaz and Peesh. While a desolate area on the other side. There is a sizeable Sihakoh – black rock mound close to his birth place. In the backyard runs Hingol river to flow crisscross up to Hinglaj temple then down to the Arabian sea in the South of Balochistan. They had to live on the produce of the fields cultivated through the run off floods, particularly Dan and Nageese.
According to the tradition of the age, the Britain’s used to take care of the scion, to educate them in their Western ways and make light of the weight of the proverbial ‘burden on the white men’ wandering then around the world and saying as such. The author states, having his basic education at Quetta, Bizanjo survived the 1935 earthquake to be shifted to Karachi for continuation of his schooling. However, the Bizanajo’s star performance in football matches paved the way for his further education at Aligarh University and enabled him to tour to many of the cities of the present India as a football player, learning the variety in cultures and traditions, geography and weather, while playing in the team of Aligarh University. These are a few words taken from the many in the book written on the Bizanjo’s life.
The Bizanjo, leaving his education incomplete at Aligarh University returned back to Balochistan and actively participated in the politics. What he stood for, to gain power, accumulate wealth, feast fame, bring human progress or promote a cause, were some of the question in my mind, as these are some of the factors count in politics. The book educates well on the matters clearly. From the very beginning his behavior to politics, was not casual therefore, he got so involved in the politics, and that of Balochistan, even could not to go back to continue his studies. Already during studies at Aligarh University, the Bizanjo had developed relations with the Communist Party of India, and Indian National Congress, had also influenced his personality. Having the similar ideals in mind and compassion in heart, he was all set to promote an anti – foreign colonial movement along with the likeminded youth in Balochistan.
At that time political organizations were not tolerated in Balochistan, therefore such activities were carried out in the name of associations, groups et citra. to have a cover to disguise the political activities otherwise not permitted. He joined Kalat State National Party, it was not only putting his own weight but to rally around the banner the broader masses too, for a popular struggle. They wanted to conduct through peaceful political means. In spite of that, soon he and his colleagues had to encounter, in the killing fields of Balochistan, a tribal Lashkar, when going for a public meeting at Mastung in 1939, by the Serdars.
As a democrat and open to debate, on the issues, the Bizanjo averted the sanguinary confrontation, which had been plotted to liquidate all the political leadership of the party in one go. This peace making initiative remained the symbol of the Bizanjo’s character throughout his professional political life, to search for solutions through negotiated settlements. The same conceited mentality frustrated his dreams, even more, in the days to come. The eventful speech he delivered in ‘the House of Commons’ at Kalat State, proved a stumbling block in his way to narrow down the space for him in the power politics of Pakistan.
Meanwhile he had to suffer exceptionally during the pre and post Pakistan independence in 1947, even after Bangladesh had emerged in 1971. His words were as good as he himself was, but they never were tolerated. He was a prisoner of conscience, therefore, remained in prison after prison across the country for his politics. It is estimated overall, he remained in Jails for twenty-five years since 1939, then the torturous days, in the Concentration Camp at Quetta in 1958 – 9 and the long lockup in ‘Hyderabad Conspiracy Case’ from, 1973 – 7. The trials and tribulation at ‘Hyderabad Conspiracy Case’ did not break him individually but certainly broke the Baloch political unity and polarized the progressive thinkers in Pakistan.
In his epoch making life, the Bizanjo had to confront on many fronts, the Colonial Britain’s, the indecisive kalat’s ruler, the wicked authorities, the Ayubi Martial Law, the Bhutto’s civilian fix ups, again the Zia’s Martial Law, the theocrats, the marauding tribal psyche, the co – opted, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, the puppets, the radicals, the reactionaries and many others to say the least. His parting of the ways with the rest of Baloch leadership after the release from Hyderabad Jail and the embittered arguments with the delegates of Baloch Students Organization were some of the bitter experiences he had to through.
Nevertheless, he was tough in the face of the challenges, relied on his own independent judgment, to get over the confrontations overtime. He believed in democracy and collective leadership, instead of a coup mentality or to thrust his will upon others as a dictator. Bizanjo respected the differences of opinion, allowed debate, listened carefully, analyzed deeply and stood firmly. Out of love, the Bizanjo earned many good names, such as, Ghousi, Baba, Baba Bizanjo, Baba – e – Ustaman, Baba – e – Balochistan, Peer – e – Mard, but not the one called a nom de guerre. As he believed in openness and had a public life throughout, hardly any private life, or to camouflage, for him truly life was an action not a contemplation. At the same time, the Bizanjo shared in the weal and woe of the society alongside his political contributions.
Drawing the sketch of his personality further, the writer testifies that the Bizanjo was a thorough gentleman, humble and contented, had an intensive study and accuracy of observation, love for people – selfless, easy going, pro – active with concepts clear, good in team management, grasp on geopolitics, an economic vision and an end to end knowledge of Baloch society, geography, language, history and culture.
The Bizanjo was lucky to have many distinguished friends and comrades to frame the policies and work on the strategies, in the interest of Baloch and other nations in Pakistan. However, the years after the release, from Hyderabad Conspiracy Case, were dedicated for the strengthening of Afghan Revolution occurred in 1978 and for the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) till the death of Zia – ul – Haque in 1988. He was a leftist Pakistani Politician and a socialist ideologue internationally, of the Socialists Camp and believed in the rights of the nations. The last political party he headed was Pakistan National Party (PNP), with a program of four subjects with the federation, namely, the defense, the foreign affairs, the currency and the communication. The rest to be devolved to the provinces, be speaks of his political approach.
He was lucky enough, never had to grieve from the crises of credibility. Given his will, relationships, desire and determination to take initiatives, its strange to see him contesting lonely, while on the last lag of his long political journey, the General Elections in 1988. Whether he was a victim of the collective leadership or the political expediency of the opponents or war of the wills of the rising political leadership to negate an alliance remains a valid question. The desperate exchange of words, quoted in the book, with another veteran of Baloch nationalism, Mir Ghover Khan Zarakzai. Who was contesting the election against him, as a cotemporary and once a companion, along with many others, in the Baitak of a Serdar in the vicinity of the date palm groves around Shah Kamal Zeedi, was a loud message. ”If I win the election people would say, you honored your elder and if I lost the people would say, you people disgraced yourself, by not giving the ‘Old Man’ due respect he deserved. In either case you are at loss.” He was right, being aware of the force of history, where all stand accountable. Though, he lost the election immediate before his death and his party won back the elections immediate after his death. Quickly, his loss had been realized to be compensated.
Frankly speaking, there is a thin line between to review or to condense a book. Briefly, the book requires a bit of more deep research, from a cross section of the society, to bring the Bizanjo’s life more in limelight by connecting it with his distinguished companions, in their marathon struggle. The story requires to be told on the whole, leaving little scope for speculation – rather objectively. A more elaborate narration, and his pushing for the purpose, along the Khan till late to give effect to the classified agreement between Khan and the State of Pakistan. While a good proof for smooth reading is felt as well. The critical issue of Shashik (one sixth of the produce of the land, for the owner of the land whether de jure or de facto) requires a careful re – examination, to assess the point of view of the then party in power, at province of Balochistan. It was a coercive method to pressurize the socialist elements of the National Awami Party (NAP) or otherwise is a point to ponder.
The book also needs less of the inverted commas, exclamatory signs etc. and much more from the articulated speeches the Bizanjo had often delivered to make his case. His stint in power – as Governor Balochistan, the opportunities and the challenges to the NAP Government 1972 – 3. Since he was a vital organ of the Provincial Government and his contributions as a member assembly from Karachi, would make the book more comprehensive.
The Bizanjo had the acumen of what to say and where to say. Although many have tried to steal the clothe – the Pagh, the Bizanjo had left, but none has proved to equate him in his logos, in his pathos and in his ethos, to which he had the utmost command, concludes the erudite author Shah Mohammad Marri.