The Lone Star State of Balochistan
There was so much to be mesmerized. From the Whispering Galleries of Rotunda to Sam Houston Sculptures in Southern Foyer, the Texas State Capital building was every inch a marvel. The curator at the city congress was a Pakistani American. The floor glistened and all of us, the third world dwellers, had no choice but to envy. Twice he mentioned that Texas was the same size as Balochistan. Years later, once I got to know Meer Saheb, I realised that other than size, Texas and Balochistan shared the title too. Both can be rightfully called `The Lone Star State’ only that the star was Meer Muzaffar Hussain Jamali.
Known as Meer sahib amongst his friends, fans and students, this proud Baloch was born in the village of Chowki Jamali, district of Jafferabad. The family marked their time on the meager income from ancestral lands. Though his father could not afford him a high end life, he left him a high-end ideology as an inheritance. On growing up, he realised that the local nobility would never permit him to pursue higher education. The association with the books, in this part of the world, was the recipe of change, a factor the elites of Balochistan hate more than anything. He made a daring choice and left his village for Kharan.
After he had established himself in Kharan, he formed Pakistan Patriotic Forum. This forum aimed at redirecting the youth, who thought that violence was the only way out. Meer sahib guided them to change the world around them but through education. Throughout his life, he remained a strong critic of an imperial mindset. He was against the feudal system of nawabs and sought a new social contract for his people. He believed that the real autonomy lied not in secession but being able to decide the best for community.
In the world of Ted Ex, Steve Jobs and habits of highly effective people, a real life changer like him was underrated. An avid hard-worker with a missionary spirit of the old man at sea, he would spend endless nights working towards a better Balochistan. His command on 12 languages (almost all the regional and mainstay languages) made him easily accessible. Kharan figures out to be a place where unlike executive NADRA centres, registration for ID cards and getting hospital admissions straightened up requires unflinching determination. People showed up at his school for all and anything, job applications, document attestations, a call to the teacher of a son at distant place, ringing up an official for an employment request and the list of tasks that do not even qualify as trivial in the life of a Pakistani sahib. He would drive the crazy miles and trek the contagious hillocks to reach out to his Balochi brethren, at times taking medicine for them, at times for their sick cattle that were lifeline to these nomads.
Kharan Model Public High School, an island of ideology, stands out as a symbol of human resolve and determination. It started off as a state school and had little to do with schooling, until 1994, when it was taken over by Meer Sahib. His tagline was that change is only possible through education and the future of Kharan and Balochistan lied in an educated youth. In the past few years, when we have conveniently opted for indifference towards the Baloch plight, they have picked other modes of conveying the message.
Barring the cantonments, there are fewer places where the national flag can be seen and Kharan Model Public High School is one of them. The hostility runs so deep that often the local administration advises people to take down the flag to avoid violence – that never occurred to Meer sahib. Kharan Model Public High School is the only school in this district of our largest province, where the national flag is respected and the national anthem played every morning, without fail.
Despite tough times, his talent hunts for promising yet poor students continued. Once selected, he encouraged the students, talked to the parents and attended their educational needs. These students ranged from slum dwellers to street vendors. Today there are more than 3000 doctors, engineers and military officers, inspired, motivated and facilitated by him. These students proudly claim that the only thing that stood between them and their fate was the resolve of Meer sahib.
The activities of Meer Muzaffar Hussain Jamali could not skip the attention of militant groups for too long. In an earlier attempt, militants mobbed the school and threatened him but failed in getting the Pakistani flag lowered. On May17, 2012, Meer sahib was ambushed on his way to school, his car sprayed with bullets. There was no doctor available in the vicinity so he was evacuated to Nokkundi and then to Quetta, where he passed away at the age of 38.
Now that he has gone, the Jamali family complains about the indifference of local administration. Unfortunately, Meer sahib’s entire struggle revolved around strengthening the country, so it is very natural for people like us to sit back and see it shatter. Two weeks into the incident, analysts opine that the case has lost its media mass, the NGOs think it’s not worth it and the cosmetics do not qualify for social networking sites either. Abandoned and vulnerable, his five kids await all those who think that Meer did something for the federation.
Daniel Webster said “every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man’s life”, but the murder of Meer Muzaffar Hussain Jamali took something more than that. It took away the dream; and more importantly the right to dream from the children of Kharan.
Today, there is no household in Kharan oblivious to the sacrifices and steadfastness of this fine man. Had he lived, this small town would have been a different place. Beyond the loss of the family and the children of Kharan, is the fear that would inhibit anyone who would aspire to study or to facilitate those who want to study. Deep down, a lone Pakistani mourns the loss of a lone star.
The author is a federal government employee.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.