Salma Baloch

If you can, set on fire Chairman’s memories

Ghulam Mohammed Baloch was the founder of the Baloch National Movement. Popularly, known as Chairman among the Baloch, he is considered the pioneer of the Baloch separatist movement. He was jailed for years several times. On April 3, 2009, he was abducted by Pakistan military officials from his lawyer’s office in Turbat. Seven days later, on April 9, his bullet-riddled and mutilated body was found dumped in a mountainous area near Turbat. On November 15, Pakistan military burnt his house in Mand, Balochistan. His widow, Salma Baloch, wrote an emotional write-up in Balochi on that incident. We’re translating that short article for our English readers.

In 2000, Chairman was brought to my home as a groom. Nine years later, his comrades shouldered his bullet-riddled body to this same house.

On November 15, the Pakistan military came and burnt that house. Everything was burnt to ashes. The only thing survived were Chairman’s memories, which can neither be burnt nor fired upon.

It has been seven years that Chairman has been martyred, but neither my and Baloch people’s love has diminished for him nor military’s hatred. Chairman hasn’t delivered a speech or taken out a rally in these seven years, but whenever Baloch militants killed a military personnel, they (army) opened fire at Chairman’s house, they razed his grave. Every time, the slogan of freedom echoes in Balochistan, Pakistan will hear Chairman’s voice.

You killed Chairman, you destroyed his grave, you burnt his house, now please set on fire his memories. Pluck out his said words from the hearts of the Baloch people. If you can’t do that, you cannot end Chairman’s legacy by burning his house or razing his grave. You have killed Ghulam Mohammed, but how can you eliminate Chairman?

Chairman had spent little time in that mud house which you have burnt. He spent more time in Lyari’s narrow lanes. If he was with his kids and family for one week, he would spend another whole month preaching for Balochistan’s freedom in Quetta, Panjgoor, Malir, Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Turbat, Pasni, Khuzdar and Balochistan’s other areas — at a tea stall, at a friend’s guest room, at a road side, in a cheap hotel room, in a narrow lane. If you can burn, set on fire his memories which are still burning in the Baloch people’s hearts. But how many hearts can you pluck out and set on fire?

On the morning of 9 April, 2009, I sat outside my house and cried till I lost consciousness. When I regained my senses, I cried again. I thought I have been widowed with Chairman’s martyrdom and my kids have been orphaned. I don’t know how many days I did nothing but crying. Now seven years have passed since that incident. In these seven years, you have destroyed his grave several times and now you’ve burnt his house. When I see your continued hatred for him (even after his martyrdom), I know you consider Chairman alive. And I also regret for crying on his martyrdom. Neither I have been widowed nor my children orphaned. Chairman is alive – for you, for me and for the Baloch people.

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