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Between 1973 and 1977, the Balochistan People’s Liberation Front or BPLF (earlier the Parari) launched an insurgency against the central Pakistani government. They were protesting the dismissal of a democratically-elected provincial government in the country’s southern, marginalised province of Balochistan; subsequent arrests and conspiracy trials of socialist, Baloch political leaders and workers; and a military […]
Jabal: Balochistan Ki Awaaz / Bulletin of the Baluchistan’s People’s Liberation Front
Initially named “Jabal, Bulletin of the Baluchistan People’s Liberation Front.” Over the course of its circulation, the subtitle intermittently shifted to “The Voice of Balochistan” and “Baluchistan People’s Liberation Front.”
Jabal, or Mountain in Balochi, was a cyclostyle pamphlet curated, written, edited, printed, and circulated by members and sympathisers of the Baloch Popular Liberation Front (BPLF) in Pakistan. The BPLF was a Marxist-Leninist insurgency organised primarily among Pakistan’s minority Baloch population, who were in armed conflict with a central state dominated by the military and controlled by majority Punjabis and Urdu-speakers between 1973 and ’77. Jabal emerged as a response to the censored and biased media coverage of the counterinsurgency campaign, yet ended up featuring far more than reporting of army operations. Throughout its pages, Jabal includes multiple references to a variety of national liberation figures and movements, including Patrice Lumumba, Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnam War, and movements fighting white majority rule in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and South Africa. It also included alternative analyses about state, sovereign violence, internationalism, and empire. In its pages, it imagined a multi-national, socialist, and anti-imperial revolutionary subject which would replace the mono-national, capitalist, and US-aligned Pakistani citizen.
Through attention to both content and context of Jabal, including its production, circulation, and consumption in Pakistani cities, I explore how Jabal reimagined belonging, community, nation, and the international order. I ask: What other imaginations of identity and collective life were imagined in its pages? What might it mean to reintroduce these ideas, to circulate within Pakistan and elsewhere today?
Mahvish Ahmad is an educator, scholar and organiser. She is an Assistant Professor of Human Rights and Politics at the Department of Sociology, London School of Economics.