The controversial Culture Day – TBP Editorials

Baloch culture day is celebrated every year on the 2nd day of March since 2010 after Baloch pro-independence nationalists declared that the day will be observed for cultural activities to revive and strengthen the Baloch culture in its all forms. The main aim of it was to manifest the distinction between Baloch as a historically existing nation and Pakistan.

However, the same Baloch nationalists stopped celebrating the day due to security concerns after the members of Baloch Students Organisation (Azad) were targeted with hand grenades during the first-ever cultural day event at Balochistan University of Engineering and Technology Khuzdar in 2010, where two students named Sikandar Baloch and Junaid Baloch lost their lives and another 18 including students and teachers sustained injuries.

The student organization and the then nationalist political parties accused that the state-sponsored militias were behind the attack as during the early 2000s Baloch insurgency had risen and cultural programs were deemed to be events that could strengthen nationalist sentiments, thus, Pakistan’s military establishment tried to counter them.

In recent times, a paradigm shift has been observed by Pakistan military’s policies as the same army which was accused to counter the cultural programs and the complete idea of a Baloch Culture Day is now seemed to be the driving force behind holding culture day events throughout Balochistan on the same day March 2nd.

One can easily spot Frontier Corps and Army personnel’s presence at cultural events and most of the time holding the events inside cantonments. Many Baloch analysts think the Military has deliberately taken control over this day and use the programs as a way to propagate a soft image of suffering Balochistan.

Another prominent idea behind the military’s policy shift is considered that this way military can dictate its own version of Baloch culture day, the same culture which was almost famous for being a culture of resistance is now being unarmed and being limited to ethnic dress’s fashion show.

Baloch student activists somehow agree upon the fact that it is not wise to allow the establishment to hijack their culture day but they should strive to take it back and introduce the real culture, which is the culture of resistance, literature, love, and harmony.