A discussion with Yasmeen Aslam Baloch
Baloch nationalists commemorate 11 August as symbolic Independence Day of Balochistan. On this day in 1947, the British left present-day Balochistan, and the state of Kalat was declared as an independent state. However, that is not the only significant development attached to this day.
Another event, which many consider as the stimulus behind one of the most significant transformations in the Baloch movement, also happened on the same day. On 11 August 2018, a young Baloch carried out a suicide attack against Chinese engineers in Dalbandin, Balochistan. He was later identified as Rehan Baloch, the elder son of resistance leader Aslam Baloch. After this attack, at least three more what BLA calls fidayee or self-sacrificing attacks have been carried out to date.
One of the most interesting aspects of Rehan Baloch’s story was a video released by BLA in which his mother Yasmeen Aslam can be seen kissing Rehan’s head and bidding him farewell before the attack. This perplexed many and several questions were raised.
A media outlet called The Current Balochistan interviewed Yasmeen Aslam a few months after the attack, which we are republishing solely for information purposes for our audience.
Question: When you found out that your son Rehan has decided to carry out such an extreme act, what did you think, or what were your impressions at that time?
Yasmeen Aslam: I cannot describe those moments and emotions in words, even if I do, it may not be possible for the listener and the reader to feel those emotions in the same way. I do not know if anyone has gone through this situation or not, but for a woman, there is no greater relation than with his children or husband. But when the love for one’s nation and motherland reaches its heights then even the relation of a mother and wife becomes helpless. These are my personal opinions, experiences, and feelings. When you are able to truly feel the pain of your homeland and your nation then your personal pain, suffering, and loss does not matter to you, you can bear every pain and go through every sacrifice for the nation and homeland.
Question: It is incomprehensible for many that you bid farewell to Rehan yourself, can you tell us what compelled you for such an extreme step?
Yasmeen Aslam: Nothing! Just the love of the Baloch nation and Balochistan and the concept of our martyrs and the principle of revenge against the enemy. And the feeling that my son has decided to sacrifice himself with the objective of freedom and prosperity for our future generations. Then how could I hesitate when there was not the slightest hesitation in Rehan’s eyes, I can only be proud to be the mother of such a brave son.
Question: In the shape of Rehan and General Aslam your family has given enormous sacrifices for this movement. To what extent do you think the Baloch people today, especially the young have taken Aslam Baloch and Rehan‘s thoughts and ideas forward?
Yasmeen Aslam: I am very optimistic that with the blood of General Aslam and Rehan and other martyrs, thousands will continue their mission. This will not stop until our freedom, this is my faith. The Baloch nation is not barren, thousands of our young people are on the path of General Aslam and Rehan Jan with the same spirit, and they know how to move this movement forward in a better way.
Question: Women have played an important and leading role in the liberation movements of the world like Palestine, Kurdistan, and other parts of the world. But what do you think are the reasons for the limited participation of women in the Baloch national movement?
Yasmeen Baloch: The participation of women in the Baloch movement is higher now than ever before and will be even greater in the future. It will progress further. Freedom is as important for the men of a nation as it is for women. It may be that in the past, due to our social conditions, women have not been able to play such an active role in this movement, but now all Baloch men and women realize that freedom will not be easy without the participation of women.
Question: Many think that the death of Aslam Baloch is an irreparable loss not only for his organization BLA but also for the Baloch movement as a whole. What would you like to say about this?
Yasmeen Baloch: Setbacks and ups and downs are natural for any movement. But I would consider it a loss when the movement stops, as long as the movement continues the sacrifices will only provide fuel for the movement. There will be temporary ups and downs, but the movement will not stop. Yes, for a wife, the separation of her husband is definitely a big and indescribable loss.
Question: China and other powers are increasing their hold in the region and are directly involved in many projects in Balochistan. Many including Aslam Baloch believed there is a great need for a united front. What is your opinion about this?
Yasmeen Aslam: It is not possible to defeat these great forces and enemies without unity and solidarity. The need of the hour is for the entire Baloch nation to unite and fight against the enemy with full force. General Aslam Baloch was well aware of this. He made practical efforts for the process of unity and cooperation and proved that unity and harmony is possible if efforts are made on the basis of good intentions.
Question: Today, you are called Lumma (Mother) by many and there are increasing expectations attached to you, would you continue your role of taking stances against major issues faced by Baloch nation?
Yasmeen Aslam: I have not yet done anything for the great cause of national liberation, much remains to be done. Gaining freedom is not a trivial matter. Freedom is possible only after making many sacrifices and constantly sacrificing and striving. I will continue to fight for Baloch national liberation till my last breath, and I will not hesitate from any sacrifice.
Question: What kind of Balochistan do you want to see?
Yasmeen Aslam: I want a free Balochistan, where there is justice and equality, where every Baloch is prosperous and comfortable, where farmers and nobles are equal, where men and women are equal, where followers of all religions have equal freedom, where everyone has regard and respect for humanity. A Balochistan, where there is no concept of oppression, injustice and where treatment and education are free, where the Baloch state acts as a mother for all Baloch
Question: You are known as a brave mother in Baloch society, what message would you like to give to other Baloch women?
Yasmeen Aslam: Sacrifice, constant sacrifice! Struggle and constant struggle! Instead of forbidding and stopping your sons from fighting for freedom, be courageous and encouraging for them, support them, pray for them, be proud of them, keep encouraging them. The child’s first school is the mother’s lap; raise your children by teaching them about freedom.