Interview with BSO-Azad’s newly elected Chairman Darpshan Baloch

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On April 19, 2023, the Baloch Students Organization-Azad successfully convened its 23rd central council session. At the session’s conclusion, it was announced that Darpshan Baloch had been elected as the new Chairman of BSO Azad, with Zirwaan Baloch stepping into the role of Secretary-General.

This latest development forms part of an historical sequence of events that originated back in February 2002. This was when the BSO-Mehrab council session was boycotted by none other than the senior vice chairman of BSO, Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, and his fellow comrades. Their dissent was sparked by the involvement of the then chairman of BSO, Nadir Qudoos, with Pakistani parliamentary parties, which, they believed, represented a departure from the organization’s core values.

Dr. Allah Nazar, a firm advocate for freedom, non-parliamentary politics, and the independent status of BSO, convened a separate council session and laid the foundation of BSO Azad. He subsequently became the organization’s first chairman.

At that time, there were two other factions of BSO in existence — BSO-Mengal and BSO-Istaar.  BSO-Mengal held close ties with BNP-Mengal, and BSO-Istaar was associated with BNP-Awami. Interestingly, BSO-Istaar announced its merger with BSO Azad under the leadership of its chairman, Hameed Shaheen, leading to BSO-Azad adopting the name BSO-Muttahida. The first Council Session of the organization was convened in Panjgoor, where Dr Imdad Baloch was elected as its Chairman and Saeed Yousaf Baloch as its Secretary-General.

Following the unification of BSO Azad and BSO-Istaar, efforts were made to amalgamate the remaining factions. Eventually, all factions agreed to merge and form a singular, unified BSO. This unity, however, was short-lived. Before the first council session, Wahid Rahim Baloch established a separate BSO faction known as BSO-Pajjar.

In 2006, a Council Session of the BSO was convened in Quetta where Basheer Zaib Baloch was elected as the Chairman, Sangat Sana Baloch as the Vice-Chairman and Gulzar Baloch as the Secretary-General. A disagreement during this session led Mohi-Ud-Din Baloch to establish a separate faction. Subsequently, the unified BSO returned to its previous name, BSO-Azad.

In 2008, at BSO Azad’s subsequent council session, Basheer Zaib Baloch was re-elected chairman, with Zahid Baloch stepping in as secretary-general. However, ensuing difficulties meant that the next council session could only be held four years later due to the arrest and subsequent disappearance of several key members. Then in the 19th Session in 2012, Zahid Baloch was elected as the Chairman of the organization, Karima Baloch as the senior Vice-Chairperson and Raza Jahangir as its Secretary-General. According to BSO-Azad, Chairman Zahid Baloch was abducted by the Pakistani intelligence agencies on 14 March 2014 and remains to be discovered. The organization’s secretary-general, Raza Jahangir, was tragically killed by forces during a raid in Turbat.

In 2015, the 20th council session of BSO-Azad saw the election of Karima Baloch, the first female leader in BSO’s history, and Sana ullah alias Izzat Baloch as Chairperson and Secretary-General, respectively.

The 21st council session in 2018 resulted in the election of Sohrab Baloch as chairman, and the 22nd Council Session in November 2020 saw the unopposed election of Abram Baloch and MehrZaad Baloch as Chairman and Secretary-General, respectively.

This brings us to the most recent developments and the election of Darpshan Baloch as the current chairman. For safety reasons, Darpshan Baloch remains a man of mystery, choosing not to reveal his real name to the media. Despite facing challenges, The Balochistan Post, after exhaustive efforts, managed to secure a meeting at an undisclosed location. Now, it is with great honor that we present this exclusive interview with Darpshan Baloch to our readers.

Questions & Answers:

The Balochistan Post (TBP): When did you start your political life and what political ups and downs have you gone through so far?

Chairman BSO Azad: Slavery is a curse, but I feel that our current generation is fortunate to be living in an era where the Baloch people are engaged in a decisive fight against the oppressors. The area I hail from has always been a hotbed of revolutionary activities. Since childhood, I witnessed the gruesome aftermath of operations, the brutality of the occupiers, and the inspiring sacrifice of Baloch youth fighting to make the Baloch people understand the extent of our entrapment under Punjabi occupation.

I’ve been involved in political activities since my school days, with rallies, processions, protests, and other political and revolutionary activities in the area shaping my understanding of the stark difference between occupation and freedom. My transition into a more formal political role occurred in 2010, after moving to Karachi for further education after eighth grade. The city has always been a center for Baloch politics and literature, I joined BSO Azad soon after my arrival there, thanks to some acquaintances who were already members.

During my early years in BSO Azad, I served as the Deputy Unit Secretary and then as the Unit Secretary in the Karachi Zone for about four years. This period was crucial for my basic political career, as the organization was going through a tough phase. We experienced substantial losses but also learned valuable lessons. We adopted precautionary measures, established a cell system, and despite the challenging circumstances, I remained a part of all the organizational activities. In late 2013, I moved back to my hometown and continued my political activities with the local zone, initially serving as the Zonal Vice President and then as the Zonal President.

I held various zonal positions until the 2015 Central Council Session, when I was elected as a Central Committee Member. Since then, I’ve served in various central positions. As a political activist, I continued my struggle and was elected as the Central Chairman in the organization’s 23rd Central Council Session.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): As the newly elected chairman of BSO Azad, what new directions would you like to set for the organization?

Chairman BSO Azad: While the circumstances don’t allow us to reveal detailed organizational procedures and programs through the media, I can tell you that as an organization, we have resolved to shift our youth away from traditional political processes and to equip them with revolutionary ideologies. Our objective is to enable them to play their role in organizing various aspects of the movement in the future. The political workers associated with our organization need to be not only mentally prepared but also skilled and capable so that they can play a proactive role in various fronts of the movement in the future, replacing traditional thinking. In the current scenario, it’s the power and capabilities that determine victory and defeat. Our efforts will be focused on ensuring the organization’s struggle continues uninterrupted and necessary changes are made to organizational programs and policies in accordance with the changing circumstances.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): The ban imposed on BSO Azad since March 2013 has resulted in an intensified crackdown on the organization, making operations challenging. How have you managed to uphold democratic traditions and carry out council sessions amid such circumstances?

Chairman BSO Azad: The reality is that our organization has been subjected to state oppression, crackdowns, and atrocities not just since 2013, but from its very inception. The horrifying experiences of our leaders and members, including forced disappearances and the recovery of mutilated bodies, predate the 2013 ban. Yet, as an institution, we hold steadfast in our belief that council sessions – the democratic lifeblood of our organization – must go on, regardless of the circumstances.

These sessions are integral to our operation, electing new leadership, nurturing the movement’s cadres, paving the way for new recruits, formulating fresh programs, strategies, and practical wisdom in line with shifting circumstances, and preserving the continuity of the movement. Any delay or shortcomings in conducting these pivotal programs is, in essence, an obstruction to our organizational activities. Hence, we insist that they be held promptly and regularly. This, in my view, is a testament to the resilience of democracy and the optimal course of action for our organization and movement.

State oppression is a harsh reality for any group or organization involved in the struggle for freedom, and BSO Azad has been grappling with this for over two decades.

As to the challenges we encountered during the recent council, they were, as ever, severe, yet our unwavering organizational acumen ensured a successful outcome. I’ve been a consistent participant in the last three or four council sessions, where our members risked their lives to be present. The challenges they face extend far beyond these sessions, confronting hardships every day, every moment in carrying out movement and organizational activities.

Being a revolutionary cadre is a difficult path, even under normal circumstances, and the challenges of executing such programs can only be truly understood by those immersed in the movement. However, I am convinced that without our sound organizational wisdom and policies, conducting such large-scale programs would be impossible.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): Considering the obstacles that the BSO-Azad faces, including the inability to freely participate in politics or easily recruit new members, do you believe the organization has the strength to form capable cadres and assign them new leadership responsibilities?

Chairman BSO-Azad: When considering the course of history, no revolutionary movements or struggles for freedom have had the privilege to freely participate in politics during their fight against occupation or their quest for independence. It’s an expectation that’s unreal, especially when we are battling an oppressive state like Pakistan.

Currently, no freedom-loving Baloch organization operates openly, but the movement grows stronger every day due to factors like our robust organizational structures, increased institutional reliance, diverse movement organization, and a model where the movement is not dependent on any one individual, institution, or rigid ideology.

Regarding membership strength, The success of any movement is not built on individual strength, but revolutionary strength. In my opinion, the BSO-Azad, through its intellectual and practical activities, has made a significant mark in the consciousness of every aware Baloch youth. Therefore, the organization doesn’t face difficulty in recruiting members – in fact, most aware Baloch youth aspire to be associated with the BSO-Azad.

Furthermore, as far as building cadres is concerned, our recent council session demonstrates this capability. We prepared multiple stacks of councilors from each organizational zone and handed over 70 percent of leadership responsibilities to new members.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): There are currently several active Baloch student organizations in Balochistan, including at least five factions of the BSO. How does BSO Azad distinguish itself from these other groups?

Chairman BSO-Azad: I affirm that there is only one BSO, which is BSO Azad. It is active, organized, and engaged in struggle according to national, intellectual, and fundamental theories. The other factions you refer to could be factional organizations of a party or individual exhibitionist factions. However, in essence, they have no standing or position.

BSO Azad, despite two decades of continuous force, terror and killings, remains the most organized political force and the ideal organization for the youth of Balochistan. In contrast, these factional groups operate without any coherent theory or thought, working only for verbal and party membership. Their existence is not based on any thought or philosophy but brought about by the whims of parliamentary parties detrimental to the Baloch movement and nation. These factions can never inherit the theory of the movement, nation, and BSO.

Though these factional entities may carry the BSO name, they lack any genuine connection to the theory, thought, philosophy, and action integral to BSO. They lack the national and revolutionary thought and theory that form BSO’s foundation. Today, BSO Azad has a presence everywhere – from the movement to social changes, to knowledge and literary activities, we serve as an organized institution among the nation and youth. In contrast, the factions you mentioned struggle to gather even a handful of ideologically aligned students, despite their presence in surface politics. This indicates that the public and youth recognize the real BSO, that is BSO Azad, the true power of the students.

It’s critical to remember that these factions, devoid of any coherent philosophy, are essentially products of the whims of self-proclaimed parliamentary parties. These entities have been working against the interests of the Baloch movement and nation. Can such factions genuinely embody the theory of the movement, nation, and BSO?

Furthermore, BSO Azad’s commitment and sacrifice are unmatched Hundreds of our cadres have been martyred, hundreds are imprisoned, and hundreds more are actively working in various areas of the movement and society. What have these factions contributed to the nation, movement, and society? They might use the BSO name to fulfill an individual or a group’s interests, but they have no connection with BSO’s national, intellectual, and revolutionary theory.

In my opinion, those who are disconnected from ground realities might give importance to these factions. However, for students and youth who are rooted on the ground, these factions hold no significance because they understand their true nature. I believe it’s either ignorance or naivety to draw a comparison between such exhibitionist and interest-oriented groups and BSO Azad, which embodies the true essence of BSO.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): Yet, isn’t there a lack of literature in the context of the BSO that allows us to gauge such contradictory elements?

Chairman BSO Azad: Regarding resistance literature or literature in general, it’s not only the BSO Azad but the entire movement that faces deficiencies. As an organization, we recognize this weakness and are giving it our utmost attention. In fact, Sagaar committee has been working tirelessly for the past two years to address this. Likewise, the committee that pertains specifically to BSO literature has also been active during this period. In this regard, we’re focusing on creating a well-documented and comprehensive literature concerning the BSO, and we hope to provide our nation and youth with an exhaustive history related to the BSO as soon as possible. While some groups may use the name of BSO for their own interests, the ideological continuity that belongs to BSO is unambiguously present in the form of BSO Azad.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): Apart from advocating for freedom, what other programs does BSO Azad have in place to attract students to your cause?

Chairman BSO Azad: BSO Azad is actively involved in various programs beyond the call for freedom. One of our significant achievements includes the eradication of the Sardari mindset in Balochistan. We have made strides in eliminating the prevalent sectarian mindset towards women in our society and have successfully integrated them into politics, even promoting them to leadership positions.

We’ve also taken measures to eliminate drug use among students and youth in Baloch society, promoting instead the pursuit of quality, scientific education and fostering a culture of reading. This is a victory for BSO Azad.

Furthermore, we’ve played an essential role in producing revolutionary and critical literature which has brought about positive changes within society. Our organization has also consistently worked on programs that expose human rights violations in Balochistan and other colonial and social evils, and we strive for their eradication.

However, freedom is the cornerstone of our struggle. All the ailments plaguing our society today are rooted in oppression. Only by establishing a welfare and free state can we hope to eliminate these secondary problems. As long as the Baloch people do not have a free state of their own, these social evils will continue to crop up in one form or another.

If we compare our situation to a medical condition, think of it as suffering from both cancer and malaria. While we would certainly want to rid ourselves of both diseases, the critical treatment is for the cancer, as it is potentially lethal. Once we survive the cancer, we can treat the other diseases. In this metaphor, the cancer is our lack of independence, the primary and most deadly problem we face.

BSO Azad firmly believes that the foundation of all issues present in Baloch society is due to Pakistan’s unlawful occupation. This occupying state is responsible for imposing puppet leaders on the Baloch people, fostering death squads, drug dealers, and land mafias who are perpetrating atrocities against our people.

This occupying force has stripped Balochistan of education, language, and culture, pushing a secular Baloch society towards religious extremism, and plundering our natural resources. In return, we only receive mutilated bodies and a growing list of victims from forced disappearances. Until this occupying force is removed from Baloch land, the prosperity of the Baloch nation is impossible. Hence, our primary focus must be on ending this forced occupation.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): Given the risks involved in joining BSO Azad, how should a student go about deciding to join such an organization?

Chairman BSO Azad: It’s crucial to understand that risk, especially where life is concerned, is a daily reality for our youth. Every day, young individuals are potential victims of enforced disappearances, state violence, or they fall into despair due to the psychological warfare waged by the oppressor. The poor state of our infrastructure often leads to deadly accidents. And, sadly, we see many young lives losing their sense of purpose and succumbing to despair. I believe organizations like BSO Azad and institutions that advocate for national independence can provide a life filled with purpose and meaning.

Living under oppression, it’s nearly impossible to envision life in a society that values freedom – a privilege that currently remains unattainable. The dreams you have, the milestones you want to reach, can only truly be realized in a society that is free, autonomous, and ripe with opportunity. However, under Pakistani rule, many paths lead the Baloch people towards annihilation, whereas the journey towards national struggle and freedom unveils the road to success.

History proves that freedom is essential for a prosperous life. If people like Bhagat Singh had accepted British servitude, India wouldn’t be the country it is today. The same applies to American Federalists, Lenin and Trotsky in Russia, General Giap, and countless others who refused to accept slavery and fought for the freedom of their people. This pattern rings true for revolutionaries worldwide who stood up against oppressive regimes to elevate their nations to their current status. Had nations in America and Europe sought success within the confines of British servitude, these nations as we know them wouldn’t exist today.

In my opinion, the youth should not just participate in this movement, but they must fully immerse themselves in this struggle. The life of a slave is always at risk, regardless of their association with an organization. Tragic stories of student abductions, profiling, and violence are far too common. Students like Hayat Baloch and Ehtisham met horrifying ends on the streets. Young people like Dr. Mukhtar and Shahzad became victims of staged encounters, all without any association with BSO Azad. Why were they targeted?

The life of a slave is always in danger, irrespective of their association with an organization. Therefore, I encourage Baloch youth to join the struggle against oppression and seek a life of dignity and freedom.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): State institutions allege that BSO Azad is not a student organization but a facilitator of pro-independence armed groups. What is your response to these allegations?

Chairman BSO Azad: In the eyes of Pakistan, any Baloch youth could be seen as a facilitator of pro-freedom armed groups. They justify their brutality against Baloch youth by leveling these allegations. It’s this perception that leads to the abduction of Baloch people from all corners of Balochistan, the bombing of their homes, and the use of violence against them. Pakistani institutions don’t just single out BSO Azad; they perceive the entirety of Baloch youth—and their sentiment—as backing the freedom fighters. By leveling these charges against BSO Azad, they seek to rationalize their ongoing brutality and use of force against Baloch youth to their own populace.

While it is true that members of BSO Azad carry the idea and ideology of Baloch freedom, but our methods are not based on violence. We aim to enlighten the Baloch youth on academic, intellectual, political, and ideological grounds against the occupation, and the tools we provide are pens and books, not weapons.

When our members are arrested, they are found with nothing but these tools of enlightenment. If we were facilitators of armed fighters, our organization’s chairman would not be arrested empty-handed. Our organization is very clear about its methodology. BSO Azad focuses on organizing and mobilizing the movement based on political, academic, and ideological foundations. Despite the risks and accusations, we continue our struggle for freedom.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): As the newly elected chairman, what challenges do you face?

Chairman BSO (Azad): The challenges are multifaceted. The state continues its crackdown on revolutionary cadres and prohibits political struggle in Balochistan. On one hand, It attempts to intimidate the youth from the national movement through brutal force, and on the other hand, seeks to co-opt them into a corrupt system through its soft power policy. They’re trying to mentally paralyze students via cadet colleges and private centers, promote madrassa culture to stifle thinking and creativity among students, and use NGOs as their proxies. We also face opposition from counter-revolutionary forces masquerading as revolutionaries but, in reality, oppose the national movement and cause damage to the youth and the struggle. Confronting all these challenges and keeping Baloch youth committed to the national freedom struggle is a significant task.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): It has been observed that during your council sessions, administrators are usually elected unopposed, a trend that has continued for the past five council sessions despite set election dates. Can you clarify why this happens?

Chairman BSO (Azad): It might seem as if all our administrators are elected unopposed, but this is not the case. Our organizational policy is such that we publicly disclose only the names of elected chairman and secretary-general in the media, while the identities of other cabinet members, including the central committee, remain confidential. This approach could potentially give the impression that our council sessions lack a competitive electoral process. However, I can assure you that all members of the Central Committee were indeed elected through a democratic voting process during our 23rd Central Council Session.

In my view, this reflects a progression in our collective political consciousness. Our comrades, understanding the value of each other’s contributions, refrain from engaging in unnecessary competition for positions. Nonetheless, we fully uphold the right for any comrade to contest for any position. They simply have to follow the organization’s constitutional procedure, which includes depositing a specified election fee, to officially submit their candidacy. We impose no restrictions on this process.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): Given the current global and regional politics, what potential role do you see for BSO Azad in facilitating meaningful change?

Chairman BSO Azad: As a student organization, BSO Azad’s main goal is the intellectual and educational development of Baloch youth, keeping them aware of the changing global political landscape. We are striving to generate literature and awareness to benefit the political activists associated with the movement. We aim to foster a mindset that can anticipate and plan actions regarding the struggle before any major change occurs.

It’s crucial for political activists to understand these shifts deeply, as they impact the Baloch National Movement. The world is completely capitalized, and even a minor issue can have global repercussions. Therefore, it is important to keep a thorough understanding of these changing situations, make bold decisions considering the needs of the movement, and adapt to benefit from the changing political circumstances in the global scenario, avoiding any potential loss.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): As the new chairman of BSO Azad, you’re now a high-value target of the state. Are you prepared for this danger, and should a student even face such a risk?

Chairman BSO Azad: Revolutionary struggles always come with their demands and necessities. I, like many of my comrades, am fully aware of this reality and have consciously chosen my path, ready to face whatever danger lies ahead. Over the last eight to ten years with BSO Azad, I’ve encountered numerous challenges and hardships. However, I deeply believe in our philosophy, grounded in consciousness and intellectual foundations, that true life is found in this struggle.

Our political landscape as students has been transformed into something akin to a military cantonment. We witness our friends, colleagues, and ordinary young people being harmed every day. Thus, I am mentally prepared for the possibility that despite our precautions, we could be apprehended, our images could be printed on posters, our mutilated bodies could be sent to our friends and families. But these are the harsh realities of a revolutionary struggle, and we stand ready to face them.

As for the question of whether a student should take these risks, I would say that we are not students of a free society but belong to a nation under the dominion of the Punjabi empire,, deprived of our national identity, resources, and freedom. The life of a person in such circumstances is perpetually at risk. Therefore, I believe these risks are valid. It’s critical to recognize that every Baloch youth represents a threat to the occupying forces, and those forces view every Baloch youth as an enemy.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): Is there a particular comrade or friend you consider your role model, and if so, why?

Chairman BSO Azad: Every comrade who has been martyred or imprisoned in the struggle for freedom is an ideal for me. I can’t express enough admiration for those who sacrificed everything for the liberation of our land.  However, if I had to single out one person who has profoundly influenced me, it would be Kambar Chakar. He personified revolution – he was a revolution in himself and epitomized all principles of revolution.

If I were to describe a revolutionary fighter who fully embodies the demands of a revolution, I would unhesitatingly name Kambar Chakar. If one were to ask me what complete revolution means, then the concise and comprehensive answer to that significant question would be: Kambar Chakar.

In my eyes, Kambar is the revolution within our current struggle who has prepared thousands of young people for this monumental task and objective. His commitment, his passion for sacrifice, his character – they provide answers to many questions and resolve numerous confusions. Kambar is a movement in himself, continually challenging the enemy. No state tactic or weapon ever triumphed over Kambar, for he was the symbol of a true revolutionary.

I believe Kambar’s untimely departure was not just a loss for BSO Azad, but a severe blow to our movement as a whole. In our present era, I encourage everyone to study the revolutionary Kambar Chakar, to read about him, to familiarize themselves with his actions and character. Kambar represents the way to liberate ourselves from enslavement, and he embodies the meaning of life itself.

Young individuals like Kambar Chakar are the very essence of our struggle for freedom. Lazy, weak, and frightened youngsters are like invalids in enslaved nations, their lives or deaths irrelevant to anyone. But young people like Kambar Chakar, who embark on the journey towards freedom, are not only passionate about leading enslaved nations to their destiny, but they also do not hesitate to sacrifice anything for their beliefs and ideology.

The Balochistan Post (TBP): If you were to give a message to those Baloch youngsters who are not part of BSO Azad, what would it be?

Chairman BSO Azad: I urge Baloch youngsters to realize their power and status and observe the oppression and tyranny inflicted upon them. I urge them to contemplate why, in a land so rich with culture and civilization, a Baloch fisherman is prohibited from accessing his own sea? Why is a Baloch laborer faced with daily humiliation by outsiders on his own land? Why is quality education inaccessible to them? Why are their sisters being abducted? Why is it that a Baloch can’t live peacefully anywhere today?

The root cause is oppression, and the only way to escape this state of servitude is through an independent Baloch state. This land belongs not only to political activists and freedom fighters, but to every Baloch, and it’s obligatory for each Baloch to claim their rights. By staying neutral or distanced from the struggle, you inadvertently support the state, because neutrality is not an option in a nation at war. We must think about our national future and decide what kind of future we want to leave for our upcoming generations.

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