By S.M. Baloch
Panjgur, located in Makran, stands apart from its neighboring regions in terms of intellectual development. It is a conservative society, in contrast to the progressive societies of Turbat and Gwadar. While Turbat and Gwadar have actively organized literary festivals, art exhibitions, book fairs, women empowerment programs, musical events, and other cultural activities with encouraging women participation, Panjgur lags behind in all aspects of cultural development. Even Kharan, one of the most neglected and underdeveloped districts of Balochistan, surpasses Panjgur in terms of cultural engagement.
However, this is not to imply that Panjgur lacks talent. On the contrary, there are talented individuals in Panjgur who face significant challenges in expressing themselves due to the prevailing conservative environment. Conformity is widespread in Panjgur, with conformists being celebrated as heroes. Mullahs, wealthy businessmen, corrupt contractors, and politicians engaged in corrupt practices are considered the most respected figures in Panjgur, leading to an increasing number of such individuals. Unfortunately, intellectuals are marginalized and endangered in this context. Urgent measures are required to address this issue to prevent the extinction of intellectualism in Panjgur.
If we were to draw a comparison between Makran and the subcontinent of Asia, we could liken Panjgur to Pakistan, while Turbat and Gwadar could be compared to India and Bangladesh, respectively. However, unlike Pakistan, Turbat and Gwadar do not consider themselves as guardians of religion nor do they cling to outdated cultural traditions and norms.
On the other hand, Panjgur, akin to Pakistan, is under the influence of conservatives, conformists, and traditionalists. These individuals effectively control not only the discourse but also the prevailing context. The politicians in Panjgur bear a striking resemblance to their Pakistani counterparts. They often present themselves as men of the people, but in reality, their involvement in politics primarily serves as a lucrative means to amass wealth overnight.
I vividly recall the widespread criticism faced by a dance performance by students of Lasbela University. While it is true that disapproval came from various parts of Balochistan, upon examining the Facebook profiles of the detractors, I discovered that the majority of them hailed from Panjgur. My mother often praises Panjguris for their adherence to cultural norms, proudly declaring that Panjgur is the only place where women refrain from frequenting the market. This sentiment appears to be shared by the majority of Panjgur’s population, highlighting the powerful influence of the traditionalist narrative on the local mindset. Unfortunately, I have not come across any literature discussing when and how conformism and conservatism took root in Panjgur.
In Panjgur, anyone who presents new ideas that challenge prevailing beliefs or traditions is ostracized by society, branded as a kafir (non-believer), and subjected to character assassination. In such a conformist and conservative environment, individuality and creativity are deemed sinful, leading people to avoid expressing themselves. This stifling atmosphere hampers the emergence of intellectuals.
The people of Panjgur are in desperate need of enlightenment and progress. If this situation persists, not only the current generation but also the next four to five generations will suffer the consequences. It is crucial for the people of Panjgur to make concerted efforts to eradicate these issues from their community.
If left unaddressed, Panjgur may tarnish Makran’s reputation, much like how Pakistan has marred the subcontinent of Asia. The youth of Panjgur must therefore adopt the slogan “Resist, Change, Deconstruct” and work towards creating a better future for themselves and their community. Otherwise, they should be prepared to face the repercussions similar to their Pakistani counterparts.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.