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Exclusive: Pakistan’s Political Pulse — Liaqat Baloch in Conversation

Veteran Pakistani Politician Liaqat Baloch Shares His Insights on Pakistan’s Domestic Issues, Foreign Policy, and the Implications of Historical Events

5 mins read
Liaqat Baloch during the interview with Sri Lanka Guardian

by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor

The diplomatic affairs editor of the Sri Lanka Guardian recently sat down with Liaqat Baloch, a former Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. During this interview, he spoke on various issues, including the current situation in Pakistan, Iran, and Palestine. Baloch is currently serving as the Naib Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s Islamic religio-political party, and also served as the Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami until 2019.

Excerpts of the interview;

First of all, tell me about yourself and your political party in Pakistan.

Assalam-o-Alaikum. I am Liaqat Baloch. I am from Lahore, Pakistan. I am affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan.

Firstly, when I was a student at Punjab University, Lahore, I was elected President of the Student Union. In Pakistan, it is the largest student organization in Jamaat-e-Islami. I was Central President in 1977, 1978, and 1979.

I was elected four times as a Member of Parliament, Member of the National Assembly from Lahore. So, I was a Parliamentary Leader in the Parliament of Pakistan. I am also the Secretary General of the Milli Yaqoob Council.

It is an alliance of 22 religious parties. They belong to different sects, but we have gathered them into a united forum called the Milli Yaqoob Council.

What are your memories of the partition in 1947 and the subsequent events like the independence of Bangladesh?

Actually, there were two major partitions. The first was in 1947, when Pakistan gained independence. The second was in 1971, when East Pakistan separated and became Bangladesh.

In 1971, I was a school student, maybe in inter-class college. It was a very sad and shocking event for Pakistan.

Still, the people of Pakistan have a lot of love for the people of Bangladesh. When there was a movement for the creation of Pakistan, it started in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. We believe that it was due to wrong policies of the military dictatorship.

In the 1970 election, political leaders like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and military dictator Yahya Khan did not accept the public mandate. This was the main root cause of the separation of Pakistan.

We think that wrong political decisions affect national integrity, unity, and democratic norms. We condemn the wrong decisions of military dictatorships and civil leadership when they were greedy for power.

Do you think there is animosity towards Bangladeshi people from Pakistanis? Is there any discrimination?

Definitely, there was resentment among East Pakistani people. But actually, in Pakistan, it is not limited to a specific area like East or West Pakistan. If there is a rule of non-constitutional, non-democratic personal dictatorship, it hurts the whole nation.

There were strong feelings among East Pakistani people that West Pakistan was not treating them well. The military dictatorships like Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan were against the will of the people. Both East and West Pakistanis were affected.

But since the headquarters were in West Pakistan, the East Pakistanis especially hated West Pakistan, particularly Punjab. As a political worker, I believe that if a state does not observe the constitution and democratic norms, it ultimately results in negative consequences for the country and the nation.

Had the West Pakistani government accepted the election result in 1970 where Mujibur Rahman won, do you think Pakistan would be different today?

Yes, if the election results had been accepted, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would have stayed with Pakistan. When the election results were not accepted, the six points led to the separation of Pakistan. The basic cause of the division of Pakistan was the wrong decision to not accept the election results.

If the majority had been accepted and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the East Pakistani people would have maintained their love for Pakistan, its ideology, and its unity. They would have been in a position to defend Pakistan against Indian hegemony.

Recalling your student days and your work as an activist, you visited Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Can you recall those experiences and what motivated you to work there?

Firstly, I visited Iran in early 1981 and met Imam Khomeini. The purpose of visiting was to attend the Inquilab-e-Islami conference.

During the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranian government invited people to see the destruction caused by the war. We traveled on buses to the forum of Adan, an oil area with refineries that were completely destroyed.

We think that when there was a revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, which toppled the Shah of Iran, who had deep-rooted relations with America and Middle Eastern countries, there was an attempt to create division between Shia and Sunni. The war was imposed by Iraq with the backing of America. It was a conspiracy against Iran.

Similarly, Iraq invaded Kuwait, which was also a conspiracy by America. Saddam Hussein was used against Iran and Kuwait and then trapped by America, which declared him a threat to humanity with weapons of mass destruction—a false story.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution is based on sustainable, stable foundations. Despite numerous conspiracies and international sanctions, the system remains strong, rooted in Islam.

You mentioned the role of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Can you elaborate on your understanding of him and the revolution?

Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution of Iran awakened the people against autocratic rule and had a significant impact on the Muslim world. Imam Khomeini was a person of genius, devoted to Islam, the Qur’an, and the Messenger of Allah. His vision for the welfare and service of the masses was revolutionary.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution is based on sustainable, stable foundations. Despite numerous conspiracies and international sanctions, the system remains strong, rooted in Islam.

The leadership of the Islamic Revolution faced many casualties and martyrdoms, but there is no vacuum in the system. Despite the grief and trauma, the Iranian nation is determined and protecting its system.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, despite facing international sanctions and obstacles from the United States and Europe, has developed in education, economy, and science and technology. Imam Khomeini declared Yom al-Quds to support the Palestinians and liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation.

Reflecting on your experiences during the Iran-Iraq war, what exactly did you do?

During the Iran-Iraq war, I saw millions of Iranians on the streets, chanting slogans against America, which was supporting Iraq. The courageous leadership and brave people of Iran succeeded despite American and European conspiracies.

What are your thoughts on the ongoing political situation in Pakistan, the war in Ukraine, and the genocide in Gaza?

In this region, a new alignment is emerging. China, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Central Asian states are on one side, trying to break free from American hegemony.

In Pakistan, the government is under a lot of pressure from America, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries. However, the people of Pakistan deeply support the Palestinians and oppose Israeli occupation, as it parallels the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

What is your perspective on India-Pakistan relations and the potential for normalization?

The only way to normalize relations is to accept the United Nations resolutions and give self-determination rights to the Kashmiris. If Kashmiris decide to live with India, we will accept it. If they choose Pakistan, India must accept it. This is the only peaceful solution.

Do you think countries like the US exploit the situation to keep Pakistan and India politically unstable?

Yes, Indian politics is often based on creating radical sentiments against Pakistan. Similarly, in Pakistan, military dictatorships have similar ideas. But the people of both countries want a peaceful resolution based on justice for Jammu and Kashmir.

What is your future plan for Pakistan?

We are working to ensure the supremacy of the constitution and Islamic ideology, and to establish a strong democratic foundation in Pakistan. We are also focused on reviving our economy. Jamaat-e-Islami is making every effort to achieve these goals.

What is your opinion on the ongoing genocide in Palestine?

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 34,735 Palestinians have been martyred in Israeli attacks since October 7, with the number of injured exceeding 78,108. Israel has turned the entire Gaza Strip into ruins, making 2.3 million people homeless and deprived of basic needs.

The international community, including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Australia, is providing arms and military support to Israel. The United Nations resolutions and the International Court of Justice decisions against Israel have been ignored.

Israel’s continuous atrocities in Gaza have sparked global protests, but the Zionist state remains defiant. The role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in supporting the Palestinians is commendable and should be emulated.

Jamaat-e-Islami has been actively supporting Palestinians through relief efforts and organizing demonstrations. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians. Israel is an illegitimate state. We salute the struggle of the Palestinian Mujahideen and people against Israeli aggression. The international support for Palestine, including actions by countries like South Africa, Spain, Norway, and Ireland, is commendable.

I suggest that a “World Solidarity Day” be declared for the people of Palestine, with children worldwide expressing solidarity with the children of Gaza. InshaAllah, the sun of Palestine’s independence will surely rise.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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