What does it take to live in Balochistan? I guess, everything. Balochistan is a kind of rough terrain where people are devoid of necessities of life including food, safe drinking water, electricity, roads, internet, etc. Besides, during the winter season, the temperature plummets which further freezes the everyday struggle in the province.
Therefore, if a common man wants to survive in such harsh circumstances, he needs to forgo dreams and focus on survival only. That’s the only heroic deed the people of Balochistan, the lower middle class, can afford and are doing willingly or unwillingly. Ironically, a common man of Balochistan can be seen as grateful only because he is still breathing and walking.
It may not be wrong to say that the people of Balochistan are living in the stone Age whereas the world outside of this oblivion is living in the 21st century. It’s more like a Hollywood movie when people use time machines to travel back in time to change or research something. Contrarily, Balochistan has a different complex issue. The people neither want to change nor are in search of something. It is mainly because of the set rules of the rough terrain which does not allow to change anything.
Let’s have a look into that. Recently, social media may have shared news when there was a country-wide blackout. In contrast, it is a routine matter for the people of Balochistan. It may have disturbed other parts of the country but it is perfectly okay in the rough terrain because there is a regular load shedding for 15-16 hours. Meanwhile, in winter, the condition becomes worse, and people rely on lamps or even candles at night.
For these reasons, it takes a titanic effort for students to continue their studies. Even if I need to write an article or read a book, an irregular schedule of load shedding hampers this simple life activity severely. For instance, I wanted to write this simple article on electricity load-shedding last month but I couldn’t. Firstly, I remained unable to write because there was no electricity. Secondly, the freezing temperature broke the pipes of the sanitary system as well. What could be the condition of the home where one cannot carry a single activity?
The misery of the winter season doesn’t end here. During this season, the temperature drops to -10 C usually. This freezes water in the pipes of the sink of the Kitchen. As a result, the kitchen plumbing system becomes dysfunctional. Afterward, the season also doesn’t like us to take baths because the sanitation system is blocked and there is no hot water. Thereupon, it is an achievement to take bath and make arrangements for it.
Similarly, it feels like the province belongs to the period when the bulb was not invented at all and clothes were washed in a hot water pot, not in the washing machine. It is also ironic that we have cell phones but with zero battery percentage. Should the people of Balochistan start post-service via horsemen? Unfortunately, even if the horsemen system is started the posts of Balochistan will be delivered nowhere. How can they hope to have a modern-day welfare system and lifestyle in the stone-aged province?
What are the other features of this oblivion? How do people live there? Let me explain their simple living. During the winter season, they mostly rely on coal and wood to warm themselves. There may be natural resources in the province like gas but it is not for the locals. The authorities may think they are not modern enough to carry that lifestyle.
In other words, the People of Balochistan prefer to live the life of cavemen who lit fire to the wood/coal to warm themselves. However, there is a difference between the real cavemen and the new cavemen. The real ones used sparks from stones to light a fire whereas the latter use a matchbox. This gives hope as the new cavemen are one step ahead technologically. It is said that every dark cloud has a silver lining. For the people of Balochistan, the matchbox is a silver lining.
One would be wondering what the new generation of cavemen eats. Well, they follow a simple diet. Like their ancestors, the diet includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, and meat. The new generation also prefers to have wheat and rice as their staple food. Owing to the high prices and unavailability of wheat, the poor segment of cave society is now finding it hard to afford even a single packet of wheat. Let alone thinking of fruits and meat.
In particular, people still find ways to arrange meat for themselves to cope with the harsh winter season. The traditional way to eat this meat is in form of ‘landhi’ or ‘sajji’. Regrettably, few people who could not afford meat for themselves rely on stealing from others. Like in our neighborhood, a family managed to stock meat for landhi. One night, thieves came and took all their meat and left a note before leaving. The note said ‘Who bought meat, who prepared meat and who is going to eat it?”. This note is a modern-day message from the cavemen of Balochistan.
If the new cavemen cannot afford proper food for themselves how can they ask for safe drinking water? Even if the cavemen afford to filter water their stomachs feel bloated or heavy after drinking it. I feel bad when I drink water. Therefore, whenever I feel thirsty I make Kawa/ Green Tea. Specifically, my stomach becomes heavy when I drink more than 3 glasses of water per day. The water somehow is very indigestible. Certainly, the rough terrain of Balochistan is offering only hard water which is unsuitable for stomachs. In addition, the water is also causing diseases among the cavemen of the province and no one is taking notice of this issue.
Although the ancestral cavemen relied on the freshwater of rivers, streams, and rain, the cavemen of Balochistan have only one source i.e., underground water which is falling rapidly with each passing day. Following that, many experts say that the cavemen may turn to live in desert-like situations owing to the scarcity of water. There may be many modern ways to save water for the future like the construction of new dams. But, how could cavemen afford dams as it requires modern-day technology, labor, capital, and will?
Lastly, the issue of roads is causing havoc in the province. People may have modern-day cars and buses but not roads which are causing accidents on regular basis. Correspondingly, narrow highways along with poor safety standards are said to be responsible for an alarming number of deaths every year.
In this context, where the fault lies? What the educated and responsible citizen thinks of this issue? How can a country have two different time zones where one belongs to the stone age while the other prefers to stay in the 21st century? Most importantly, why people don’t raise concerns? In particular, people of both time zones travel to each other’s zone but prefer to change nothing in either space.
The writer holds an M.Phil Degree in South Asian Studies from the University of Punjab. She can be reached on Twitter @TahiraGhilzai.
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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the writer and Balochistan Voices does not necessarily agree with them.
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