The language, and sentence structure, are critical to observe, in this piece. Towards the middle of this small news item, we find these sentences. Though they may be unthinkingly cut and pasted from earlier pieces or some standard al-Jazeera copy, it is nevertheless interesting to see how they were written:
“Baloch rebel fighters have waged war against the central Pakistan government for more than a decade seeking autonomy.”
This is a definitive statement, offered as ‘fact’. There are no qualifiers so that the reader knows for sure that these attacks are happening. But watch what happens in the next sentence.
” Locals accuse the government of exploiting their resources without providing adequate compensation.”
Suddenly, ‘locals accuse’ is dropped in when the position of the state as seen by those living under its burden are concerned. And this pattern repeats itself. In the very next paragraph, we read another definitive statement, followed by a qualified statement that yet against absolves the state of ‘factual’ crimes, and suggests that people saying such things are ‘alleging’ or ‘claiming’.
“Attacks on security personnel by separatist fighters are common – as are retaliatory operations by Pakistani forces, who rights group allege have abducted and extra-judicially killed hundreds of Baloch political activists.”
There is no way for the writer to claim that the state engages in ‘retaliatory’ violence, which suggests that it is the ‘rebels’ who are creating the violence. This is the classic ‘Israel / Palestinian’ structure, where Palestinians – a people living under brutal Israeli occupation, are always the ones who ‘start’ the violence, and Israel is always the one who has to ‘defend’ itself. All context and reality is lost i.e that the weak are living in regimes of political, administrative violence from which they turn to violence as the only means left for them to answer back. This is merely Fanon 1001. Journalists should be able to write about the many sides of a conflict, without creating these subtle priorities and biases within. The history of Baluchistan deserves more than these subtle shadings that privilege the position and argument of the Pakistani state over the struggle of the Baloch.