Most of us know and admire Shaheed Fida Ahmed Baloch for his being a popular leader of his time. In doing so what we forego is his ideology for which he stood until his death. On the anniversary of his martyrdom, the best homage would be to remember him for his ideas, not just his fame.
On his funeral on 3rd May 1988, Shaeed Fida was remembered by his comrades as the leader of the oppressed, a revolutionary, a thorn in the eyes of CIA, yes the US spy agency. The dependence of Baloch nationalists on the US and other capitalist powers is a thing of yesterday. Fida was known internationally being a staunch anti-imperialist and a strong opponent of US presence in the region.
During the 1980s when Fida Shaeed rose to leadership the external power with whom an oppressed nation of this region would align itself was the Soviet Union. Although, that dependence on the USSR was different from the contemporary bromance of nationalists with the West. The comradeship of Soviet era was less about Russia and more about the solidarity with the progressive forces at home.
Over the past two decades of nationalism, there has been a little reflection on the political evolution of post-1980s Balochistan and much selective appropriation of past into a new nationalism. The regressive form of nationalism begun during the 1980s, in contrast to Shaeed Fida’s thoughts. With his murder, and the subsequent failure of the so-called ‘Youth Movements,’ and the general set back faced by the left in Pakistan and internationally, both BSO and nationalism were stripped off their progressive essence. And Fida Baloch was appropriated accordingly, not just by the nationalists in the parliamentary politics but also by those non-parliamentary nationalists.
There is no justification for this diversion from progressive revolutionary nationalism to reactionary nationalism. Nawab Khair Bhakhsh Mari would identify himself a Marxist all his life and would die with dreams of a ‘socialist Balochistan.’ Even Mari’s hostility towards Punjabis was along with the Marxist lines based on the exploitative nature of the settler phenomenon. But this isn’t the case with nationalists who would call themselves Mari’s followers and Fida’s political heirs.
Shaeed Fida believed in the solidarity of the oppressed, and that BSO was not alone in its struggle for a just society. An objective that could only be achieved through collective action of progressive forces. No one has an impression of his being an idealist. Amid sheer optimism and strong belief on revolutionary solidarity he had a critical eye over the regional politics.
Fida believed in politics of the oppressed classes and their leading role in the struggle against all forms of exploitation. In one of his recorded speeches while lauding the Sindhi resistance Fida expresses skepticism towards MRD alliance calling it ‘good up to a point, but not the savior of the masses,’ saying that “the responsibility to take the movement to its ultimate objective rests on the shoulders of the forces who are against imperialism, revisionism, and national hegemony, and who believe in politics of the oppressed classes.”
While keeping his unwavering commitment with Balochistan, Fida never lost the sight of the bigger picture. He says in his speech, “Baloch youth in their cry against deprivation, and exploitation of their oppressed nation is not unaware that imperialists, and their agents have decided to turn this region into a major post” against the progressive forces. Fida encouraged the students and youth to “leave behind the narrow boundaries of struggle and focus on the real issues, identify the real enemy and strengthen the real forces.”
His nationalism was “the torchbearer of the rights of the exploited farmers.” He would join any progressive fight for the rights of the oppressed masses, the workers, peasants and the common men and women of the tribal society. Without being the voice of the oppressed people, he says, “the struggle cannot progress, the masses cannot be mobilized.”
The progressive nationalism of Fida’s time never lost its relevance as the major contradictions of his time remain unresolved till date. And so، his love among the masses. But sadly, this popular attachment has been exploited by the forces who have no regard for his ideology, but only for his fame.