Monday, January 17, 2022

Professional Journeys’ Narrative – 7

During December 1969, I was asked to take up survey works in Baluchistan Province of Pakistan. It was estimated to be a year’s job without break. Everyone of my colleagues had flatly refused to take up the project due to one reason or another. The most rigid colleagues declared that they would like to either go on medical leave or simply resign from the service once for all. My rearing and education simply could not understand the justifications for refusing an assignment involving normal professional responsibilities. So I shifted my family over to my home town and started for the westernmost part of Baluchistan. It was below zero temperature. Area was very rarely populated, hills were bald and black. Desert regions were brown and waterless. Some of the vast fields were littered with pebbles for miles together, without any source of water and without any human habitation. Tents’ accommodation was against the degree of chill caused by below zero winds. A driver on duty, carrying official papers and stores for a team, died of cold when his vehicle totally sank into a rain-water-channel, on a rainy day. A team member died of heart attack while ascending a hill during survey work. These two deaths created an atmosphere of extreme discouragement for members of most of the teams. These accidents happened within three days of my arrival in the area when I had not yet met the members of the teams and not yet assumed the responsibilities of assignment. The reason of refusal of my colleagues now started becoming clear to me. For administrative reasons my active functioning started about ten days after the death of second person. Rains washed away tracks of communication. Only 15 to 20 KM could be covered during a day. At every water course we had to repair the track before proceeding further. We all faced the odds, struggled, reinstated every part of our courage and determination and brought the working over to full swing. Every single member of every team, alive or dead, still deserves all appreciation for all times to come.

There was another trouble obstructing our functioning. The area contained routes of smugglers who generally passed through that area in the evening daily. According to local information every member of these smugglers groups was expert in use of arms. When I had been busy on duty with a team, we were suddenly apprehended by a harsh voice from behind the bushes at a distance of about 40 meters. Immediately I could not understand any thing. With the hearing of very first voice a 17 years old local boy of our team abruptly stood in front of me at a distance of two meters. This Baluch boy was in complete Baluchi dress with Turban on head. We did have single courageous body guard but against many expert shooters he was not enough. Baluch boy was exchanging dialogues with the smugglers in Baluchi. During a pause, I was told that the smugglers wanted us out of the area at once failing which they were going to start firing. Baluch boy was highly intelligent, confident and courageous. With a loud voice he told the smugglers, “I belong to such and such tribe and we are not going to leave this working position before completing our work. After this information if you want to start firing, you will be firing at me and my tribe”. Now I understood why the boy had abruptly stood just in front of me. With unflinching courageous declaration of the boy there was a pause. Then a voice came from smugglers “ok. We will start firing in case any one of you tried to move toward us.”

Baluch boys of this particular area are highly cultured and behave like elders because they are reared like that. Parents desire to see them grow like responsible adults and they put in every effort for that. Dress and general behavior of teenagers give every indication that the rearing by their parents has been very successful. I have visited all parts of the country but I am most impressed by the gentlemen of this particular area. I do not have any doubt that in case of similar incident in any other part the country, any teenager would have run away over to some safer place.———– To be continued…..

Source: Part from a book in process.
Copyright: Reserved


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Category: Travel

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