Critical Thinking and Escalation

What can the conflict in Baloch teach us about the need for critical thinking and the impact escalation has on conflict. 

I’m the unofficial administrator of the Humanist page on Facebook. I’m not sure how I got that job. Facebook just decided I should manage it I guess.

Anyway, a couple of months ago some Balochistan activists for independence hijacked the page and started posting photos in support of Balochistan independence.

I was asked by the activist who took over the Humanist page, to post and spread the word about the human rights abuses in Balochistan in support of their effort.

Being the Humanist I am, I am of course, for human rights.  The problem is, I can’t tell who is doing what and who is in the right and who is in the wrong from a moral perspective. Sorting it all out is why we practice critical thinking skills. We don’t want to accidentally support something that sounds good because it’s about human rights, but then find out that we are supporting terrorists.

As I had promised this young activist that I would consider writing about the problem, I am keeping my promise here. However, it is in the context that I don’t have an opinion because getting good (objective) information from Balochistan is very hard to do. I am using Wikipedia because there isn’t much on the news about this. 

So here is a synopsis of the problem as I understand it. I do think this is worth knowing about because of current geopolitics and of course, human rights concerns.

Balochistan is in western Pakistan and borders Iran and Afghanistan. It was annexed by Pakistan when Pakistan was formed with the approval of 3 of the 4 princes of the region. Since then there has been an active resistance from Pakistan by the one prince state area that didn’t agree to the annexation. As far as I can tell, this has led to an ongoing conflict with one side being called terrorists and the other being called an abusive state conducting human rights abuses. 

At stake is an area rich in natural resources and access to the Arabian sea via a deep sea port at Gwadar.  

As for violence – since 2003 8,000 people have reportedly been kidnapped by Pakistani forces in a kill and dump campaign. There is Muslim on Muslim violence with Al Qaida elements killing Shia Muslims in the region and Balochi militants are reported to have killed over 600 people since 2006. 

Who is right in this conflict? I have no idea. However, it does show what escalation causes, more violence. It also shows why critical thinking skills are important to learn. Most moral issues are not black and white. They involve us having to choose the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils.Without more objective information, like how many Balochi's support the separatists, I have no way to decide what side I think, personally, is in the right. 

It would be helpful is news outlets in the west spent more time covering this conflict because it really is at the nexus of the fight for power in the region. 

I apologize for turning over this blog to this topic today, but I thought it might be helpful to consider a real world example of how difficult critical thinking and moral reasoning can be. Sometimes, we just don’t know enough to have a valid opinion. 

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