Balochistan Crying for Peace
Will the current upsurge in Balochistan come to an end after the imposition of governor’s rule on January 14, is a fresh hornets’ nest for Pakistan when elections are round the corner. Balochistan is the most important flash point of conflicts in Asia today. Pakistan is not giving the serious attention to Balochistan as it is more sensitive than Afghanistan.
The dismissal of Baloch provincial government headed by Nawab Aslam Raisani was inescapable action taken by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf after the killing of more than 100 people belonging to Hazara community on January 10 in Quetta in three powerful bomb blasts. Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi has been appointed as the chief executive of the province.
The people of Baloch are further demoralised over the act of P.P.P. leadership which proceeded on the advice of Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Iltaf Hussain, the London-based head of the Muthida Quomi Movement and opposition leaders Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan without taking the local leaders into confidence. They have raised fingers on all those leaders who are outsiders with very limited public support in Balochistan and have no right to decide the fate of Balochis.
Reacting on governor’s rule in Balochistan, Supreme Court Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed “it never wanted the dismissal of Balochistan assembly and there is a difference between legislative business and authority of executive”. He has further questioned why the law enforcement agencies have not yet arrested the people involved in the killing of Mastung and Quetta. He said time and again during the proceedings of the matter the court had pointed towards assurance of basic rights in the province.
It is pertinent to mention, CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had issued an order on October 12 last that the Balochistan government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province because of violation of fundamental rights and failure to establish the writ of law on a writ petition filed by Balochistan Bar Association. In a reply submitted by Interior Secretary K M Siddique Akbar, before supreme court arrived to give decision for disposal of provincial government mentioned “We should take a leaf out from the Indian experience where in the states like Kashmir, East Punjab, Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram, armed insurgency and partial breakdown of government machinery took place for a number of years, but still the democracy and successive elections afforded the people and the government a good chance to overcome their difficulties and defeat the militants with political process which was allowed to continue unhindered, undisturbed, compromised or violated.” Interestingly, in report, the interior ministry termed Kashmir a part of India and also recognised its elections.
In an interview from UAE, former Chief Minister of Balochistan Sardar Akthar Mengal while commenting on Balochistan under governor’s rule said earlier the Chief Minister of Balochistan would function with no civilian government control and under now under governor’s rule with Frontier Corp (FC) support Pakistan will have absolute control over the province. He categorically said “only the international powers can bring normalcy in Balochistan because ruling powers of Pakistan are not serious to solve the worst issue. Unlessstate-sponsored death squads do not stop Balochistan will have no option but seek a civilized and peaceful divorce rather than bloody divorce from Pakistan”. When asked about his return to Pakistan and taking part in the forthcoming elections, he said “Our political strength is in Balochistan, and Balochistan is in a state of war. When in war, you cannot have elections but selection that was done during last election.” In reply to a question of his support to armed fighters in Balochistan, he said “even if we can’t help them but must pray for them. There are eleven proxy 'death squads' operating under the supervision of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) and they should be disbanded and Baloch political parties should be allowed to function to resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies. ” He also said as long as the current situation continues and killing of Baloch political activists and supporters does not end, taking part in elections was not possible.
Hamdan Baloch leader of Baloch Student Organisation –Azad (London) has already d an open war against Pakistan saying “we urge the UN for humanitarian intervention to solve the issue once and for all by taking action against Pakistan and declaring Baluchistan as an independent state.
Pakistan has consistently has been blaming Baloch freedom fighters for the violence and encourages the role of security forces for protecting the people. But Pakistan’s claim got exposed when Supreme Court of Pakistan interim order of October 2012 boldly held government agencies responsible for extra judicial killings, abducting of common political workers and executing human right activists.
According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) paramilitary forces and law enforcement agencies have committed “disgusting violations of human rights” since Baloch insurgency intensified. The US too has expressed its concerns over “growing instability” in Balochistan. Recently, US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe, alleged that security squads in the province, under their kill-and-dispose of policy, have been “targeting proponents of civic rights, local activists and their families, journalists, political workers and student leaders, therefore the Baloch society has been alienating and chances of peace there have been shrinking”.
In past five years Balochistan has witnessed over 2,100 lives and left 3,845 injured in over 3,232 incidents of bomb blasts and rocket attacks, according to statistics report of Pakistan’s home department. Mainly, the sectarian killings remain the biggest challenge throughout Balochistan. The report has also mentioned of ‘kill and dump’ the figures Around 570 bodies have been found strewn throughout province of which 370 belongs to Baloch and 89 to Pashtun communities. The rest remain unidentified till date.
Surprisingly, under governor’s rule Frontier Constabulary (FC) has been granted police rights which is responsible for keeping Balochistan in turmoil state. National and international human rights groups have blamed the F.C. for carrying out widespread human rights abuses in the province. Even the Balochistan Police provided the Supreme Court of Pakistan an authentic video footage which showed F.C. personnel kidnapping some political activists. The F.C. is a part of the problem instead of the solution.
Primarily, Balochistan having largest province 47% of Pakistan’s area comprises of four princely states – Kalat, Lasbela, Makran and Kharan which were forcibly occupied by Pakistan after the end of British rule in 1947. The province is gifted with abundant natural wealth. But the growing dominance of Punjabis, exploitation of natural wealth and rising atrocities against Baloch is pushing Balochistan towards the path of independence taking the lead from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Since independence, Balochistan remained in turmoil. In 1948, 1958, 1962-69 and 1974-77 and from 2000 till now, the province has been in the grip of violence. That has resulted in a deep hostility against Pakistan by Balochis.
Dr. Allah Nazar, a senior commander of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), now a guerrilla fighter with more than 6,000 fighters has launched a guerrilla war inside East Balochistan. BLF speak out “We had already been d an independent state from Pakistan in August 1947, even before Pakistan started to exist. Seven months later, Pakistan occupied our land by force, marking the beginning of a colonial policies imposed by Islamabad.Balochs are basically secular, by their culture, by their tradition. According to BLF, Pakistani regime is trying to Talibanize the Baloch society. Pakistan is nourishing and fundding the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists into Afghanistan, India, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Pakistan is an irresponsible state that is putting the civilized world in danger. A free Baloch state would therefore be in the interest of the whole civilized world, claims BLF.
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R C Ganjoo
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