Balochistan has in recent months witnessed killing of settlers and workers from Sindh and Punjab by armed Baloch separatist rebels. As things stand now, the turbulent situation in Balochistan points out to the possibility of this province of Pakistan emerging as a second Bangladesh.
The failed State of Pakistan seems to be getting the taste of its own medicine. The brilliant Bharateeya strategy focussed on exposing the brutal and inhuman record of Pakistan in treating its disgruntled ethnic communities—from Balochs and Mohajirs to Baltis and Kashmiris—has taken the wind out of the sail of Pakistan’s virulent anti-Bharat propaganda on human rights violation in Kashmir Valley. There is enough material evidence to prove Pakistan’s notorious role in meting out inhuman atrocities on the residents of Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) which was forced to join Pakistan through perfidy and subterfuge and Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK). With a view to transform the demographic complexion of the predominantly Shia dominated Northern Areas, Pakistan has been settling Sunni Muslims in the region in a steady and systematic manner. In addition Pakistan has a well conceived strategy on hand to turn the poorly developed, trouble torn Northern Areas into a well entrenched hub of terrorist training camps. According to Washington based Human Rights’ activist, Senge Hasnan Sering, “The native people (of Northern Areas) have been suffering rape, torture and economic exploitation at the hands of non- state actors from Pakistan and China.” There is a great deal of resentment in this illegally occupied part of Pakistan over the presence of a large number of Chinese workers and security personnel for building the much talked of Pakistan-China economic corridor.
Even as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was stridently talking about the human rights violation in Kashmir Valley at United Nations (UN) in late September this year, a group of Mohajirs, the Bharateeya migrants settled in Pakistan, held a noisy demonstration outside the UN headquarters demanding “azadi” (freedom) from the oppressive Pakistani rule. For Pakistan supported separatists in Kashmir Valley, the cry of azadi has for long been a rallying point. And this has taken the bottom out of Pakistan’s advocacy of the right of self-determination for the inhabitants of Kashmir Valley.
It is an irony of the history that Mohajirs, who were in the forefront of the creation of Pakistan, now want to be the architects of their own destiny. A statement issued by the United States (US) wing of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), the political party representing the interests of Mohajirs in Pakistan said “While the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was addressing the US General Assembly raising Kashmir issue and atrocities of Bharateeya State in Kashmir, MQM USA chapter
was protesting against State terrorism on 50-million Mohajirs in Pakistan”.
Indeed the continuing bloody crack down on Mohajirs in Karachi by Pakistani rangers has disturbed Mohajirs in USA and UK to no end. Not to be left behind, Baloch exiles in USA and UK have launched a global campaign to focus on the atrocities to which Balochs are being subjected back home in Pakistan. Of course, Balochs are vocal that they will not settle for anything less than an independent homeland. Mohajirs, who not long back had demanded a separate Mohajiristan province within the federal framework of Pakistan, may now be forced to fight for an independent country for this Urdu speaking community. Mohajirs are mainly concentrated in the urban areas of Sindh.
Balochistan has in recent months witnessed killing of settlers and workers from Sindh and Punjab by armed Baloch separatist rebels. This reflects growing resentment of Balochs over the shocking state of affairs including an abysmally low per capita income, rickety infrastructural facilities and poor literacy rate in this not so densely populated province of Pakistan. Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)-led by Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marrri, the son of the nationalist Baloch leader Khair Bux Marri is one of the separatist groups actively pursuing the goal of an independent Balochistan. Marri lives in self imposed exile in London. Baloch Republican Army (BRA) is another insurgent outfit which continues to fight for freeing Balochistan from the clutches of Pakistan. Incidentally, the root cause of the current Balochistan crisis lies in the forcible annexation of the State of Kalat (Balochistan) by Pakistan. At the time Pakistan came into being in 1947 Kalat was an independent, sovereign State ruled by the Khan of Kalat who is now in exile in the United Kingdom as a king without crown.
Not knowing how to wriggle out of the predicament it had created for itself and as a diversionary tactics, days after Bharat hosted Baloch separatist leader Hyrbyair Marri in New Delhi, Pakistan Government invited Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani to Islamabad for a discussion on Kashmir issue. Bharat’s Ministry of External Affairs has been quick to confirm the presence of Balaach Pardili in New Delhi, who, as a representative of BLA would campaign for an independent Balochistan. This step has led Pakistan to state that Bharat is bent upon fomenting trouble in Balochistan. Exposing the notorious and brutal role of Pakistani security forces in Balochsitan, Pardili says, “Balochistan is divided among three countries—Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. But the atrocities are taking place inside Pakistan which has conducted five military operations against Baloch people and the last campaign that they began in 2004 has left 19,000 people dead and many more displaced and missing.”
Clearly and apparently, Baloch insurgency acquired a serious dimension in the wake of the cold blooded killing in 2006 of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a widely respected Baloch tribal leader. Sometime back, Jamil Akbar Khan Bugti, the son of this slain leader Akbar Khan Bugti had stated, “I stand for a free and fair referendum in Balochistan under UN supervision. Let Baloch people who are struggling for their independence decide their future”.
Rightly and appropriately Baloch separatist leaders who are terribly upset over the wide abuse of human rights in the province ask, why the Punjabi dominated Federal Government in Islamabad which day in and day out articulates the demand for self-determination of Kashmiris in Bharat should cry foul over the rights of native Balochs? “Many Pakistanis still do not want to hear the Baloch demands but the Baloch movement is not meant for provincial autonomy. There is a full fledged movement for Balochistan’s independence taking place in the province,” says Malik Siraj Akbar, Editor of Baloch Hal, an online publication championing the cause of an independent Baloch nation.
Balochs are also upset over the involvement of Chinese companies in the development of mining projects in the province. Balochs look at the increasing involvement of Chinese companies in various projects of Balochistan as a conspiracy of the ruling Punjabi centric establishment in Islamabad to colonise Balochistan with migrants from Punjab and other parts of the country.
Human rights’ activists say that the suffering of Baloch families whose members have gone missing as result of a well organised abduction campaign by Pakistani security forces is too deep for words. As things stand now, the turbulent situation in Balochistan points out to the possibility of this province of Pakistan emerging as a second Bangladesh. Indeed, as pointed out by Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizengo, a respected political figure of Balochistan, “We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by virtue of being Muslims we should lose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims, requires us to join Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran—both of which are Muslim countries—should amalgamate with Pakistan”.
The warning signal for the political set up and military establishment of Pakistan which has all along been nourishing terrorist and sectarian groups to use them as a counterpoise against the “real and perceived” enemies of this so called “land of the pure” is clear: the Frankenstein it has created will spell the death knell of the country whose creation was accompanied by violence and hatred.
Radhakrishna Rao (The writer is a senior journalist)