The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a federal state consisting of four provinces of Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; the federally administered Islamabad Capital Territory and two illegally occupied territories of Kashmir which it calls autonomous territories of Gilgit- Baltistan and Kashmir.
Balochistan means 'land of Baloch', and thus it derives its current name after its inhabitants, who are known as Baloch. They are mostly Sunni Muslims who speak the Balochi language. Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan but has 44 per cent of Pakistan's total area and less than ten per cent of its population. 52 per cent of its inhabitants are Baloch, 36 per cent are Pashtuns, and the rest are Brahuis, Hazara, etc. Balochistan has oil, copper, gold and natural gas in good amount. It shares the border with Afghanistan and Iran. Hence its location is extremely important.
Hindus In Balochistan
Till invasion by Islam in the 7th century, some area of what now consists of Balochistan was ruled by the Hindu Sewa dynasty while the Hindu Rai dynasty ruled the other. Hindus are now a minority in Balochistan due to centuries of violence and forced conversions. According to Pakistan Hindu Council, the Hindu population of Balochistan is 117, 345. Hindu community is routinely attacked, but the media and police ignore these attacks. Hindus say the system has the policy to harass and target Hindus to force them to leave the country. Few ancient Hindu religious places like the Hinglaj Devi Sati Mata Shaktipeeth, Kalat Kali mandir, Ram Kund mandir Saidpur, Shaktipeeth Shivaharkaray mandir, Sidh Pani Nathji mandir have survived the Islamic onslaught in Balochistan.
The Balochistan area was originally part of Bharat Varsh (India) and was inhabited by Sanatani Hindus and later by Buddhists and Zoroastrians. Till Islamic invasion in the 7th century, some of it was ruled by the Sanatani Hindu (Brahmin) Rai Dynasty, covering 600,000 square miles from Kashmir to Makran to Kandahar to Surat, covering almost all of Pakistan, a bit of Afghanistan and the north-west part of India of today.
In 1500, the area was divided between the Safavid Persian Empire (now Iran) and Mughal Empire. Mughals delegated control to their local vassal Khan of Kalat. British India took control of it in 1854. Khan of Kalat had engaged Jinnah as a lawyer to negotiate the freedom of Balochistan from the British. As a result of negotiations between British Viceroy Jinnah and Khan of Kalat, a communiqué was issued on 11th August 1947 that recognized Kalat (Balochistan) as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British Government and with a status different from that of other Indian states. But soon, Jinnah changed his mind and asked Khan of Kalat to join Pakistan. However, on 21st February 1948, the Parliament of Kalat decided not to accede to Pakistan.
Forced Accession of Balochistan in Pakistan
On 26th March 1948 Pakistani army entered Baloch/ Kalat area and declared that the Khan of Kalat had accepted accession to Pakistan. Thus, Balochistan was forcibly included in Pakistan after remaining an independent country for 227 days. The British Empire never mandated the accession of Balochistan because they had given Balochistan under Kalat independence before India became independent and Pakistan came into being. Hence, the capture of Balochistan by Pakistan was illegal. Although Kalat joined Pakistan at the point of a gun, until the military coup in 1958, it maintained its autonomy. Later, Kalat was deprived of its autonomous status and identity more ruthlessly. Sardar Bahadur Khan, President Ayub's younger brother, depicted in Pakistan National Assembly in 1962 a gruesome picture and narrated a harrowing tale of the sufferings of the Balochies at the hands of Pakistan armed forces who used planes to bomb Balochi areas. As soon as Kalat was forcibly integrated into Pakistan, many rallies and meetings against this were held in Kalat. The younger brother of Khan revolted against this decision, but all the people opposing the accession were arrested, and Anjuman-e- Vatan party was declared illegal. Khan of Kalat himself accepted that he had no right to sign the accession treaty, and he had signed it under immense pressure.
Balochistan is one of the most backward and underdeveloped regions in Pakistan. Baloch people are ethnically different from others in Pakistan. According to Baloch leader Dr Jumma Khan Marri, 18 out of 20 most deprived districts in Pakistan are in Balochistan. 88 per cent of Baloch live in a high degree of deprivation. 48 per cent of the population of Balochistan lives below the poverty line. Only 20 per cent of the population of Balochistan has access to safe drinking water compared to 86 per cent of the population in the rest of Pakistan. Only 25 per cent of villages have electrification in Balochistan compared to 75 per cent in the rest of the country. The maternal mortality rate is 650 per 100,000 births in Balochistan, and infant mortality is 158 per 1000 live births. Over three-fourths of women in Balochistan and two-thirds of the total population above ten years are illiterate.
Baloch feel exploited by Punjabis. Punjabis dominate every other language or ethnic group in Pakistan and do not treat others equally. Baloch believes that Pakistan has illegally occupied Balochistan, an independent country, before the formation of Pakistan. Hence, they want Balochistan to be recognized as an independent nation-state and are fighting for the same. Pakistan is repressing the demand by killing, raping, arresting, inflicting violence and branding them terrorists.
The Baloch tribes have rebelled against the Pakistani army at least five times since 1947, but the insurgency has been put down brutally. This brutality has further alienated the Baloch, while their political and economic grievances remained unaddressed. The fighting has been low key but brutal. While Baloch militants have targeted the security forces with ambushes, assassinations and land mines, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have described a 'kill and dump' policy by which the security forces pickup, detain, torture and kill Baloch nationalists, activists, ordinary civilians and students. Their bullet-ridden bodies are dumped on the roadside at the rate of about twenty a month. Often their bodies are not even found. Human Rights Watch says- this is not counterinsurgency- it is barbarianism, and it must end.
Balochs are also demonstrating for their freedom outside Balochistan. For example, they demonstrate in Afghanistan, Sweden, Canada, Germany and Netherlands. They blame the UN and other International Human Rights Organizations for not censoring Pakistan when murdering and raping millions of Bengali people. Hence now Pakistan is repeating the same crimes in Balochistan.
Meanwhile, China has got involved in the area to exploit its natural gas, copper, oil, gold and ports etc., in the name of development. Baloch calls it Chinese colonialism and threatens to kill Chinese who come to Balochistan. Baloch pro- independent leader Allah Nazar Baloch has warned the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan that CPEC (China- Pakistan Economic Corridor) does not have Baloch consent. (Nazar, 2018) School children are being taught Chinese instead of the Balochi language. Baloch fears that after Chinese nationals settle down in Balochistan, Baloch will become a minority in their land. China has been trying to woo Baloch leaders to safeguard CPEC, but Baloch leaders are unwilling to compromise on their core demand. Baloch nationalists look towards India for support.
However, the main weaknesses of the Baloch struggle are their disunity, small numbers, brutal Pakistani regime and lack of international awareness and support. Also, Balochistan does not share a border with India.
Pakistan does not want Balochistan to go Bangladesh way, so they control them completely and deny any concession. Pakistan and China are working together to control Baloch the same way China-controlled Xinjiang. (Ahmed, 6.8.18) They exploit the disunity among Baloch. Although all political parties in Pakistan agree that talks must be held with Baloch' dissidents', but the army is yet to agree.
Response of India
In 1948, Kalat had requested to merge in India, but the Indian government led by Nehru not only refused the request of Kalat but made the request public through All India Radio. After this announcement, Khan of Kalat faced tremendous pressure from Pakistan to accede to Pakistan. (Balochistan…, 18.9.2018) Earlier also, Khan of Kalat had sent Samad Khan and Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo to Congress President Maulana Azad to seek India's support for an independent Balochistan. Still, Maulana Azad refused to support a free Balochistan. Khan of Kalat himself also tried to unsuccessfully convince Indian leaders that his state was different and should be treated like Nepal.
India did not oppose the occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan, nor did India give any support to the Baloch freedom struggle; however, Pakistan has been falsely accusing India of destabilizing Balochistan. It has abducted the retired Naval Officer of India Kulbhushan Jadhav from Iran and tortured him into confessing that he is an Indian spy.
Balochistan issue was for the first time raised on a public platform by PM Modi on India's Independence Day in 2016 when he thanked the Baloch people and raised the issue of the violation of their human rights. After that, India raised the issue a couple of times in the UN Human Rights Council. India noted that 'Pakistan has systematically abused and violated human rights of its own citizens including in Balochistan.' However, the request of Baloch separatist leader Brahumdagh Bugti for refuge in India has not been accepted. India's policy on Balochistan under the Modi government is a closely guarded secret. However, Indians have discovered the Baloch issue. Pakistan's ill will and ill acts towards India and their aim of breaking India is no secret. Some believe that the government is closely watching the situation in Balochistan. The question is will India take the problems out of India and into Pakistan? Will India follow the Doval doctrine known as 'Defensive Offensive' or will India continue with its traditional policy of 'Defensive Defensive'.
Balochistan was an independent country for 227 days before Pakistan forcefully annexed it. The struggle of the Baloch people is for the establishment of an independent, secular and prosperous Balochistan. It's a just struggle that the international community must support.