Balochistan is a confluence of different ethnic tribes including the dominant Balochis and a sizeable Pashtun population. AK Mengal, Nationalist Leader and former chief minister (1972-73) of Balochistan province had told BBC in a 1987 Channel 4 documentary, Balochistan: The Gathering Storm: “Baloch has a history of a different identity. It has all the qualities of a separate nation. It has got its own language, it has got its own culture, own heroes and it has got its own land.”
Seven decades of untold atrocities, barbarism by uniformed men
Sadly, today the situation in Balochistan is much worse than any other conflict-riddled country because in Balochistan the state itself is engaged in barbarism. Due to the constant military operations and atrocities, thousands of Baloch are homeless, living like refugees and the remainder are scarred for life. The last 15 years have been particularly brutal. The construction of strategic port has not only resulted in increased tension between the Baloch and the Pakistani government but has raised allegations of ethnic cleansing. It is out in the open now that uniformed forces are engaged in Baloch genocide, abducting people, torturing them and then dumping their mutilated bodies. A report in BBC tells of a discovery of bodies from a mass grave in the village of Tutak near Khuzdar in Balochistan province ascertaining the above.
The genesis of the Balochistan conflict lies in Pakistan’s annexation of an independent, sovereign nation. Though Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the then ruler of Kalat, signed a ‘treaty of accession’ under the threat of imprisonment, his brothers and followers continued to fight, triggering the first conflict between Baloch and the Pakistani Army. Balochistan has remained under the yoke of Pakistani oppression; political subjugation, economic exploitation, cultural hegemony and military excesses resulting in gross human rights violations and untold atrocities for over seven decades. The Baloch Parliament never accepted this treaty and it never received people’s mandate. So far, there have been five waves of insurgencies starting with the 1948 rebellion. There were uprisings in 1958, 1962-63 and 1973-77. After two decades of relative lull, the fifth Baloch insurgency movement began in 2003. In 2006, tallest Baloch leader Akbar Khan Bugti was assassinated in a targeted plot (by the uniformed men) and the massacre continues to date.
Fact Files: barbarism of uniformed men
A report in The Guardian collates some of the gross human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances of militants and activists and crimes against humanity carried out by the Pakistan army. Similarly, a 2006 report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) documented arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, extra-judicial and summary executions, disappearances and the use of excessive and indiscriminate violence by Pakistan’s police, military, security and intelligence forces. These findings were corroborated by Amnesty International.
Women at the receiving end: barbarism uniformed men
Earlier it was Baloch political activists, now women are abducted, beaten up and detained by the uniformed men. LiveLeak and Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had reported that a 23-year old Baloch school teacher “had been repeatedly raped by the military officers and is being used as a sex slave, to induce arrested nationalist activists to sign state-concocted confessions.” The report quoted sources as saying that “there were [referring to an eye-witness account] young Balochi females seen at those two torture cells, naked and in distress. The women are sexually abused in the military custody but they cannot say so publicly because of their sanctity and harassment of their families.”
Should we take pride in an army that takes women as booty of war? Are we not shamed enough already reminded of the horrors of the 1971 ‘rape genocide’ committed by our so-called saviors?
Every day Baloch women are being beaten, tortured, abducted and murdered in military operations in occupied Balochistan. Although Balochistan is a major natural gas producer, Baloch women have to cook food on open fires. Because of lack of clean water, illness and disease are common. The women are repeatedly targeted and atrocities on them are intensified.The condition of women in Balochistan is worse than Sudan and Somalia. In rural Balochistan, poverty is extreme and this combined with illiteracy and growing radicalization have compounded the woes of women. The Pakistan Health Demographic Survey (PHDS) reports that Balochistan leads the nation in maternal mortality, with 785 deaths for every 100,000 women, compared to 272 in the rest of the country. The situation is also no good in FATA where women mortality rate is three times higher than rest of the country. It was informed that in FATA 73 % while in Balochistan 71 % population lives below the poverty line.
Has Pakistan military stifled the country, undermining its very fabric?
Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth. Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, Retd, Pakistan Army said “I’m a soldier and proud of being a soldier. But all the ills of Pakistan are because of the armed forces intervention in the civilian affairs. If the army had not imposed as many martial laws in this country – four so far – we would have had 15 to 20 elections by now and a much better lot of politicians than the sort of pygmies we have got today.”
The Baloch population, in both Pakistan and Iran, endures difficulties in raising international awareness of their situation of poverty, violence and discrimination. In Pakistan, where “bodies are found days later, with visible signs of torture or mutilation”, enforced disappearance ranks as one of the most common threats. These practices have come to be called as the ‘Kill and Dump’ policy. But why are we letting history (1971 genocide in Bangladesh by Pakistan Army) repeat itself? Or is our conscious dead already?
07 Mar 18/Wednesday.