Tag Archives: Quetta

Sher Muhammad Marri

By Babar Mirza

Mujahid Barelvi remembers a forgotten hero of the Baloch struggle. Translated from the Urdu by Babar Mirza.

It is a great tragedy for this country in general and Balochistan in particular that Sher Muhammad Marri – who fought an armed struggle in the mountains during the 1950s and ‘60s and was imprisoned in different jails during the ‘70s – is hardly ever remembered in Baloch politics. Even most of the Baloch wouldn’t know where he is buried, for Sher Muhammad Marri was not a sardar or nawab whose politics and legacy had to be kept alive by his sons.

The day my lamenting eyes run out of tears

The eyes of the night of sorrow shall lose all light

My first meeting with Sher Muhammad Marri was entirely by accident. In Karachi, when Mir Bazan (the eldest son of Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bazinjo) heard that I was going to Lahore to participate in an inter-collegiate debate, he asked me to carry a message for BSO’s central leader Raziq Bugti who was then studying at the Animal Husbandry College. This was my first meeting with Raziq but he greeted me with such warmth as if we had known each other for years. He asked me to sit behind him on his bike and said, “You have reached here at a good time. I am going to Kot Lakhpat Jail to meet Sher Muhammad Mari,” adding, with a smile, “the same Sher Muhammad Marri nicknamed General Sherof by your Leader of the People to paint him as a Russian agent and keep him in jail for life.”

No wonder Bhutto Sahib called him General Sherof

Sitting in the reception area at Kot Lakhpat Jail, I was about to doze off when suddenly I heard a noise. Sher Muhammad Marri made an appearance that was much more impressive and imposing than I had heard. A stocky build with medium height, his long, golden-white-and-black hair was well-kept, his red-and-white face carrying a set of fiery eyes. No wonder Bhutto Sahib called him General Sherof. I for one did not have the courage to look him in the eye. Sher Muhammad Marri had a hurried chat with Raziq Bugti and left. Shortly after that, Sher Muhammad Marri was transferred to Hyderabad Jail. I used to exchange greetings with him in the visitors’ room on my trips to the jail to cover the Hyderabad Conspiracy case. But his authoritative outlook took away my courage to strike a conversation with him.

In 1978, after the Hyderabad Conspiracy case had been closed and the Baloch and Pakhtun leaders released, I went to Quetta as a journalist and had my first detailed interview with Sher Muhammad Marri. This interview proved how wrong my first impression of him was. In the Marri house, after Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri retired for the night, I felt that Sher Muhammad Marri had relaxed as well. He remembered our first meeting in the Kot Lakhpat Jail. He had also read my interview with Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bazinjo published that very week in the weekly Me’yaar. In contrast to his imposing personality, he had a very slow and soft voice. I had learnt from my Baloch friends that Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Sher Muhammad Marri were not only angry with Wali Khan but also with the moderate Baloch leader Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bazinjo. This estrangement became so bad in Hyderabad Jail that, upon their release, they left for Quetta in separate processions of their supporters. Balochistan would have looked very different today if the four pillars of Baloch nationalism during the ‘70s – Marri, Bugti, Mengal and Bazinjo – had put their differences aside. Faiz sahib penned a beautiful couplet about the myriad splits and divisions in secular and progressive movements during the ‘70s:

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Gas supply disrupted as pipeline blown up in Balochistan

QUETTA: An 18-inch Sui gas pipeline was blown up in early hours of Monday by unknown miscreants in Dera Murad Jamali disrupting gas supply in various areas of the insurgency-hit Balochistan province, DawnNews reported.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1090591

Balochistan bleeding

TaqiBy Dr Mohammad Taqi

Is the chief minister not aware that the Hazaras cannot move freely between Hazara Town and Mariabad, Quetta without risking executions? That a people are being ghettoised in the 21st century on his watch seems completely lost on Dr Baloch

Read more » Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/30-Jan-2014/balochistan-bleeding

Simple arithmetic — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The establishment and its intellectuals’ priority has never been the rights of the Baloch and Sindhis

The envisaged Gwadar-Khunjrab-Kashgar railway and oil pipeline, for which a feasibility report was completed by Chinese engineers before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s 2010 visit to Pakistan, bodes evil for the Baloch people’s rights. This is but a part of the larger strategy aimed at ensuring that Balochistan becomes the Tibet and Xinjiang of Pakistan. Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, had then stated, “We support China’s policy on Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights.” China-Pakistan relations are based on mutual support for human rights violations.

This is amply proved by the fact that during the 23rd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s general debate in Geneva on June 7, 2013, when Balochistan’s representative to the UN Mehran Marri spoke about Pakistan’s continuing human rights abuses and recent farcical elections in Balochistan, the Pakistani delegate objected, and was supported by the Chinese and Cuban delegates. However, much to their chagrin, the US and UK representatives taking strong exception to their objections, supported Marri and called on the session chair to allow him to complete his statement and be allowed on record. Ironically, the Cuban representative said it was unacceptable for an NGO, conveniently forgetting that they too were once an NGO (pun intended), to attack the territorial integrity and independence of a sovereign state.

The continuing Afghan influx has already changed the demographic balance in parts of Balochistan. This proposed railway will help Pakistan usher in engineered demographic changes to turn the Baloch into a minority in their own land. The recently installed extremely pliable government in Quetta — whose titular chief minister cannot even name a cabinet without Nawaz Sharif’s consent — fully supports these sham mega-projects to bring about required demographic changes. The systematic engineered demographic changes combined with the brutal killings of Baloch activists and ordinary people suspected of sympathies with the Sarmachars (insurgents) are the two-pronged attacks that the Pakistani establishment has unleashed on the Baloch people. The demography issue is a life and death issue as the Baloch people’s destiny hinges on it and the resistance they can muster.

The Pashtuns too are suffering because of the harebrained dreams of strategic depth, which the deep state refuses to abandon in the hope of becoming the arbiter of Afghanistan’s fate and the hope to keep India on the back foot with its non-state actors. This ludicrous policy also sustains sectarian terror.

Sindhis have had the worst of both worlds and are rapidly turning into a minority in Sindh. Once again demands for shifting Biharis there are being made. This does not mean that they have not been coming in slowly, steadily and surreptitiously; where even mechanics can get blue passports at a price, getting an NIC is not a big deal. Thousands of Afghans refugees are bona fide citizens of Sindh; an Afghan colony is slowly taking shape near Bhit Shah and may well become a Sohrab Goth.

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Baloch need to struggle within Pakistan, says chief minister

By Anwar Iqbal

“Democracy is the only option for Baloch nationalists,” says Balochistan’s new chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. “We need to connect with national democratic forces to achieve our objectives. We need to work within Pakistan. We have no other option.”

In an interview to Dawn.com, Dr Malik said that a move by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to create a separate state for Balochs will further confuse the Baloch struggle for their rights.

“In the past, we were told the revolution will come from Moscow. Now we are told it will come from Moscow. I disagree with such suggestions. We need to struggle for our rights within Pakistan. We need to work with other democratic forces in the country.”

He said that relations with neighboring states, particularly India, Iran and Afghanistan have a direct impact on the situation in Balochistan.

“Our institutions need to sit together and work out a new foreign policy if we want peace, particularly in Balochistan.”

The sectarian violence, he said, was directly linked to the Iran-Saudi conflict and “we need to device a balanced approach to prevent these two countries from fighting their war on our turf.

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The great game

Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.

President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.

President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.

Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.

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The Taliban’s New, More Terrifying Cousin

How a virulent Pakistani terrorist group is trying to annihilate an ethnic rival–and why we should be worried

Abdul Amir (as we’ll call him), a chemistry teacher in Quetta, Pakistan, was taking an afternoon nap on Feb. 16 when his house began to shake and the earth let out an almighty roar. His mother and sisters started screaming and ran out of the house, but by the time they gathered in the street, the noise had already stopped. He climbed to the roof to get a better view of what happened and saw a thick cloud of bright white smoke, a mile south, suspended above the market place where his students would be buying snacks after their weekend English classes. He rushed back down to the ground, started his motorcycle and took off toward ground zero, knowing all the while that this was foolish – during a bombing five weeks before, the people who came to help were killed by a second explosion.

Still he raced through the streets, swerving around people running away from the bomb, finally arriving at a scene even worse even than he’d feared. The blast had been so powerful that the market hadn’t been destroyed so much as it had been deleted, as had the people shopping there and those in buildings nearby. Everything within 100 meters was simply flattened, and all that remained were the metal skeletons of a few flaming vehicles and the chemical smell of synthetic materials burning. Abdul would find more than fifty of his students were injured. One of his favorite students would die from her wounds six days later.

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We are at war

By: Asad Munir

Until the late 1970s Shias and Sunnis lived in complete harmony in this country. There were sporadic, minor incidents of Shia-Sunni violence but generally there was no hostility between the two sects. Muharram was sacred for Sunnis as well. Many attended Shia majalis, and on the tenth of Muharram cooked special foods, participated in Shia processions and revered the Zuljinah.

These good times were changed by three major events that took place in the late 1970s: Zia’s martial law, Khomeini’s revolution and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets. Pakistan was no more the same moderate and tolerant country. Zia, after hanging an elected prime minister, wanted to use religion as a tool to prolong his rule. He tried to introduce Islamic laws as per the concept of the Islamic state envisioned by Maulana Maudoodi.

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Insight: Spiral of Karachi killings widens Pakistan’s sectarian divide

By Matthew Green, KARACHI

(Reuters) – When Aurangzeb Farooqi survived an attempt on his life that left six of his bodyguards dead and a six-inch bullet wound in his thigh, the Pakistani cleric lost little time in turning the narrow escape to his advantage.

Recovering in hospital after the ambush on his convoy in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital, the radical Sunni Muslim ideologue was composed enough to exhort his followers to close ranks against the city’s Shi’ites.

“Enemies should listen to this: my task now is Sunni awakening,” Farooqi said in remarks captured on video shortly after a dozen gunmen opened fire on his double-cabin pick-up truck on December 25.

“I will make Sunnis so powerful against Shi’ites that no Sunni will even want to shake hands with a Shi’ite,” he said, propped up in bed on emergency-room pillows. “They will die their own deaths, we won’t have to kill them.”

Such is the kind of speech that chills members of Pakistan’s Shi’ite minority, braced for a new chapter of persecution following a series of bombings that have killed almost 200 people in the city of Quetta since the beginning of the year.

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Who’s afraid of Ayesha Siddiqa? — Dr Mohammad Taqi

Dr Siddiqa’s 2007 masterpiece Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy clearly did not win her any friends amongst Lieven’s friends

There is no indication that the dark night of Takfiri terrorism is about to lift its heinous shadow from Quetta’s Shia Hazara. Are 40 days enough of a respite for the Hazara to be digging mass graves for their loved ones again? The terrorists of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) appear to think so. Just as the Hazara Shia were about to commemorate the Chehlum — the 40th day of mourning — of those killed in the January 10 Alamdar Road bombing, death rained again on Hazara Town this past weekend. Over 110 Hazaras — about half of them women and children — perished. Toothless condemnations from spineless politicians have already poured in. But those really running the show in Balochistan are quiet. For them the Shia genocide in Pakistan is simply the cost of doing business, a price that has to be paid for the ‘greater good’.

In the past, this ‘greater good’ was merely wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir but over the last few years the same formula is being applied in Balochistan. We have previously noted here that the LeJ was inducted into Balochistan by its khaki patrons to undermine the Baloch movement just like Gulbudin Hikmatyar and the Taliban’s ilk were used to undercut the Pashtun nationalist movement. The idea is to neutralize the Baloch nationalist struggle and keep the Baloch people and their resources under the praetorian thumb. If these jihadi terrorists take out a few ‘heretic’ Shia along the way, the patrons look the other way. If such ‘collateral damage’ happens to be in Quetta city, better yet. From the security establishment’s perspective nothing throws a spanner in the Baloch liberation struggle better than a war in and over Quetta. A free-for-all between the LeJ Balochistan — now largely manned by ethnic Baloch/Brahuis — the Hazaras and the Pashtuns, provides a reason for increasing the military’s presence in Balochistan to hunt down the nationalists while protecting the jihadist assets.

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Sindh, Balochistan mourn over Quetta killing

QUETTA: The governments of Sindh and Balochistan are observing a day of mourning over the killing of 80 people in Quetta on Saturday. The national flag will remain half-mast in both provinces.

Meanwhile, Hazara Democratic Party has appealed for shutter down strike in Quetta against the blast. Political and religious parties have supported it.

Karachi Goods Transporters Association and Oil Tankers Association have also announced to halt supply of goods across the country.

President Asif Ali Zardari telephoned Governor Balochistan Zulfiqar Magsi and directed him to monitor relief operation himself besides providing security to the Hazara community.

Courtesy: The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-88407-Sindh,-Balochistan-mourn-over-Quetta-killing

Shia Genocide: connect the dots

Omar AliBy: Omar

…… Pakistan has to become secularized to survive as a multi-religious state. Otherwise, the plan is clear. It is to become a Sunni Jihadi state. And everyone else has to live under those rules, or will face their wrath.

The army and the police cannot control these people while supporting and using their ideology. They cannot give up that ideology until they suppress/forget/ignore the dream of a pure Islamic state and its international jihadi armies.

They lack the will and the ability. The will more than the ability.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

Link – http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/02/16/shia-genocide-connect-the-dots/

Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

By: Bruce Riedel

2013 will be a pivotal year in Pakistani history. National elections, turnover at the top military position and the denouement in the war in Afghanistan; all promise to make it a critical year for a country that is both, under siege by terrorism and the center of the global jihadist movement. The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.

Pakistan is a country in the midst of a long and painful crisis. According to the government, since 2001 45,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorism related violence, including 7,000 security personnel. Suicide bombings were unheard of before 9/11; there have been 300 since then. The country’s biggest city, Karachi, is a battlefield.

One measure of Pakistan’s instability is that the country now has between 300 and 500 private security firms, employing 3,00,000 armed guards, most run by ex-generals. The American intelligence community’s new global estimate rates Pakistan among the most likely states in the world to fail by 2030.

Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America’s counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, appears on television and calls for the destruction of India frequently and jihad against America and Israel.

The head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar, shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, is probably hiding in a villa not much different than the one his predecessor was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbottabad until May 2011.

Pakistan also has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, bigger than Great Britain’s. The nukes are in the hands of the generals, the civilian government only has nominal control. President Asif Ali Zardari has only nominal influence over the ISI as well; indeed it has conspired for five years to get rid of him.

Against the odds, Zardari has survived.

By next fall, he will have served five years, becoming the first elected civilian leader to complete a full term in office and pass power to another elected government. It will be a major milestone for Pakistani democracy. He has served years in prison and lost his wife to the terrorists who besiege the nation. He has often been called a criminal by many, including his own family, and the national symbol of corruption.

Yet, as president, he presided over a major transfer of power from the Presidency to the Prime Minister’s Office, even the titular national command authority over the nukes, to ensure the country is more democratic and stable.

The parliamentary election in the spring will be a replay of every Pakistani election since 1988, pitting Nawaz Sharif’s PML against the late Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. Needless to say, many Pakistanis are sick of the same stale choices. But the odds favour the old parties. Both Sharif and Zardari are committed to cautiously improving relations with India, keeping open ties with America and trying to reform the Pakistani economy. Both will have troubled relations with the Army.

The Economist has tagged Sharif as likely to do best. If he returns to the Prime Minister’s job for a third time, it will be a remarkable turn in his own odyssey.

Sharif was removed from the office in 1999 in an illegal coup and barely escaped alive, to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. His decision to withdraw Pakistan’s troops behind the LOC, during the Kargil war, prompted his fall from power; it also may have saved the world from nuclear destruction. It was a brave move. I remember talking to him and his family in the White House the day after he made the decision to pull back, you could see in his eyes that he knew Musharraf would defame him; but he knew he was in the right.

But many Pakistanis want a new face to lead their country. Out of desperation some are turning to Imran Khan to save Pakistan. The ISI is probably helping his campaign behind the scenes to stir up trouble for the others. He is a long shot at best. He is much more anti-American, anti-drone and ready to make deals with the Taliban, to stop the terror at home. Yet, he understands well that Pakistan is a country urgently in need of new thinking.

Whoever wins will inherit an economy and government that is in deep trouble. Two-thirds of 185 million Pakistanis are under 30, and 40 million of the 70 million 5 to 19 years old are not in school. The youth bulge has yet to spike. Less than one million Pakistanis paid taxes last year. Most politicians don’t pay any taxes. Power blackouts are endemic. Clean water is increasingly scarce even as catastrophic floods are more common. Growth is 3%, too little to keep up with population demand.

So, it is no wonder that the generals prefer to have the civilians responsible for managing the unmanageable, while they guard their prerogatives and decide national security issues. As important as the coming elections will be, the far more important issue is who will be the next Chief of Army Staff.

The incumbent General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was given an unprecedented three-year extension in 2010. He is the epitome of the Pakistani officer corps and the so-called ‘deep state’. Pervez Musharraf made him Director General of the ISI in 2004. It was on his watch that the Afghan Taliban recovered and regrouped in Quetta, Osama bin Laden built his hideout 800 yards outside Kayani’s alma mater the Kakul Military Academy in Abbottabad in 2005, and planning began for the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack on Mumbai. He was DG/ISI when David Headley, the American serving life for his role in the 2008 attack, began his reconnaissance trips to Mumbai to prepare the way for 26/11. Kayani probably authorized the funds for Headley’s cover and travel. He is the first DG/ISI to become COAS. His term expires in September, 2013.

The history of civilians choosing Chiefs of Army Staff in Pakistan is not encouraging.

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The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s.

By Shalva Weil for ISN Insights

In November 2008, Lashkar e Taiba (LET), a radical Islamist group from Pakistan, specifically targeted “Nariman House” in Bombay (Mumbai) for a terrorist attack, along with other tourist locations, such as the Taj Mahal hotel. Nariman House was a ‘Chabad house’ of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Hasidic Judaism – a Jewish outreach center that included an educational center, synagogue and hostel. It was run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. When the building was attacked, six occupants, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. A total of 164 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. David Coleman Headley, who testified in the United States at the end of May 2011 in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, confessed that he had planned the Mumbai attacks in conjunction with an officer of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, a man whom he called “Major Iqbal”. The officer was reportedly delighted that the Jews were targeted.

The Jews of Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s. Recently, Yoel Reuben, a Pakistani Jew living in the town of Lod in Israel, whose family originated in Lahore, documented some of the history of the Jewish communities with photographs of original documents. When India and Pakistan were one country, before the partition in 1947, the Jews were treated with tolerance and equality. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nearly 1,000 Jewish residents in Pakistan living in different cities: Karachi, Peshwar, Quetta and Lahore. The largest Jewish community lived in Karachi, where there was a large synagogue and a smaller prayer hall. There were two synagogues in Peshawar, one small prayer hall in Lahore belonging to the Afghan Jewish community, and one prayer hall in Quetta. Even today, according to unofficial sources, there are rumors that some Jews remain in Pakistan, including doctors and members of the free professions, who converted or pass themselves off as members of other religions.

The Jews of Pakistan were of various origins, but most were from the Bene Israel community of India, and came to Pakistan in the employ of the British. Yifah, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, relates that her great-great-grandfather Samuell Reuben Bhonkar, who was a Bene Israel, came to Karachi in British India to work as a jailer, and died there in 1928. The Bene Israel originated in the Konkan villages, but many moved to Bombay from the end of the 18th century on. In Pakistan, they spoke Marathi, their mother-tongue from Maharashtra; Urdu and most spoke English. Prayers were conducted in Hebrew.

In 1893, a Bene Israel from Bombay, Solomon David Umerdekar, inaugurated the Karachi Magen Shalom Synagogue on the corner of Jamila Street and Nishtar Road, which officially opened in 1912. During these years, the Jewish community thrived. In 1903, the community set up the Young Man’s Jewish Association, and the Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund was established to support poor Jews. In 1918, the Karachi Jewish Syndicate was formed to provide housing at reasonable rents, and the All India Israelite League, which represented 650 Bene Israel living in the province of Sindh (including Hyderabad, Larkano, Mirpur-Khas and Sukkur, as well as Karachi), was first convened – founded by two prominent Bene Israel, Jacob Bapuji Israel and David S Erulkar. Karachi became a fulcrum for the Bene Israel in India, the place where they congregated for High Holiday prayers. There was also a prayer hall, which served the Afghan Jews residing in the city. A 1941 government census recorded 1,199 Pakistani Jews: 513 men and 538 women. So accepted were the Jews of Karachi in these years that Abraham Reuben, a leader in the Jewish community, became the first Jewish councilor on the Karachi Municipal Corporation.

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“Pakistan Army, ISI must shut up shop if they can’t protect people”: Altaf Hussain’s bold stance on Shia genocide

Minorities under attack: Altaf lines up police, agencies, clerics, judges, army and… fires

By Saba Imtiaz

Karachi: In an impassioned speech that included critiques of clerics and the judiciary, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain asked the Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence and other agencies to shut up shop if they could not “protect people”.

“Leave them,” Hussain said before turning to his audience, “You have a right to defend yourself by any means.”

Altaf’s speech at an interfaith conference organised by his party in Karachi came after a series of statements by him and other party leaders on the increase in the number of attacks on Shias throughout Pakistan. Several clerics from Karachi as well as other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Lahore and Chakwal, were in attendance.

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A decaying state kills its minorities

By Khaled Ahmed

The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence

A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.

According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.

Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.

The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.

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The Quaid and the Quetta massacre

By Haider Nizamani

If Muhammad Ali Jinnah happened to be on the Quetta-bound bus of Shia pilgrims on June 28, the self-proclaimed custodians of Islam would have killed him, along with 13 others. They would do so because Jinnah was a Shia and that would have been reason enough.

Jinnah, for most Pakistanis today, is the Quaid-e-Azam — the man above any sect in the Islamic Republic. As the Republic he founded increasingly becomes a place where minorities feel vulnerable, it would be remiss to forget that the founder of the country was a Shia. Born into an Ismaili family, he later converted to the Twelver (isna ashri) branch of Shia Islam. He died in 1948 and his sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, filed an affidavit in the Sindh High Court stating that her brother was a “Shia Khoja Mohamedan”. Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, jointly signed the affidavit. Khaled Ahmed, in his book Sectarian War, documents in detail how the last rites of the Quaid were performed according to Shia stipulations. Jinnah’s Shia colleagues such as Yusuf Haroon and Hashim Raza attended the namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer) at the Governor General’s House, while prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan waited outside in the adjacent room. After the Shia funeral prayer, the nascent state took the body for Sunni last rites at the grounds where now stands the Quaid’s mausoleum in Karachi. Miss Fatima Jinnah passed away in 1967 and in her case, too, private last rites were performed according to Shia guidelines and the state-sponsored namaz-e-janaza followed it.

Sunni militant outfits portray Shias as lesser Muslims and thus, lesser Pakistanis. This commandeering of state discourse on Islam from the 1980s onward has emboldened the militants to take up arms against their coreligionists in select parts of Pakistan.

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Hope fades away for Hazaras of Pakistan

The Hazaras are being systematically killed because they are anti-Taliban

“At least 60 people belonging to Hazara community living in Quetta have been killed in targeted attacks, including suicide, remote-controlled and timer device bombings and firing,” says a report published in this newspaper, following a brutal attack on Shia pilgrims belonging to the Hazara community.

Thursday’s bomb attack in the Hazarganji area on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Balochistan was not the first such attack of the year. Not even the first of the month. The Hazara community has been targeted, with great impunity, by outlawed militant organisations on at least six occasions in the current year. While all attacks have claimed precious lives, one of worst attacks against the community came last September, when a bus carrying Hazara passengers was stopped by assailants heavily armed with rocket launchers and Kalashnikovs. They identified Hazara men, took them off the bus and slaughtered them one by one within half a kilometre from a security check post. A similar incident was repeated a few days later in Akhtarabad area of Quetta.  Some unconfirmed reports say “over 800 Hazaras have been killed in 24 incidents of mass-murder and 131 targeted ambushes since 2001.”

Murderous motives

Responsibility for most of these attacks has been claimed by outlawed group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who have gone as far in their hate preach as declaring the community “wajib-ul-qatl” or deserving of death in their edicts handed out in the Balochistan province. Moreover, the community has been warned that its settlements in Hazara Town and on Alamdar Road will be transformed into graveyards as the war against them continues, according to a column published in this newspaper.

The killings have received mixed reactions and analyses from government officials, politicians and Hazara community leaders. Some blame security forces and intelligence agencies for the killings. Others point the fingers at the sectarian fanatics, Taliban and land mafia while some people even suggest a complex amalgam of all the aforementioned factors.

Role of security forces

While there is little doubt that all the attacks have been unprovoked and unidirectional without any apprehensions for many years, for Hazaras, the failure of security forces to protect their community remains an unanswered question.

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Balochistan: middle-class rebellion

Dr. Allah Nazar

By: Mahvish Ahmad

QUETTA: The state sees them as unruly men serving power-hungry sardars, but the six 20-something Baloch Student Organisation-Azad (BSO-Azad) members sitting cross-legged on the floor of their dorm room come across as more diligent than unruly, and more revolutionary than submissive.

As active sympathisers of a rebellion calling for outright independence, they embody a new kind of Baloch freedom fighter – or sarmachar.

And a new kind of victim of the kill-and-dump policy practised, they claim, by the Frontier Core (FC) and intelligence agencies.

These six young men are urbanised, middle-class, educated, and typically allied as equals rather than serving as underlings to the separatist Bugti and Marri sardars of Balochistan.

“We are united in our call for an independent Balochistan. And we have sacrificed our lives for our cause. Ninety-five members of BSO-Azad have been picked up, tortured and brutally murdered by the establishment. Many of them were students at educational institutions like Balochistan University,” says Khalid, an office-holder in BSO-Azad.

Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor of the online newspaper, Baloch Hal, which has been banned in Pakistan, agrees. “Today’s Baloch movement is headed not solely by […] tribal chiefs, but [by] educated middle class youth,” says Malik in the introduction to his book, “The Redefined Dimensions of the Baloch Nationalist Movement”.

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Iran to Boost Power Exports to Pakistan

By Ladane Nasseri

Iran signed an agreement with Pakistan to increase electricity exports to its eastern neighbor to 1,000 megawatts, the state-run Fars news agency reported, citing Iranian Deputy Energy Minister Mohammad Behzad.

The countries will build a transmission line for electricity between the city of Zahedan in southeastern Iran and Quetta in western Pakistan, Behzad said, according to the report published yesterday.

The project will require an investment of $700 million and will be jointly financed by the two countries, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing a statement from the Energy Ministry today.

Iran has doubled its power exports to Pakistan to 70 megawatts a day in the Iranian year starting March 20, it said.

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Baloch human rights campaigner Noordin Mengal addresses the Oxford University Pakistan society

Courtesy: YouTube

Friday Times : Taliban are Pak Army proxies, not Pashtun nationalists – VI – By: Farhat Taj

There are three groups of Pashtuns fighting the US/NATO and Afghan security forces in Afghanistan – the Peshawar Shura led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the North Waziristan based Haqqani Network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, and the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar. All three of them are closely linked with the military establishment of Pakistan.

A section of Hekmatyar’s party has already given up violence and is part of the current Afghan government and parliament. Many of the remaining prominent party leaders are frustrated with Hekmatyar’s rigid stance and have privately said they are willing to give up violence for a peaceful political process.

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Daily Times – Reminding the village idiot – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Ironically, the situation in Balochistan is already more akin to an emergency rule than to a democratic one

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s pronouncement that “the Constitution will take its course if the prime minister fails to take steps with immediate effect to resolve the crisis in Balochistan,” warning that imposition of emergency could be one of the options to restore sanity to the province has sparked a wave of consternation among the Baloch people. He further said, “All major political players should keep in mind that non-implementation of the Constitution had led to imposition of martial law more than once,” and added, “Why don’t we implement the Constitution before the army imposes martial law.” The Baloch are trying to fathom the real reason behind this ominous threat, which seems to be aimed at them — who are the victims of atrocities and a slow-track genocide — and not at the ‘establishment’ and its departments who are the perpetrators; obviously, this is tantamount to urging the state to impose an ‘emergency’ in Balochistan.

There is an anecdote in Sindh that most of the inhabitants of a village were going off for an extended stay at a neighbouring village for a wedding ceremony and the village idiot was the only one staying behind. As the villagers prepared to leave the village, the elders, hoping to advise the village idiot about his conduct during their absence told him, “Now, don’t you set the village on fire while we are away.” The village idiot gleefully clapped his hands and said, “Gosh! This possibility had simply escaped my mind, thank you for reminding me!” This is what this statement has served to do; it has reminded the ‘village idiot’ that he has forgotten the possibility of setting the village on fire, i.e. step up repression by suspending whatever sham fundamental rights exist in Balochistan.

The Chief Justice’s statement has puzzled even leading legal minds. Renowned jurist Justice (retd) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim expressed his surprise over the remarks, and questioning the judiciary’s powers in this regard said, “Only the executive has the authority to declare an emergency. What powers do you have? I don’t know in which direction things are moving.” Consternation among the Baloch arises from the ominous direction that these hearings about ‘missing persons’ have taken. The hearings are aimed ostensibly at the recovery of missing persons, but could be used to give the agencies authorisation to commit atrocities under an emergency. Instead of addressing their problems, the option of suspending rights is being used; but then what one can expect of a state that is interested in Balochistan simply for its resources.

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Daily Times editorial on CJP’s Strange, ominous, unconstitutional pronouncement on emergency & martial law

EDITORIAL: Strange pronouncement

The Supreme Court (SC) three-member bench hearing the missing persons case in the Quetta Registry headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has been scathing in its remarks during the proceedings about the seriousness of the situation in Balochistan and the obvious lack of the federal and provincial government’s seriousness in addressing the issue. The bench has been putting civil servants, junior government officials and police personnel on the mat regarding their failure to produce the missing persons. At the last hearing, the Deputy Attorney General got so much stick from the bench that he tendered his resignation. The CJ quoted former Balochistan advocate general Salauddin Mengal to portray a situation where no Pakistani flag could fly without the protection of the guns of the security forces more than 10 miles from Quetta. In the same vein of castigating the political, administrative and law enforcement leadership at the Centre and in the province, the CJ remarked that if the prime minister was not interested in acting to salvage the situation, the constitution envisaged other means, including the declaration of an emergency. Further, the CJ warned something must be done before another martial law is imposed.

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Khalil Dale – the courageous aid worker who was gunned down in Pakistan

The courageous aid workers who fear no evil

He’d already been kidnapped and tortured – so what drove murdered aid worker Khalil Dale back to the danger zone?

By Sarah Rainey

Asked to describe his job as an aid worker for the Red Cross in some of the world’s most dangerous locations, Khalil Rasjed Dale compared it to a Mad Max film. “You’ve got people driving around in cars with machine guns,” he said in an interview in 1998. “There’s no government infrastructure, no law and order and we were trying to help vulnerable people nobody else seemed to care for… You just didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

Two days ago, Dale was found dead. Stationed abroad for more than 30 years, he had been taken hostage by suspected pro-Taliban terrorists on January 5. His decapitated body, wrapped in a plastic bag, was dumped by the side of a road in Quetta, the capital of the Baluchistan province, one of the most troubled regions of Pakistan.

Dale’s murder left many stunned by the brutality inflicted on such a gentle-mannered man. But as his family grieves, his death has brought into the spotlight the role of British aid workers, stationed in some of the world’s most volatile countries. His loss is not the first, nor will it be the last.

Read more » telegraph.co.uk

In the shadow of the gun – I

By: Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

During the 1973-1977 army action in conflict zones, thousands of innocent people were killed, tens of thousands were internally displaced

Mr Ikram Sehgal’s “Of Empire and Army” (Newsline, March 2012) is a bundle of misinformation and bias against the Baloch. Perturbed that the media holds the security establishment solely responsible for the Balochistan crisis, he claims, “Most of our problems stem from jumping to conclusions that are based on misinformation, and then deliberately distorting those half-truths to suit mass perception.” He feels, “Disproportionate media projection of the separatist leaders encourages ethnic divisions and violence.” He probably thinks the Baloch struggle and the atrocities by the state are a figment of the media’s imagination.

The state’s brutal kill and dump policy seems justified to him. He half-heartedly admits, “No one denies the fact that targeted killings of the Baloch are taking place, that people are being picked up and that state actors are involved in the killing and the disappearances.” Then he offers a lame justification that “sons of the soil” are killing an equal number of settlers. Balochistan Home Department’s recent report said that the majority of the ones killed are ethnic Baloch.

Sehgal tells us that on December 29, 1973, as his son was being born in Karachi, his company came under heavy fire from Marri insurgents near Kahan, after the dismissal of Ataullah’s representative government. The Baloch considered them aggressors rightly, and could not be expected to throw a party. He then says, “Throughout that year, many soldiers were martyred and several injured,” and adds, “In one instance, the insurgents beheaded 19 of our soldiers.”

Well, I too was in the Marri area with the Baloch nationalists then and assuredly, the Marris never indulged in such abhorrent practices. His claim defies reason as no guerilla could possibly have time to ambush and behead soldiers. Ambushes invite response and with helicopters, jets and motorised transportation at the army’s disposal, only fools would linger after an ambush.

The columnist adds that the army could have retaliated against the Marris in kind but relented because they understood that their Sardar (tribal chief), who was living comfortably in Kabul, misguided the Marris. Incidentally, Sardar Khair Baksh Marri and other Baloch leaders, including Sardar Ataullah Mengal, were in jail until 1978. He blames the media for misinformation and distortion. During the 1973-1977 army action in conflict zones, thousands of innocent people were killed, tens of thousands were internally displaced, social and economic life was disrupted, flocks were stolen, crops destroyed, and the entire Balochistan was terrorised. Eight persons, whom I knew personally, including my dear friend, Daleep Dass, aka Johnny Dass, went missing, never to be heard of again. Sher Muhammad Aliani — a sept, an elder, a septuagenarian — was picked up because of an ambush in the vicinity of his settlement near Kahan; his brutally tortured corpse was later recovered. Murad Khan Ramkani of Tadri too was similarly killed. The valiant Asadullah Mengal and Ahmed Shah Kurd were abducted and killed in Karachi. The examples of the ‘consideration’ shown are too numerous to note.

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Pakistan: Demand for Independence of Sindh

By Aamir Raz Soomro

It was not long ago that a bill was tabled in the US Congress in support of giving Balochistan – the land of the Baloch – the right to self-determination against their ‘forced accession’ into Pakistan on March 27, 1948. The day is still mourned as a Black Day throughout the Baloch land, including parts of the provincial capital, Quetta.

In the year 1971, the erstwhile East Pakistan had already witnessed a bloody independence war with Pakistan, which culminated in the creation of the country now known as Bangladesh – it was a real bloody war since hundreds of thousands of people were massacred in this ‘genocide’ to crush the Bengali freedom-fighters.

In the present times, however, it is not just Balochistan which has the separatist sentiments, but Sindh under the leadership of Mr. G.M. Syed, has also been fighting for independence soon after the creation of Pakistan. From the platform of various nationalist political parties, Sindhis demand separation from Pakistan and creation of proposed, Sindhudesh, the Land of Sindhu (River Indus). They support their demand with the arguments that, 1., the British had invaded the independent Sindh and, 2. that they have a distinct rich history and secular culture which dates back to 5000 years. ….

Read more » Global Voices Online

Summary of Musharraf’s Article: You don’t get it, the Baloch deserve to be killed by the Army.

Understanding Balochistan

By Pervez Musharraf

There is no doubt that Balochistan is the most backward and most deprived province of Pakistan. Successive governments since our independence are responsible for their share of the neglect suffered by Balochistan. But unfortunately the sardars themselves did not favour development in their areas. Notably Akbar Bugti, who despite having been chief minister and governor of the province, hardly did anything for Balochistan, or even for Dera Bugti. An anti-Pakistan, anti-army and anti-FC sentiment was planted and gradually nourished, especially among the Bugtis, Marris and Mengals, by their sardars. Some efforts made in the 1970s to open up the area through the establishment of a communication infrastructure were strongly opposed and rejected by the Marris.

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General Kayani has also begun getting upset with TV talk shows – Pak generals (holy cows) love to be above the public scrutiny. They have things, they want to push under the rug.

Kayani takes exception to public discussion on agencies

ISLAMABAD – Tacitly registering his concern over the debate in the media on the role of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani on Wednesday said “the national institutions should not be undermined”.

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Balochs have no trust in the rulers of the deep state

By Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom, Malaysia

“President of the Balochistan chapter of Jamhoori Watan Party Shahzain Bugti, who is currently in Islamabad, is holding meetings with leaders of political parties to discuss the Balochistan issue. On Thursday, he met a US embassy official in a hotel.” (Daily Dawn, Karachi, Sindh). But this recent government offer for talks with Baloch nationalist leaders appears to be heading nowhere as most of them have rejected it, saying they have no trust in the rulers of the deep state.

Shahzain Bugti says: “This is a trap and our leaders, including Brahamdagh Bugti, will not return; the government did the same in the 1960s when they invited the Baloch leaders for talks and later persecuted them. The rulers also tricked Nawab (Akbar Khan) Sahib.” And, the grandson of the Martyred Leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, “Nobody trusts the government anymore, whether it is Interior Minister Rehman Malik or anybody else. Dictatorial policies of the past continue to dominate the current scenario in Balochistan.” Please read more here:

http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/09/baloch-leaders-in-no-mood-to-accept-talks-offer.html

Shahzain Bugti has categorically made it clear that he and rest of the exiled leaders of Balochistan will never attend the All Parties Conference (APC).  Read more here:

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=12621&Cat=13&dt=2/20/2012

Pakistan actually cease to function in 1952, when the mindset of the deep state in uniform entered the halls and classrooms of Dhaka University in the then East Pakistan and brutally murdered tens of hundreds of innocent young Bengali girls and massacred hundreds of thousands of hapless, helpless and Bengalis. Then, in 1971, the final nail was hammered into the coffin, when they went on their knees before the Indian Army and begged for their lives.

Bengal was created after tremendous sacrifices! Hundreds of thousands of Bengali lives were lost! Today, Balochistan is following the same footsteps of Bengalis and marching onward, fighting its War of Independence against the security state of the deep state.’ Daily we witness disappearance, and murders of Balochs and Sindhis by the deep state. If the mindset and the polices of the deep state continues, soon Sindh, will follow the footsteps of Balochs to FREE from the ignominious slavery of the war monger deep state.

The writer is an Educationist and Researcher, Human Rights Activist and Inter-Faith Leader, Malaysia.

Javed Naseer Rind, another Baloch journalist silenced by the Deep State

Journalist abducted in Hub

By: Bari Baloch

QUETTA – A local journalist was abducted in Hub, the industrial town of Balochistan, on late Saturday night while a person was shot dead in Khuzdar.

As per reports, unidentified people abducted Javed Naseer Rind from IT Chowk Hub at gun-point and drove him away towards undisclosed location.

Javed Naseer Rind is a journalist and columnist, associated with a local daily, a Balochistan based Urdu language newspaper. Police quoting eyewitnesses said abductors were riding in two separate cars who held Javed Naseer at gun-point and bundled him into the car and drove away.

Police have started investigation into the incident,however, so far police have found no clue of the abductors.

Meanwhile, unidentified people shot dead a person in Khuzdar district on Sunday.

Police said the incident occurred at Mishk area of Tehsil Zehri when armed men opened fire on Gohar Jattak before escaping from the site.

Resultantly, he received bullet wounds and died on the spot. Police shifted the body to local hospital for autopsy. However, motive behind killing is yet to be ascertained.

Courtesy: The Nation

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/12-Sep-2011/Journalist-abducted-in-Hub

Adopted from Facebook » Via → LUBP

Join Baloch Solidarity Protest rally in front of The US embassy in London, UK

Press release: Baloch Human Rights Council (UK), Baloch Raaji Zrombesh, World Sindhi Congress and Balochistan Liberation Organistaion are holding a Baloch Solidarity protest rally infront of the USA embassy in London UK.

All Baloch , Sindhis and other democratic and peace loving people are requested to join in the rally.

· To show your solidarity with the genuine struggle of Baloch and Sindhi people for their sovereignty and human rights.

· To say thanks to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and USA government for their support of Human rights and sovereignty of Baloch Nation.

· To protest against crimes against humanity committed by Pakistani security establishment against Baloch and Sindhi people.

· To condemn the disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killing of Baloch and Sindhi people.

· To request the international community, the USA, the UK that the deep state committing crimes against Baloch and Sindhi people.

Samad Baloch

General Secretary

Baloch Human Rights Council (UK)

The price of Baloch blood

By: Hashim bin Rashid

The ‘clink, clink’ reverberate

Who are these benevolent youth

The gold coins of their blood

Clink clink, clink clink –Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Salima Hashmi, Faiz sahib’s daughter, dug out this gem of a poem and dedicated it to the Baloch martyrs at the Faiz Aman Mela in Lahore last Sunday. The very next day, Monday, three bodies of Baloch missing persons, including former BSO-Azad Chairman Sangat Sana Baloch were found. The day after, Tuesday, Baloch-dominated areas in Balochistan observed a shutter down strike.

‘Chhan chhan, chhan chhan,’ Faiz’s words reverberated across the province.

The body of Sangat Sana was found only two weeks after the Domki murders, murders that had sent the entire Balochistan Assembly, generally the most complicit of the Baloch, up in a furore. Three Baloch ministers stood up to narrate a gruesome incident in which two Baloch youth were bound up and shot by FC troops on the Quetta-Turbat road.

The trouble was that the consequences of the murder of Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister were not fully contemplated by the most likely murderers, although they should have. The lesson of Balochistan always was: blood spilt is thicker than blood flowing. This was indeed why Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing in an army operation bestowed the legacy of a martyr on him and spurred insurgency.

Balochistan has been under siege since 1947, with the current insurgency that started in 2005 being the fifth: the last four were brutally suppressed through similar military action. It is only this one which is spiralling out of control.

The almost abandon with which intelligence agencies operate in the Baloch province is matchless. Barely anyone is left in doubt as to who picked up whom for allegedly ‘anti-nationalistic’ sentiment and the message is delivered forcefully with every punctured, dumped body of a Baloch missing person.

While the same matters went unnoticed in the last four operations, what changed on the ground was that the Baloch intellectuals and leadership, fearing for their lives, began to take up outposts in exile and developed lobbies to relay the situation in Balochistan to international organisations. In Balochistan, the BLA, the BLF and the BRA continued to fight from the mountains while Baloch political parties and the various factions of the BSO continue to develop the space on the ground to unite the Baloch community and speak to the few in the Pakistani media that still want to hear a Baloch speak about Balochistan.

Coverage has been selective. When the BLA killed 15 FC troops in the army-operated Chamalang coal mines area in response the Domki killings, media splashed the event. But when a counter-military operation was launched in Chamalang, there was complete silence by the media on it.

The reason: journalists based in Balochistan were instructed not to – at the risk of their lives. 20 journalists had been killed in the last decade. However, Baloch resistance websites, forced to operate from outside Pakistan, and still banned in Pakistani cyberspace, began to carry gruesome accounts of unchecked brutalities. However, Pakistani airwaves and cyberspace remained clear of any such ‘anti-state’ accounts.

Baloch blood was being spilled with no one brave enough to speak of it. Amidst this re-launched operation, exiled Baloch leaders were able to play the card they had wished to play much earlier: the US Congress took up a debate on Balochistan and tabled a bill to acknowledge the Baloch ‘right to self-determination’. The same ‘right to self determination’ was, of course, something Pakistan itself had been campaigning foreign powers for in the similarly gruesome 64-year old Indian-occupation of Kashmir. The US is telling Pakistan: what about the suppression in Balochistan?

Balochistan is the thaw no one in Pakistan wishes to admit as much as discuss – or solve. The late politics over it by Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan has come to naught, so clear is Baloch nationalist sentiment. Imran Khan’s pseudo-rally in Quetta, announced for 23 March, seemed to be an attempt to engineer and announce a new Pakistan resolution from the Baloch capital amidst a flailing nationalist project. Nawaz Sharif’s All-Parties Conference on Balochistan fell apart because Baloch parties refused to join in, making the attempt look silly.

No Baloch takes the more than 270 ‘killed-and-dumped’ bodies as a joke. No Baloch believes the army high command when it says, “No military operations are being carried out in Balochistan and no security forces have been involved in human rights abuses.”

And this is the worst part: all political actors and intellectuals in Pakistan, including this writer, are speaking about the Baloch but not to the Baloch. Journalists from Balochistan are able to relay how the army views the mere act of putting up a Pakistani flag as a victory. To the Baloch, the rising flag means being conquered. And it is being conquered that the Baloch resist when they are whisked away and they return as tortured, bullet-ridden bodies.

The price of Baloch blood is not that Pakistan might split again – it is that we will fool ourselves again, as we do now, when the Foreign Office issues condemnations of the US Congress debate on Balochistan, on why we split. To condemn the military operation, to condemn the killing-and-dumping and to return the missing Baloch, that is what should have been the government’s response. In its absence, it will be sure to learn the price of Baloch blood the hard way.

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