Stop internal matter drama, Malik Siraj Akbar on Balochistan

Balochistan and its ‘jealous husband’

By Malik Siraj Akbar

Excerpts;

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Unfortunately, ours is a history marked with lies, distortions, exaggerations and false glorification. Can’t we at least pay attention to some bitter truths and grim reminders? For all the flak that US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Republican from California) is getting from Pakistan’s media and official circles, the fact is that he is gaining popularity by the day, especially among the young people of Balochistan, some of whom have already set up a Facebook fan pagefor him. At last count, he had over 3,000 fans and this number will only rise.

So, the news channels are fooling and misleading the country when they show a ‘patriotic Pakistani’ from Islamabad or Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, instead of a talking to a Baloch from Gwadar, condemning the developments taking place in Washington DC. Why is there such reluctance to trust the Baloch and speak to them to learnwhat has alienated them and what they demand? When was the first (and probably the last) time when the whole country demonstrated unity to address what is happening in Balochistan? How many long marches, breaking news stories and parliamentary resolutions are going to happen before the government addresses the matter at hand?

Let’s stop the ‘internal affair’ drama and focus on some historical facts? Since Pakistan’s inception, Islamabad has spied on the Baloch. Perhaps the Baloch did not respond to the fact that they were treated unequally and disrespectfully but over time they became pained by being billed as Russian, Indian, Afghan and even Iraqi agents. Of course, now they are going to be treated as ‘CIA agents’! Did Islamabad ever embrace the Baloch as respectful and dependable citizens of the land who could be trusted and given ownership and responsibility?

Surely, we all remember what happened in 1973 when the first-ever elected Baloch government was dismissed. As if disregard for the Baloch mandate of provincial government was not enough, the people of the province were then subjected to a horrendous military operation on the charge of having ‘extra-marital affairs’ with foreign countries. In six decades, Islamabad has not been able to present undisputed proof of Balochistan’s unfaithfulness while there are countless accounts of the formers patriarchal arrogance towards the province.

An ardent pro-Pakistan leader like Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed on suspicion of getting ‘foreign assistance’. Former chief minister Akhtar Mengal was literally put into an iron cage because General Musharraf thought he was not sufficiently patriotic. Bramdagh Bugti was called an ‘Indian agent’, and his sister and niece were killed. Hundreds of young Baloch have been found dead in recent months, dumped along roads in the province.

While a troubled relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law can endure despite all flaws, marriage between a quarrelling couple has a painful, yet, internationally and legally acceptable choice: divorce. The Pakistani ‘patriots’ should ask themselves that are their actions pushing Balochistan to the brink of divorce.

To read complete article » The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2012.

The statement of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians: ‘Winds of Change? Balochistan and US-Pak Relations’

On Nov 16, 2011 and Jan 13 this year respectively, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner, and chief spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed U.S. concern about the human rights situation in Balochistan. On Feb. 8 Congressman Brad Sherman spoke at a subcommittee of Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the marginalization of the Baloch and Sindhi (speaking people) and the disappearances, torture and killing of their activists by Pakistan’s security forces.

Sherman went to say that the Baloch and Sindhis, being secular and moderate-minded, shared American values and that the US should reach out to them. Feb 18 saw the introduction of a resolution in the House stating that the people of Balochistan, currently divided between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have the right to self-determination and their own sovereign country and should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.

A fuller argument openly calling for support of the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan because the latter was acting against American and western interests, appeared in the Globe and Mail – a key mouthpiece of big capital and imperialism in Canada – in an op-ed piece on Dec 21, 2011, titled ‘Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map’ by Chris Mason, a retired US diplomat now at the Center for Advanced Defence Studies in Washington.

Without a doubt the Sindhi people have suffered grievous injustices in Pakistan. Many times greater has been the pain inflicted by the state on Balochistan which, in addition to severe cultural, economic and political deprivation, has been on the receiving end of almost half-a-dozen prolonged and brutal military attacks which began in 1948 and continue to this day. Frustrated and angry beyond measure – and justifiably so – at their appalling treatment by the Pakistani state, the above developments in the U.S. have been widely welcomed by the Baloch.

Continue reading The statement of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians: ‘Winds of Change? Balochistan and US-Pak Relations’

DAWN – “No peace in Balochistan without referendum” – Eddie Walsh

The hearing showed that there will be no peace in the region without a referendum of self-determination. That cannot be ignored.”

As the sole witness of Baloch ethnicity to speak at the recent Balochistan hearing before the United States Congress, M. Hossein Bor disagrees with comments that he was not relevant to the proceedings.

Not only was he the only witness able to speak as a Baloch, he points out that he also was the only one with deep subject matter expertise in foreign trade and investment in Southwest Asia. From this perspective, he hoped his testimony would have shed light on the unrealised strategic and economic opportunities that an independent Balochistan would provide to Americans, including the ability to contain a rising China and an emerging Iran, prevent an adversarial Pakistan from achieving strategic depth in Afghanistan, and ensure Baloch-American economic prosperity through new energy and mineral resource agreements. However, with little time to prepare for the hearing and only five minutes of allotted time to provide oral testimony, many of these points were not expressed. Bor therefore looks to this post-hearing assessment as a mechanism to share publicly for the first time what he has shared privately with Baloch nationalists and their supporters. As one of the five witnesses called before Congress, it is assured that these remarks will be closely watched by all side to the Baloch debate.

Great Game 2.0

To understand Balochistan, Bor believes that one cannot look at Pakistan’s largest province through the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) box. In retrospect, this is perhaps one of the strongest contributions that he could have made at the hearing.

Continue reading DAWN – “No peace in Balochistan without referendum” – Eddie Walsh

Sindh Cabinet advocates rights for Balochistan

By: Ramzam Chandio

Excerpts;

…. The Sindh govt had allotted a piece of land for the construction of Balochistan House, but later the Balochistan government sold it to the province for Rs35million. “Keeping in view the prevailing law and order situation, the Balochistan government has now requested the Sindh govt to resale it the same building or allot a piece of land on reasonable prices so that dignitaries, officers and lawmakers from Balochistan could be provided accommodation during their visits to Karachi,” added the minister.

The Cabinet approved the request, giving two options, either to resale the same building or allot land for the purpose. “A two-member committee of Revenue Minister Jam Mahtab Dahar and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani will talk to the Balochistan government about its request,” she added.

“Members of the Cabinet expressed concerns over the present situation in Balochistan and underlined the need for giving it equal rights. ….

Read more » The Nation

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/karachi/21-Feb-2012/sindh-cabinet-advocates-rights-for-balochistan

Witnessing ethnic cleansing of Balochs – Balochistan ministers eye-witnessed 3 execution style slayings: Umrani

By Ahmar Mustikhan

A Balochistan minister and provincial  president of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party dropped a bomb shell on the floor of the Balochistan assembly Monday when he revealed that he and two other government minsters saw with their own eyes the execution-style killing of three Baloch youths by the Frontier Corps.

Sadiq Umrani,, Balochistan minister for communistaion and works, told the shocking story on the floor of the House, pro-independence web sites reported Monday.

“Few months back I (Sadiq Umrani), Zaffar Zehri and Younas Mullahzai were returning to Quetta from Kalat after offering our condolences to Agha Irfan Karim on demise of his mother. All three of us saw the FC shooting at three people; their hands were tied behind. The next day bodies of the three men were found dumped [in Mastung]. We are eye-witnesses of that incident,” Umrani told the Balochistan provincial assembly.

Umrani’s remarks come just two days ahead of the Oversight and Investigations Sub-committee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, summoned by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday.

Zaffar Zehri, who is home and tribal affairs minister, oversees much of the law-enforcement work in the bloody province and is an estranged brother of the chief of the Zehri tribe and servbices and general administration minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri.

Mullahzai is the information minister of Balochistan.

Umrani made the speech during a debate on the killing of family members of opposition member Mir Bakhtiar Domki.

Domki’s wife Zamur Domki, 32, daughter Janan Domki, 13, and family driver Barkat Baloch were allegedly gunned by agents of Pakistani secret services in the wee hours of January 31 in Karachi, commercial capital of Pakistan.

Umrani has strong feelngs for Baloch patriots.

Though a member of a federalist party, Umrani has been a close friend of Baloch patriotic leader Dr. Abdul Hayee of the National Party since the time they were in jail together four decades ago.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Balochistan ministers eye-witnessed 3 execution style slayings: Umrani – Baltimore Foreign Policy | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/foreign-policy-in-baltimore/balochistan-ministers-eyewitness-to-execution-style-slayings-umrani#ixzz1n4KUDI00

Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI

On February 8, representatives of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International testified before the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations at the US Congress against grave human rights abuses committed by Pakistan’s security forces in the restive province of Balochistan. Since then, Islamabadhas used as many as 10 different channels to strongly protest against what it calls America’s “blatant interference” in its “internal affairs”.The issue has flared up further following the introduction of a House Concurrent Resolution by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking the right of self-determination for the native Balochs. Pakistan has summoned the acting US ambassador to Islamabad twice in a single week at the foreign office, passed a parliamentary resolution and protested through its ambassadors in Washington DC and at the UN. Wasim Sajjad, a former Pakistan Senate chairman, while referring to HRW, has called for “immediately taking action against those NGOs or persons who are accepting dollars from the US and are pursuing their agenda on the lands of Pakistan and destabilising Balochistan.”

Although the congressional hearing and subsequent resolutions were not sponsored by the Obama administration, American diplomats still face the wrath of Pakistani officials due to utter ignorance of the American poli-tical system. Anti-Americanism is not unfamiliar in Pakistan, but bashing the Obama administration for a ‘crime’ it has not committed simply means there is something fishy in Islamabad’s cupboard.
Continue reading Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI

We are all prisoners here in Pakistan

We are all prisoners

By Mehreen Zahra Malik

Excerpts;

….. But here in Pakistan – where the justice system is hopelessly damaged, and where the guardians of national interest get to decide not just who is a criminal but also which criminals are enemies of the state – there was little chance of the Adiala 11 being punished in the ways in which punishment has come to be understood around the world.

Not here, no. Here, the truly powerful feed pain and terror to the masses like fast food while they dine on the most exclusive delicacy of all – impunity. That is how the law works here: by leaving behind the gift of grief, these souvenirs of pain that the Adiala 11 have become in the public imagination.

But while pain has limits, apprehension has none. At the hands of a punitive state, you and me are left not only to grieve for what we know has happened, but also to endlessly fear all that possibly may happen.

In a sense, then, we are all prisoners here in Pakistan.

The writer is an assistant editor at The News. Email: mehreenzahramalik@gmail.com

To read complete article : Daily Times

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=93852&Cat=9#.T0OjfsNm1A0.twitter

via – Twitter

Imran Khan’s security state – DAWN

By Huma Yusuf

THERE has already been adequate kerfuffle around the appearance of PTI senior vice-president Ejaz Chaudhry at the Difaa-i-Pakistan Council’s rally in Karachi.

This is the latest demonstration of PTI’s tendency to cavort with the religious right and extremist groups. Imran Khan himself delivered a message via his envoy at the DPC’s Lahore rally in December. Previously, Chaudhry has attended rallies with Jamaatud Dawa’s Hafiz Saeed. And flags of the banned SSP have been raised at many a PTI rally. The further right the Great Khan and his party stray, the more defensive his supporters become. It is high time that defence was analysed. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

27 terrorist groups involved in Benazir’s murder – DAWN

Malik says 27 terrorist groups involved in Benazir’s murder

Excerpt;

…. Malik shared this and other details of the investigation of the former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party chairperson’s murder case while briefing the Sindh Assembly session.

He blamed Baitullah Mehsud, the Haqqani network and the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for planning the murder and said 27 terrorist groups helped in executing the plan. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM
http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/21/benazir-murder-planners-still-at-large-says-malik.html

International Mother Language Day 21 February

By

It seems the founding fathers of Pakistan never really imagined a place for a Bengali speaking, large Hindu minority province. This is because the TNT demanded a full divorce from all that was Hindu. Such was the force of the ideology, there was even an effort to make Bengali arabicized and de-sanskritized!!

Bengali muslims were at the forefront of the partition movement but giving up Bengali was a bridge too far for them.

In the course of the Pakistani government’s occupation of Bangladesh (is there a better word though there were benighted efforts to improve “East Pakistan” it seemed an occupation stroke colonisation) to “Arabify” & “DeSanskritise” Bangla or Bengali (I don’t know which is appropriate to refer to in the English language I prefer using Persian over Farsi, Gypsy over Romany, Eskimo over can’t remember what oh yes Inuit, etc etc) it inadvertently sparked off a global movement to preserve “mother languages” (the usage of the word mother language reminds of me of the elegant song ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

Keeping mum about the Punjabi Taliban

By Khaled Ahmed

I was surprised a fortnight ago to receive a note from Lahore’s General Post Office saying I had imported a banned book which the Post Office had duly confiscated. The book was Punjabi Taliban by Mujahid Hussain (Pentagon Press, India, 2011) which is available in Pakistan too and advertised by a Karachi bookseller on the internet.

The terrorists are angry at the book. Punjab government has now joined them. The terrorists are scary enough — because the author, who now lives abroad, was once attacked by them. Some years ago, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah denied that south Punjab was a haven of the Punjabi Taliban. South Punjab contains 13 districts with a population of 27 million: Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, DG Khan, Jhang, Khanewal, Layyah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, and Vehari.

Ex-editor Shireen Mazari who hails from DG Khan in south Punjab wrote in The News (April 29, 2009) “Why military action is not the answer” about the dominance of jihadi madrassas in DG Khan …..

Read more » The Express Tribune

Jonathan Kay: The Pakistan problem

Jonathan Kay: The Pakistan problem isn’t just the government. It’s the people

By Jonathan Kay

Since the Taliban resurgence began gaining force in 2005, a common refrain in the West has been that Pakistan must “do more” to rein in the jihadis who are drawing support from bases in the borderlands of Balochistan and Waziristan. American officials have made countless visits to Pakistan to deliver variations on this message — with nothing to show for it.

Earlier this year, the BBC disclosed a secret NATO report, based on 27,000 interrogations with captured Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees, concluding that jihadis operating in Afghanistan continue to receive support and instruction from Pakistani military handlers. One interrogated al-Qaeda detainee quoted in the report declared: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”

The usual Sunday-Morning-talk-show explanation for this is that Pakistan is hedging its strategic bets: Pakistani military leaders doubt the United States military can tame Afghanistan before American combat forces’ scheduled exit in 2013. And rather than see the country degenerate into absolute chaos (as occurred in the early 1990s, in the wake of the Soviet departure), Pakistani military leaders want to be in position to turn Afghanistan into a semi-orderly Pashtun-dominated client state that provides Islamabad with “strategic depth” against India. And the only way for them to do this is to co-opt the Taliban.

Continue reading Jonathan Kay: The Pakistan problem