Jul 20, 2010

Balochistan: Former Senator condemns Tactics of Pakistani Army

Sample ImageFormer Pakistani Senator and Baloch leader Sanaullah Baloch calls attention to the use of force, violence, murder and disappearances carried out by the Pakistani army against the Baloch population. The abuse of military power is a serious obstacle to peace in the province.

Below is a statement by Sanaullah Baloch published on jang.com.pk:

Despite the tall claims, in last six decades, no Pakistani government has ceased its policy of exploitation, extermination and elimination of Baloch people.


The cold-blooded murder of Habib Jalib Baloch, the sectary general of Balochistan National Party, including recent target killing of Maula Bakhsh Dashti in Turbat, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006, Mir Balaach Marri in November 2007, Zahid Baloch in 2008, brutal daylight abductions and killing of three senior Baloch leaders in April 2009 and assassination attempt on prominent Baloch intellectual Jan Mohammad Dashti in February 2009 are a fraction of systematic and slow-motion "genocide" in Balochistan, a process that has been taking place since 1948.


Habib Jalib, a former Chairman of Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) was a committed fellow. He was not just a Baloch nationalist, but a human rights defender, intellectual, author, Supreme Court lawyer, ex-parliamentarian and an active political campaigner.


With the inclusion of Ghulam Mohammad Baloch's cold-blooded execution-style murder in April 2009, the total count of assassinations of former BSO chairmen comes to three in a short period of 16 months, all under a so-called democratically-elected government.


There cannot be a greater loss to the Baloch nationalist movement than the cold-blooded murder of ideological, educated and rational leaders. Jalib was a highly educated leader of the Baloch movement who had a clear sense of Baloch nationalism. Along with Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and Maula Baksh Dashti, he also belonged to a middle-class family. He was purely a self-made man who was widely respected in the BNP cadre as well as in other political parties. The killing of Dashti and now that of Jalib proves that NP and BNP face a common threat which needs to be fought with unity.


The People of Balochistan are going through a very painful period of their history. The Baloch history is full of violent conflicts. They had a long struggle against British colonialism, conflict with Afghans, Iran and encroachers, but they did not experience such a brutal and inhuman repression by any regime and state that they are experiencing in the beginning of the new millennium by the hands of "rulers" in Islamabad.


The century-long conflict with British started after killing of Khan of Kalat Mir Mehrab Khan in November 1839 and continued till 1947. During the colonial era not a single case of enforced disappearances was reported and neither was there a humiliating case of killing a Baloch elder or political activist. They jailed, punished and even executed several "rebels" but in a very lawful and respectable manner.


But unfortunately, the state of Pakistan and its security apparatus have been employing brute methods to silence the people of Balochistan's voice for freedom, self-determination and equality.


A fresh episode of Baloch-Islamabad conflict intensified in March 2005. The world watched incredulously as Pervez Musharraf declared an all-out war on Balochistan -- on Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Makran, Jalawan and particularly Nawab Bugti. Tanks rolled into Dera Bugti and other parts of Balochistan in January 2005, forces began to smash Bugti's house and Dera Bugti town, killing dozens of civilians and leaving him besieged in a few rooms without electricity and water.


Then Musharraf came up with a more inhuman plan to use all available air and ground power to eliminate Nawab Bugti. His associates planned a so-called visit to the remote town of Kohlu, bordering Dera Bugti district, to find an excuse to escalate the military operation against the Baloch people and their leaders.


In order to silence political dissidents, he introduced the practice of enforced disappearances, abducting family members, relatives and even female members of top political activists to divert their attention and compelled them to remain quiet during operation in the province.


Islamabad could not get away with strong perception and fact that prevails in Balochistan regarding the discriminatory and abusive role of military and para-military forces in prolong political conflict. There is a common understanding and opinion that certain security agencies and their death squads are involve in assassinating high-profile Baloch leaders.


While in the Musharraf era, focus of establishment was to eliminate patriots from the Baloch tribal elite such as Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balaach Marri; the current strategy has shifted to the destruction of the middle strata leadership to weaken the grassroots connections and Baloch intelligentsia.


The impact of Islamabad's harsh and inhuman policies has been particularly severe in the province. The current and long-term consequences of this practice pose a serious detriment to the living conditions of the Baloch people, including efforts for sustainable development, and to any prospects for peace in the region.


By Sanaullah Baloch

The writer is a Baloch leader and former senator. [email protected]