Jul 31, 2019

Balochistan: MEPs Urge Trump to Engage with Pakistan to Address Human Rights

Sixteen Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have signed a letter in which they urged United States President Donald Trump to engage with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during the latter’s visit to the US to address the dire human rights situation in Balochistan. In their letter, the MEPs specifically highlighted the Pakistani government’s persecution and silencing of Baloch people by means of harassment, torture and enforced disappearances. They further acknowledged that the Baloch have legitimate grievances and therefore should not be labelled as terrorists.

Below is an article published by Big News Network:

As Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is on a three-day official visit to the United States [21-23 July 2019], members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have written to President Donald Trump requesting his intervention in the deteriorating situation of human rights in Balochistan.

Sixteen European MEPs signed the letter during this week's [22 July 2019] European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

The MEPs highlighted the dire situation for the Baloch people stating, "The people of the province have legitimate grievances. They are relatively powerless against the State that is trying to silence them." They added that Pakistan has become increasingly dependent on the resources extracted from the Baloch lands, and from the investments offered by others currently involved in the exploitation of the region, particularly China.

China's presence has brought further suppression as the Chinese organisations operating in the region have followed the lead of the Pakistani government and continuously refused any form of dialogue with the Baloch people.

"For decades, the Baloch people have suffered under endless forms of harassment, torture and other manifestation of persecution at the hands of the Pakistani authorities, namely its government, it's military, and intelligence services. The Pakistani government is known to operate a policy of kill and dump," the letter said.

The Pakistan Supreme Court has acknowledged the role of Pakistan security and intelligence agencies in forced disappearances.

To address the international condemnation of this practice, Pakistan had established a Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in 2011, which by March 2017 had identified 1,240 reported cases of missing people. No one has been prosecuted for these crimes to date.

In the letter, the MEPs added, "The Baloch Human Rights Organisation and Human Rights Council of Balochistan had established in January 2019 that there were 77 forced disappearances and 18 extra-judicial killings and 46 cases of enforced disappearances and 17 cases of killing reported in February." Furthermore, the MEPs specifically highlighted that since 1947, there have been no reports of any terrorist activities by any Balochistan-based organisation.

The Parliamentarians further acknowledged that there have been reports of Baloch organisations fighting against the Pakistani government to protect their lands, their assets and their families, but that all these cases were found to have been provoked by the Pakistani government.

The MEPs' polite request for the US President to intervene on this human rights crisis also contained the plea that the people of Balochistan should not be labelled as terrorists.

"The Baloch people believe that they must fight to preserve their cultural identity while striving for institutionalised legitimacy and recognition of their existence. They are not terrorists, and labelling them as such only amplifies the suffering of this situation," said the letter.

The European Parliamentarians were clear that their values aligned to those of the United States, where both parties condemn all forms of terrorism and sought for regional peace and stability.


Picture courtesy of Reuters