The long-standing issue of strategically important and resource rich Balochistan requires more attention than it has received ever since Pakistan’s inception. Balochistan being country’s largest but most unprivileged region has witnessed a lot of contrite crimes against its dismantled majority leading it to a sinister climax wherefrom repeal may be near-impossible. After 1948, 1954, 1961 and 1977 the region is currently going through its fifth insurgency which was ignited after the brutal assassination of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 by General Musharraf in his dictatorial regime. The aftermath of General sahab’s “We will hit them in such a way they wouldn’t even know what hit them” can be seen without manifestation which transformed a rights movement into a freedom movement.
December reminds us of a worst chapter in Pakistan’s history, filled with chest-beating tales of discrimination, of misery and humiliation. It wouldn’t be wrong to consider use of military and equipage against clearly genuine demands of Bengali majority which led to the fall of Dhaka.
“The Bengalis had obviously won the majority, and wanted the first assembly session in Dhaka, but the army chief Yahya Khan, who headed the government then, refused. When talks failed in March 1971 a military crackdown against them was ordered,” says a Pakistani retired major who was a serving soldier during the Bangladesh debacle, he calls it a story he’d rather forget.
Someone may ask a million dollar question, what did we learn from the failure in Bangladesh? The answer to which is rather simple than complicated. Balochistan was ranked as the country’s most volatile region in a report issued by PIPS (Pakistan Institute for peace studies) in 2010. Thousands have been Extra-judicially executed, tortured and force-fully abducted and many of them still remain in captivity of none another than the country’s own military and Para-military forces. The state atrocities and mass human-rights violations in Balochistan were reported by Human rights Watch and Amnesty International several times. Such atrocities perpetrated by the self-proclaimed defenders have forced the Baloch to embrace the distressing pathway of militancy to defend their right to self determination.
The brutalities carried out in Dhaka were vaguely reported to the people of Karachi which created a natural gap between the country’s split parts of East and West Pakistan. Identically the Baloch genocide goes completely unreported in Pakistan’s main stream media and those trying to make a genuine move may be found dumped with bullet-riddled, and Pakistan Zindabad (Long Live Pakistan) engraved on their tortured bodies. Over the past years at-least 70 Baloch news papers/magazines/ portals/blogs/websites were banned allegedly inciting misinformation and pursuing a critical approach of military operation and gross human rights violations.
“With absolute pain and sorrow, we wish to inform the respected readers of Asaap and the Baloch people that our office in Quetta has been under siege by the Frontier Corps (FC) and security forces for the past two weeks. Asaap is the only newspaper [in Pakistan] where security forces have been deployed. These forces are engaged in regular search and harassment of staff members and visitors Asaap is being strangulated. We know with the closure of this newspaper, the voice of Baloch people will not be heard in the print media as loudly as was done in the past” wrote Daily Asaap in its last publication.
The mass killings of Baloch activists, journalists, scholars by no means generate a headline in any of the leading newspapers which is reserved only for those with high-stakes and insignificant propaganda to maintain the country’s ‘all is well’ policy in latest fashion. Obsessive self-interest and wishful comfort of the country’s ruling elite have brought misery to the land of Baloch. The appalling situation in the region and already-accelerated alienation from Pakistan can be judged from the fact that pro-democratic Baloch veteran leader Sardar Attaullah Mengal while briefing a press-conference recently expressed deep grief about the Baloch youth who have been pushed into mountains by the ‘Punjabi army’ and also warned those who pay no heed to rather regrettable situation by saying “if atrocities continue the Baloch will never accept a united Pakistan”
The economic condition of Balochistan can be judged from the fact that 88% of the population of Balochistan is under the poverty line. Balochistan has the lowest literacy rate, the lowest school enrolment ratio, educational attainment index and health index compared to other provinces. 78% of the population has no access to electricity and 79% has no access to natural gas. [Source]
Despite of 60 plus years of subjugation and continued prejudice Baloch have not given up on their legitimate demand of Self-rule, prior to Nawab Bugti’s assassination, the Baloch demanded an end to Pakistani military operations, the release of missing persons, a fair share of natural resources in the region and a restoration of democratically elected government.
It is certainly difficult to acclaim than disown someone’s genuine concern however it doesn’t mean to abandon and disregard their sentiments. Seemingly the ruling elite along with the ‘independent’ judiciary remain inconsiderate on systematic Baloch genocide. This has concocted an atmosphere of fear in the already poorly-served Balochistan. The one’s who advocate their right to self determination are ironically bad-mouthed, libeled as ‘anti-state spies’ and most probably extra-judicially mercilessly executed.
The counter insurgency measures accustomed by all retrospective governments by use of force, fallacious economic packages and misleading promises have failed to placate the Baloch in status quo. Pakistan’s fault lines need to be clearly identified and openly admitted instead of justifying the unconstitutional executions by propagating the ‘foreign hand rhetoric’. Some unschooled lessons from the past signify how fatal the chronic use of force is. The result of such solecism can easily be calculated.