American Friends of Balochistan protest rally outside the White House in Washington D.C. Friday to mark the 12 anniversary of Pakistan testing of nuclear weapons in Occupied Balochistan.
Laurie Deamer’s speech on May 28 Washigton DC protest
A cursory literary analysis of the work of poet Mansur Baloch highlights his portrayal of a fisherman who through his constant crying is mistakenly thought to be mad, but the fact is that he weeps for a cause. He weeps because he thinks of Balochistan. He imagines that everything is weeping, including the deep impassable sea, which is filled with his tears of blood.
The poet’s graphic characterization of his grieving homeland is all too appropriate for the occasion we mark today. For today we join in him in mourning Balochistan’s losses resulting from the leadership of Pakistan’s nuclear test initiative at Chagai Hills, twelve years ago. We mourn the fundamental loss of Baloch liberty which undergirded the decision to test, and the loss of entitlement to basic human rights, already in short supply in the underdeveloped province.
We mourn the decrease in quality of human life which is the inevitable outcome of jeopardizing the quantity and quality of a region’s water supply, as experienced by a compromising of local agriculture, an increase in cancerous skin conditions and the loss of scenic beauty. As one resident reminisced, people used to go to Raspoh Mountain for a picnic day. It was a beautiful place where wildlife was a spectacle in itself. They sent away the people living in the area and restricted the access to everyone else. And so we also mourn the departure of that wildlife, yet another sign of ecological devastation.
I must tell you that as an American, and therefore a citizen of the first nation to both test and conduct an attack using nuclear weapons, I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite. I am native to a country which has perpetrated nuclear testing-related injustices on its own, and therefore I broach this subject with humility. And as a citizen of the nation which provided nuclear reactors and according to some sources has continued to provide material assistance to aid Islamabad in guarding its nuclear material, warheads and laboratories, I tread lightly.
However, as one writer asserted, on this awful anniversary, it is important that we relate the present to the past. To his assertion I would also add that we ought to use today’s forum to reflect on what motivated our respective countries to conduct nuclear tests, and somberly prepare for future policy-making in an independent Baluchistan.
It has been suggested that the United States was motivated to begin developing nuclear weapons during World War II by a fear that we were engaged in a race with Nazi Germany to produce such a weapon. The 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki generated ethical debate among US citizens, as some of us wanted to believe that the bombings hastened the end of the war with Japan, though it seemed difficult to fathom that the ends justified the means. In the fifties, we felt threatened by the Soviet Union and hoped that nuclear weapons would diminish that threat. In the sixties and seventies, the inherent dangers of nuclear testing and facility maintenance finally compelled us to protest publicly. And although this trend continued into the eighties, it has been concluded that the majority of Americans believed the weapons were required for U.S. national security. Quite honestly, the 9/11 attacks simultaneously intensified our collective need for secure borders, and served as a deeply unpleasant reminder that, in fact, no nation is completely secure, regardless of the size and sophistication of its weaponry.
I can speak to Pakistan’s rationale for testing with even less authority, however some blame Prime Minister Bhutto’s hubris, accusing him of relying on the bomb to save him from the consequences of his failure to govern. Others claim that the decision to test on May 28 was a direct response to palpable Israeli and Indian threats against the physical nuclear infrastructure at Kahuta. Some believe it was a defense against India or a quest for international respect. Others label it an offensive move against India and still others suggest that the motive was to build national pride and unite people groups in conflict. Most commentators seem to feel that Islamabad not only failed miserably in its stated mission to unite the citizens of Pakistan, but that its leaders’ decision to test nuclear weapons ultimately thwarted the mission, driving the culture itself deeper into self-destruction and fanaticism.
In the end, neither the Unites States nor Islamabad has managed to assuage its own fears about national security. The issue of nuclear testing generates division rather than unity, among its respective citizens. Both governments continue to pay retribution of one kind or another to their victims. And their victims, whether they live in the vicinity of American test sites, or dwell in the Chagai Hills of occupied Balochistan, continue to suffer the negative effects of detonation on their health and their homelands.
Coincidentally, today’s memorial also marks the conclusion of a month-long United Nations conference wherein the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is being revisited. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began the conference on May 3 by pushing to set a deadline for activating the treaty, thereby stepping up pressure in a campaign to win over the nuclear powers which have not yet signed and/or ratified. Two of the hold-outs include the United States, a signatory since 1996 still awaiting ratification by the US Senate, and Pakistan, which has signed neither the Nonproliferation Treaty nor the UN’s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
I hereby respectfully call on President Obama to resubmit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty pact to Congress. I humbly urge my United States senators to unanimously ratify the treaty, so that our delegates to the United Nations are in a better position to advocate for a safer world, and as a small but significant gesture of making amends to Native Americans and other US citizens damaged by testing. I respectfully ask my leaders to maintain the current moratorium on nuclear testing.
As an American Friend of the Baloch, I humbly call on Islamabad to sign the Nonproliferation and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties. And in keeping with the American Friends of Balochistan mission statement, I also respectfully urge Islamabad to halt preparations for nuclear testing in the Gadain region.
To the Baloch people, both those of the diaspora and those on the ground, I say now is the time, though you are in the very midst of your struggle for independence, to determine the ethics by which you will demonstrate your power as a nation, particularly as it impacts upon the safeguarding of its citizens. May you also be inspired by the poet whose work I referenced at beginning of this presentation, for he goes on to say that though he grieved for Balochistan, such that its seas were filled with tears of blood, he had not given up hope. And although he had lost his way, he saw in the dark the lights of martyrs and imagined that the darkness would eventually be replaced by a gleaming Light.
Balochistan is sea of tears because of nukes, atrocities say American friends
by Ahmar Mustikhan
WASHINGTON DC: Islamabad was put on the mat here in the U.S. capital Friday for its atrocities on Balochistan, including the May 28 nuclear tests in Chagai.
American progressives, conservatives and moderates joined the Baloch in a protest rally outside the White House and a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Friday to mark the 12 anniversary of Pakistan testing of nuclear weapons in Occupied Balochistan.
The protest and press conference was organized by the American Friends of Balochistan.
Baloch national hero Mir Hyrbyair Marri in his message from London blasted Islamabad for using Balochistan as it nuclear testing site.
In her speech, A.F.B. presiding council member Laurie Deamer cited verses from poet Mansoor Baloch in which he said in the backdrop of Balochistan’s occupation, “everything is weeping, including the deep impassable sea, which is filled with tears of blood.”
Deamer said, “Today we join in mourning Balochistan’s losses resulting from the leadership of Pakistan’s nuclear test initiative at Chagai Hills, twelve years ago. We mourn the fundamental loss of Baloch liberty which under girded the decision to test, and the loss of entitlement to basic human rights, already in short supply in the underdeveloped province.”
“We mourn the decrease in quality of human life which is the inevitable outcome of jeopardizing the quantity and quality of a region’s water supply, as experienced by a compromising of local agriculture, an increase in cancerous skin conditions and the loss of scenic beauty.”
We will never know that how long the effects of the radiations will stay unless international and independent experts are sent to Balochistan to examine the areas affected by the nuclear tests, Balochistan independence leader Mir Hyrbyair Marri deplored.
Deamer said Baloch natives can best speak about the harm done to their homeland.
“As one resident reminisced, people used to go to Raskoh Mountain for a picnic day. It was a beautiful place where wildlife was a spectacle in itself. They sent away the people living in the area and restricted the access to everyone else. And so we also mourn the departure of that wildlife, yet another sign of ecological devastation.
Marri said nuclear weapons in Pakistan hands endangers everyone. “Apart from its terrible affect on the Baloch population, I think Pakistan’s nuclear bombs are a danger to the entire world as we are observing religious fundamentalism is on the rise in Pakistan.”
Deamer felt Islamabad committed a huge blunder by conducting the tests in Occupied Balochistan.
“Most commentators seem to feel that Islamabad not only failed miserably in its stated mission to unite the citizens of Pakistan, but that its leaders’ decision to test nuclear weapons ultimately thwarted the mission, driving the culture itself deeper into self-destruction and fanaticism.”
She called upon Islamabad to sign the Nonproliferation and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties. And in keeping with the American Friends of Balochistan mission statement, I also respectfully urge Islamabad to halt preparations for nuclear testing in the region.
President of the Baloch Human Rights Council of Canada, Dr. Zaffar Baloch, could not make it to the protest because of a traffic mishap while he was coming to the White House.
His speech was read out by an A.F.B. representative.
“Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is a source of terror and instability in the region. This is not a coincidence that Pakistan’s nuclear bomb has had been dubbed as the “Islamic Bomb” and each and every ballistic missile tested so far is named after Muslim invaders; Ghauri, Ghaznavi, and Abdali to name a few. Mard-e-Momin is a military tank, a term that means “Muslim Superman” and borrowed from Pakistan’s official state philosopher Allama Iqbal,” Dr. Baloch said.
He added, “Pakistan is the only country in the world where the al-Qaida, the Taliban, and the nuclear bomb exist within a radius of 100 kilometers. The terrorists who are seeking a nuclear device won’t even need a visa or take an international flight to acquire their goals.”
Sakura Saunders, editor of ProtestBarrick.Net, deplored that balochistan has been under Pakistani military occupation for six decades but not much is known about it in the U.S.A.
‘”I only came to know about it recently. The liberation struggle in Balochistan is one of the most under-reported struggles,” she said.
Andrew Eiva, who is now with Freedom for Sudan Committee, expressed concern that Adolph Hitler was still highly popular in Pakistan and said way back during the Afghan war when he was Pakistan, Pakistani military officials spoke of a secret plan to destroy Israel.
President of the Pakistan Christian Congress, Dr. Nazir Bhatti, said the Baloch were one of the best people in Pakistan because Christians have faced many a challenge in the Punjab and other areas, but not a single Christian faced any discrimination amidst the Baloch people.
Eiva condemned the systematic propagation of hate conducted by the Pakistani establishment and said all this was ominous, viewed in the backdrop of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons progam.
Secular Baloch do not want to have any truck with Pakistan or its state ideology of Islamic hatred. While the Baloch protest was taking place in Washington DC, Punjabi religious fanatics attacked the worship place of the minority Qadianis in Lahore killing dozens of people.
The salient feature of the protest in front of the White House politicial activist Mohamad Ali Baloch of Philadelphia speech in his mother tongue, Balochi.
Ali Baloch, dwelt at length on the historic separate status of Balochistan and recalled the speech of Baba-i-Balochistan Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo in which the late Baloch leader ahd argued in December 1947 that when Afghanistan and Iran could be independent nations so could Balochistan.
“Pakistan military invaded and conquered Balochistan on April 1, 1948 and later disbanded the nationalist Kalat State National Party,” Ali Baloch recalled in Balochi.
Ali Baloch said in 1966 Ayub Khan launched a military operation in Balochistan in which thousands of Baloch patriots were killed in aerial bombardments.
Dr. Zaffar Baloch said, “We strongly believe that Balochistan’s freedom from the Islamic state of Pakistan will develop a new balance in the region that will favour an end to global terrorism, nuclear disasters, and wars. Liberated Balochistan is the only hope for a world free from nuclear terrorism.”
The civilized world will be outraged to know that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission specifically outlawed any environmental impact assessment in Chagai. This is clearly a war crime against the Baloch people, according to the A.F.B.
Deamer prayed that the freedom-loving Baloch people may never succumb to the grave injustices of Islamabad even if Balochistan’s seas were filled with tears of blood for one can see “in the dark the lights of martyrs and imagined that the darkness would eventually be replaced by a gleaming Light.”
In addition to Dr. Zaffar Baloch and Mohammad Ali Baloch of the Balochistan Peoples Party [Iran], who drove all the way from Toronto, Baloch political activist Zahid Mir came from Columbus, Ohio, to attend the protest.
Sindhi intellectual Prof. Jawaid Bhutto and activist Aleem Brohi were among those who took part in the protest rally.
Balochistan is a vast country: the area under Pakistani army occupation is slightly bigger than New Mexico. The area under Iranian mullahs is the size of Nevada, and that under Afghan control is the size of West Virginia. The total Baloch population in these areas is ten million, and ten million Baloch live elsewhere in the world.
Meanwhile, the A.F.B. has expressed concerns over reports from Balochistan that Pakistan military is planning yet another series of tests on the Baloch homeland. The international community must act now to stop this from happening, the A.F.B. said ina communication
Free Balochistan is the hope for peace
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program is an extension of its state ideology of Islamic expansionism, dominance, and militarism in South Asia. And like the state itself, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is a source of terror and instability in the region. This is not a coincidence that Pakistan’s nuclear bomb has had been dubbed as the “Islamic Bomb” and each and every ballistic missile tested so far is named after Muslim invaders; Ghauri, Ghaznavi, and Abdali to name a few. Mard-e-Momin is a military tank, a term that means “Muslim Superman” and borrowed from Pakistan’s official state philosopher Allama Iqbal. The only objective of these Ghauris, Ghaznavis, and Momins is to hoist a Pakistani flag over New Delhi. This is the Pakistani military mindset that has remained unchanged over the last six decades.
Twelve years ago, on May 28, 1998 Pakistan successfully conducted its first nuclear test in the Chagai hills in Balochistan. Exactly, a year later on May 8, 1999 Pakistan army’s Special Forces had crossed the Line of Control and entered the Indian Administered Kashmir to secure the Kargil heights. The Kargil War as we know it today was the brainchild of General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff and Lt. General Mohammed Aziz, the Chief of General Staff. The motive behind the operation was to help in internationalizing the Kashmir issue and forcing India militarily to resolve the longstanding dispute on the terms and conditions favouring Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. It is believed that the planning for the operation, by Pakistan, may have occurred about as early as the autumn of 1998. As the Kargil drama unfolded in the weeks that followed, India had moved five infantry divisions, five independent brigades and forty-four battalions of paramilitary troops to Kashmir. The total Indian troop strength in the region had reached 730,000. The build-up included the deployment of around 60 frontline aircraft. The conflict was resolved after heavy casualties from sides and with mounting international pressure, especially from the U.S. Kargil will be remembered not only for its military misadventure by Pakistan but as a real possibility of nuclear war in South Asia.
2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff, was the second major military standoff between India and Pakistan following the successful nuclear tests conducted by both the countries in 1998. On the morning of December 13, 2001, a group of five armed men attacked the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. The terrorist attack was blamed on LeT and JeM, the two Pakistan-based militant groups backed by Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI. By January 2002, India had mobilized around 500,000 troops and three armored divisions on the Pakistani border concentrated along the LoC in Kashmir. Pakistan responded like-wise, deploying around 120,000 troops to that region. This was the largest build-up on the Subcontinent since the 1971 war between the two countries. As the world looked upon with serious concerns for a nuclear catastrophe, pressure mounted on the nuclear rivals from all corners including United States and the UN to exercise retrain and attempts were made to defuse the situation.
The Kargil War and the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff shall always remain as important reminders in the annals of military history of the Subcontinent that the possibility of a nuclear disaster is real and the signs are all over the place.
The dilemma with Pakistan today is that the very ideology that created the state based on Islamic identity has become its mortal enemy. The Pakistani nuclear arsenal supposedly developed to save the state from an “infidel” India is being challenged by Islamic extremism and a wave of suicide bombings from within. India-focused Pakistani military at present is deeply entangled in the web of its own creation, fighting a war against its own people in North Waziristan where nuclear bombs are not only useless as a weapon of deterrence but these strategic crown jewels need to be safeguarded from falling into the wrong hands. Twelve years after the first nuclear test in the Chagai hills, Pakistan’s military is less capable of defending the state and its institutions.
The study commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and released by Harvard University’s Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs found that Pakistan faces formidable risks in safeguarding its nuclear warheads. The study states, “While acknowledging substantial security improvements in the last few years, the study notes that the danger [to the nuclear program] persists from nuclear insiders with extremist sympathies, al-Qaida or Taliban outsider attacks, and a weak state.”
In fact, the history of recent developments in Pakistan shows that all the factors mentioned in the report is correct plus a couple of extra ones could be added to it. I believe that there is a substantial possibility of an accidental nuclear war between India and Pakistan, which came so close to becoming a reality in 1999 and 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff. Yet, the most potent case against Pakistan’s nuclear program is that the bomb is already in the wrong hands thanks to Dr. A. Q. Khan’s Network and his nuclear business deals with Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Documents provided by Iran to U.N. nuclear inspectors in November 2003 have exposed the outlines of a vast, secret procurement network that successfully acquired thousands of sensitive parts and tools from numerous countries over a 17-year period. Pakistani individuals and companies are strongly implicated as sources of key blueprints, technical guidance, and equipment for a pilot uranium-enrichment plant. The serious nature of the discoveries prompted a decision by Pakistan to detain three of its top nuclear scientists for several days of questioning, with U.S. intelligence experts allowed to assist. Of course, Pakistan continues to insist that it never wittingly provided nuclear assistance to Iran or anyone else. Pakistan claims that the Khan Nuclear Network has been dismantled after the “grounding” of the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb for his bad business behaviour but access to him for any further investigation by the U.S. experts has been denied.
Pakistan is the only country in the world where the al-Qaida, the Taliban, and the nuclear bomb exist within a radius of 100 kilometers. The terrorists who are seeking a nuclear device won’t even need a visa or take an international flight to acquire their goals. According to a report by Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit, University of Bradford, Pakistan’s nuclear facilities have been attacked at least three times by home-grown extremists over the last 2-3 years. The incidents include an attack on a nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, a homicide bombing at the nuclear airbase at Kamra on December 10, 2007, and an attack at the Wah Cantonment Ordinance Complex, widely understood to be one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly sites. In addition to that Pakistan is facing a wave of terrorist attacks including suicide bombings at the sensitive security facilities. In October 2009 Pakistan army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi came under attack by the Taliban militants killing six military personnel including an army brigadier and a lieutenant-colonel. The forces that are supposedly responsible for safeguarding the nuclear arsenal are not safe themselves from attacks by the Islamic militants.
I would also like to draw your attention to Balochistan, the test site for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by the Pakistani army. Balochistan is an occupied land, forcefully annexed by the Pakistani military in 1948. People of Balochistan, for the last six decades, are fighting for their right to become an independent nation. The Baloch are a secular and peace-loving nation, opposed to wars with neighbours and Weapons of Mass Destruction. We strongly believe that our freedom from the Islamic state of Pakistan will develop a new balance in the region that will favour an end to global terrorism, nuclear disasters, and wars. Liberated Balochistan is the only hope for a world free from nuclear terrorism.
Baloch Human Rights Council of Canada (BHRC)
Washington D.C., U.S
May 28, 2010
Press Conference on Pakistan Nuclear Program
by American Friends of Balochistan