Pacifying Balochistan

Anti-Baloch rhetoric, unbridled repression and the culture of impunity naturally create concern and misgivings in the minds of the Baloch

Mir Muhammad Ali TalpurPacification of ‘terrorist-riddled’ Balochistan with the Sri Lankan strategy of brutal repression of Tamils is underway and terrible times await the already traumatised Baloch people who have been under constant attack in this fifth round of hostilities since independence. However, this strategy too will surely fail as have all previous attempts to subdue the Baloch because now alienation and resistance due to repression among the Baloch people is more intense than ever before.

Seemingly, the more investors promise to help reap Balochistan’s resources and the higher the expected profits, the plans and actions of the establishment against the Baloch people become more brutal. In a piece titled ‘Drone warfare in Balochistan’, one Muhammad Ali Ehsan has not only suggested an all out use of drone warfare against the Baloch but has come up with more sinister suggestions on how to eliminate them to make it safer for Chinese and other investors even if safety comes at the price of doing away with the five percent of our population on the 44 percent land mass of Balochistan. The establishment’s supporters want measures regardless of human cost to ensure that Balochistan remains their 44 percent.

Ehsan is angry that as yet drones have not been used in Balochistan because, according to him, “Boots on the ground in Balochistan are like ‘drops of water in an empty bucket’.” He accuses the Baloch of “showing genocidal tendencies and carrying out bulk murder on religious and ethnic lines”. He conveniently forgets that it is the Hazaras, Zikris and Hindus who are targeted by the groups formed and protected by Pakistan, having nothing to do with the Baloch who are demanding their rights. Any killings by the Baloch on ethnic grounds deserve no sympathy and I condemn them.

He then asks: “The big question is: where is our indigenously developed armed drone ‘Burraq’, and its laser guided missile, ‘Barq’?” he goes on to say: “Why have we failed so far to operationally deploy it in the terrorist-riddled, vast expanse in Balochistan? If we infest the Balochistan skies with regular reconnaissance and armed drone missions, would it then be easy for the terrorists to move about in the mountainous region undetected and unpunished? If we have the technology why are we not putting it to use? Even if we are not ready to deploy them in large numbers, why don’t we consider buying the Chinese armed drone — the CH-3 — which is armed with two laser guided missiles?” Ironically, US drone use is always lambasted but its use against the Baloch seems kosher.

But this is not the only thing that this gentleman wants to employ for the elimination of the Baloch in ‘terrorist-riddled’ Balochistan. He advises: “Take the example of India, which has allegedly imposed on us the broad proxy war that we fight in Balochistan. In the 1980s and 1990s, when the Indian state of Punjab was engulfed by an insurgency similar to ours, they raised a volunteer force. They organised a ‘village defence scheme’ comprising 1,100 village committees and 40,000 volunteer men. This force was integrated into the state’s counterinsurgency strategy. Trained and armed the volunteers in this defence scheme would carry out routine patrolling and turn over any suspects that were found to the law enforcement agencies. Balochistan today also deserves an ‘informal security system’. It is only through coordination between this informal and formal security system that the vulnerable communities in Balochistan can safeguard and defend themselves.”

He is demanding the formation of a Baloch version of al Shams and al Badr used in Bangladesh in 1971 to commit similar genocide in Balochistan. He wants an “informal security system that calls for security for the people and by the people”, which can be read as the killing of the Baloch through the Baloch. He forgets that the likes of Shafique Mengal are already doing this dirty job; the Tutak mass graves were the handiwork of these death squads.

These calls for drones, informal security systems and more brutal operations are aimed at the persecution of the Baloch people so that this 44 percent real estate is rid of the people and its resources exploited without resistance. Investors like China demand a safe environment that can only be obtained by brutal measures like those used for the pacification of the Tamils by Sri Lanka. The ensuing terrible human cost is a minor inconvenience for the perpetrators because a culture of impunity prevails now as it did in 1971. This anti-Baloch rhetoric, unbridled repression and the culture of impunity naturally create concern and misgivings in the minds of the Baloch who fully understand the consequences of this lethal cocktail of the establishment’s brute power and its obsession with resources and real estate at the cost of the local people.

Gregory H Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch, lists 10 stages of genocide as classification, symbolisation, discrimination, dehumanisation, organisation, polarisation, preparation, persecution, extermination and denial. He adds: “The process is not linear. Stages may occur simultaneously. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process.” This is what is happening in Balochistan and the world needs to wake up to it before it is too late. The ground reality is different from the military and political leaders’ oft-repeated mantra of brotherhood and goodwill for the Baloch. Those who wrongly assume that genocide is an event will dispute my reasoning but those who understand that genocide is a process will surely be concerned.

The clamour for the harshest actions against the Baloch for being a hurdle to the development of Pakistan is laying the ground for intensification of all the 10 stages of genocide, which already are subtly in action in varying severity. People need to understand this and support Baloch rights for I believe the Baloch will eventually survive this brutal repression as did the Bengalis and they will be left to rue the fact that they did not stand up for justice when great injustices were being done. All those who claim to stand up for justice will have to decide if they oppose or support this brutal pacification in Balochistan.

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at

Courtesy: Daily Times



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