Written by: Rahim Baloch
On August 4,1947, a conference was held in Delhi, presided over by Viceroy of the British India, Lord Mountbatten, and attended by the ruler of Balochistan, the Khan of Kalat, and representatives of the proposed state of Pakistan for determining the status of the Kalat state (Balochistan).
The three parties had agreed that Kalat was not a part of India, rather an independent state having treaty relations with Britain; therefore, not bound by the partition act to join either India or Pakistan.
However, the status of Baloch areas of the British Balochistan province was not finalized. That issue was left to be decided by the proposed Pakistan and Kalat state in future after the creation of Pakistan.
The Khan of Kalat declared full independence of Balochistan on August 11, 1947. The founding fathers of Pakistan later changed their mind towards Balochistan on instigation of British authorities. Instead of discussing and determining the mechanism for return of Baloch areas of former British Balochistan province, they started exerting pressure on Kalat for merger with Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities, when failed to get the merger through legal and peaceful means, decided to invade the country. Consequently, Pakistan forcibly occupied Balochistan on March 27, 1948.
Since then Baloch have been rising again and again to regain the independence of their country but the UN and the world community have been showing an indifference towards the Baloch freedom struggle.
Presently, the Balochistan looks like a cantonment. There are camps, check posts and pickets of army, paramilitary FC and other security forces everywhere. Army and paramilitary forces usually conduct ground and aerial operations on a daily basis against the civilian population with the intention to force their displacement against their will and interest.
Army helicopters intentionally conduct indiscriminate shelling and bombing on villages, killing and injuring people, destroying their dwellings while the ground troops ablaze, bulldoze and destroy the dwellings, plunder their precious households, kill and plunder the cattle, humiliate and harass the general people, especially to women, children.
They severely beat the men in front of their families and arrest people without charging them with any offense. This inhuman situation began in 2000 when the Baloch people rose once again for their national freedom. Instead of addressing the issue of independence through peaceful means of political dialogue Pakistan opted for the use of military force to crush the Baloch voice for freedom.
During the reign of Army dictator General Pervez Musharraf prominent Baloch leaders like Sardar Muhammad Akbar Bugti, Ghulam Muhammad Baloch and Mir Balach Marri were assassinated. Pakistan’s military operation in occupied Balochistan has reached a stage of Baloch genocide.
Recently, on November 20, 2017, a high level security meeting was held in Turbat, Makkuran which was attended by the Quetta corps commander, puppet Chief Minister Sana Zehri and former CM Dr Malik Baloch.
According to reports, Dr Malik suggested a new row of a Sawat-like intensified military operation against the Baloch freedom movement. After the meeting Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced that genocide of Baloch dissidents is inevitable for putting Baloch freedom movement to an end.
Following this another security meeting was held on 23 of November 2017, at the Quetta Cantonment which was chaired by the Pakistani Army chief, puppet Chief Minister Sardar Sanaullah and other officers of Army and intelligence agencies wherein it was decided to intensify the military operation against the Baloch freedom movement. The new intensified military operation was named as “Khush Hal Balochistan Program” which means “Prosperous Balochistan Program”.
Interestingly in case of Balochistan words of Pakistani authorities bear contrary meanings as to real meanings of those words. Here the word “prosperous” bears behind it the intention of causing destruction.
Similarly, on June 26, 2015, in an apex committee meeting presided by then Chief Minister Dr Malik, an intensified operation was approved which was named as ‘’Pur Amn Balochistan Program” (Peaceful Balochistan Program).
In pursuance of the said promulgation, a brutal military operation was launched on June 30, 2015 in Mehi, the home village of famous Baloch nationalist leader Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, wherein more than 10 Baloch were killed including Dr Allah Nazar’s brother Mir Saffar Khan, nephews Sileman Baloch, Zakir Baloch and Ramzan Baloch.
Afterwards, the operation was expanded to entire Mashkay, Ragae, Jhao, Greshag and Awaran areas. Thousands of families were displaced; dozens of villages were set ablaze and destroyed. At one time, the army claimed that Allah Nazar has been hit by a missile fired from a jet.
After the proclamation of recent ‘’Khush Hal Balochistan Program”, the military deployment has significantly increased, and operations have been intensified all over Balochistan. The recent military operations are aimed at paving the way for the drama of 2018 elections.
The use of following methods is mostly common features of army operations in occupied Balochistan:
1- Assassination of pro-freedom leadership: Pro-freedom Baloch leadership is the top target of army and intelligence agencies. They have been targeting all central and district level leaders of pro-freedom Baloch parties and organizations like the Baloch National Movement (BNM), Baloch Republican Party (BRP) and Baloch Students Organization (BSO) Azad.
Hundreds of leaders, cadres and activists of these parties, including Nawab Akbar Bugti, Mir Balach Marri, BNM Chairman Ghulam Muhammad Baloch and Secretary General Dr Manan Baloch have been extra judicially killed by the army. By killing the pro-freedom leadership Pakistan Army establishment wants to render the freedom movement as impotent and leaderless.
2- Curb pro-freedom democratic political activities on surface: Pakistan has banned all pro freedom Baloch political parties, organizations and individuals. The BNM, BRP and BSO-Azad have been listed by notification or practice, among the proscribed organizations. Pakistan denies them all freedoms and rights, including the freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of protest, freedom of peaceful political mobilization and awareness campaigns. Aim behind this undemocratic and unlawful cruel policy is crystal clear. Through imposition of such prohibitions state wants to curb all pro freedom democratic activities on surface and thereby create a gulf between pro freedom parties and Baloch masses and thereby make the Baloch people as voiceless. Pakistan is bent upon to suppress the Baloch voice for freedom at any cost by any means whether lawful or unlawful even through genocide and savagery. This policy of zero sum tolerance for pro freedom surface politics and peaceful political activities is illegal and a violation of basic human rights and freedoms which have been guaranteed in UN Charter & Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
3- Use of Enforced Disappearances: From the very beginning of present phase of Baloch freedom movement Pakistan’s security establishment is using enforced disappearances as a main tool of its counter insurgency policy. Mir Abdul Nabi Bangulzai, a prominent Baloch leader was among the first victims who became prey of this inhuman and unlawful policy of enforced disappearances. He was arrested in March 2000 and his whereabouts remained unknown for more than six months. In the forthcoming years enforced disappearances increased day by day. In 2004 Aftab Ahmed Khan Sher Pao, then Interior Minister of Pakistan government, during a visit to Turbat, Balochistan admitted before media such four thousand arrests but none of them neither charged nor ever brought before a court of law. During the reign of PPP Yusuf Raza Gelani, then Prime Minister of Pakistan once announced the release of all Baloch victims of enforced disappearances as an attempt of reconciliation but army and intelligence agencies fully disobeyed his orders so a single victim of enforced disappearance was not released in execution of his orders. A delegation of UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visited Pakistan from 10 to 20 September 2012. Said delegation, on one or other pretext, was not allowed to visit war affected regions of Balochistan and meet the victim families of Enforced Disappearances. In 2013 Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a Balochistan based Human Rights Organization, held a long march from Quetta to Karachi onwards to Islamabad, a distance of more than 2500 kilometers protesting for release of Baloch Missing Persons but no change of policy or any decrease in enforced disappearances noticed. Recently a worrisome increase has been noticed in cases of enforced disappearances of Baloch including children, women, youth and students. At midnight of October 27/28, 2017 ISI and Rangers raided various houses of Baloch residents at different areas of Karachi. They humiliated and harassed women, kidnapped a 9 years old child Aftab s/o Muhammad Younus, 11/12 years old Ulfat s/o Altaf along with teenagers and students namely Abid, Farhad ,Sajjad, Arif, Aliyas, Rawat and a Human Rights defender Nawaz Atta. During the course of abducting Nawaz Atta they assaulted a woman namely Farah Baloch who had attempted to save Nawaz. She was inflicted serious injuries on her body and backbone. Two days later four Baloch women including Baloch leader Dr Allah Nazar’s wife along with their children & three teenager students namely Shahmir, Beebagar, Yusuf and a teacher namely Jalal were abducted by security forces from Saryab, Quetta. Later on women were released but teenagers Shahmir, Beebagar, Yusuf and teacher Jalal remained missing. On November 15,2017 Baloch students namely Sanaullah, the Secretary General of BSO-Azad, Naseer Baloch, Hassam Baloch and Rafique Baloch, a member of BNM, were abducted by security agency from Karachi. On November 20, Sagheer, another Baloch student, was abducted by security personnel from canteen of Karachi University. On December 15 another Baloch student Nasir s/o Mir Ghaffar Langove was whisked away from Hudda, Quetta. It should be remembered that abductee Nasir’s father Mir Ghaffar Langove was arrested by security agencies from Karachi on December 11, 2009 and he remained missing until his mutilated dead body was found on July 1, 2011 in Gaddani near Karachi. 20 years old abductee Nasir Ghaffar Baloch is the only brother of his five sisters. According to Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) and Baloch Human Rights Organization (BHRO) thousands Baloch from all walks of life are missing including Ali Asghar Bengulzai (since 18-10-2001) Zahid Kurd former Chairman of BSO-Azad (since 18-3-2014), Zakir Majeed Ex Vice Chairman of BSO-Azad (since 8-6-2009), Sanaullah Baloch presently Secretary General of BSO-Azad, Shabbier Baloch presently Information Secretary of BSO-Azad (since 4-10-2016), Dr Deen Muhammad Baloch (Since28-6-2009), Ghafoor Baloch then CC member of BNM (Since 4-1-2009), Ramzan Baloch, a member of BNM (Since 14-7-2009), Iqbal Baloch(since 14-3-2007),Shams Baloch an activist (since 1-7-2010), Munir Ahmed Mirwani Advocate (missing since 17-6-2010). Now enforced disappearances is also being used against pro freedom Sindhi activists, Punjabi liberals, Mohajir and Pukhtun dissidents at a large scale. In January 2017 five bloggers went missing from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. They were abducted by security agencies just for sharing their liberal views on social media. Recently another activist Raza Khan has been abducted by security forces on December 2, 2017. He is a Lahore based activist and a champion of India-Pakistan friendship. Senator Farhatullah Babar, a prominent parliamentarian said that “Balochistan and FATA have become black holes for detainees held by security agencies. He categorically said that “Guantanamo Bay like prisons operate there” he said this on December 12, 2017 at an event organized by the National Commission of Human Rights at International Islamic University Islamabad to commemorate the Human Rights Day. On 25th November 2017 Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court questioned the legality of Army’s brokering a deal between Government and Islamabad sit in protesters of an extremist Islamic group TLYR (Tehrik Labbek Ya Rasool Allah) then he expressed in open Court his anxiety and concerns about his own security at the hands of security agencies by saying that “after these adverse remarks against Army he may be listed among the missing persons”. Chaudhry Iftikhar Muhammad, Ex-Chief Justice Pakistan Supreme Court, is deemed as most powerful & bold Judge in Pakistan’s judicial history but he too couldn’t make army and intelligence agencies answerable for enforced disappearances. Here a case is cited as an example. On April 11, 2011 Muhammad Khan Marri, a journalist along with his brother Muhammad Nabi Marri and a friend Mehran Kheyyazai were picked by paramilitary FC from Zarghoon road Quetta who remained missing. A petition for their recovery was filed before a bench of Supreme Court headed by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, then Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court. A petition on law and order situation and enforced disappearances was already in pending before the said bench. Hadi Shakeel, a DIG (Deputy Inspector General) police along with a Traffic Sargent appeared before Court as witnesses and produced CC footage as evidence showing FC personnel while arresting and taking abductees in their official vehicles. On basis of that evidence Court summoned Obaidullah Khattak, then IG Frontier Corps Balochistan and ordered him to produce the abductees on next hearing but before next hearing mutilated dead bodies of the victims were found dumped on 28-5-2011.Their dead bodies bear marks of torture. After subjecting to severe torture they were roped by neck but powerful Chief Justice miserably stood failed and helpless to do justice & punish the culprits. After Chaudhry’s retirement Supreme Court disposed of petition on enforced disappearances without recovering a single abductee and sent the file in garment which is indicative of Judiciary’s not only helplessness but also its collaboration with security agencies on vital issues of human rights and freedoms .On 26 December, 2017 Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani in his address to10th Urdu International conference at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi and talking to media at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh said that “we should resist although we might go missing”. Confessions made or concerns expressed on issue of enforced disappearances by higher level Government representatives, Ministers, Judges and parliamentarians shows on one hand the gravity of issue and on other hand their helplessness before army and security agencies. One can’t imagine what is happening with voiceless Baloch people. If someone goes missing from Punjab or Karachi then some sections of media and civil society come forward to condemn it but in case of Baloch most of them are reluctant to raise their voice to condemn the culprits, partly due to fear of intelligence agencies and partly perhaps due to their bias against Baloch. Everyday Baloch patriots go missing at the hands of army and other security agencies but no one cares about them. Even UNO and International Human Rights Organizations mostly are silent on the issue. Though Enforced Disappearances are a grave violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws, it is also a heinous crime against humanity; it is deemed a war crime in other parts of world but occupied Balochistan is being treated as an exemption. This cold and unjust response of UN and Human Rights Organizations emboldens Pakistan Army and security agencies to continue unabatedly with savagely, inhuman and illegal policy and practice of “Enforced Disappearances”.
4- Extrajudicial killings: Pakistan Army and other security agencies are practicing a policy of extrajudicial killings of suspected freedom fighters, peaceful pro freedom political leaders, activists & their suspected sympathizers from all walks of life including teachers, doctors, engineers, professors, businessmen, students and artists. Extrajudicial killings are being committed in different forms. The most frequently used form of extrajudicial killings is Custodial killings by Army and other security agencies. They severely torture and then kill abductees and throw their mutilated dead bodies. It is known as “kill and dump” policy. Up to day more than five thousand mutilated dead bodies of Baloch missing persons have been recovered. Fake encounters are another form of extrajudicial killings. On occasion of a military operation security forces extra-judicially kill some of abducted missing persons under their illegal custody and then falsely claim that slain have been killed in some encounter. Similarly on the occasion of military operations unarmed villagers are being arrested and afterwards killed. Such incidents are also claimed by ISPR as encounters. There are hundreds such incidents on record.
5- Collective punishment: Pakistan army and other security forces, in their quest of curbing the Baloch freedom movement, are pursuing a policy of collective punishment. They indiscriminately bomb, bulldoze and ablaze the villages, carry mass arrests of women, children and unarmed men with an intent to afraid the masses and thereby constrain them from taking part in or supporting freedom movement. Army and security forces bulldoze & set ablaze dwelling houses and arrest families of suspected freedom fighters, pro freedom political activists, their relatives, neighbors and sympathizers for putting pressure on them. In pursuance of recently proclaimed ‘Khush Hal Balochistan Program” Pakistan army, on December 1, 2017, launched a new intensified operation in Mashkay, Ragai, Gichk, Awaran and Kolwa. More than four thousand troops and 15 helicopters conducted operation in Mashkay, Ragai and Gichk areas where they bombed, set ablaze hundreds dwellings, killed about a dozen of civilians which included Ghaus Bakhsh s/o Arz Muhammad, his wife and 14 years old daughter, Khair Bakhsh and Babul s/o Eido. All of them reportedly were shepherds. During said operation about a hundred women and children including famous Baloch Leader Dr Allah Nazar’s sister along with their children and grandchildren were arrested and kept in miserable conditions in military camps of Mashkay & Ragai. A video of those abductees was made viral on social media by spy agencies. In this video an elderly man and a woman can be heard applauding Army for their kindness. Is it not a mockery? The people whose dwellings have been torched and they along with their children have been arrested and kept in army camps then how can they appreciate such atrocities on themselves? Obviously they have been compelled to make those statements. Said brutal military operation soon was expended to Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Washuk, Kharan, Noshki, Kalat, Khuzdar, Bolan, Mastung and Dera Bugti districts of Occupied Balochistan. Such mass arrests of women and children, unarmed civilians, their humiliation and harassment, blazing or otherwise destroying dwellings, killings of civilian population by indiscriminate bombing are grave violations of international humanitarian laws and rights of people enshrined in UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Convention on the Rights of Child, UN Convention on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflicts,1974,Geneva Convention Relative To The Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 12 of August,1949 and their Protocols and Additional Protocols. Said acts of Pakistan army and security forces are overtly War Crimes.
6- Use of Mercenary Bands: Pakistan’s security establishment since 2007/8 is using Mercenary bands (some people call those as Death Squads) as counterinsurgency tools against Baloch freedom movement. Recruitment for such bands is made from antisocial elements. Army and intelligence agencies train, equip, facilitate & then use them as mercenaries against freedom movement. Those mercenaries participate in covert intelligence operations, overt military actions and abductions of dissidents, pro freedom activists and their sympathizers. Despite funding from Intelligence agencies those mercenaries were allowed to collect funds through ransom, extortion and road dacoity. Present CM’s slain son, Sikander, slain brother, Mehrullah, nephew Zaib Zehri was heading such mercenary bands. Shafique Mengal & his elder brother Attaurehman, Ex-CM Aslam Raisani’s brother, Seraj Raisani, Barkat Talib were too running mercenary militias. Ex-CM Dr Abdul Malik in his a recent interview with “Herald” claims that he, during his tenure of Chief Ministership dismantled such death squads but his claim is untrue. In fact a big number of those mercenaries went out of control & became disloyal to their masters. Most of them were involved in crimes like land grabbing, extortion, killing people for their personal vendettas which had ignited anxiety and hate among the people against Army and state on one hand and on the other hand it contributed in defamation of country and international criticism on it. For that reason those uncontrolled and disloyal segments of mercenary bands were disbanded. Rest of them partly were deactivated but not abolished or prosecuted for their crimes. Another reason for temporary deactivation of mercenary bands was to give a false & illusive impression of normalcy and a shift of policy. Whatsoever but Dr Malik’s statement confirms claim of pro freedom Baloch organizations regarding use of mercenary death squads by army. Still such mercenary bands are active & operate in Balochistan under patronage of Security establishment of Pakistan. Recently fresh photos of a Khuzdar based notorious mercenary Zakria Muhammad Hassani with Pakistan Army officers and Chinese became viral on social media.
7- Patronage & Use of Islamic Extremists: Foundation of Pakistan was laid down on Islamic extremism and hate for Hindus, Jews, Christians and other believers, therefore dissemination of extremist version of Islam, patronage and use of Islamic extremists is a fundamental feature of state’s entire policy. Whole policies revolve around this feature whether it is foreign policy, home affairs, constitution, law making and education etc. As the Baloch are a secular people therefore state machinery and their religious allies call Baloch nationalists as kafir (non-believers of God). As we all know that Islamic extremists are a time tested instrument of Army establishment, so army is patronizing & promoting so-called Jihadis in Occupied Balochistan. Even state’s created mercenary bands also happened to use Islamic names for their criminal bands and portrait their crimes against people as Jihad. After disastrous earthquake of September 2013 in Awaran and Kech districts Army is constantly trying to enter Hafiz Saeed’s JuD in Balochistan. The Jihadis purposely are being given space under Army’s patronage. A number of Jihadis claim activities and existence in Balochistan but still these are limited to military camps and in their controlled areas. Despite state patronage still they are failed to get roots in the Baloch society. Except Shafique Mengal there is no any indigenous Jihadi figure in occupied Balochistan. Now Army is trying to enter Hafiz Saeed’s JuD in Occupied Balochistan in disguise of social & charity works. In December 2016 when Hafiz Saeed visited Balochistan he was given protocol and protection like a Premier despite the fact he is UN designated Terrorist. Now it is a question mark that how long for, without any material support and backing by secular forces of the region, free nations and international institutions, Baloch freedom movement would be able to resist Pakistan’s of Islamizing Baloch secular society.
8- Containment of Media: Pakistan’s security establishment is following a strict policy of media containment in occupied Balochistan. Media houses including local newspapers have strictly been instructed to not publish or broadcast any news about ongoing military operations, extrajudicial killings and matters relating to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC in fact is a manifestation of Chinese hegemonic ambitions. In disguise of economic activities China plans to get a military base on Balochistan coast of Gwadar to keep control on Bay of Hormuz as well as connect herself with West Asia, Middle East and Red Sea Region of Africa. On the other hand Pakistan Army needs Chinese equipment, funds and international support to meet the challenge of Baloch freedom movement. CPEC is deemed by Pakistan Army as a milking cow. That is why criticism on CPEC related issues and reporting of brutal army operation, human rights violations are being dealt with zero sum tolerance. Since 2004 dozens of local journalists and reporters have been abducted, tortured, killed and dumped by security agencies. Haji Razaque Sarbazi (Karachi), Razaque Gul (Turbat), Javed Naseer Rind (Hub), Muhammad Khan Sasoli (Khuzdar), Abdul Haque Zehri (Khuzdar), Siddique Eido (Gwadar), Lala Hameed (Gwadar), Muhammad Khan Marri (Quetta), Ali Sher Kurd (Quetta), Ghulamullah Baloch (Khuzdar) are among local journalists who were abducted by intelligence agencies, severely tortured, killed and then dumped. In 2015 Hamid Mir, a prominent journalist of Pakistan and anchor person of a program on Geo TV was shot and injured by ISI for his disobeying Balochistan policy of army. Madam Sabeen Mahmud, a liberal activist was martyred in Karachi on April 24, 2015 for hosting a program on Baloch missing person. In short media is fully banned by security establishment of Pakistan to report or criticize Army operations or CPEC related issues. International media is not being allowed to visit and make unbiased reporting about deteriorated situation prevailing in Balochistan to which Baloch nationalists rightly term as Baloch Genocide. Even internet facility, which provided in Kech district and some other areas, has been revoked or limited. A dark and thick curtain has been put on Balochistan situation. Baloch have been turned voiceless. There are recent reports that Quetta and Karachi Press Clubs denied to allow representatives of VBMP, BHRO and relatives of the victims of enforced disappearances to address press conferences.
9- Use of pseudo Parties and puppet Governments: Occupied Balochistan is not an exemption to Pakistani hypocritical political culture where pseudo parties never try to mobilize the masses and establish a democratic hegemony of civilian institutions. Contrary to that they ever seek patronage of army and intelligence agencies for partnership in power corridors even as a junior partner. The general elections of Pakistan, held in 2013, were fully rejected by Baloch people. According to reports voting ratio was zero to three percent in Baloch areas. In all districts of Makkuran, Washuk and Awaran regions even polling staff did not go to polling stations. According to Sardar Akhter Mengal, the head of Balochistan National Party, polling were cancelled in all constituencies of Panjgur district of Makkuran by consent of all candidates in a meeting due to non-participation of people in polling process but surprisingly National Party candidates were declared as winner after lapse of polling time. According to Election Commission, Quddus Bizenjo had obtained only 495 votes for Provincial Assembly Awaran constituency. Even those votes were challenged by opposite candidate Ali Haider Muhammad Hassani before a tribunal where more than hundred votes were found bogus. Instead of accepting the verdict of people rejecting elections those pseudo parties and their candidates unashamedly took oath as Assembly members and formed a puppet provincial government who has no powers of policy making. They are constrained to toe the policies of army establishment, legislate on dictations of army and give legitimacy and approval to the inhuman and savagely act of security forces to give a false & illusionary impression of an elected government and of a democratic process. Their role is limited to collaboration with army and security agencies. In lieu of their such services Pakistan establishment has given them full free hand to make money by all means of corruption. A recent report of Transparency International lists Balochistan Government among the top corrupt governments, which is enough to shade a light on shameless performance of those collaborators. In fact 2013 elections in occupied Balochistan were a worst mockery with democracy.
In fact Baloch people are not giving sacrifices only for their own freedom but for all secular and democratic forces of the region and world community. Success of Baloch freedom movement ultimately will pave a way for Sindhis, Punjabi, Pakhtun and Mohajirs and Siraiki people to get rid of military rule and so-called enter se contradictory and unnatural identity of Pakistani and Muslim nationhood, regain their centuries long national identities and establish civilians democratic domination in state affairs. Neighboring nations also will be able to live with peace. World community also will get rid of terrorist heavens.