For all those who watched the farcical press conference in Islamabad of a national security advisor waving a dossier that seeks to blame India for all Pakistan’s ills in Balochistan, we the Balochi people have this to say—the Baloch nation of over 20 million people is spread across Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. And in the thousands of years of our existence, our steady marginalisation, victimisation and depletion of our numbers by Islamabad in the last 67 years has been unparalleled. We are ignored, bound and chained in a bleak no-man’s land, cut off from the rest of the world. This is the story of Pakistan-occupied Balochistan.
Last fortnight, Allah Nizar Baloch, leader of Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), became the latest casualty of the Pakistan military’s operations in Balochistan, deep inside Awaran. They have eliminated virtually every member of Dr Nizar’s family and have now, by all accounts, killed him as well.
There is a total media blackout on events in Balochistan, where frequent military operations are being carried out against the local population in the name of strengthening an Islamic state that punches above its weight globally.
Intellectuals are routinely kidnapped and killed by the security forces so that the rest of the population will remain docile and obedient. No one outside Balochistan is aware of the sheer scale of terror unleashed on our lives—the midnight arrests, the disappearances, the well-organised abductions of political activists, artistes and writers and poets, who are then tortured, killed and their bodies dumped on our streets. The chilling message is lost on no one: toe the line or pay the price.
This is Pakistan, which literary translates as ‘the land of the pure’. A joke! More like Pokistan, meaning ‘the land of idiots’ in the Balochi language.
It is Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, particularly the notorious ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) and forces like Frontier Corps (FC, a military wing), that does the dirty job and plays executioner. It has systematically wiped out the creme de la creme of the secular Baloch nation in the name of the so-called Muslim ummah, a brand imported from Saudi Arabia for the sake of petrodollars. Thousands of Baloch intellectuals have been tortured and killed since the illegitimate birth of Pakistan in 1947.
All of us have lost friends, colleagues and countless others whose sole crime was to raise their voices for Balochistan’s rightful emancipation.
The talented young Qambar Qazi, the son of one of the most prominent and famous Baloch poets, Mubarak Qazi, fell to an FC rifle bullet during a protest rally last year in Turbat in central Balochistan, where thousands had gathered to protest the disappearance of Baloch men and women who had gone missing for years.
Qambar was at his father’s home last year in the coastal town of Pasni when we met. The enthusiastic young man said he was planning to become a doctor to work for the people in his hometown, where many people die of malaria every year. Qambar’s admission to Balochistan’s Bolan Medical College in Quetta was celebrated in Pasni with sweets and songs. All of that ended; the Pakistan army’s genocide claimed another valuable life.
Near Pasni is Awaran, where a military operation from former dictator Gen Musharraf’s time, and the consequent bloodbath, has continued long after his ouster. In fact, the regular army that should be guarding our international borders is at war with its own people.
Pakistan is the only country where its regular armed forces are concentrated deep inland. Awaran has now one of the largest army cantonments, and this is hundreds of miles away from the international border.
The Awaran and Pasni coastline is also the home of the minority Baloch Zikri sect, which is being persecuted by security agencies and paid, armed religious outfits coming from beyond Baloch territories.
NSA aziz waved a dossier, blaming india for its baloch crisis. yet the victimisation has been total.
“Today, Pakistan is staging a dirty game in Balochistan. Pakistan’s establishment is at once creating sectarian hatred within the secular Baloch nation with its organised and frequent attacks on Zikris, a Baloch Sunni subsect. The attacks are being carried out by ISI squads that also include some paid Baloch players,” says Akhtar Jan Mengal, the former chief minister of Balochistan and the leader of the nationalist Balochistan National Party (BNP). His brother Assad Mengal was among the first persons ‘taken’ by intelligence agencies in the early ’70s. Till date, there is no news of him. Over the years, Baloch nationalist parties like the BNP have lost hundreds of talented workers and senior officials in this manner.
A few weeks ago, several family members of BNP leader Mir Eissa Khan Noori, a highly respected and prominent Zikri from Pasni, were taken away by FC forces from their homes. Noori, elected from the coastal Gwadar district, is a member of Parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly. It hasn’t silenced Balochis. “I’m shocked to see and hear about ISIS, not the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria but our own notorious ISIS, that is ISI+Saudis. Their dirty games are backed by the establishment and Saudi-funded organisations,” said Qudoos Jan, a BNP leader from Awaran.
For several months now, the army has carried out three major operations in Awaran. Sophisticated weaponry, including gunship helicopters, were used to crush the local people, dubbed anti-Pakistan and non-Muslims by the establishment. According to media reports and local residents, the area is still under siege; residents are confined to their demolished homes or are reduced to taking shelter under huts thatched with date or palm leaves.
More than 50 civilians were killed in recently in Awaran, in addition to hundreds injured and made homeless. But this is word-of-mouth information, as the area is a declared red zone for the media. No one can enter or leave Awaran. The international media is restricted to provincial capital Quetta and Karachi in adjoining Sindh province.
Allah Nizar Baloch, leader of the BLF
Even in Quetta, there is a radius of 30 km beyond which you cannot go. Rules are enforced strictly for international media and for Pakistani reporters working for foreign news agencies and channels.Reports reaching here from Awaran suggest that the army operations are fully backed by religious outfits who see Zikris as infidels who must be eliminated.
“We are being treated very badly. When convoys of the FC and other security forces reach our areas, we run to other villages for shelter. They mainly target us because they do not recognise us as Muslims. We are Muslims. We believe in the Quran and Prophet Mohammed as the last messenger of God. The only difference between us and our other Namazi brothers is a small difference in the way we pray,” says Mohammed Yaqoub, a farmer from Awaran who now works in the UAE.
Most Zikri Balochi do not see themselves as any different from their Namazi (or Sunni Baloch) brethren. A man from Jahoo, Awaran, who wishes to be known only as H.S., said: “For hundreds of years we never had any problem, Zikri, Namazi or this and that sect in Balochistan. In fact, we had seen many intra-religious sect marriages.”
“For Balochis, religion is a personal relationship between man and god. Now, we have group after group coming to our homes and villages and forcing us to convert to Islam. I want to tell them, for God’s sake, we are Muslims already! There is no need to reconvert us. None of these people who come to speak to us are locals or even Baloch,” he adds.
Another Namazi Baloch, Bahram Dashti from Kech in Turbat district, spoke of the teams that arrive in their remote villages. “They promote Islamic teachings. The groups, mainly supporters of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, move around in an official manner.... They are promoting and trying to brainwash small children about jehad and the glorious life after death in Jannath. This is ridiculous and should not have a place in secular Baloch society,” says Dashti from his safe haven in a village on the Iran-Pakistan border.
Mengal says the religious right saw an opening after the devastating 2013 earthquake in the area, when Pakistani authorities banned international relief organisations and other local ngos from entering Awaran.
“Instead, the relief operation was carried out only by the army. That was the chance to entrench the regular army in the area, which is also the home of BLF leader Allah Nizar Baloch. The army carried out several operations and almost all the close kin of Dr Baloch have sequentially been eliminated,” says BNP leader Mengal. As stated above, Dr Baloch may have met the same fate.
“It is the same old game. The kidnap, kill-and-dump policy. We in Balochistan are alone, isolated, but the tide will turn,” says Mengal.
(Mazaar Baloch is a freelance journalist whose family has been repeatedly targeted. He writes under an assumed name.) Source: outlookindia