Balochistan or the country of Baloch Nation consisted of four princely states: Makran, Las Bela, Kharan, and Kalat. These areas were ‘occupied’ by Pakistan using force against the will of its people in 1948. Since then till today Pakistan has been looting resources of Balochistan depriving the natives of development and better lives. Violation of Human Rights by state machinery on daily basis is rampant in the garb of the fight against terrorism. The spurt in violence against the Baloch population as well as activists in the province and abroad has generated a lot of hue and cry in the media and drawn international attention. The killing of activists, abductions and brutal suppression of media have shown an increase, probably because of the insecurity of the puppet Government resulting from its failure to keep the promises given before elections.
Balochistan though became a part of Pakistan nation by June 1948 on papers, the province and the people never really integrated with the country. The treatment meted out to Balochis by successive governments controlled by the Deep State was that of subjugation and exploitation, being part of an independent nation did not mean much for Balochistan as it only proved to be an extension of colonial rule. There were three major insurgent movements in 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77 followed by a Nationalist movement which began in 2002. The imposition of martial laws, deployment of heavy weapons and armed forces to quell the People’s Movement have only strengthened the will of Balochis in their quest for an independent nation. Pro-independence feelings have taken deep roots, thanks to the militarization of the political arena in Pakistan and its radical outlook.
Atrocities by Pakistan Army
Balochistan has always been the worst victim of Pakistan Army atrocities. It has become a regular practice of Pakistan Army to kill innocent civilians, politicians, Human Rights activists including students, women and children. This has been going on for decades but after 2006, these crimes of Pakistan against humanity in Balochistan have reached a peak and continue rising on daily basis without any fear of condemnation and international repercussions. Many Baloch politicians, human rights activists, civil society activists, and journalists have tried to focus the attention of international agencies on the genocide and war crimes happening in Balochistan from 1948 at the behest of Military and ruling dispositions. Many organisations like Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan etc have condemned the excesses and sustained campaign by the military including ISI in Balochistan including forced disappearances, pick and dump tactics as well as media blackout.
In February 2021, Pakistan Army started another round of massive operations once again against Baloch civilians under the fake umbrella of “operations against terrorism”. Last three weeks, witnessed Pakistan security agencies launching sustained Army operation in different districts of Balochistan. During the current phase, the Pakistan Army has been using Helicopter Gunships against innocent Baloch civilians in the villages and far-flung areas. Reports of massive killings have been highlighted on various media platforms including social media. Any dissenting voice is quickly branded as a Terrorist Sympathiser or anti-national by the Deep State and there is a spate in the list of missing persons. Families are running from pillar to post trying to locate their loved ones forcibly disappeared by security forces.
Helicopter Gunships against civil population
According to reports coming from local areas, the Pakistan Army started its aggressive actions in different areas of Balochistan including Awaran, Kalat, Mastung Nagahi, Narmuk Kharan and other villages. Witnesses also confirmed and reported that Pakistan Army has been using Gunship Helicopters in mountainous areas of Harnai district and other parts against innocent civilians. The military used these armed helicopters indiscriminately in the region of Kohistan Marri on civil population resulting in deaths of Marri Balochs which have been confirmed. A large number of women and children have also reportedly been abducted. Residents are also claiming that under the shadow of anti-terrorist operation, Pakistani security forces are looting civilian property, burning their houses, kidnapping and detaining local innocents Baloch youths from above-mentioned villages as well as Hanai Awaran and Kulu. Sources added that several areas in district Awaran and other parts are still in disarray and shock due to continuing military actions. Baloch Human Rights Activists, political parties and journalists have strongly condemned these recent atrocities in Balochistan against innocent civilians.
Sher Muhammad Bugti, the spokesperson of Baloch Republican Party, mentioned this in his tweet and said ” Different areas of Kalat and Mastung, including Nagahi and Narmuk, under military siege, combat helicopters have been shelling civilian populations since the morning”. Mentioning details of recent Baloch abductions, Sher Mohd Bugti tweeted:
Enforced disappearances is an ongoing crime that’s been happening in Balochistan and other cities like Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh for the past few decades. People go missing from each of these areas and other minority communities like Hazaras and others. The oppression of minorities and brutal extrajudicial killings unleashed in Balochistan cannot be brushed under the carpet. The Pakistan Military and its agencies must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.
I asked about current operations by Pakistan security Agencies to award-winning journalist, Taha Siddiqui, who is also contributor and columnist of New York Times, The Guardian, France 24, and Chief Editor of South Asia News France. Taha Siddiqui responds “In Balochistan, Secret Military Operations have been ongoing for the last 70 years or so, and the Pakistani Media is not allowed to report on it. So we have information from a black hole and we can never ascertain the true extents of the military abuses in Balochistan. But due to the recent rise of usage of Social Media, we have seen that local ground sources are now filling the gaps” He adds, “On Social Media, we can see people from Balochistan documenting the Military Operations, the abuse and there are many photo evidence in which it can be clearly seen that the Pakistan Military is involved extensively in burning properties, homes and this is the same practice that is happening in the tribal belt of Pakistan Afghanistan border against Pushtuns “
To get another viewpoint about current Pakistan Miltary Operations in Balochistan, I approached, Basheer Naveed, a senior and prominent Asian Human Rights expert, who is also Chief Executive of The International Human Rights Council, Hongkong (IHRC-HK). In his own words, “I strongly condemned the new military operation in the different parts of the Balochistan during which aerial bombardment was used, several persons including children and women were killed and injured, houses were burned and destroyed. For the past 70 years, the military did several operations but could not defeat people of Balochistan “. ” It is an irony that the so-called independent judiciary remains a silent spectator on the genocide of Baloch. The people of rest of Pakistan should come out and extend their undiluted solidarity with oppressed people of Balochistan” Basheer Naveed added.
D Chowk, Islamabad – Protest by families of missing Balochi persons in front of Parliament
Besides this, international and local Human Rights organizations have been condemning Pakistan and continuously raising their deep concerns regarding Human Rights abuses by Pakistan Security agencies in Balochistan. Harassment of aged parents of Gulail Ismail shows the value of human rights and laws in Pakistan. More than a dozen state officials spent their day harassing an aged couple, just to punish them for the political views of their daughter. Illegal detentions, forced abductions and denial of Human Rights are being reported across the length and breadth of the country. Persecution of religious minorities like Hindus, Shias and Hazaras have been going on for long which are now finding space in some of the international media.
Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, interviewed by the press while in India, appreciated India for being sympathetic to the cause of Balochistan and said that “In Balochistan, there is extreme suffering at the hands of extremists promoted by state structures in Pakistan. Therefore, people’s concerns need to be addressed and aired.” As a journalist and optimistic Baloch, I am sure that, a day will come very soon when Pakistan deep state characters who have been involved in war crimes and genocide against common innocent Baloch will be accountable in the court of justice… one day!
Balouch Bilal is a Baloch journalist and columnist. He is currently living in France and regularly contributes to various magazines and journals.
(The views and opinions expressed in the article are personal of the author.)