By Sobdar Baloch*
I was watching the inauguration ceremony of the Gwadar corridor route passing through occupied Balochistan territory that made me pen down my thoughts on how the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is being hailed as a symbol of undying friendship between Pakistan and China, could very well cause further damage to the already battered Baloch and Pashtun aspirations.
The puppet and toothless ministers from Balochistan and other parts were also present to confirm their attendance and obedience to Punjabi domination on Baloch land. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif repeated the same rhetoric and showed lollipops of the past to Baloch nation. The Pashtun leadership of Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PMAP) leaders Mehmood Khan Achekzai and Iftekhar Hussain were also present during the ceremony. They advised Pakistani PM to hand over the Gawadar to Baloch nation but on the other hand shied away from condemning the daily bases genocide of Baloch and Pashtuns by Panjabi Pakistan army. It is worth mentioning that everyone knows that Gawadar corridor was signed with the Chinese authorities without the wishes of the inhabitants of Balochistan and the Baloch nation does not approve of the Gawadar port treaty with Chinese.
So we hope that our Pashtun friends also know it very well that Baloch nation have been struggling to regain their independence because Balochistan has never willingly joined Pakistan nor the Baloch wish to be part of Pakistan ever.
We still remember the tall claims of Zulfiqar Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq, General Ayub Khan, Benazir Bhutto, General Musharraf, Asif Ali Zadari and now again Nawaz Sharif of turning Balochistan into paradise, but the reality today is entirely different. When one visits Balochistan today after six decades, one will witness an increased number of graveyards and mass graves instead of school, colleges, universities, health care centers, and technical centers.
In fact, a few days ago the Dawn reported quoting the Home Secretary of Balochistan that, “more than 9,000 ‘suspected militants and criminals’ were apprehended by police, levies, frontier corps and intelligence agencies in Balochistan as a part of the national action plan in the year 2015”. But neither Dawn nor the Home Secretary has said anything about the whereabouts of those arrested 9000 ‘suspected militants’. Have they all been killed and dumped or are they being tortured in some secret dungeon of the Pakistan army?
The Home Secretary claimed that a total of 1,973 intelligence based-operations were conducted in Balochistan against those who were suspected to be involved in targeted killings, bomb explosions and kidnappings.
The report by Home Secretary of Balochistan is an endorsement of the view point that has been aired by the Baloch genuine leadership and representatives for long. In fact, these admissions are akin to an incriminating charge sheet against the Punjabi Pakistani leadership of the blind eye they have given to the horrors of mass killings and abductions of Baloch civilians. It is a self-confession of one’s crimes against humanity, but which is wrapped in the rhetoric of self-defense and security; the so called ‘National Action Plan’ (NAP).
Pakistani security forces have abducted and killed thousands of Baloch civilians in the span of last one year on the pretext of weeding our domestic extremism. Given that the official figures, which are otherwise known for giving deflated estimated, too stand at a high tally, imagine how many Baloch must have been abducted and killed since 2001 till today? The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, an organisation that is striving against enforced-disappearances in Balochistan, claims that more than 3000 Baloch activists have been killed by Pakistani forces in their custody.
It must be noted that this number doesn’t include the victims of bombardments on villages and the target killing of the cream of Baloch society. So the number of people killed since 1999, which had marked the beginning of the current of phase of Baloch freedom struggle, has to be much higher than the already high figure of 3000 people.
Pakistan army, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and other military intelligence agencies have cleverly involved Baloch and Pashtun political parties in their dirty war in Balochistan to justify their policies of ‘search and destroy’.
By introducing the so called NAP, the prime objective of the military courts has been to quell the rising aspirations of the Baloch and Pashtun communities by subjecting them to what I call is genocide. Unlike in the past, the Pakistani army no longer has to kill a Baloch or a Pashtun civilian in secrecy because they now have the shield of NAP and the military courts to mask their heinous crimes against Baloch and Pashtun people of Pakistan.
The massacring of the civilians and genuine leaders representing both the communities could not have been possible without collusion. It is undeniable that the Pakistan army has worked their way into the two territories with the backing of greedy elements within the Baloch and Pashtun communities. For instance, the Nawabs and Sardars or so called middle class leaders from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakhtunistan have been partners to a parochial Punjabi leadership, assisting them in killing and abducting their own brothers for the sake of incentives and money.
The Baloch will never forget their national heroes and heroin including Agha Prince Abdul Karim, Nawab Nouroz and his comrades, Safar Khan, Hameed Jan, Fida Jan, Ghulam Mohammad and his comrades, Jalil Reki, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Balach Marri, Chakar Qambar, Shah Naz Baloch, Gul Naz Marri, and thousands of other Baloch men and women who sacrificed their precious lives in the line of freedom.
We feel pity for the Pashtun leadership that the occupying state of Pakistan has killed their prominent leadership like Gran Achekzai (the younger brother of Mahmood Khan Achekzai), Basher Bellor, and the son of Iftekhar Husain of ANP leaders and many thousands of innocent Pashtun women and children in the name of terrorism. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has given the colonial Punjabi army a free hand to butcher Pashtuns under the NAP. However, it is unfortunate that the Pashtun leadership even after losing its brave sons and daughter at the hands of a Punjabi army, still want to live the life of slavery under their domination.
Pakistan government and army have often tried to mislead the world by playing the victim card. They suggest that Pakistan has suffered a good deal after the 9/11 terror attacks. In helping NATO and American forces in the war on terror, Pakistan claims that it has put its domestic security situation in jeopardy. But the people of Balochistan and Khyber ask you today if Pakistan, that is the Punjabi leadership was affected by all of this? If it indeed had, then why do the figures of deaths, abduction and other casualties in the Punjab province show no abysmal picture while the figures coming from the non-Punjabi dominated provinces are frighteningly high? Why are there no drone attacks in Raiwand, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad where approximately 5000 Madrassas are situated? It is no longer hidden that some that the Punjabi Tehrik-e-Taliban’s base camps, training centers and recruitment franchise are functioning effectively out of the Punjab province too.
Intellectuals believe that the war on terror was a very profitable business for Pakistan army, where ISI and the army are playing a double-faced role of misguiding the world by conducting fake operations on the one hand, and on the other, are nurturing the terror groups to spread terror across the globe and destabilize, Afghanistan, India.
The real victims of the war on terror are Baloch and Pashtun communities. The Pashtun nation is facing similar genocide as the kind that is being subjected on the Balochs and Sindhis. But unfortunately, they seem to have failed to raise the Pashtuns voice for freedom.
The inauguration of CPEC corridor passing through Balochistan is equivalent is akin to a noose that is tightening its grip around the Baloch aspirations. Those Baloch and Pashtun who are today collaborating with Punjabi army need to realize that they will be chucked out of the present system the moment they are no longer deemed as useful.
In short, the so called mega development plan by foreign occupying forces are mega plans to strengthen their grip over Baloch resources and land and expel the Baloch community or overrun them by flooding in millions of people from outside Balochistan so the Baloch become a minority in their own homeland. The Gwadar port and CPEC are also plans of Punjabi expansionist army to tighten suffocate the rising aspirations of the Baloch community through deliberate killings and expulsion forced by the hand of economics.
*Sobdar Baloch is human rights activists, and journalist based in Balochistan writing on issues related to the region. He can be reached at: [email protected]