By Sobdar Baloch*
The recent attacks in Brussels, Belgium are being widely condemned by the world community. This is obviously the mini-9/11 for Europe, particularly for Brussels. Who are these extremists and where are they getting their inspiration from? After Al-Qaida and Taliban, ISIS has emerged as a major threat to global peace. But who is responsible for such extremist mind frame? The answer is quite simple: it is those very countries, or rather nations that are responsible for having bred and supported such harrowing ideologies in the first place.
While terrorism and violent extremism are neither recent perils nor do they know any geographical and political confines, but if there is a region that has been affected the most by these grave ideological and material crimes, it has been South Asia. It was Al Qaida and Taliban who have for long challenged regional peace. But, much to the legitimate concern of the region, the very creator of these issues has been made into a partner in the efforts to eliminate them. NATO and the US have long relied on Pakistan by offering making it a ‘front line ally’ even as these very forces had captured the number one terrorist, Osama Bin Laden on its territory and that too in the vicinity of a Pakistani army compound.
Experts believe that instead of continuing a fruitless fight in Afghanistan against the Al Qaida and Taliban where none of their respective leadership resides, US and NATO could gain much by targeting their hideouts inside Pakistan. In fact, as the former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai had claimed repeatedly, the ‘real enemy’ of the NATO and Afghan forces is not expected to be found in Afghanistan, but in the areas across the Durand Line in the east. Afghan former spy chief Amrullah Saleh has also reiterated his stance on several occasions that General Musharraf was given the undeniable and solid proof of Mullah Omar’s presence in Pakistan, but he refused to accept the Afghan claims.
In striking a deal with Pakistan (the host of Osama Bin Laden) and selling F-16s to it, the US has come to rub salt on the many deep wounds that have been afflicted on the NATO and Afghan soldiers and civilians who have devoted their lives fighting against Pakistani- sponsored terrorists. This deal will also badly affect the Baloch national cause that has been targeted by Pakistan with western supplied cobra helicopters and other latest weapons. The Baloch nation is currently engaged in its fifth attempt to regain their independence, but Pakistan’s response to the Baloch political and peaceful struggle has always been hostile and brutal. Scores of military attacks, subjugation of civilians, pursue-and-kill-and-dump policies through state backed death squads have been some of the constant recourses resorted to by the Punjabi Pakistani Army that does not want the Baloch national aspirations from becoming a powerful force.
Let us say that even if the Americans do not care about the lives of innocent Baloch people – the victims of Pakistani state terrorism – but they should at least think of their own sons, daughters who have been killed by Pakistani military supported jihadist extremists in Afghanistan and even on their own soil. There is no doubt that every IED attack or ambush is engineered and coordinated from the other side of the border in Pakistan and the western powers, specially the Americans, know this fact very well but are unfortunately taking no practical step to hold Pakistan accountable.
Think-tanks, intellectuals and regional experts have been frequently asking that despite being a superpower and a responsible country, why is that that the US had failed to support the secular and democratic Baloch peoples’ struggle for their freedom? Genuine Baloch leaders and activists have time and again said that a free Balochistan can guarantee durable peace in the region and will act as an important barrier against cross-border terrorism. There is no doubt that the Baloch barrier against terrorism will be effective and will put an end to Pakistan’s infiltration bids into Afghanistan because an independent Balochistan will not allow Pakistani military to use their soil for exporting its jihadist hatemongers into Afghanistan through the Baloch territory.
Confessing to the role that the Pakistani military has played in abetting extremism in the region, on January 4, 2005, the then Pakistan Army General Musharraf openly threatened Baloch nationalist leaders and other freedom seeking population. He appeared on Pakistan national TV and threatened the Baloch people: “Don’t push us. It is not the 1970s. This time you won’t even know what hit you”. Soon after his statement, the army started a massive operation across Balochistan. On August 26, 2006, the Pakistan army with the permission and direct order from General Musharraf attacked and killed 78-year-old Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in Tharatani region of Kahan, Balochistan.
The recent confession of Pakistan’s foreign minister about providing medication facilities to the Afghan Taliban fighters in Pakistani hospitals is tantamount to admitting to Pakistan’s direct involvement in the crises that have held Afghanistan hostage for long, and in fact still is. Every day we hear reports of gun battle between Taliban and Afghan forces, but the question arises where do those injured Afghan Taliban go for treatment for no sooner they are injured, they come back to life on the scene with their Kalashnikovs hanging from their shoulders!
The American tax payers/general public should ask their government as to why they are selling F-16s to a fundamentalist state like Pakistan which is directly involved in exporting jihadist extremist to US and the rest of the world. For years Pakistan has been lying to US about the hideouts and its support to Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and as the saying goes, once a liar, always a liar.
Some US Senators who voted in favor of the F16 deal with Pakistan feared that if their government does not sell F16 Jets to Pakistan, apparently Pakistan will buy these planes from Russia or France. These senators and officials are, however, ignoring the fact that Pakistan is like a snake and it bites the very hand that feeds it.
A prominent Baloch leader Akbar Khan Bugti who was assassinated on the instruction of former Pakistan army Chief General Musharraf was once noted having claimed to have heard some Pakistan army generals talking in an informal gathering that they will never miss a chance to crush Baloch movement. According to this martyred leader, these generals had said that ‘if Baloch people do not give up their demand for independence, we will use the atomic bomb against them and wiped them out forever just like the Americans did with the Japanese in Hiroshima’.
Baloch pro-freedom leader Hyrbyair Marri in a statement termed the recovery of mass graves in Tootak Khuzdar as the Pakistan army’s war crimes in Balochistan. He said that “The silence of international media and human rights organisations on heart wrenching incident of the discovery of mass graves in Tootak area of Khuzdar Balochistan is encouraging Pakistan to continue its crimes against Baloch people”.
A video footage, which has surfaced in 2005, showed how the Pakistanis were bombing the Baloch civilian population in Kohistan Marri. In this short video, some local Marri Baloch tribesmen can be seen gathering around an unexploded bomb which was dropped Pakistan air force in oil rich Kahan area of PoB (Pakistani Occupied Balochistan) in 2005. The guys were trying to measure the bomb by lying beside it; it was larger than a human body. The local Baloch holding a hand-held video camera zoomed into the text on the unexploded bombs and it could be clearly seen that it was a US-made bomb. It is precisely for this reason that the people of Balochistan are tooth-and-nail against the new deal that has been signed and executed between Pakistan and the US for they know where this modern military hardware will be used and against whom all.
The Baloch people have a genuine fear that if these US made “multi-function” F16 planes are delivered to Pakistan, the next day the world will be receiving more images of killed Baloch innocent civilians because Pakistan has already begun a widespread military offensive against Baloch populations across Balochistan.
By supporting Pakistan, the US is indirectly supporting the brutal jihadist and religious extremist – the likes, and in fact the creators of Daesh, ISIS or Boko Haram who pose a threat to world peace in their quest for global jihad or holy war. One is compelled to ask why the US has put millions of dollar on the head of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, if it continues to support the country that is financing, facilitating and harboring the US’s wanted man.
The US is adding fuel to the death and destruction of Baloch by providing Pakistan with latest equipment and F-16 fighter jets. The Baloch plea to the US public is that do not support your government’s policies that are a direct threat to existence of another nation – in this case the Baloch nation.
The US and other democratic country must not overlook Baloch reservations regarding F16 jets. Baloch people are struggling for their fundamental rights and independence should be provided with the technology to defend themselves against the F16s. The Baloch are more rich than Pakistan because their land is full of untapped natural resources which Pakistan and China have planned to loot and plunder on the barrel of the gun. The US and other international powers are committing a grave blunder by ignoring the Baloch people and their struggle for freedom.
The Baloch will resist the presence of China on their land at all costs – with or without the support of above mentioned international powers because it is a matter of Baloch people’s survival and national identity. China, on the other hand, has already started collaborating with Pakistan to intensify the Baloch genocide by displacing, arresting and even killing the inhabitants of Gwadar and other areas from where the so called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes. The CPEC is not only depriving Baloch population of Gwadar of their lifeline, but it will also cause an ethnic flooding in Balochistan which might, if not stopped, wash away the Baloch people to slum areas of Gwadar district and turn the Baloch into a minority in their own home land. That has also rightly been the concern of pro-freedom Baloch leaders. For this reason, also the Baloch people will do what they can to resist China’s presence on their land.
Pakistan has ignored the Baloch people at all forums, at all levels. Pakistan has been deliberately distorting Baloch history, geography, culture and tradition. For instance, in the textbooks that are being used to teach the subject of sociology in Pakistan, the Baloch people have been described as ‘uncivilized, illiterate and savage’. The Federal Board in Punjab has allowed this book to be published and be taught at schools to intermediate students. This is a clear and pre-planned conspiracy to distort the Baloch civilization and culture to brainwash educated youth of the country against the Baloch people.
*Sobdar Baloch is a human rights activist, and journalist based in Balochistan writing on issues related to the region. He can be reached at: [email protected] His twitter handle is @sobdarbaluch