Pakistan massacres sabotage Baloch peace deal


by guest
29th January, 2010 at 1:50 pm    

contribution by Peter Tatchell

This was first published on Guardian CIF, and Peter wanted to discuss it here too.

A series of massacres of peaceful protesters by Pakistani security forces look set to sink hopes of a settlement deal between the government in Islamabad and Baloch nationalists who are campaigning for self-rule. There are fears that the sinister, shadowy Pakistani military and intelligence agencies are behind these killings, in a deliberate attempt to sabotage the reconciliation package put forward by the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

On 15 January, at least two Baloch political activists were shot dead and four others seriously wounded after Pakistani security forces opened fire on a peaceful, lawful protest organised by the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) in the Khuzdar district of Balochistan.

The rally had been called to protest against the recent murder of Baloch citizens in Karachi and the launching of a new military crackdown in Pakistani annexed and occupied Balochistan.

The shootings are the latest of many Pakistani killings of Baloch protesters and nationalist leaders.

They’ve been targeted because of their support for the six-decades-long campaign of resistance against Pakistan’s invasion and subjugation of their homeland.

In September last year, Pakistani forces opened fire on a public gathering at Tump High School in Balochistan, killing 20 year old political activist, Mukhtar Baloch, and wounding 27 others, including four women and a six year old child. Five members of the BSO were arrested at the scene and taken to unknown locations.

Watch this mobile phone footage of the attack. The shooting begins just over four minutes into the film:

A similar Pakistani military assault on a peaceful Baloch rally took place in January 2009 in Turbat.

A month later at Dashte Goran the army attacked a wedding party, killing 13 people, including the bride, groom, six family members and the wedding officiator. A total of 21 people were injured – the majority of them women.

Rasool Bux Mengal, joint secretary of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), was abducted from Uthal last August. His tortured dead body, slashed and covered in cigarette burns, was found hanging from a tree.

The intention was clear: to terrorise and intimidate the Baloch people. Mengal was the second BNM leader murdered in the last year. In April 2009, the body of Ghulam Mohammad, chair of the BNM, was found partly decomposed in a vat of toxic chemicals.

In October last year, Baloch medical students were beaten up and arrested by Pakistani forces in a raid on the Bolan Medical College.

The same month, eleven innocent civilians, including women and children, were killed in the Dera Bugti district by Pakistan army bombardments.

Little wonder, then, that Baloch nationalist leaders have rejected the latest peace and reconciliation package proposed by the government in Islamabad. They cite the on-going military repression and the inadequate nature of the proposals.

At first glance, the “Rahe-i- Haqooq Balochistan” deal doesn’t seem unreasonable. It offers a cessation in military operations, a ban on the construction of new army garrisons (although existing ones would remain), the release of most (not all) political detainees and a payment of $1.4 billion in gas royalties, spread over 12 years.

Baloch nationalists say the offer does not give the people of Balochistan control over their own natural resources or a fair price for them. Moreover, of the 4,000 Baloch people who have been arrested and disappeared, only a handful have been released since the democratic civilian government of Prime Minister Gilani was elected in 2008.

Promises of de-militarisation are contradicted by continued military operations, attacks on civilian targets and by the building of more police and military garrisons in Balochistan, including a 62% increase in police stations and a 100% increase in paramilitary checkpoints.

Indeed, the Pakistani government itself has admitted that in 2009 at least 1,102 persons were seized by the security forces in Balochistan and disappeared. In recent years, an estimated 80,000 Baloch people have been displaced by Pakistan’s military attacks.

These attacks have been aided and abetted by military supplies from the UK, including small arms, artillery, helicopter components and military communications equipment.

Rejecting Islamabad’s proposals, nationalist leaders such as Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Akhtar Mengal, leader of the Balochistan National Party and a former Chief Minister of Balochistan, argue that the deal would not ensure genuine autonomy and self-rule. They see it as a way of continuing the Pakistani colonisation of their homeland.

The 1973 constitution of Pakistan promised complete provincial autonomy for Balochistan within 10 years. It never happened. Democratically elected Baloch Chief Ministers who have tried to defend the interests of the people of Balochistan have been sacked by Islamabad. The current Chief Minister, Aslam Raisani, has limited authority and can be overruled at any time by the federal government and the military top brass if he steps out of line.

Even if the government of Pakistan had good intentions, its options are limited. Whatever President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani may want to happen in Balochistan, they are in office but not truly in power. They are the public face of a Pakistani state that is beholden to more powerful forces – the Pakistani military and intelligence services, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).

Together with the army, these intelligence services are the real power in Pakistan. They are implicated in six decades of disappearances, torture, detention without trial and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan.

The former dictator and general, Pervez Musharaff, may have been ousted from the presidency in 2008 but his cronies still hold many of the key levers of power, especially in the all-crucial military, security and intelligence agencies. They continue to call the shots and pull the strings, regardless of what the democratic, civilian government says and wants.

—————-
More information on the Baloch freedom struggle:
www.balochvoice.com and www.balochwarna.org
To learn more about Peter Tatchell’s human rights campaigns, see here: www.petertatchell.net


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Filed in: Current affairs,Pakistan,South Asia,Terrorism






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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Pakistan massacres sabotage Baloch peace deal http://bit.ly/d8AaVV




  1. platinum786 — on 29th January, 2010 at 2:33 pm  

    What a peice of sh1t article. Completely un-informed.

    The first place it went wrong was claiming that Balouchistan was annexed. Balouchistan is a part of the Pakistani federation, it was and has been since partition, there has never been a dispute about it, until these Balouch tribals such as the Mengals and Bugti’s decided to start holding the rest of the country to hostage using it’s gas reserves.

    The use of the term Balouch Citizens would suggest that Balouchistan is some opressed territory such as Kashmir or Palestine or Tibet, whereas in fact it’s more like Wales is to Britain.

    I think someone talked to a balouch seperatist and decided to write an article. Well done on flushing your journalistic credentials down the pan mate.

  2. Martin Sullivan — on 29th January, 2010 at 2:46 pm  

    Are adherents of the BNP and/or EDL participating in any way?

    We must all do what we can to stand by the Mengals and Bugtis!

    If the relationship is that of Wales to England, are the Mengal and Bugtis burning down holiday cottages and defacing roadsigns?

  3. platinum786 — on 29th January, 2010 at 3:04 pm  

    I love you. Your irony is amazing. Your trying to insinuate that this topic is irrelevant on this forum, YET, you fail to recognise the blog is setup by an Asian guy and was aimed initially to discuss British Asian orientated origins. It’s a credit to Sunny and the other contributors tbat it has got a wide an audience as it has and it discusses many non asian specific issues.

  4. zak — on 29th January, 2010 at 3:47 pm  

    plat: Factually the State of Kalat was forcibly annexed by the Pakistan army in 1948..
    http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2009/11/secession-or-reconciliation/
    Unfortunately the Baloch have been very badly treated by the Pak government, the present government is well meaning but can’t implement decisions because of opposition by the Pakistan military establishment.

    The article seems though to be confusing target killings with massacres..there has been widespread intimidation by the Pak paramilitary forces and the target killings of many Baloch nationalists seems to be an attempt to scuttle any peaceful compromise.

  5. platinum786 — on 29th January, 2010 at 4:17 pm  

    Zak there is a difference between Kalat and Balouchistan. Swat was also a former princedom and then it seceded to Pakistan. There was no violence or intimidation at the time, for a start Pakistan didn’t have the military capability to do any such thing, even in the war straight after partition it needed Tribesmen and their guns to liberate Kashmir, the Pakistan army was not really setup.

    I agree that Balouchistan has been mistreated by the “federation” but no less than AJK or Sindh or NWFP or Punjab. Everyone has their issues with the federation because Pakistan as a state, whether you look at it from a provincial or a federal level, has FAILED it’s citizens. Do Kashmiri’s living on the edge of Mangla dam, people who’s homes were washed over to build the dam, do they not have the same right to be agrieved at the lack of electricity they have, as say a Balouch sitting in the cold under Pakistan’s biggest reserve of national gas?

    This article is making something out of nothing. Targetted political killings and Karachi, ring a bell? It’s been the way of “democartic” Karachi since the Zia era, whether it’s criminal gangs, or political parties (MQM Vs PPP, MQM Vs ANP) etc. We’ve also seen PPP, MQM and ANP members killed in Karachi, yet we hear nobody talking about Sindhi’s taking it as a ethnic thing or pukhtuns or anyone else.

  6. zak — on 29th January, 2010 at 4:46 pm  

    plat: I disagree, Kalat never acceded to Pakistan in the first place unlike Swat, Dir and Chitral. It’s situation is more analogous to the Hyderabad controversy in India.

    you are right about Kalat ..the rest of the province was classed as the Chief Commissioners Province of Baluchistan. I believe the Shahi jirga which acceded to pakistan did so on a split vote .. one of the key pro pak votes being a certain Akbar Bugti.

    While I agree there has been relative deprivation in other provinces, target killing and discrimination but it can’t compare with the severity of whats happened to the Baloch..no province has experienced 4 successive military operations and none of them experience the level of deprivation in human development terms that the Baloch have..they have not been integrated in anyway into the Pakistani mainstream. They have virtually no representation in the military establishment, no presence in the media (there is a large media blackout of much of the province), no major business groups have a baloch presence and the only Baloch prime minister was a powerless military stooge. With the provinces own Chief Minister (from the ruling party no less and a former opponent of the nationalists) openly saying he is virtually powerless and the province is in the hands of the paramilitary and Army..the discontent is understandabale.

    Also the use of US military equipment in Balochistan is not new it was done in the 1970′s as well…

  7. lfc4life — on 29th January, 2010 at 6:24 pm  

    If people are being abused and denied human rights this must be exposed and stopped. But calling for annexation of part of pakistan is not a solution it leads to more problems. Looking at the state of pakistan as a whole it seems forces from outside want to see it disintegrate and be divided.

  8. Peter Tatchell — on 29th January, 2010 at 7:18 pm  

    In accordance to terms and clauses of the 1876 treaty between the Kalat State (which made up part of existing Balochistan) and the British government, the independence of Kalat was announced in 1947 by the then ruler of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, BEFORE the creation of the Pakistani state. Other tribal areas agreed to join the new Balochistan State.

    After the partition of India and the creation of the religious State of Pakistan, the newly-independent democratic and secular Baloch State came under tremendous pressure both from Pakistan and the colonial authorities in India for a merger of the Kalat with Pakistan. However, both Houses of Parliament of Kalat unanimously voted not to join Pakistan and resolved to retain its independence.

    Ultimately, when the Pakistani government could not persuade the Baloch leaders to give up their independence and join Pakistan, the Pakistan army invaded the Kalat State to get the merger statement from the Khan of Kalat at gun point. He was forced, on pain of death, to sign the accession document.

    Becoming part of Pakistan was never voted on or agreed by the people of Balochistan. That is why Balochistan has been under military occupation ever since the Pakistani invasion in 1948. If the Baloch people are happy being part of Pakistan, why is the whole country being held under military siege?

  9. platinum786 — on 29th January, 2010 at 8:02 pm  

    Interesting how western journalists are only interested in the rights given to the balouch in 1947, no talk of did anyone ask the Pukhtuns or Punjabi’s or Sindhi’s or Kashmiri’s their opinion on Pakistan. Maybe it has something to do with Gas reserves? Maybe Iraq was about WMD.

    First and foremost Balouchistan is a province not a country, it never has been and never will be.

    Secondly, any treaty made with the british government is not valid anyway. We don’t care what invading foreigners had to say, or what their lackies who signed agreements had to say. Balouchistan province, as well as Kalat suceeded to Pakistan and was ratified again in 1955 after the end of the Baluchistan States Union. Are you going to mention our occupation of gwadar next, which in the past was a Sultunate of Oman?

    Thirdly Balouchistan faced the same operations anyone else has done. Military operations have been launched where police action is deemed to have been inadequete to restore control and order. The BLA faced such action in the 60′s, so did those in NWFP who wanted a Pukhtun states. The Bangladeshi traitors faced it in the 70′s when they broke away, the MQM faced it in the 80′s when it was turning Karachi into a warzone. Today we see operations across NWFP againt Taliban militants many of whom are of Puktun origin. You fight the state, the state will crush you.

    Zak, any sufferings the Balouch face is not due to Pukhtuns, Sindhi’s, Punjabi’s or Kashmiri’s. It’s of their own making. They’re the ones who choose to vote in and live under tribal chiefs such as Bugti. That is the same reason Rural Punjab and Sindh is full of people living as slaves to landlords. They vote in the same people into parliament. Do you expect these tribals or fuedals to legislate themselves out of their own fiefdoms? Today Pukhtuns suffer the most due to terrorism, their own doing, they were the ones who turned a blind eye to militant Islam, they were the ones who voted in the MMA, the religious parties who turned a blind eye at government level on militancy. Today the people suffer as a result.

  10. Rumbold — on 29th January, 2010 at 9:34 pm  

    Excellent post. Whilst the Balochi national leadersip is unlikely to be perfect, the unrest there is more than explained by the repression they have suffered from for many years.

  11. KJB — on 30th January, 2010 at 1:34 am  

    Eye-opening – many thanks to Peter Tatchell for cross-posting here.

  12. AsifB — on 30th January, 2010 at 6:02 am  

    I don’t dispute the human rights concerns Peter Tatchell has rightly highlighted but part of me does think Platinum786 is entitled to argue that ethnic rivalries and political disputes should not stop Pakistanis from sharing a common identity – it’s a attractive case to make after all…. But then Platinum786 says “Military operations have been launched where police action is deemed to have been inadequete to restore control and order. The BLA faced such action in the 60’s, so did those in NWFP who wanted a Pukhtun states. The Bangladeshi traitors faced it in the 70’s when they broke away,”

    The so called “Bangladeshi traitors” then would include the only part of British India to get (and take) a vote for joining Pakistan in 1947 (Syhlet which voted to detach itself from Assam) – of course within 25 years West Pakistanti military misrule exacerabted inherent weaknesses in the state making ethnically autonomous federalism a far more attractive option in the 1970 elections.

    Had Bhutto not conspired with Kissinger to support Yayha Khan’s “military operations” – a million dead Bengalis and 10m refugees in the space of 6 months, swiftly coupled with military defeat and (the then) over half the population of the country leaving, Platinum might have had a bit more Pakistan to be patriotic about. But to use the term traitors in the context of a brutal military crackdown (which made autonomy within a federation no longer viable)shows that Platinum786 has learned nothing from the 1971 Bangladesh war.

    It’s a pity that the post independence Mujib government in 1972 was not strong enough internationally to insist on war crimes trials for the Pakistani generals (and for that matter Bhutto and Kissinger.) Would not only have been good for the world’s concsicence but have been better for the people of Pakistan as well by putting butchers in their place.

  13. lemontea — on 30th January, 2010 at 10:27 am  

    Does having large amounts of untapped gas and oil have anything to do with western journalists and politicians trying to stir and cause the separation of the Baluchistan area?

  14. lemontea — on 30th January, 2010 at 10:41 am  

    Interesting, Does having large amounts of untapped gas and oil have anything to do with western journalists and politicians trying to stir and cause the separation of the Baluchistan area?

  15. douglas clark — on 30th January, 2010 at 11:07 am  

    Platinum786 certainly wears his heart on his sleeve:

    The Bangladeshi traitors faced it in the 70’s when they broke away…

    —————————————-

    I assume he is quite happy that China invaded Tibet, reclaiming it’s ‘historical’ territory?

    He hasn’t really justified what Peter Tachell claims in the first few paragraphs of this link:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/01/pakistansneocolonialrule

    Except by claiming that Pakistan is entitled, by force majeure apparently, to do what the heck it likes. Perhaps he’d like to try justifying it a bit better than that.

  16. zak — on 30th January, 2010 at 11:24 am  

    Platinum: An overly simplistic way of looking at things..the feudal excuse is no excuse for military operations. If anything the tribal system gets reinforced by the GOP in Balochistan and Sindh..the bulk of sardars are in the governments pocket..and you cannpt compare operations in other provinces with Balochistan it has been by far the most brutally treated and discriminated against province.

    in east Pakistan the military launched an operation on the democratically elected majority party. Whats going on in the frontier has more to do with the tribal areas spill over an area again that has been used as a base for Afghan policy by the GOP.

  17. Rumbold — on 30th January, 2010 at 11:33 am  

    Platinum786:

    Bangladeshi traitors? Because they didn’t want to be ruled from West Pakistan?

  18. zak — on 31st January, 2010 at 4:11 am  

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