as a key Baluch lobbying group in the U.S. called for direct U.N. intervention in Baluchistan amid reports by the Asian Human Rights Commission that Baluch were being burnt alive by the Pakistan army.
The Khan of Kalat, Beglar Begi [Prince among the Princes] Suleman Daud Ahmedzai in a message paid tributes to Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79, while expressing his resolve to fight for the victory of the Baluch case in spite of the cloak-and-dagger intrigues of the Pakistani and Iranian secret services.
Bugti, was a former governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, had won all elections during his lifetime, was the chief of his tribe, and was also the president of the Jamhoori Watan Party. Pakistan army killed Bugti extra judicially on August 26, 2006 on a suspicion he was waging a freedom struggle with U.S. support.
Ahmedzai's message was made public at a meeting Saturday afternoon on the outskirts of the U.S. Capital.
On the occasion Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti, president of the Balochistan Republican Party and a grandson of the slain Balouch leader, in his message to the American people urged the United States to make sure the arms it supplies to Pakistan is not used against the secular Baluch movement for justice and freedom. Bugti's message was relayed through Dr. Bashir Azeem, general secretary of the B.R.P.
Ahmedzai and Bugti messages were read out at a meeting of the Baluchi Ha'al, the newly launched monthly gathering of the American Friends of Baluchistan at the Savory Cafe in Takoma Park, on the outskirts of Washington DC. The meeting was attended by both Americans and Baluch, including a female member of the Bugti tribe, who is now an American.
As part of its outreach, informational packets on Baluchistan was sent out to key U.S. State Department, Pentagon and think-tank officials. Pamphlets were also distributed.
According to published reports and interviews of Baluch leaders, Pakistan army is freely using U.S.-supplied F-16 jets, Cobra and Hugh Bell helicopters against the Baluch resistance, while sparing the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the neighboring Frontier province. The main intent of U.S. weaponry was fighting terrorists.
Pakistan got $12 billion, mostly in arms, since the the 911 terror attacks eight years ago, though it continued to shelter Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.
The Baluchi Ha'al was held in the backdrop of global outrage over the burning of Baluch tribesmen after a civilian government took power in Islamabad. The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported four Baluch tribesmen three from the Bugti tribe -- namely Nazar Mohammad Bugti, Rostam Bugti, and Jeo Bugti—and one from the Khoso tribe, Jaffer Khoso, were put in hot coal tar and burned to death.
The issue of war crimes against the Baluch people got renewed interest after international human rights activist Peter Tatchell wrote about the burning alive of Baluch in The Guardian newspaper in England on Friday:
The four victims were arrested in the Zainkoh area in Dera Bugti district by military officers and were taken to torture cells there. They were asked to name the persons working with the Balochistan Liberation Army (B.L.A.). After failing to get a confession from the victims, the army officers put them in hot coal tar. Three of the men died instantly while the fourth Jaffer Khoso perished seven days later.
Pakistan army has engaged in war crimes against the Baluch including rape and sodomy, cutting off of genitals, and throwing off of the resistance fighters from U.S. helicopters during the five military operations since 1948.
Ahmedzai vowed the blood of Nawab Bugti will not go in vain and the dreams of the Baloch nation to have their due place on the world map will come true in the near future.
Ahmedzai's grand uncle Prince Agha Abdul Karim led the first Baluch uprising against Pakistan's forced annexation of Baluchistan in March 1948, seven an half months after the British left India divided in 1947. He was jailed for 16 years.
His grand father Mir Ahmedyar Khan was also imprisoned on different occasions.
Ahmedzai called for a referendum in the Baluch territories under the auspices of the United Nations, European Union, or United States, Canada and Britain to recognize, legitimize, and institutionalize the democratic aspirations of the Baluch nation.
“Nawab (Bugti) sahib gave an inspiration for freedom to my nation. His martyrdom showed that when a nearly 80-year-old man can give his life for his nation, others can also do the same,” Ahmedzai said. “Nawab Bugti chose the path of Nawab Nauroz Khan and Mir Mehrab Khan and the Baluch nation will follow the same path of struggle. I know this is a very difficult path, but the Baluch shall overcome.”
Nauroz Khan had risen up in arms against the attack on the Khan of Kalat's palace in 1958 and his seven sons were sent to the gallows on July 15, 1960 after being promised clemency on the Quran, the Muslim bible. Mir Mehrab Khan, a great great grandfather of the Khan of Kalat, fought against the British and like Nawab Bugti died in action in 1839 in Kalat.
Ahmedzai said the Baluch nation all over the world are unanimous they will no longer accept chains of slavery or “fourth grade citizenship” in Pakistan and Iran and are moving ahead with their struggle for independence and freedom. He said he sees a very dark future for those who attempt to sabotage the Baluch national interests for their personal gains.
Ahmedzai said as much as 95 percent of the Baloch people will vote for independence in any referendum carried out by the U.N., European Union, or multinational force of democratic powers. He said such a referendum was a must to recognize, legitimize, and institutionalize the democratic aspirations of the Baluch people.
Considered as the “Baluch Zahir Shah,”Ahmedzai left Pakistan after Bugti's assassination and has sought asylum in the U.K. to spearhead the Baluch case at the international forums.
A historic Baluch grand jirga, attended by nearly 100 powerful chieftains that included the present chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and governor Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi, and more than 400 notables, among 1500 people from walks of Baluch society, held under Ahmedzai's leadership at Kalat in September 2006 following Nawab Bugti's assassination decided to seek justice at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
Baluchistan situation turned bloodier since the Pakistan army's extra judicial killing of Nawab Bugti and the extra judicial slaying of state assembly member Nawabzada Bala'ach Marri on November 20, 2007.
Last week the Frontier Corp opened fire on peaceful civilians in Turbat in the coastal Mekran area who had gathered from all over Baluchistan to observe the second death anniversary of Nawab Bugti. The FC firing killed a young man Altaf Buledi and wounded 10 others, including Irshad Akhtar, a reporter of the Daily Asaap newspaper.
The Frontier Corp took action against the orders of the deputy commissioner, the highest civilian official, and even the local police protested their high-handedness, according to Dr. Bashir Azeem.
“We were fired upon directly,” Dr. Azeem said on phone from Turbat. “One of the bullets pierced into the chest of Altaf Baloch, an activist of the Balochistan National Movement. As many as 10 people had fallen on the stage but the Frontier Corp was not allowing the people to provide them medical aid.”
Balochistan National Movement leader Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, on of the main organizers of the Turbat protest rally, could not be reached immediately for his comments.
The Frontier Corp action in Turbat was in sharp contrast to what the same paramilitary force does inside Afghanistan, according to U.S. sources. Senator Robert Casey told a meeting of the Asia Forum in July that commanders of the International Security Assistance Force have said that the Frontier Corp comes to the rescue of Taliban fighters who are wounded in fighting in Afghanistan and transports them to safety inside Pakistan.
General Dan McNeil, former commander of the ISAF, bluntly refused to provide instructors to train the Frontier Corp in counter terrorism. The U.S. earmarked $400 million for the purpose but McNeil believed the training to the FC will be used against the ISAF itself.
According to Dr. Azeem, at least 100 vehicles from Dera Bugti had reached Turbat August 25 to hold the second death anniversary of Nawab Bugti and though the local civilian administration wanted the event to take place peacefully, the paramilitary Frontier Corp took the law in their own hands and fired upon the rally unprovoked.
“We want the U.S to stop supplying weapons to Pakistan. They are not using those weapons against the terrorists, but are using it against the Baluch,” said Dr. Azeem.
Others in the Bugti family who disagree with the B.R.P.'s strategy and tactics, nonetheless admit the Baluch are left with very few choices but to fight back.
“We have been pushed against the wall. There's a height to injustices, said Mir Fahad Bugti, 33, a nephew of slain Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti on phone Thursday from Karachi. “The U.S. is a super power it can do everything, if it wants. It can bring political and economic pressures on Islamabad. The least it can do is to cut off its arms supplies,” Fahad Bugti, who is also leader of the Jamhoori Watan Party, said.
Fahad Bugti, his brother and brother-in-law were all kidnapped and tortured by the Military Intelligence at the time of Bugti's assassination. He said he was in the custody of the Military Intelligence for 10 months. “I was kept blindfolded for three months. They did not let me sleep for ten nights. They grilled me who is providing us the money and weapons. All that nonsense,” he said.
Fahad Bugti said weapons that Pakistan got in the name of the war on terror was being used against the Baluch.
Fahad Bugti said he had met Nawab Bugti just a month before his assassination. “In Kashmir, the Indian forces never used jets against the Kashmiri separatists, but such jets are being freely used in Baluchistan. On July 2, 2006 F-16 jets bombed the entire Bhambhore Hills adjoining the Marri and Bugti areas.”
But still there was no despondency among the Baluch but they look upon their struggle as a noble cause with lofty ideals. He said the resistance in Baluchistan was spreading all over the province. “Baloch resistance have carried out actions in Hub, Quetta, Awaran, Kharan,” he said.
Baluchistan governor Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi has said he wants to resign, citing the worsening law and order situation in the troubled province.
Fahad Bugti said the Pakistani regime were willing to provide anything to silence Nawab Bugti, who preferred martyrdom over capitulation He said in the last 60 years the Baluch have got nothing from Pakistan, but blood and tears in five military operations.
Fahad Bugti described his close relative Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti as a “hero.” He said the Baluch demand and end to the loot and plunder of their resources and their struggle will continue in spikes, with varying degree of intensity.
Elsewhere in Dera Bugti, the army is hunting down persons involved in attacking the natural gas pipelines, which provides gas to different parts of the country but not to Dera Bugti where people still cook their food by burning cow dung. According to the local newspaper reports, hundreds of people of have been killed in the Dera Bugti and Marri areas in the last two months.
The federal minister in charge, the minister of interior Rahman Malik-- an unelected official--, visited the area on August 20 and announced that the military operation would continue if separatists are protected by the people. He publicly confessed as many as 1100 Baluch are still missing in Baluchistan, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Rahman Malik, who Pakistani press reports said was a barber's son from Sialkot, was a l13 grade [Pakistan officers position begins at 17 grade] employee 30 years ago but is today one of the richest person in Pakistan through graft and corruption.
Malik was also involved in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam and gave bribes to the Saddam Hussein regime.
On the occasion of Bugti's death anniversary, the American Friends of Baluchistan expressed concern over the presence of Pakistan Army General Ashfaq Kayani in the Baluchistan territorial waters where he had gone to meet key Pentagon leaders.
“Our question is what right do the Punjabis have on Baluch territorial waters. Absolutely none. Why was Kayani in Gwadur?,” the AFB statement said. “He should stay in Rawalpindi.”
The American Friends of Baluchistan called for U.S. and international troops to replace Pakistan army in Baluchistan, saying this was the expressed wish of more than 95 percent of the Baluch people. An on line poll indicated the overwhelming majority of the Baloch people want the ISAF to replace the Pakistan army in Baluchistan.
The AFB said the Baluch consider General Kayani as their arch foe and main tormentor. “The Baluch leaders will welcome Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Admiral Mike Mullen, Centcom chief General David Petraeus and International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan General David McKiernan, in Baluchistan. waters,” The AFB said. “The A.F.B. appeals to U.S. political and military leadership not to waste this opportunity to do good to the U.S., to Baluchistan, to Afghanistan and to the world by opening direct talks with the Khan of Kalat, Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, Sardar Ataullah Mengal and other nationalist leaders for a referendum in Baluchistan.”
The A.F.B. cautioned the U.S. leadership that talking to Pakistani military leaders over the heads of the Baluch will undermine the longterm interests of the U.S. in the strategic Straits of Hormuz region.
Baluchistan is a Texas-sized region divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Iran occupied a huge part of Baluchistan the size of Nevada in 1928 , while Pakistan illegally annexed an area bigger than New Mexico in March 1948 Baluch province inside Afghanistan is the size of West Virginia.
The Baluch draw an analogy between what is happening in Baluchistan with the bloodshed in the 1971 war in the erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Pakistan army killed three million people and raped half million of their women.
Baluchistan produces natural gas worth more than six million dollars each day, but each year gets barely $59 million in royalty. This short changing totals more than $2 billion each year and has has been happening for more than 40 years, The Baluch complain they are as rich as any nation in the Gulf, but that Islamabad and Tehran have held the back in the name of Islam.
Bugti's killing was the last nail in the coffin of Pakistan in Baluchistan, according to Baluch nationalists. They say in his death at the hands of Pakistan army, he left behind all his nationalist contemporaries that include giants like the late Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Sardar Ataullah Mengal and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.
Not many people know, but Baluchistan rejected the idea of Pakistan—unlike the neighboring Sindh province that authored the Pakistan resolution in 1940 to enable the division of India seven years later. The bicameral Baluch parliament, Darul aam and Darul Khaas, unanimously rejected the idea of a merger with Pakistan.
Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, who was regarded among the founders of modern Baluch nationalism, made history at the age of 29 when on December 16, 1947 he delivered a speech at the Darul Aam against any merger with Pakistan.
“Like Iran and Afghanistan, we [the Baloch] also have a specific culture. And if it is said that just because we are Muslims we should accede to Pakistan, then Iran and Afghanistan should also be included in Pakistan. We are told that in this atomic age, we won't be able to defend ourselves. Then are Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in a position to defend themselves? If we can't protect ourselves then there are many similar countries who can't protect themselves. They tell us to join Pakistan for economic reasons. We are rich in minerals, oil and seaports. Economy cannot be made the raison-d'etre to convert us into slaves. On the basis of equality, we are ready to have a friendship with Pakistan, but we can not commit the historical crime of including Baluch territory into some other land. If Pakistan is unwilling to accept us as an independent and sovereign country, then no Baluch will hesitate to sacrifice his life for the cause of freedom.”
US.-born Bizen Baloch, 13, in spite of a bad cold, was among those who keenly followed the Saturday afternoon meeting.
Next month on Sept. 27, the Baluchi Ha'al discussion will focus on the documentary The Baluch, made by Wendy Johnson, Annie Nocenti and team. Baluch activists from all over the U.S. and Canada are likely to attend.