Last week Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had a meeting in Islamabad to discuss the issue of Balochistan and suggested a 15 point resolution to the Balochistan conundrum, the most serious threat to the Pakistan state since the military crackdown and subsequent separation of Bangladesh in 1971.
It is still too early to say the implementation of these resolutions will ever see the light of the day.
It is an irony that none of the representatives of the armed resistance who are fighting against the state injustices were invited to give their input neither was any serious attempt made even to listen to their demands and grievances.
Many people in Pakistan, especially in the dominant Punjab – the stronghold of Pakistan military, which is the root cause of Pakistan’s many woes --, are ignorant about the main issues of Balochistan. They have little appreciation about the unique history, culture, tradition, customs and languages of the Baloch people and Balochistan – land of the Baloch --, let alone understanding the complexities of the Balochistan situation or its problem.
Pakistani military and intelligence services, which form the most powerful segments of the country’s establishment, have been in a total state of denial and have ignored Balochistan problem as if it does not exist. They have not only shut their eyes and closed their ears to the Balochistan situation but have kept their lips sealed on it and have discouraged the state controlled media to stay out of it.
Instead of looking into the problems of Balochistan and finding an amicable solution within the federation, the Pakistani military and civil bureaucracy have resorted to using brute force to crush the Baloch national struggle for their genuine rights, equality and justice.
Time and again they have humiliated, alienated and pushed the Baloch against the wall and when the Baloch rebelled against the state injustices, a policy of systematic annihilation was adopted against them.
Those who attempted to address the issue by national advocacy that it must first be understood face threats and intimidation. The most serious threat to Asma Jahangir, the “Nightingale of Human Rights” from the Third World, who was the main brain behind the Supreme Court Bar Association conference on Balochistan, speaks volumes.
The Islamabad conference showed that all political parties in Pakistan, at least, agree on a single point-- that is, the Balochistan's problem is political and should be solved by using political means, not the military.
Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Keyani, Pakistan’s military chief, finally realized that the use of force is not the solution of Balochistan problem and appears to have bowed in favor of a political solution, but at the same time, he defended the illegal and unconstitutional "kill and dump" policy of the Frontier Corps in Balochistan and like his predecessors in the case of Bangladesh have called these atrocities as necessary for "defending the territorial integrity of Pakistan".
So what is the Balochistan's problem and how to solve it politically?
The problem of Balochistan stems from the illegal occupation and exploitation of Baloch resources that is going on last 64 years. In August 1947 when British left the Indian subcontinent, Balochistan emerged as an independent state but less than nine months later Pakistan's founder Mohamed Ali Jinnah persuaded his client Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, Khan of Kalat, then the ruler of Baluchistan, to merge Baluchistan into Pakistan, which Khan Kalat did and signed the documents of accession against the wishes of the Baloch people, consigning the Balochs under Pakistani domination.
The Khan of Kalat did it on his his own free will and in his personal capacity, betraying the Baloch nation by passing the bicameral Baloch parliament, the 35-member Darul Umra and the 52-member Darul Awam, that through unanimous mandate voted that Balochistan would stay independent and not join Pakistan.
He did it because, according to his grandson, Umar Ahmedzai, he saw Islam's prophet Mohammad in his dream, who asked him to merge Balochistan into the newly formed Islamic country called Pakistan. He later admitted it in his book by saying that "he had no such power or mandate to sign the document of accession against the Baloch will and that he had exceeded the scope of his mandate ."
Since then the Balochs are fighting to restore their honor and dignity and their sovereignty over their land, coasts and resources. There have been four armed uprising in the past against Pakistan but Baloch being weaker were crushed brutally by Pakistani military.
The fifth uprising started in 2004, led to the extra judicial killing of former Balochistan governor and chief minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79, and the “low level” is still going on.
Nawab Bugti’s killing was a watershed in Balochistan history. According to Sher Mohammed Bugti, spokesperson of the Baloch Republican Party—now led by his grandson Brahumdagh Bugti, 31 --, Nawab Bugti had always wanted to solve issues through talks but look at what was done to him.
Under orders of then army chief general Pervez Musharraf, an immigrant from India, even a proper funeral and burial was not allowed for a Baloch tumandar or chieftain who was a key player in Balochistan politics for half a century. He was buried with a military l.ock on his coffin.
Needless to say, Gen. Kayani was the chief of the omnipotent Inter-Services Inelligence at the time of Nawab Bugti’s assassination on August 26, 2006.
Since 2004 Balochistan has been the world capital of enforced disappearances. As many as 8,000 people were forcibly disappeared at one point or the other in the ;lat eight or so years. Of them, more than 1,400 Balochs are still documented to be missing.
A staggering 300,000 Baloch Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs are living under harsh conditions under open skies without any food, water, medicine or shelter. In fact, the state even attempted to block supplies, according according to van Dijk, the top UNICEF officer for Pakistan.
The military and its secret arms have shown little regard to the rule of law and constitution in Balochistan. It has adopted a policy of using civilians as decoys, torturing them and killing them in execution style in retaliation for militant actions, further antagonizing the Baloch populace.
More than 400 bullet riddled bodies of Baloch political activists, doctors, lawyers, students, teachers and intellectuals, overwhelming majority of whom belonged to soft organizations, have been dumped all across Balochistan.
The situation in Balochistan is getting worse by the day. There passes not a single day when a father or a mother does not collect the bullet riddled body of his or her loved one. Silence of international community has been deplorable.
Those who are fighting on the mountains demand complete independence, while on the On the other hand there are moderate Baloch who believe that Balochistan's problem can still be solved within the framework of the Pakistani federation if Pakistan military and establishment understand the Baloch people and honor their following genuine demands:
1. Military operation must stop unconditionally and immediately.
2. All those Baloch who have been forcibly disappeared by FC and are missing must be released and allowed to re-join with their family members and law-enforcement officers, including military officers, who broke the law or committed crimes against Baloch citizens must be brought to justice.
3. Hefty and direct compensation in a transparent mode to the families of all those who got killed, kidnapped and tortured.
4. Homeless I.D.P.s must be returned to their hearth and home with honor and dignity, rehabilitated and compensated.
5. The mostly Pashtun-based Frontier Corps, which have intentionally been deployed to create bad blood between the Baloch and Pashtuns, must be removed from all Baloch cities and towns in Balochistan and replaced by local Balochs; all the FC check post should be dismantled in Balochistan; the Pastun-based Frontier Corps should be deployed along the Afghan border in Pashtun areas.
6. All Afghan refugees living in Balochistan must be returned back to Afghanistan and their names removed from the voter registration lists.
7. The historic territorial integrity and demography of Balochistan, land of the Baloch, must not be changed.
8. Balochistan’s boundaries to be redrawn based on historical, ethnic and linguistic line and all Pashtun areas of Balochistan should be joined with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
9. Gwadar port and Balochistan's natural resources must be used to uplift the Baloch people.
10. Baloch secular national identity and culture must be honored, preserved, restored and respected.
11. Balochi language must be declared Balochistan's primary language of learning.
12. Center should only keep defense and currency and all other departments should be given to Balochistan with full provincial autonomy.
13. In lieu of its peculiar history Balochistan should be awarded special status -- it may be allowed to open its embassies, especially North America and European Union, and the number of federal forces deployed in Balochistan should remain the sole prerogative of the provincial administration.
14. Baloch, especially the ordinary middle classes, must be well represented at the federal level and in foreign services to remove their sense of deprivation and alienation to make them feel counted citizens.
15. Confidence and trust building measures should be put in place to prepare the ground for dialogue, negotiations and finding an everlasting solution.
if these moderate and genuine demands are not met immediately, Baloch have no option but to continue their fight for complete independence and seek international help.
(The writer is a Baloch activist, and is the President of Baloch Society of North America)