Give the Baloch self-determination

Give the Baloch self-determination

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 4 September, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first global statesperson to publicly raise the matter of the trampling of human rights of the Baloch population resident in Pakistan. Although the province comprises nearly 40% of the land area of Pakistan, the indigenous people of the region have been denied justice since 1948, the year in which Balochistan was invaded and occupied by the Pakistan army to silence from India’s leaders. This country was at that time engaged in fighting a war against Pakistan because of the latter’s seeking to grab Kashmir by force, and was using not only the regular army but tribal irregulars for the purpose, both of whom inflicted unspeakable atrocities on the people of the northernmost Indian state. Under the circumstances, it would have made both diplomatic as well as moral sense to intervene on behalf of the Baloch people, but as was his wont, Jawaharlal Nehru refused to act, leaving the people of Balochistan to the mercy of the Pakistan military, who since then have treated the province as an occupied territory, committing human rights violations there ever since. Nehru further compounded his wrong policies by agreeing to Lord Mountbatten’s peremptory command that he institute a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir before Indian forces had succeeded in clearing the entire state of infiltrators. As a consequence of this grievous error in policy, a bleeding sore was created that has proved a drain on India’s patience and resources since then. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has become a global terror hub, apart from being a haven for narcotics. The Kashmiri-speaking population has been almost entirely cleansed from the area and replaced by Punjabi-speaking Pakistanis, several of whom subscribe to Wahhabism, which they have been seeking to export to the Kashmir valley ever since. The only solution to the “Kashmir problem” is to unite the remaining third of that state with India rather than allow it to remain with a military that has sold off bits and pieces of it to China.

While placing emphasis on the export of terror by the Pakistan military, what is needed is to bring before the international community the horrors being perpetrated in Balochistan by an occupying army, which in its ethnic composition is very different from the people they are oppressing. Just as was done by Indira Gandhi during the period of severe repression in Bangladesh (when more than a million Bengalis were killed by the Pakistan army (which, ironically, is getting tacit support from Begum Khaleda Zia) , what is needed is for teams to be sent around the world with evidence of Pakistan army atrocities. The voice of the Baloch people has been long muted and indeed rendered almost entirely silent by the same global media that has made it a practice to back Wahhabi forces in the Kashmir valley by giving prominence to the futile cry of this small minority of the population of Kashmir for separation from the rest of India. This same media never once contact the Shia, the Bakkerwals and the Gujjars of the Kashmir valley nor the Buddhists of Ladakh or the Hindus of Jammu, or indeed the moderate Sunnis still loyal to the Sufi traditions of the state. Small wonder that they are almost totally silent on the horrible crimes being committed in Balochistan, and to the struggle of the Baloch people or honour and dignity. The reality is that Balochistan was acquired illegally by force. In such a situation, the only way out would be to hold a globally-supervised referendum to determine its future, voting for which should be limited to Baloch language speakers across the globe and not just in Balochistan. The people of Balochistan deserve the right of self-determination and this should be made available to them by the international community. The carnage and the torture in Balochistan must stop now, and be replaced by an interim administration that respects the rights and culture of the Baloch people, who reject the fanaticism and the Wahhabism that is embedded within the DNA of the Pakistan army.


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