China and Pakistan are rogue states, they are criminals and occupiers who want to eliminate our nation: Hyrbyair Marri.
Leader of Free Balochistan Movement, Hyrbyair Marri, who is among the most accepted prominent leaders of the Baloch movement, spoke to The Sunday Guardian. He is the son of veteran Baloch national leader Nawab Khair Baksh Marri. Excerpts:
Q: What is the present status of Baloch movement for freedom? How strong is it on the ground considering many top leaders of this movement are functioning from outside Pakistan?
A: The Baloch freedom struggle is continuing despite limited resources and lack of proper support from its neighbours. The Baloch nation has been striving to regain its independence since Pakistan occupied Balochistan in 1948. As for leadership functioning from outside Pakistan, we are Baloch and from Balochistan so we have nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan has made democratic politics impossible for pro-freedom political parties. They have killed and kidnapped top leadership of Balochistan including Nawab Akbar Bugti, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Dr. Manan Baloch, Jail Reki and thousands of others who were part of a peaceful political struggle.
So, Pakistan is doing its utmost to wipe out pro-freedom Baloch leadership to weaken and eliminate the freedom struggle. But it is our responsibility to continue the liberation movement even if it requires living outside our homeland on a temporary basis. So, the success of our struggle is more important for the Baloch and the entire region than from where and how we continue our struggle.
Q: Many reports have come in the past that several unarmed Baloch have gone missing, allegedly picked by Pakistan army, in the last few years. As per you, how many people from the region have gone missing and is there a way that any international group can verify your claim?
A: Our estimate is that Pakistan has abducted more than 20,000 Baloch including women and children from different areas of Balochistan since the beginning for this current phase of the Baloch national liberation struggle. The latest phase of enforced disappearances started as soon as Musharraf seized power through a military coup d’état. The enforced-disappearances continue to this day, however, a very tiny number of people have been released on condition that they will never participate or support the freedom struggle of Balochistan.
Balochistan is a sparsely populated region; Pakistan army has razed several villages to ground and abducted the entire population of those villages. There is also a lack of communication system and people have no access to main towns. Another problem is that Baloch human rights groups and activists cannot freely collect data of missing persons and the kin of some victims’ do not even come forward because they fear that if they register cases, the Pakistani forces and intelligence agencies will harm their disappeared loved ones.
There are a lot of ways that International Human Rights Groups can verify the numbers of such enforced-disappeared People. All they need to do is send a fact-finding mission to Balochistan and directly speak with the families of disappeared or missing persons. The families of missing Baloch are sitting outside Quetta Press Club, the International groups can start their verification process from there and then visit different areas of Balochistan.
However, the international community cannot know the extent of the human rights violations or verify the number of missing persons independently as long as occupying Pakistani forces are present in occupied Balochistan. Pakistan army will never allow international groups to know the crimes which they have committed.
When the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances visited Balochistan in 2012, they were confined to Serena Hotel in Quetta and not allowed to visit Balochistan’s other war-torn districts.
We should never forget that Pakistan army is the same army which has committed the worst crimes against humanity in modern history after World War-II where they raped and murdered millions of Bengali people.
Q: Pakistan’s contention is that the Free Balochistan movement is being instigated by the Indian government. How true is this assertion of Pakistan?
A: The Baloch struggle for freedom has a longstanding history and reputation. The Baloch fought against
Mughals, Portuguese and other invaders including the British Empire when India was also struggling to break the yoke of slavery. In 1840 the Marri Baloch fighters have wiped out British detachments in Battles of Sartaaf and Nafusk. During the World War One, when the British asked the Baloch tribes for recruits, the Marris Baloch refused to provide cannon fodders and fought two battles against the British forces – the battle of Gumbaz in 1917 and Harab in 1918. Despite suffering heavy casualties, the Baloch fighters did not retreat.
At the same time, political struggle also continued against British forces in Balochistan. So, there is no way India could have instigated the Baloch against all these invaders when India itself was trying to regain its independence. Pakistan’s contentions don’t matter because Pakistan will always try to put the blame on others to conceal its war crimes in Balochistan.
Also, Pakistan has abducted more than 20,000 Baloch and literally tortured to death more than 6000 but not a single case of foreign involvement was proven against them even in Pakistan’s own courts. This in itself proves that Baloch struggle is indigenous and has no foreign backing.
Q: Pakistan gives the example of CPEC to claim that it has not neglected Balochistan. Is CPEC a boon or bane for the people of Balochistan?
A: CPEC for us—the Baloch—is a colonial project for expansion of China’s military hegemony.
Pakistan is the main occupier of Balochistan and it has sublet Balochistan to China for its own economic gains. There are already reports that Chinese will outnumber the Baloch in Gwadar by 2048 whereas by 2023 they want to build a Chinese-only city to house 500,000 Chinese settlers in Gwadar.
The CPEC is a corridor of death and destruction for people of Balochistan, not a development project. Once China finds a foothold in Balochistan and constructs naval and military bases in Jiwani and Sonmiani, then it is not only a threat to Baloch people but also a military threat to India, United States and Europeans. Balochistan is located in a very important strategic region and if Chinese get control of our country then they will be able to project their military power in South Asia, the Middle East and beyond.
Q: You were named as one of the accused by the police in the attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi that took place last year. Several other incidents have taken in Balochistan region where the Chinese have been targeted. Do the Baloch consider China as its foe? If so why?
A: Definitely, China is acting like foe of Baloch people by collaborating with Pakistan – the enemy of the Baloch nation. Pakistan and China jointly want to strengthen Punjabi colonisation over Balochistan for their expansionist evil designs and economic benefits. As I mentioned, the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not an economic or development project, it is a military project where China wants to have a presence at the Baloch Sea and control the trade routes to Central Asia.
As far as the Karachi attack and nominating me are concerned, these are allegations that Pakistan has repeated time and again. I reject such allegations.
I do, however, would like to emphasise that under international laws, the Baloch have a right to defend themselves and their country against foreign occupiers and colonisers. China and Pakistan are rogue states, they are criminal and occupiers who want to eliminate our nation. Pakistan has always violated the laws of war and international conventions and targeted unarmed people, women and children.
Q: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the first time, had brought up the issue of Balochistan in 2016. Do you believe the Indian government should have taken a more pronounced step in support of the Baloch freedom Movement?
A: Yes, Modi mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day speech in 2016 but he did not practically back his statement which damaged his credibility among Baloch people. After his statement, Pakistan intensified its brutalities and killed hundreds of Baloch from different areas of Balochistan and justified it murderous actions by alleging that the victims were agents of India.
India is a large country, a democratic power and UN member state. It has a presence in many international institutions. In the United Nations, during Modi government, India has been elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and it is still a member but not even once the Modi
government has ever formally and officially raised Balochistan’s Human Rights issue at UN and other forums.
Pakistan, on the other hand, left no stone unturned to highlight the Kashmir issue at the UN against India. Several official UN reports have been published against India during Modi government because of Pakistan’s active lobbying for Kashmir.
Modi government could have helped Baloch nation because Balochistan is the only deterrence against Pakistan but we do not see any political resolve in New Delhi against Pakistan yet.
In India, a large number of politicians still think that Pakistan’s behaviour can be changed by trade deals and cultural exchanges. America paid Pakistan billions of dollars but still, the Pakistan army did not hesitate to kill more than 3,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan. I do not understand why Indian politicians think that a few million dollars of trade could change Pakistan’s policies toward India when the very justification of Pakistan’s creation was based on the ideology that India and Hindus are the enemy.
Q: Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav has been accused by Pakistan of carrying out terror-related activities in the Balochistan region. Since you are based in that region and have a wide network what is the information that you have regarding Kulbhushan?
A: According to our information, Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped from Chabahar area of Iranian occupied Balochistan and handed over to the Pakistani army by multiple smugglers and extortionists who work for Pakistan army. It also needs to be seen how easily a man was kidnapped and transferred to Pakistani occupied Balochistan without facing any difficulty.