Human right abuses in Balochistan

Remains of Baloch activists found in mass graves in Balcohistan's Khuzdar district.

  1. Introduction

Pakistan occupied Balochistan in 1948. Since then, the Baloch haven’t accepted the occupation and have been resisting and maneuvering to liberate their land. To counter the Baloch resistance, Pakistan has adopted a policy of Baloch genocide. The Baloch genocide includes organized killing of Baloch leaders, intelligentsia and civilians, razing entire villages and historical places, and kill and dump of political people.

Although the genocide has been there since 1948 it has intensified since the beginning of 2000. This acceleration mainly aims at suppressing the recent wave of the Baloch war of freedom which started with the dawn of this millennium.

2. Intentions

  • To suppress the resistance

  • To exploit the resources

  • To secure the strategic position

  • China-Pakistan collaboration

The ongoing phase of the Baloch resistance started after Pakistan’s efforts to bring demographic changes in the Baloch coastal areas by initiating several so-called mega projects which are solely aimed at converting the indigenous population into a minority through a series of mass migrations of non-indigenous people largely drawn from other provinces in these areas. Such plans perturbed the Baloch people who consider such projects as existential threats to their survival. They had seen in the past how Baloch majority cities in Quetta and Hub were successfully transformed from Baloch majority areas to Baloch minority ones, with the help of the state machinery. Often such measures were accompanied by Pakistani forces’ forcible evacuation of Baloch civilians. The public resisted against such nefarious designs in the disguise of development.

In a haste to suppress the resistance, Pakistan has speeded up the genocide. It has killed every one it considered as a potential threat. Baloch from every walk of life have become victims. A reports from a non-governmental organization, the International Voice of Baloch Missing Person, state that more than 19 thousands Baloch are missing since 2000. Some 455 dead bodies of such missing persons were recovered only in 2014.[1] Baloch and human rights organisations blame the Frontier Corps (FC), intelligence agencies and pro-Pakistan proxy organizations for abducting and killing of Baloch missing persons.

3. Modus operandi

Pakistan has been carrying out a policy of highly militarization of Balochistan. There is heavy presence of all Pakistani military and paramilitary forces. There are military and civil intelligences, most notably notorious Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). In the coastal areas, there is Pakistan navy and the Coast Guards. There is no such place where the most infamous FC has not established check posts. They are there in villages, in cities, on highways, in the markets, universities, schools, mountains, and almost everywhere. If one thing is omnipresent in Balochistan, it is the FC.

The security establishment has carried out a policy of abduction, torture and extra judicial killing of political activists. This brutal policy is widely referred to as the “Kill and Dump Policy”. It involves enforced disappearance of Baloch political activists and intellectuals and their extra judicial killing under custody after brutal and inhumane tortures. Often the dead bodies are dumped in desolated areas. The policy has generated harsh criticism from human rights organizations and activists across the world.[2]

Since 2004, Pakistan has started prolonged military operations across Balochistan. No day passes without armed forces conducting “search operations”. Search operations are an important tool for Pakistan in the ongoing genocide of the Baloch poeple. The security forces raid houses, raze villages, burn properties and fertile lands, loot precious metals and jewelries, harass children and women, abduct, torture and kill people during such search operations. These search operations are always preceded by aerial bombardment and siege of entire areas.

To keep its brutalities unknown to the world in Balochistan, Pakistan has denied access to international and domestic media groups in Balochistan. They are not allowed to enter Balochistan. Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist claimed that he was attacked by ISI in retribution when he reported and covered the long march about Baloch missing persons in March 2014.[3] Pakistani state media always show that all is well in the region. [4]

Pakistan has killed hundreds of Baloch intellectuals, poets, journalist and human rights activists. Professor Saba Dashtyari was target killed in June 2011. He had been a professor teaching at Balochistan University. He had openly criticized the state policy. Sidiq Eido, a member of the Human Rights Commission was abducted , tortured , killed. His crime was that he had been actively reporting the human rights abuses committed by Pakistani forces. There are hundreds of such stories to narrate. Around 40 journalists have been killed in the last few years.

Pakistan has also created proxy organizations to counter the Baloch national movement. Jihadi organizations, tribal militias, drug mafia and death squads run by political parties have been used to suppress the Baloch voice.

The second to military in the counter insurgency are Mullahs: ISIS, Lashkar-Tayyeba (Let), Jamat-ud-Dawa, and other Jihadis which are operating openly in Balochistan under state protection. These forces have often encountered Baloch nationalist organizations. They are instrumental in trying to create sectarian strife among Zikris and Nomazi Baloch. The LeT has carried out several attacks on Zikris in Balochistan. Last year, they entered in a Zikri prayer house and killed several Baloch, including father of the martyred leader of BSO, Raza Jahangeer. They are targeting political activists and their families in the name of sectarianism to show to the world that the Baloch issue is not a political issue, but a religious one. It is a planned scheme to divert the directions of the movement.

Recently ISIS has done wall chalking across Pakistan. Baloch nationalists have been warning the world to pay attention to such developments. Ample evidence has been presented by the Baloch activists that Pakistani state is sponsoring the ISIS to counter the Baloch movement in Balochistan.

Mafias and Militias often intermingle but they are not always the same entity. Drug mafia like that runs by Imam Bheel often transport the drugs owned by the Pakistani military to the Middle East and Europe to finance the Jihadi outfits in Balochistan. It should be noted that the Baloch armed organizations have successfully dismantled the drug empire in some parts of Balochistan. So the mafia’s new role is to export drugs to Europe and North America to finance the counter-insurgency in Balochistan. They also transport arms to Jihadi outfits operating in Balochistan.

Militias are often owned by tribal chiefs who are playing a major role in the counter-insurgency in Balochistan. Marri militias owned by Changez Marri in Kohlu are an example. These militias often accompany Pakistani military forces in conducting operations in the mountainous and tribal regions. They control tribal areas as outsourced agent of the Pakistan army. During military operation in the mountains, they work as guide to Pakistani forces on the routes through rugged mountains and terrains that are unknown to the strangers.

3. Humanitarian Crisis

Balochistan has reached at a point of grave humanitarian crisis.[5] There are millions of internally displaces persons (IDPS) which are denied access to basic human necessity by the Pakistani state. The domestic and international NGOS are not allowed to help them in providing basic needs like shelters, medicines and foods. It has resulted in appalling conditions of these Baloch.[6]

Besides hundreds of thousands of displaced people, the war has made thousands of widowers and orphans. There is no organization to take care of them. There is data to assess the gravity of this issue. The Baloch groups fear state retribution if they take measures to protect these children and widows, while international organizations are not allowed to operate in the conflict zones. To add to the gravity of the situation, Pakistan has brought in the LeT and other religious extremist and terrorist organizations to do the job. Instead of helping them, they have started recruiting for their own Jihadi cause and started a campaign of killing Zigri Baloch. These organizations often work openly guarded by the Frontier Corps. They have headquarters near FC camps. [7]

The families of missing persons suffer from unimaginable mental pressure. These families which are thousands in number receive death threats on a daily basis from Pakistani agencies. Baloch organizations claim that there are 18 thousands Baloch missing so far. More than 6 thousands dead bodies of such missing persons have surfaced. No single day passes when a dozen of Baloch are not abducted by Pakistani forces. Every day, dead bodies are received by families.[8]

The kill and dump policy has specifically target the Baloch intelligentsia. Doctors, professors, social workers, writers and poets, and political activists have borne the wrath of the repressive Pakistani state. No one feels secure in Balochistan. Those who have survived so far fear that the bell will toll for them one day. Many have migrated to the Gulf countries and other cities of Pakistan leaving behind their jobs and families. Also there are no international organization to protect them or help them getting asylum in a country where they are protected from the repression of the Pakistani state. There are number of cases where such persons have gone through several mental breakdown and almost most of them have psychological issues. [9]

Pakistani security forces have occupied all the schools. The schools are often being used as chekposts or military camps. Occupation of schools has resulted in depriving the Baloch people from the right to education. It should be noted there are only about ten thousand schools in Balochistan. Using schools as counterinsurgency hubs is a violation of all conventions on basic human rights. Last year, the religious proxies led several attacks on private schools which provide English education. Zahid Baloch, a prominent educationist, was gunned down and a religious organization claimed responsibility by terming him an agent of the West because he is inculcating western values by introducing co-education and teaching in the English language.

4. Humanitarian Intervention

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) , adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December, 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260, [ article 2] defines genocide as “any any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article 3 of the convention defines the crimes that can be punished under the convention:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide.

All the above conditions which can be called genocide exist in Balochistan. The Pakistani state is involved in grave human rights violation. There is a systemic wiping out of the entire Baloch population in some areas, especially strategically important and resource-rich areas. There is a humanitarian catastrophe in the offing in Balochistan.

The world has always tried to avert such situations. There are many examples to cite. From Rawanda to Darfur, the international community has tried to put an end to the policies of genocide. In Serbia, where the state was found to be committing a genocide in the Bosnian war, they interfered on the humanitarian basis.

In the case of Balochistan, the world has not put pressure on Pakistan to end the genocide. Pakistan has been defiant to calls by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Commission etc to stop human rights violations and punish those who are involved in such heinous crimes in Balochistan.

Pakistan will only stop if the UN, US, EU, NATO and regional organizations force it to do so. It is regrettable that these states and organizations have not so far put pressure on Pakistan to do so. The inaction from the international community has made Pakistan braver.

The Baloch National Movement believes that the root cause of all these crises is the occupation of the Baloch land by Pakistan. Pakistan is carrying out the genocide just to lengthen and consolidate its occupation and plunder the resources. To end the genocide and occupation, the international community should intervene in Balochistan on humanitarian grounds. Such an intervention is fully justified according to the UN Convention on Genocide.

The next step should be ending the militarization of the land by pulling out Pakistani military, agencies, paramilitary forces and dismantling all the proxies which are involved in the genocide.

The third step should be the restoration of the Baloch state with full sovereignty. In turn, the Baloch state will abide by all the conventions that would bring peace, justice, and prosperity in the world.

5. Discovery of Mass Graves

“When crimes become invisible”: On the Mass Graves of Khuzdar, Balochistan

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

A mass grave was discovered in Tootak, Khuzdar on the 25th January by a shepherd after which the locals converged there to recover bodies. The number of the bodies found, which the middle class government representatives are at pains to limit to 13, while reports filtering out put the number at around 150 and more. Even a Supreme Court (SC) judge said the number is 25. The numbers aside what this supposedly representative government fails to understand is that even a single body is one too many but then this government like that of the previous one is more concerned about surviving rather than serving the people.

According to Gregory H. Stanton, the President of Genocide Watchgenocide consists of eight stages which are Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation,Extermination and Denial. This process in Balochistan may not have been as blatant as that of the Nazi Germany or as it was overt in Rwanda but it is subtly in progress with lot of political trappings to cover it up. Two genocidal processes are going on simultaneously in Balochistan one which targets Baloch and the other which targets Hazaras and Shia.

The Baloch are systematically being marginalized to make their suppression easier and the illegal exploitation of their resources justifiable. The Hazaras, as my friend Dr. Mohammad Taqi Sahib in his piece, ‘Balochistan bleeding’ (Daily Times 30th January) has rightly said are being ‘ghettoized’. The threat of use of force is ghettoizing them while Baloch being the majority cannot be physically ghettoized in the same manner are being politically and economically ghettoized by Pakistan so that eventually they can be physically ghettoized. Instrumental in this process is the Dr. Malik government in the same manner that Raisani government was before it and their mentor and master the army and Frontier Corps (FC).

The use of force against Baloch is also being systematically and ruthlessly employed and the proof of it is the thousands missing and more than eight hundred of them killed and dumped apart from the fake encounter killings which also are of the same magnitude. This is being done to terrorize the Baloch population into submission and acceptance of their relegation to second class subjects of state who would then have to acquiesce to whatever is meted out to them and whatever political and material crumbs are thrown their way.

The Baloch have not meekly accepted this as their destiny and inevitable fate. They have resisted it tooth and nail since 27th March 1948 and this has been their salvation and helped them maintain their Baloch identity and also thwarted the complete domination that Pakistan desires and strives for. Had not the Baloch resisted force with force Balochistan would have been swamped by other ethnic groups and monopolized and owned by multi-nations and Gulf state rulers. The Baloch have paid a heavy price to maintain their identity and dignity and the mass graves of Tootak, which certainly are few of the many that exist, and all the missing and killed are a proof of and reminder of that. The Baloch haven’t hesitated to pay the price which history exacts of those who want to live with dignity and pride.

Nearly two hundred thousand Bugtis were displaced from Dear Bugti and adjoining areas in 2005 when the army under Musharraf unleashed a vicious operation against them to ensure that they would be obeyed unquestioningly and resulted in death of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006. The impact of this exodus of such a large number of Bugtis can be understood when we realize that this number amounts to an overwhelming majority of Bugtis living in their ancestral lands. These Bugtis who like any other people anywhere in world would like to live in the place they know and is theirs but they have been kept away from their ancestral lands because their loyalty is suspect in eyes of army and FC whose writ is ultimate there.

Shahzain Bugti, a grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, always at pains to prove his loyalty to Pakistan was promised passage to Dera Bugti with many of the long displaced Bugtis on orders of SC and assurances of the puppets in Quetta but they were denied entry by the FC which wants certain conditions of assurances of loyalty to be met before they would allow anyone to return. The displaced Bugtis are being denied their inalienable right to live in their ancestral land by force and this injustice doesn’t even stir those who claim to be nationalists and are the government there. Dr. Malik and his government, if this cringing, groveling and pathetic band of persons can be given this respectable designation of government, are so indebted to their mentors-the army and FC- that they cannot utter a word which may jeopardize their lucrative positions.

To return back to the mass graves of Tootak one has to mention the gems which the Sarfaraz Bugti who holds the mock title of interior minister in Balochistan. In an interview to BBC Urdu while denying involvement of his mentors in this horrendous crime tried to shift on the blame to RAW and Baloch Sarmachars. He forgot that the very pusillanimous SC, which in spite of a hundred hearings on the issue of missing persons has not been even able to charge let alone prosecute a single person for the missing or killed, has quite candidly blamed FC and intelligence agencies for the missing persons and the ‘kill and dump’ policy. But Dr. Malik and his pathetic band can see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil of those they are indebted to for what they are and where they are today. Even a hundred mass graves, there may be even more, are going to move them or prick their conscience enough to at least speak the truth if not resign.

The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons’ Long March led by the redoubtable Mama Qadeer with his equally intrepid Banuks (ladies in Balochi) and Warnas (young men in Balochi) has become even more poignant and momentous with the discovery of the mass graves. The participants’ resolve is strengthened even more with this gruesome discovery. Their march is an entirely new chapter of Baloch struggle for their rights and the injustices against them. They have earned the thanks and love of Baloch nation the hard way. These brave souls deserve unreserved thanks and gratitude of the Baloch Nation. One can only stand in awe in front of these dedicated Baloch who have set new bench marks of not only patience and endurance but also of innovation of political struggle. They protested against the mass graves at Multan Press Club on Thursday to highlight the issue of the atrocities and ‘dirty war’ that is being waged against the Baloch. Their protest is unique and has made millions of people aware of the injustices. A million speeches and articles could have achieved what their historic march has. They have so far walked nearly 1700 kilometres and are still 730 kms away from Islamabad.

The injustices against Baloch do not seem to register in minds of people and Pakistani media. They are listless and apathetic towards the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against Baloch and of late against Hazaras. Could this apathy be because of what as Bertolt Brecht says that, ‘When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible.” Most likely people become inured to injustices against others especially if the persecuted are stigmatized for religion as Hazaras are or for political aims as the Baloch are. To further show the apathy and the reason I will end my piece with Bertolt Brecht’s quote from his Selected Poems:

“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror.

Then a hundred were butchered.

But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.

When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out "stop!"

When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible.

When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard.

The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.”










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