By K.N. Pandita
Regional and global strategy has thrown up Baluchistan as the future battle ground of big Asian conflagration. Pakistani repressive leaders like late Zulfiqar Bhutoo unwittingly contributed to Baluchistan becoming Achilles heel for Pakistan.
Chinese strategists discovered in good time the importance of Baluchistan in the changing international strategic scenario.
Foreseeing its relevance to regional politics, Sino-Pak nexus culminated in Gawadar seaport strategy on Baluchistan’s Makran coast first on a low key. They left the US embroiled with its Iranian obsession.
Baluchistan, the historic Khanate of Kala – an independent entity -, was sucked into the Subcontinent with Lord Curzon’s ‘Great Game’ policy in Asian Continent in 19th century.
After partition, the Khan of Kalat and his legislators in both houses of legislature opposed accession to Pakistan. Technically contiguity problem obstructed its accession to Indian Union. However, in annexing Kalat and other smaller Baluchistan States by a show of military might, Pakistan sowed the seeds of unending discord.
Islamabad regimes used repression and discrimination as instruments of state policy to curb Baluch nationalism. It rebounded with equal force.
Baluch rights and aspirations being vandalized, the people veered round separation to which Pakistani government reacted by show of brute force. This happened under Ayub, Bhutto and Musharraf regimes. Not accepting colonization of their land, the Baluch nationalists will settle for nothing less of separation. Independent Baluchistan is the key to most of the intricate problems of the region including Kashmir.
The Punjabi political elite and military establishments are not prepared to provide even bare necessities to the Baluch people.
In its official narrative, Baluch nationalists are accused of sedition and of having contacts with the erstwhile Soviet Union, India, even Iraq and now the United States.
The so-called leftist Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ordered bombardment of Baluchistan in 1973 after they raided the Iraqi Embassy in Islamabad, allegedly discovering 300 Soviet submachine guns and 48,000 rounds of ammunition. Islamabad claimed that Iraq was planning to transfer the arms to Pakistan’s Baluch. The elected provincial government was dismissed, Governor’s rule imposed, and the Islamabad regime dispatched 80,000 troops to fight 55,000 Baluch guerrillas.
Iran provided 30 Cobra helicopters with pilots to help Pakistan put down any insurrection. Iranian Sunni ethnic Baluch are facing same scurvy treatment from Shia dominated regime of Tehran. In the end, about 3,300 Pakistani army soldiers died, as well as 5,000 Baluch nationalists, and thousands more innocent civilians.
Baluch were outraged when they found Punjabis inducted into mega project of Gawadar seaport and construction of two army cantonments in Musharraf’s regime. Baluch labour force was excluded although the Baluch are the largest group in the province followed by the Pashtuns and the Brahvi.
The Khan of Kalat and Baluch Sardars, chiefs of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes, have resented and resisted the domination of the Pakistan government as anti-Baluch and prejudicial and discriminative.
Pakistani official circles have a different narrative to present. They accuse Baluch nationalists of external links meaning India. Islamabad justifies its punitive actions against the Baluch by putting forward the question of national sovereignty.
The ISI and army view Baluchistan national uprising more as a security than a political one. Apparently the Defence of Pakistan Council, meaning Theo-fascists posing as federalists have huge stake in Baluchistan. Hence theirs is a force to be reckoned with to counter the Baluch nationalists.
India dithers in the matter of Baluchistan showing no will to apply even a fraction to Baluchistan of what Pakistan applies to Kashmir. No only that, New Delhi, sheepishly committed not to interfere in Baluchistan, something which only a spineless government would do.
We have stakes in Baluchistan. As a member of the UN, we cannot remain unconcerned when civil, political, economic, and human rights of a vast number of people in our neighbourhood are trampled. We have to project their genuine grievances to the world community not only as a moral right but also to demolish the propaganda of Pakistani official circles that Baluch are terrorists and not national liberation activists.
We need to openly offer moral, psychological and diplomatic support to Baluch nationalist movement: we also need to host exchange of ideas with Baluch nationalist and dissident leadership not only on our soil but anywhere in the world: we need to forcefully support the appeals of the Baluch nationalist leadership made to international organizations like the UN Human Rights Commission, American Congress, British Parliament, European Parliament and other organizations: we need to raise the question of Baluch rights in the meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation in our capacity as observer: we need to send a strong memorandum to the OIC explaining suppression of Baluch nationalist movement under the iron heel of Pakistani military and Punjabi overriding bureaucracy.
We also need to raise the issue with the US and UK why they provide huge financial packages to Pakistan when such funds are utilized for suppression and violation of human rights of Baluch people? Indian and leading global NGOs like Amnesty International and World Watch etc. have a major role in highlighting atrocities on Baluch nation. India needs to exhibit her commitment to moral force in international relations.
This apart, India has to take care of her security and territorial integrity in view of threatening postures adopted by Sino-Pak nexus reflected in the development of Gawadar seaport. The two countries are come close to making it a very strong naval base in strategically crucial Indian Ocean, besides sitting at the entry point to the Gulf of Hormoz from where 75 per cent of the world oil requirement flows out.
Additionally, Gawadar as the naval port will be a threat to India’s search for a new overland route to Central Asia via Helmand valley in Afghanistan. We need to back up our connectivity with the might of the state as it is a question of our sovereignty. An independent Baluchistan is the key to a viable solution of threats posed by Sino-Pak nexus in the region including Kashmir.
Independent Baluchistan and Balkanization of Pakistan is not a conspiracy. It flows from the law of necessity. For the free world sans violence, Baluchistan is the transit-trade route to Central Asia in which not only India but the entire Pacific region has stakes. It cannot be left to the whims of one or other regional power.
Don’t forget that the Sino-Pak Treaty of April 5, 2005, inter alia, states that “the Contracting Parties shall enhance and consolidate trust and cooperation in the military and security fields to strengthen their security”. Chinese statements are notorious for their double meaning.
The ISI and Pak security establishment view the Baluchistan as a security than a political issue. Theo-fascists allies of Defence of Pakistan Council, have huge stakes in Baluchistan. It is a force to be reckoned with to counter Baluch nationalism. Independent Baluchistan should be our reply to Pak Theo-fascists who make no secret of their anti-India rhetoric.
Baluchistan issue has been internationalized, thanks to untiring effort of Baluch nationalist activists at home and abroad and thousands of Baluch people who made great sacrifices for the freedom of homeland. They have suffered incarceration, kidnappings, custodial killings, torture, bombing and butchery at the hands of Punjabi paramilitaries, ethnic fanatics and their exploitative hegemony.
To shed light on the key role Baluchistan plays in South Asia, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) convened a conference entitled “Global and Regional Security Challenges in South Asia: What Future for Baluchistan”, at The Royal Society, London on 24 February 2013.
In his poignant speech, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, urged a referendum in Baluchistan on the question of independence, which would challenge the claims by Islamabad that the Baluch want to be part of Pakistan. Last year, the Congressman had submitted a resolution in the Congress which awaits a debate.
“Unfortunately, it has been American money and American support for a vicious, murderous, gangster regime in Pakistan that has kept this violence and horrendous reality as part of the lives of so many millions of people who live in South Asia,” thundered Rohrabacher and demanded Pakistani officials to be tried for war crimes.
“First and foremost, we have to quit giving any military aid, and I would suggest we should quit giving any aid, to Pakistan who then uses our aid to murder and suppress people like the Baluch people, who are longing to have basic freedoms. We have to make sure that the evidence of this is clear to everybody and that the monstrous violence that is being laid upon the people of Baluchistan is horrendous,” he asserted.
Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) was also present. The conference was opened by Marino Busdachin, General Secretary of UNPO, and Paulo Casaca, former MEP and Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum, who denounced above all the Pakistani government’s use of a ferocious ‘kill and dump’ policy in Baluchistan.