In spite of China and Pakistan’s best efforts to keep the Baloch voice out of the international fora, Baloch intellectuals, activists and their allies managed to raise the issue of Sino-Pakistan strategic military and economic designs in the Hormuz waters, off Balochistan coast, that violate the rights of the indigenous and voiceless Baloch people with impunity. Speakers at the South Asia Economic and Human Rights Conference at the Palace of Nations in Geneva Friday informed the international community about the ground situation in Balochistan, which is facing a tsunami of human rights violations as Beijing eyes the strategic port of Gwadar.
The event titled “Global Talk on South Asia Economic Strategies and Human Rights” was organized on the sidelines of 29th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Session by the Baloch Voice Association (NGO) in collaboration with Africa Culture International (ACI). Earlier, this month Pakistan with the help of China got accreditation of two NGOs, the African Technical Association and the African Technology Development Link, withdrawn from the UN as they had helped raise the issue of human rights violations of the Baloch and Gilgit-Baltistan peoples, in the backdrop of China-Pakistan military strategic designs to link Gwadar with Kashgar.
Former pro-vice chancellor of Balochistan University in Quetta, Professor Sabir Badal Khan gave an in-depth analysis and presented statistical data why Gwadar is an issue of life and death for the Baloch people’s national survival and highlighted the systematic oppression of Balochistan at the hands of Islamabad. He said instead of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the land for Gwadar Airport was purchased by Military Estate Officer, Quetta. He explained, “Any land acquired by the Military Land and Cantonments makes it the property of the Pakistan army and this fact alone thoroughly exposes the bogus claim that Gwadar is an exclusively commercial project.” Citing an article from Dawn newspaper, Badal Khan pointed out that the huge chunk of 6,500 acres of land in Gwadar that was acquired by the military is much bigger in size than that of “New York`s JFK airport, one of the largest in the world, which covers 4,930 acres.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to connect Gwadar with Kashgar in Xinjiang province as part of both his military-commercial Maritime Silk Road and “string of pearls” naval bases plans on the rim of the Indian ocean. Xi promised Islamabad $50 billion in return, but Baloch writers and intellectuals opposed to the Chinese hegemonic plans have little support against the communist dragon.
Enos Nolli, director of the evangelical GiM Italy, expressed his deep concern over the Islamization of Balochistan as a strategic policy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. “We were already concerned because of the blasphemy laws, sharia laws and attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan, but the deep penetration and terrorist activities of religious terrorist organizations that are threatening the religious minorities in Balochistan are very, very serious issues,” Nolli emphasized. “The details of internal situation of Balochistan, which I have received from Baloch people, are very alarming and are matters of serious concern. Particularly the threats and attacks on Shias and Zikri people. Demolishing the worship places of religious minorities, forced conversion, attacks on schools, and threat and attack on Baloch females are real threats to humanity,” Nolli said.
Mehrab Sarjov, London based Baloch analyst and blogger, told the conference, “The army generals are the ultimate law by themselves, the legislators have given power to the army to become judge, jury and persecutor.” He said in Pakistan, state authorities use violence to secure obedience. “Thousands of Baloch are missing and 1800 have been killed and dumped by the state security forces since 2010,” he lamented. “The state is committing systematic genocide in Balochistan while the international community watches passively. The international and intergovernmental organisations are morally responsible to investigate and stop the genocide in Baluchistan,” Sarjov said.
Media is the favorite target, the conference heard. “The people of Balochistan have been and are being treated differently by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. As a strategic policy, the state has kept Balochistan a media blackout region, neither the national media nor the international media have access to go inside Balochistan,” Dr. Ali Akbar Mengal said.
Plight of Baloch females was also highlighted at the key event. “Females are fragile throughout the globe but the rights of females in Balochistan, particularly the right to education, freedom of expression and right to move freely is at high risk in Balochistan,” said woman’s rights defender Collet Boutard. Expressing solidarity with Baloch females, she deplored acid attacks on Baloch women who do not cover their faces.
Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri, who is chairman of the United Kashmir Peoples National Party, also addressed the conference. “The slogan of jihad, imposed on the people of Kashmir by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is an external war imposed on the people of Kashmir,” the veteran leader said. Kashmiri explained the basic fundamental rights of people in Kashmir are being abused systematically by Islamabad and said in the so-called Azad Kashmir, the prime minister and president cannot even transfer, expel or appoint a single employee in the secretariat. He said all powers vest with the secretary of Kashmir affairs in Islamabad.
Munir Mengal, president of Baloch Voice Association, presented a detailed pictorial account about the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s economic exploitative strategies and systematic abuse of fundamental rights of the Baloch people. Mengal thanked all participants of the event, including M. Dianko Lamine. Both Mengal and Kashmiri reportedly faced extreme torture at the hands of the ISI and were nearly killed when they were in Pakistan.
Nasser Boladai, president of the Sweden-based Balochistan People’s Party, also spoke at the event.