Thursday, June 08, 2006

Facts About Balochistan

Facts About Balochistan
Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA)

  • Prior to losing its sovereignty, Balochistan was never a part of Iran or Pakistan in recent history. In 1947 when the British Indian government was dissolved, all its treaties with Balochistan, an independent and sovereign state, also ended. But, both Iran and Pakistan have illegally and forcibly occupied Balochistan in breach of all international laws. This illegal occupation of Balochistan must end.
  • Ever since the occupation of Balochistan, the Baloch (indigenous people of Balochistan) have resisted foreign rule, and are still fighting against Iran and Pakistan to liberate their country.
  • In 1948, the first major Baloch insurgency was organized under the leadership of Prince Karim, younger brother of the ruler of Balochistan. The Pakistani military forces arrested him and incarcerated him along with his comrades as common criminals, not as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.
  • Nawab Nowruz Khan Zehri, a 90-year-old Baloch leader, organized the second Baloch insurgency in 1958. A year later, the Pakistani military authorities arrested him along with his sons and nephews. His relatives were hanged and he was spared hanging to die a natural death in jail.
  • The first Baloch War of Independence started in 1970, and it lasted for 5 years. During this War, the Pakistani armed forces used sophisticated weapons and were supported by Iranian gunship helicopters (piloted by Iranians) to crush the Baloch uprising. Over 50,000 Baloch and 15,000 Pakistani soldiers died in this war.
  • The second Baloch War of Independence began in March 2005 when the Pakistani military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, refused to persecute a military officer (relative of a serving general) for raping an ethnic Sindhi physician in the Dera Bugti area of Balochistan. To further stroke the sensitivities of the Baloch, he provoked the Baloch nation by making derogatory statements. When the Baloch voiced their concerns, he sent the Pakistani armed forces to bomb the civilian population of Dera Bugti killing 60 and injuring more than 200 non-combatant Baloch nationals.
  • In an attempt to assassinate the 79 years old Baloch veteran nationalist leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the military forces bombed his personal residence. Fortunately, he escaped the carnage, and now he is up in arms along with his Baloch freedom fighters defending Balochistan.
  • Since the occupation of Balochistan, the Islamic republics of Iran and Pakistan have systematically launched an “ethnic cleansing” operation against the Baloch people. For your information, the Baloch are secular and liberal, and their belief system clashes with the extremist Muslims of Iran and Pakistan. Although the colonizers are forcing the Baloch people to lose their national identity and aspirations of liberating Balochistan, the Baloch are resisting such efforts vehemently.
  • Being the inhabitants of the resource-rich Balochistan, the Baloch people live in extreme poverty due to exploitation of their resources, like oil, gas and other minerals, by the occupying forces of Iran and Pakistan. Economic deprivation and lack of infrastructure development during the last 58 years of occupation has turned Balochistan into one of the most under-developed regions in the world.
  • There are barely any educational facilities of any repute that dispenses specialized skills to the Baloch youth. But, with Pakistani and Saudi Arabian funding, the Pakistani intelligence agencies have established numerous Madrassas (religious seminaries) throughout Balochistan to transform the secular belief system of the Balochi culture.
  • In Iran and Pakistan, it is considered an act of treason and labeled an anti-state activity to teach Balochi language and history in schools.
  • Iranian and Pakistani government departments and its armed forces discourage employing any ethnic Baloch. All the senior bureaucrats serving in Balochistan are from outside Balochistan. The employment situation is worse in those departments that are responsible for maintaining law and order in Balochistan, as they are totally composed of non-Baloch people.
  • In both Iran and Pakistan, the Baloch are considered anti-state elements. The state sponsored media labels them as “miscreants”, “bandits” and “terrorists”.
  • President Muharraf calls the Baloch War of Independence as a mere pinprick by three tribal chieftains. He and his propaganda machine have misled and confused the global community about the seriousness of the freedom struggle by the Baloch people.
  • There are over 6,000 Baloch activists arrested or missing in Pakistan. It is believed that the intelligence agencies have sent them to Gitmo-style prisons where they are either tortured or murdered.
  • The Pakistan government has stationed more than 65,000 fully armed troops in Balochistan supported by airpower to solidify its occupation of Balochistan and protect its access and exploitation of the Baloch natural resources. They are also building three military bases within Balochistan to contain the Baloch freedom struggle.
  • There are more than 600 Gestapo-style military check-posts erected throughout Balochistan to control the free movement of the Baloch people. The conditions are so bad that the Baloch people are now like prisoners in their own land.
  • With Chinese assistance, the Pakistanis are building the Gwadar Port on the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz so that the Chinese can install their listening post to monitor all shipping movements in the region. This development is marginalizing the political demographics of the Baloch by populating the area with non-Baloch, primarily people from Punjab.
  • Many prominent Baloch leaders in Pakistan, who want to seek asylum in foreign countries due to deteriorating conditions in Balochistan, have been put on the Exit Control List (ECL) and cannot leave the country. This act is against all human decency and it certainly violates their right as a human.
  • Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights, and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have repeatedly exposed the gross human rights violations committed by the Government of Pakistan in Balochistan.
  • Pakistan and possibly Iran are using Balochistan as their site for nuclear testing and dumping nuclear waste. The local population has strongly objected to such use of their land by the occupation forces, but to no avail.
  • The Baloch people are an oppressed nation, and they want the global community to get involved to assist in reinstating the sovereignty of Balochistan.
  • In his recent State of the Union speech, President Bush stated that those nations that live under tyranny, the United States would support their freedom struggle.
  • The Baloch nation pleads to the United Nations, the United States, and the community of nations to end the illegal occupation of Balochistan and stop the massacre of the Baloch people by governments of Iran and Pakistan.

Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
General Secretary
The Government of Balochistan in Exile

Monday, May 29, 2006

Merger or Annexation of Balochistan

We will begin to discuss the merger of Balochistan into Pakistan and the treatment that the Khan and the people of Balochistan received at the hands of the new, inexperienced, incompetent, but already representing their class interests, politicians who held the reigns of power. It must be made clear here that the Quaid-e-Azam immediately after independence became too ill to be able to oversee the daily running of government and left this to his trusted lieutenants. At the same time negotiations for the merger of Balochistan with Pakistan also devolved onto the shoulders of these very people. The subsequent problems in the merger and the maltreatment of Balochistan by the federal government began from this time onwards, leading to civil unrest in Balochistan for decades and culminating in the bloody civil war of 1973 to 1977.

Even after the armed resistance of 1948, 1958, 1960 to 1968, and the civil war of 1973-77, the attitude of all federal governments, civilian or military, has not changed in the least towards Balochistan. Herein lies the genesis of the so-called ‘Balochistan Problem’.

Following the preliminary talks between the nominees of the Kalat Government and the Government of Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam invited the Khan of Kalat to Karachi for discussions on the future status of Kalat. These discussions took place in October 1947. The Quaid-e-Azam advised the Khan to expedite the merger in view of the developing dangers from the neighbouring countries like Afghanistan and potential threat from the Soviet Union to the newborn State of Pakistan. He said, “I would sincerely advise you to merge your State with Pakistan. Both the States will benefit by this measure and as far as the demands and other problems of Kalat are concerned, these will be finally decided in a spirit of mutual friendship.” The Khan replied, “I have great respect for your advice and it is my considered opinion that Kalat’s merger is necessary in order to make Pakistan stronger. In this connection, I would suggest Balochistan, being a land of numerous tribes, the people there must be duly consulted in the matter prior to any decision I take, for, according to the prevalent tribal convention, no decision can be binding upon them unless they are taken into confidence beforehand by their Khan.”

With this provisional agreement the Khan returned to Kalat and promptly summoned the Kalat State Houses of Parliament, the Dar-ul-Awam and Dar-ul-Umra, and proposed to the House to accord him a mandate on the matter of Kalat’s merger with Pakistan. Both the Houses, however, contended unanimously that the proposal of Kalat’s merger militated against the spirit of the earlier agreement arrived at between the Kalat Government and the spokesmen of Pakistan on August 4, 1947, as also against the Independence Act of 1947. In view of this contention, the members proposed further talks with the Government of Pakistan on the basis of the agreements referred to. This decision of Kalat’s Parliament was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, for necessary processing.

Shortly afterwards, the Quaid-e-Azam visited Sibi and during his stay there insisted upon the Khan to sign the merger documents in his personal capacity. Trivializing his own Houses of Parliament, the Khan affirmed to the Quaid that on his individual persuasion, the members of both Houses of Kalat’s State Parliament had signified their consent for merger, subject to such inconsequential conditions:

No laws will be enacted without the prior consent of the Baloch tribes as might affect their traditional customs and traditions.

The presence of all tribal Sardars is necessary at the ceremony of Kalat’s merger, if and when it takes place, and the Khan of Kalat and the Quaid-e-Azam should sign the merger documents before them.

The Quaid and Government of Pakistan should issue a statement eulogizing the role of the Baloch people in the cause of the historic culmination in the establishment of the sovereign Muslim State of Pakistan.

Lastly, the Quaid-e-Azam should personally address the traditional gathering of tribal Sardars, appreciating and acknowledging their sincere services in the cause of Islam and Pakistan.

The Khan by putting these conditions forward was trying to use the Quaid’s personal influence and persuasiveness to get the members of his Parliament to agree to merge Balochistan with Pakistan without preconditions. He further suggested that the Quaid should instruct the Agent to the Governor General (who was an Englishman at the time) to guide the Baloch tribal leaders into accepting the merger of their State without any hesitation. These manipulative measures undertaken by the Khan make it abundantly clear that the Baloch leaders were not in favour of the merger without first thrashing out crucial issues like constitutional status, provincial autonomy, judicial system, resource allocations, taxation, socio-economic development programmes, and all other governance subjects of vital importance in the life of a nation.

The Khan agreed to merge Kalat State with Pakistan in his subsequent discussions with S. B. Shah who confirmed the same in a letter to the Khan with these points:

“That you (the Khan) have at last acquiesced to merge Kalat State with Pakistan for the benefit of the people of Kalat.”

“That you have summoned the Dar-ul-Awam and Dar-ul-Umra on the 21st of this month, and that you would let us know the decision arrived at by them.”

Accordingly the Quaid handed over the matter to his newly formed cabinet. The members of the cabinet were new entrants to such high office and lacked the requisite experience of handling sensitive matters like the ethnological, historical, cultural and traditional background of the Baloch and the peculiar status of Kalat State vis-à-vis the agreements made between Kalat, the British, and subsequently Pakistan. The Quaid himself was by now very sick and weak in health and therefore unable to take part in governance or negotiations in any meaningful manner. His deputies were not of the same calibre and therefore it is no surprise that the affairs of Balochistan were mishandled from the very beginning. The Cabinet approached the merger of Balochistan with Pakistan in an atmosphere of apprehension and animosity.

The Khan still went ahead with his plans for the merger and informed the Government of Pakistan that:

My Government will get the merger of Kalat State finalized within three months.

In pursuance of Baloch traditions, the Khan of Kalat will proceed to Karachi along with his advisors to sign the merger documents as soon as these are finally drafted.

The federal cabinet, in the meantime, basing their policy formulations on absurd assumptions, was working on a scheme to break up the 500-year old State. The nature of their scheme, as it turned out subsequently, was tantamount to a political castration of the Baloch people. The cabinet decided to cut off Kharan and Lasbela by giving them an equal status to Kalat and obtaining their ‘mergers’ with Pakistan directly. Makran, which had been a part of the Kalat State for the last 300 years, was made independent of Kalat on March 17, 1948, and one of the three Sardars made its ruler. Thus Makran too was made a part of Pakistan. These hasty, illogical, irrational and politically illegal and oppressive steps naturally disillusioned the Baloch people. They rightly felt that all their erstwhile services and sacrifices in the cause of Pakistan were now forgotten. So deep was their despair and frustration that several of them wanted to revolt, and some did take to the hills making no secret of their intentions.

The neighbouring countries were quick to take notice of this vulnerable situation in Pakistan just a year after its birth. Reaction to this situation was particularly sharp in Afghanistan, India and Kashmir, resulting in:

The government and the people of Afghanistan becoming increasingly suspicious and adopting a hostile attitude towards Pakistan over the Durand Line.

Finding Pakistan in trouble, India annexed Hyderabad State on September 9, 1948, and militarily subdued it by September 17.

Capitalising on the situation, the Maharaja of Kashmir also merged his State with India.

Sheikh Asad Rahman
Freelance Columnist


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