20th September 2013

Geneva: The worsening situation in Balochistan should be of grave concern for the world as the ripple effects of the crisis will be detrimental to the future of the wider region and world, says Noordin Mengal, a Baloch representative at the UN Human Rights Council who has highlighted human rights issues at international forums. Speaking at a press conference at the Geneva Press Club held alongside the 24th session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mengal said that the world needs to acknowledge the gravity of the situation in Balochistan.

Other speakers included Canada-based author and columnist Tarek Fatah and World Sindhi Congress Chairman Lakhumal Luhana.  Mengal said that the Baloch remain subjugated and oppressed and added that the Baloch sufferings have never been so intense and acute as they are today. He said that since day one Pakistan has endeavoured to subdue the Baloch’s peaceful struggle for their rights and has aggressively usurped the natural resources of Balochistan, whereas the Baloch have also not accepted the illegal occupation of their land since day one.

He said that the military operation launched in 2005 in Balochistan has resulted in countless miseries for the people of Balochistan, including the killings and mass displacement of thousands of people including women and children by the Pakistani military. He added that homes, schools, colleges, local businesses and agricultural land have been completely destroyed by the Pakistan army and paramilitary forces.

Mengal said that the Pakistan Air Force has used all sophisticated weaponry at its disposal against the Baloch and said that there is evidence to suggest that it has used chemical weapons against civilian populations in Dera Bugti and Kohlu. He said that enforced disappearances are endemic in Balochistan and referred to reports published by Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on the human rights abuses.

He said that political activists, students, teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, intellectuals and human rights defenders have all been subjected to enforced and involuntary disappearances and torture whereas many have all been victims of summary executions by the state military and intelligence agencies.

“Pakistan is desperately struggling to impede political consciousness among the Baloch and has adopted all possible methods to erode the backbone of the Baloch nation,” he said. Mengal said that nearly 800 Baloch had been victims of the Pakistan military’s kill and dump operations since 2010. He said that the bodies of the victims bear marks of extreme torture and are at many times difficult or impossible to identify. He referred to the case of Abul Razzak Baloch, a journalist and political activist, whose severely mutilated corpse was recently dumped in Karachi, four months after he went missing. He said that Abdul Razzak was tortured to death and that it took his family about 24 hours to confirm it was his body.

He said that Pakistan’s “fascist” army even dumps corpses during Eid, with notes in the victims’ pockets calling it an Eid gift for the Baloch. Speaking about the Gwadar port, he said that the port has remained a bone of contention which triggered the ongoing political conflict. He said that Pakistan’s desperation to establish the geo-strategic deep seaport is part of a major conspiracy to further marginalise and convert the Baloch into a minority in their own homeland.

He said that China has also significantly contributed to the plight and alienation of the Baloch and added fuel to the fire. He said that China has not taken the Baloch national interest into consideration and the Baloch in confidence before the announcement of such projects, but has instead chosen to ignore the masters of the land and deal directly with Punjab and its civil-military establishment, whom he termed the illegal brokers of Balochistan’s resources. He said that he expected China to act with responsibility and show concern for the people of Balochistan.

Mengal condemned the IPI gas pipeline project and said it was against wishes of the people of Balochistan. Mengal also condemned the indiscriminate and ruthless killings of the Hazara community. He said that fundamentalist elements are given a free hand by the establishment to operate and promote their ideology.

He said that the state intelligence agencies have provided fundamentalists with a harbour and breeding ground to weaken the secular Baloch and cause instability in Afghanistan and the region.

He said that the Baloch want a just, democratic, nuclear-free and a secular Balochistan and said that only such a Balochistan will be able to counter the rising tide of terrorism from Pakistan and help secure peace and stability in the region. He added that allowing a terror sponsoring state such as Pakistan to flourish is a folly of gigantic proportions and the sooner it is realised the better it is for the world. “The fact is that Pakistan is a state that literally thrives on terror to perpetuate its own existence. It has used this method internally and externally since its very inception”, he said.

He called upon the Western world to take action against Pakistan. He added that the Baloch are a secular nation that have always stood and will stand with the civilised world against the growing threat of terrorism and extremism. He said if Pakistan continues to suppress and weaken the Baloch whilst promoting fundamentalism, the West may gradually lose a valuable natural ally in its effort for regional and world peace. He added that Pakistan has become the hub of world terrorism and has used regional instability to its benefit and blackmailed the international community for monetary and strategic gains.

“Pakistan is engaged in the systematic genocide of a nation that stands as a bulwark against fundamentalism and extremism in the region while the international community does nothing”, he said.

He said that the Baloch hope that the international community will act and not continue to turn a blind eye. “For the UN and international community to further ignore this alarming situation would be detrimental for the wider region, nay to the world”.