REPORT

 

Conference

 

Baluchistan: Destiny Denied

 

 

Date: 15 October 2013

Duration: 2 h

Place: European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

Host: European Conservatives and Reformists (European Parliament) and Baluchistan House

 

 

Speeches:

 

Paulo Casaca, Executive Director of South Asia Democratic Forum

Baluchistan is one of the poorest places in the world, worse than most African regions although it is a very rich region regarding natural resources. As the report from Human Rights Commission of Pakistan indicates us, Baluchistan has been the stage of discrimination of minorities, namely when it comes to education, and the Pakistan government has been disregarding the cultural identity related specificities of the people of Baluchistan. Education in Pakistan has been a priority for several international actors, specially the United Kingdom and UNESCO. They have been investing in Baluchistan schools and even though it is a positive step, the Human Rights situation as well as the broader problems in the region has not been mentioned.

When it comes to security issues, crime and terrorism are a great concern. The report from Human Rights Commission of Pakistan states that minorities have seen their Human Rights violated including kidnapping, torture and killing of people. No measures have been taken to address the issue and those who are responsible for such acts have not been persecuted. It is a lawless situation. Another example of this unacceptable position of the Pakistani government is what followed the earthquake of September 2013 who has not allowed NGOs to go to Baluchistan to provide help to the population and Pakistan provided little to no assistance to local populations.

Given this situation, one wonders if the presence of blue helmets in the region would not be a good option.

 

James Sensenbrenner, Member of Congress, United States

Was not able to attend due to US government shutdown, but his speech was distributed to all the audience. The written speech mentioned how the Congressman supports the cause of Baluchi people and their demand for self-determination.

 

Ryszard Czarnecki, Member of the European Parliament

The earthquake’s consequences for Baluchistan have been very serious and Pakistan should do its best to help the populations that have been affected. The Pakistani position regarding the NGOs not being allowed to go to Baluchistan to provide assistance is definitely a problem motivated by the broader situation in Baluchistan that the Pakistan government wish to hide. The constant struggle the Baluchistan nationalist movement has faced includes heavy artillery and armed oppression as well as Human Rights violations by the Pakistani armed forces. Successive attacks have led to a significant number of displaced people. Pakistan has also failed when it comes to following on missing people and, most importantly, there has been a kill and dump policy from Pakistani officials that is unacceptable. Those who are supposed to report this kind of issues, such as journalists, fear for they life if they speak. The demand for autonomy and economical rights from Baluchistan is justified and their identity and territory must be respected. The region’s natural resources have been very important for Pakistan but those who live in Baluchistan have not seen any benefit from it. All citizens of Pakistan should have their rights respected, not only a part of them. In the years to come it is to wish the situation will change and they will be able to take advantage of the benefits related to their natural resources.

 

Mehran Baluch, Baluchistan Special Envoy to European Union

The people from Baluchistan were denied their destiny and they are under exploitation and colonialism from Pakistan. The situation is unacceptable with abductions and killings of the people of Baluchistan in the context of Pakistani military operations. International organisations such as Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch agree that Human Rights are being violated in the region. This year’s earthquake is another example of an unacceptable situation with the government of Pakistan no longer providing any assistance to the local populations even though a significant part of the population is living under poverty line. The situation in Baluchistan can only be defined as genocide and the silence regarding this issue is deafening. The Pakistan interest in Baluchistan can be summed up to their natural resources and geostrategic position. Pakistan’s creation was an unusual historical incident and the best option for regional peace is to support Baluchistan’s nationalist movement. The entire region is under threat, especially Afghanistan. Pakistan is also a threat to world peace and stability. Pakistan is a predator who is not afraid to engage in dirty wars and this issue must be tackled on an international level and a free Baluchistan is the best way to ensure a good outcome.

 

Russel Hiebert, Member of Parliament in Canada

Baluchistan has a long history of nationalist and insurgency movements. In recent years the local population has been economically marginalized and their economic independence has been taken away, especially regarding the exploitation of natural resources. While a peaceful solution is advocated, there are factions, including the Baluchistan Liberation Army, that have engaged in armed insurrection and terrorism while pursuing their objectives. According to international organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, executions have taken place. The Pakistani government adopt a kill and dump policy. There are some factions at work in the independence movement connected to terrorist activities and it is a serious concern but Pakistan’s action is unacceptable and has gone beyond their authority. Violence is the obvious and expectable result to this absence of justice. Disappearance of people is the most burning situation. The report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has confirmed the kill and dump policy. Justice must be restored, otherwise there is no end in sight to the violence. In that regard, few steps have been taken by the international community. We can do more to improve the situation as, for example, events like the present one. Nonetheless, other nations can do more as, for example, withdrawing cooperation and aid. Fear is a reality on the ground, even among judges which make the judiciary system not reliable. The solution lies in the respect and justice for the people and the international community must play a role in this.

 

Andrew Percy, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The natural resources of Baluchistan are an important part of the issue and we have seen a growing role of China regarding this point. When it comes to the good use of natural resources for the people, there has been a definite failure. The role of the Chinese in the region makes it that there is no benefit for the local population given that they even bring their own manpower and so the region doesn’t has the benefits related do employment.

Regarding poverty, Baluchistan is the poorest province in Pakistan with 45% of its population living below the poverty line. This is partially linked to the fact that revenues from the exploitation of natural resources don’t return to those from the region.

Another important point is the violence which must be stopped on both sides. Pakistan’s government position regarding this is not acceptable. It is important to notice that there has been very little reference to what is happening in Baluchistan in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons.

The issue of education is very important to the United Kingdom as one of the biggest providers of foreign aid to Pakistan, especially regarding education. There has been in the United Kingdom discussions about how much has been spent with this but it has not been discussed how it is spent, which is the most important issue. Education is an important tool to fight extremism, sectarianism and any sort of promotion of hate.

The Commonwealth Charter, that Pakistan signed, engages its members to respect values such as equality and respect for rights, sustainable development and inclusive growth to promote social equality, tolerance, respect and rule of law. The members of the Commonwealth should promote the values stated in the Charter.

 

Tarek Fatah, Executive Director of the Baluchistan House

The Pakistani army has, in recent days, attacked a town and kidnapped people. This is not an unusual situation. Americans and Europeans have forgotten Baluchistan, a country that was invaded and, in the process, abandoned by its European allies. This third generation under Pakistan’s government is being attacked by the military of Pakistan. The reality is that the Pakistani politicians are powerless since the armed forces have the power. The geostrategic position of Baluchistan is essential to understand the situation. Pakistan was the guardian to keep communism away during the Cold War and so NATO members were comfortable supporting the Pakistani military. Today, Baluchistan’s position at the Strait of Hormuz is crucial. The agreements between China and Pakistan ensure this through the strategic location of the Gawdar port. The Pakistani nuclear armament is located a mile out of the Iranian border but the nuclearisation of Iran is not a problem, the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons is, as well as the fact that Tel Aviv is within its range. Pakistan is a force driven by Islamic extremism based on the Muslim Brotherhood. Pakistan has sold Gawdar to the Chinese military.  Bangladesh genocide almost was not talked about and the Baluch genocide is in the way of the exports of petrol to Europe so it is not mentioned to ensure. They do not understand the long term importance of a free Baluchistan. The military of Pakistan are a terrorist organisation occupying Baluchistan. Education is not the answer, equality and freedom are. Some of the worst terrorists are coming from the most educated. The money spent on education from the United Kingdom has been spent to spread hate.

 

 

 Q&A

 

The independence of Baluchistan might trigger the end of Pakistan. From a regional stability point of view, would the independence of Baluchistan be positive?

Tarek Fatah, Executive Director of the Baluchistan House - The stability of Pakistan as a country is considered essential by many scholars but I don’t agree with that statement. Pakistan is an artificial entity with a generalised identity crisis. They have no ethics or morality. An independent Baluchistan would be freeing for the rest of the country. The Pakistani government has engaged in actions of brutalization and even Bin Laden was supported by them. The region would be better off without the existence of Pakistan.

Press from Pakistan – Questions regarding terrorist actions linked to Mehran Baluch’s organisation, possible peace talks with the government of Pakistan and killings of non-baluch minorities in Baluchistan.

Mehran Baluch, Baluchistan Special Envoy to European Union – Those allegations are inappropriate even though I am considered a terrorist by some. Since the earthquake no NGOs have been allowed on Baluchistan and that is the most pressing issue the press should be reporting. We should focus on the real issues such as humanitarian issues.

 

Conclusions

 

Paulo Casaca, Executive Director of South Asia Democratic Forum

 

The most important and pressing issue is that there should be an opening of the region to the presence of international organisations for immediate relief related to the earthquake. This is not acceptable to prevent humanitarian help to get there. Violence goes on even during this period of devastation and it is deplorable.

A second issue to be mentioned is education. It is important but this education can only be beneficial to humanity if established on the basis of respect of human beings, otherwise it can be counterproductive. The poor level of education is a problem regarding literacy in the region, lower than in most African countries.

Baluchistan is suffering from the economic stand point while being so rich on natural resources. This wealth has been channelled for third parties and countries with no benefit for the locals.

Regarding security and the range of the nuclear missiles of Pakistan is very concerning. We need to see what is going on in Gawdar and to see if it is going to be a commercial port or a naval basis and threats that might came out of it.

The most important issue is probably the one of the absence of a state of law. A proper Pakistani government is an essential condition to discuss issues in Baluchistan in a meaningful way. It is vital to defend minorities and stop the kill and dump policy. Every minority should be respected and we should try to save as many lives as possible, independently of their position or ethnic group. There is a genocide of the people of Baluchistan and this is the most important point. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has shown a capacity to have an independent opinion in Baluchistan and other minorities. There is clear indication that they are being attacked and that Islamist fanatics are working with the military forces.

Artificial countries are not necessarily a problem, as the case of Belgium, but the case of Baluchistan and Pakistan is not acceptable. No stability can be constructed on the basis of this colonial rule. The Human Rights situation is inacceptable and no good can come out of this.

 

Tarek Fatah, Executive Director of the Baluchistan House

Regarding the issue of peace talks, one has to keep in mind that stability and peace are not a desired outcome by the Pakistani government. The idea that other minorities are being killed in Baluchistan is a cruel joke.

 

Mehran Baluch, Baluchistan Special Envoy to European Union

Pakistan understands the importance of Baluchistan and their actions show their interest in. Pakistani media is very concerned with the killings but our women and children are being killed and it is not mentioned by the media.

 

 

Paulo Casaca, Executive Director of South Asia Democratic Forum

The situation in Baluchistan can be defined as a systematic violation of Human Rights and this has to be condemned. Without a state of law negotiations are not possible. Awareness must be raised regarding the issues in this region.

 

Total Audience 54