After the recent incident of killing of an International Committee of Red Cross employee Khalil Rasjed Dale in Quetta at the hands of militants, one thing has become crystal clear, that Pakistan is not a very safe place for foreigners. ICRC has already temporarily suspended their activities in Pakistan after this development and now it will be interesting to see if other such foreign organizations join the bandwagon and decide to shut their business here.
It is not clear what the consequences of their departure would be if any for Pakistan, however for militants in the country, it would be a massive success. It is known to everyone, how much these psychopaths hate the westerners and therefore, their departure would mean â€œmission accomplishedâ€ and would definitely lead to some grand celebrations in the militant’s camps.
It has been almost six years since the assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti and in this period, despite the massive efforts of the provincial leaders to spot those responsible for this brutality, no success has been achieved yet in this case. Disappointed with all this, Balochistan have now asked the federal government to transfer the investigation of Nawab Akbar Bugti murder to the Federal Investigation Agency.
A justified move without a doubt, however isn’t this the same FIA that has terribly failed to find those guilty of assassinating the country former prime minister Benazir Bhutto? When the so called efficient intelligence could not even get close to solving her case, what is the guarantee that they would be of any help in Bugti case? Balochistan government needs to think about this.
Our honorable and highly qualified federal interior minister, Dr Rehman Malik recently offered to withdraw all criminal cases against the aggrieved Baloch leaders living outside the country, namely Brahamdagh Bugti, Harbiyar Marri and other Baloch leaders, if they return back to the country- Indeed a probable step to solve the Balochistan issue. And as was expected, the Baloch Nationalists leaders took no time in rejecting this offer followed by immense criticism.
For all the atrocities and injustices meted out to the people of Balochistan in sixty five years, this is what the Government has to offer them? The province has been denied of any kind of rights and has been neglected since the beginning, regardless of a democratic or a military regime. Law and order situation is at its worse and Anti-Pakistani sentiments in the people of Balochistan are rising with every passing day. Apart from providing the people of the province with some relief in terms of provision of health or education facilities or even clean drinking water. The federal government thinks that by taking back the cases against the leaders will help pacify the relations? A perfect initiative it must be said!
Instead of looking into the report of Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Baluchistan and investigating the information laid down in it, our security establishment has plainly rejected it altogether. They have been, for reasons known and unknown; ignoring the hue and cry of citizens in the province. The citizens in Baluchistan are suffering at the hands of both militant and state elements, but the state apparatus always claim their hands to be clean of any foul play. This was also evident at Kharotabad, where unarmed people (alleged terrorists) were shot and killed, by security personnel, disregarding all laws of the land. It is important that if the buildup of grievances among the citizens of the province is to be curbed, the administration should take a serious initiative in preventing any future violation of human rights and investigate any such allegations, while providing justice to the victims.
The eagerly awaited Kharotabad tribunal report has been pushed into the darkest pits, out of public view, by the Government of Baluchistan. Although, it has been reported that the Chief Minister ordered to release the report within 24 hours, but no steps seem to have been taken yet in this regard. Already the news seems to be fading away, as people will forget and go about with their busy lives of cursing power outages and bracing for fuel shortages. The gross human rights violations being conducted by the same security apparatus, responsible for upholding the law and protection of citizens, is a horrifying situation. The withholding of this report only proves that the tradition of cover-ups is still prevalent in our official structure, rather than addressing the issue head-on.
The recent killing of an educationist in Baluchistan opened another chapter of ethnic violence in the province. This was third of its kind murder of an educationist belonging to another province; the responsibility was claimed by a separatist militant group of the province and fresh warnings of similar attacks in the future were issued to the authorities. This attack was condemned by all sections of the society and demands were made for the protection of innocent citizens.
Access to educational facilities is perhaps the most important element in the process of transforming a society into a liberal and dynamic force. These incidents have lowered the morale of educationists belonging to other regions, who want to serve the people of Baluchistan. If these separatists are not dealt with in due course of time, it might result in a slump in the education sector and it will be extremely damaging for the students of this province. These separatist elements have destroyed peace of the region by spreading fear and terror among the population. It is important to curb these terrorist elements in order to provide a safe access to education for the students in this province.
People from the small village of Ghulam Muhammad Jamali in Baluchistan would have never thought that one day one peasant woman will be knocking on their doors asking them to vote for her. The â€˜knockâ€™ is not only limited to the door of the house, it is a â€˜knockâ€™ on the door of the ideology of the men in that area. Ironically, Mai Jori is contesting from the same area where a few women were buried alive in 2008 which was termed as â€˜Honor Killingâ€™ and the issue was very prominently highlighted on news channels. Two years after the unfortunate incident, one woman is marching the streets, from village to village what she calls â€œHaqooq March (Rights March)â€ for her genderâ€™s honor.
Mai Jori is illiterate and works on a farm with her husband. She has nine children and each morning she travels 2 km to get water for her family. As evident she has no funds to carry out her electoral campaign. This has been managed by the local communities who have gathered the funds on their own. She has also been now given a ticket from ANP (Awami national Party). This is a big step in moving towards a vibrant and dynamic democracy. One woman has decided to take up the challenge and fight the cruel doctrines which exist in that society.
Whether she wins or loses the contest is not important. She has made a statement already by announcing she will contest the elections. We strongly encourage our readers to celebrate the spirit of this woman and extend their unconditional support to her. Mai Jori Jamali is an inspiration for all the women who oppressed and feel that they cannot break the shackles.
Fourteen -fifteen hundred years back , women were buried alive in pre-Islamic Saudia Arabia. Or at least this is what all of us rote learned at school. Islam we were told changed all that , granting women equal rights.
Fast forward to August 2008 in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and we have three women buried alive in Balochistan for marrying of their own free will. The Umrani tribe of Balochistan , particularly the brother of Balochistan’s Provincial Minister PPP’s Sadiq Umrani , clearly did not get the “if -you -are -a -Muslim- you-do-not-bury-women-alive” memo. The brother of the Minister oversaw the burial. Additionally, this act was defended on the floor of the Senate of Pakistan by Senator Israullah Zehri as being “part of Baloch tribal tradition”
In pre-Islamic era, the Arabs defended their heinous treatment of women as tribal traditions. Perhaps, the Arabs were Baloch too? Or perhaps in today’s world, some Baloch like Zehri and Umrani are the Arabs?
Havenâ€™t blogged for a long time as anyone can see given that the last entry was in Feb ! No particular reason…. guess was confronted with an online writerâ€™s block. Felt the urge to blog after months today and thus here we are.
Just got back from Balochistan. Quetta and Karachi witnessed us arranging the Provincial Dialogue for developing a Citizens’ agenda for Democratic Reform. The exercise , already done at the district level all over the country, is now at the Provincial stage but more on that some other time.
Presently, the mind is occupied with Balochistan. Amidst announcements of holding an All Party Conference by the ruling coalition, the people in Balochistan are asking: who will attend?
The nationalist political forces they ask? But they have lost the popular mandate to speak on the issue as they are being viewed locally as “Pakistan establishment friendlyâ€ and called traitors. The nationalist parties are saying that they are not interested in the APC. Even if they were, they don’t have the mandate.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) enjoys popular support. The BLA might not have many members but it certainly has a lot of supporters with even people in Quetta city giving the BLA members protection in their homes.
A new phenomenon is also being seen. According to one analyst, “ previously armed political struggle was for men. Now it is for womenâ€ Women have organized themselves into a network called the Khwateen Balochistan. These women whose male members are “missingâ€ are organizing themselves independently. They are not affiliated with any nationalist party nor with the BLA although they are sympathetic to the latter and adversaries of the former. In such a situation, the question is are the nationalist parties in a position to enter into any agreement with the federal government at the APC or any other forum? What will be the future action of the Khwateen Blaochistan and the BLA?
The International Crisis Group has come out with a moderately harsh press release on Balochistan. The press release calls Balochistan the ” forgotten conflict” and urges for attention to be paid to it. It is interesting that this media release comes out at a time when the NDI team that is presently visiting Pakistan is also calling for free and fair elections to be held so that the will of the people can prevail. The ICG release declares ,” Violence continues unabated between the military government and militants demanding political and economic autonomy for the resource-rich province.”
Balochistan is simmering as we have declared a number of times. But so is Southern Punjab, Sindh and Frontier. It is not an exaggeration to say that the federation of Pakistan is under threat but the elite consensus is not mindful of the gravity of the situation. They need to wake up . Otherwise they might be rudely awakened one day.