Pakistan’s state brutalities in Balochistan continued unabated in 2019, like in the previous years. Last year Islamabad’s barbarism across occupied Balochistan reached newer heights. This state-sponsored barbarism included unprovoked military operations, killing of Baloch dissidents, forced disappearances during operations, torturing of people, looting, burning houses and forced evacuations of inhabitants from their ancestral villages in Balochistan.
In 2019, the occupying state of Pakistan intensified its tactic of forcibly disappearing Baloch women and children.
However, even as Pakistan Army’s tyranny and atrocities were carried on in Balochistan, the Baloch militant organizations also stepped up their armed activities that resulted in loss of life and resources to the Pakistani armed forces. The attack on Gwadar port by Baloch militant organisations received international attention. The Baloch Liberation Army took responsibility for this attack on the Gwadar Continental Hotel that went on for nearly 26 hours. In this attack four Baloch freedom fighters were martyred whereas several armed personnel of Pakistan and other foreign investors were killed.
Apart from the militant Baloch armed organizations that are fighting for Balochistan’s independence from Pakistan, there are several other Baloch independence political parties and human rights organizations who continue to protest peacefully at the national and international platforms. They strive to show gross human rights violation across Balochistan by Pakistan. They also reach out at various international platforms in order to highlight the issues of Balochistan.
The year 2019 also saw the situation of exploitative China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) dwindle. The hustle-bustle in CPEC construction activities and Chinese movements in Balochistan have significantly reduced giving an impression that the project might be delayed or fail altogether. The corridor’s apparent failure and China’s disinterest has provoked the occupying Pakistani forces to further increase their atrocities and restrictions on the Baloch people. This seems to be a desperate approach to satisfy Chinese security requirements that has devastated the whole Balochistan and fulled pent-up anger and dissatisfaction against Pakistan.
This year also saw some so called “Baloch nationalists”, who were in the Pakistani Parliament and were part of their projects, change track and adopt different kinds of approaches to save their respective positions. The National Party (NP) who had previously played a key role in implementing this strategic CPEC, started opposing the economic corridor through its newspaper statements. The party started raising slogans against the state to restore their trust within the Baloch nation. However, I see this change in their approach as a blackmailing tactic against the establishment to restore their position in Pakistan’s parliament. Also, even as the BNP remained stuck with a slogan of ‘six points’, they also remained partners to the Imran Khan government in Islamabad.
Forced Disappearances in Balochistan
Four Baloch women were forcefully disappeared from Awaran by Pakistani state agencies in 2019. Widespread anger and protests helped in getting them released. BNP declared this as their success, while the BNP leaders also expressed their wish for greater provincial autonomy and the inclusion of historical Baloch land in Balochistan which currently is part of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
So, on the one hand Baloch pro-independence organizations and parties have stepped up their efforts and struggle for freedom, on the other hand Pakistan has increased its oppressive polices across Balochistan. This situation has exposed the role and integrity of parliamentary ‘nationalists’.
The success of Balochistan freedom fighters has seriously weakened Pakistan’s apparatus in Balochistan. This can also be seen in the internal developments of Pakistan’s establishment. This year, one of the biggest party of Pakistan, Ulema-e-Islam opposed the government by their protests and then many party leaders joined them. Besides these political parties, Pakistani courts and military organization’s atmosphere remained overheated over the extension of the post of their army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and then over the decision to execute former General and President Pervez Musharaf.
International economic organizations and FATF (Financial Action Task Force) have listed Pakistan in the grey list of countries for its support towards terrorism. This is bound to create economic difficulties for Pakistan that has been totally reliant on IMF and Saudi Arabia to keep its economy afloat.
The condition of minorities in Pakistan is also deteriorating by the day. Protests for the release of thousands of dubiously disappeared persons continue. Pakistan Army continues to dump the mutilated bodies of political workers in different parts of the country. In this situation, all the nations that are currently under illegal occupation by Pakistan have to come together on a single platform to gain freedom.
Due to violent protests the regimes of Iran and Iraq in 2019 have been changing their track from one side to the other, using their military powers to trample protests. The presidential elections in Afghanistan were successfully conducted and Ashraf Ghani once again got the hot seat. Afghanistan has been in the limelight because of their ongoing talks with the Americans and Taliban.
The cold war like scenario between South Asian neighbours Pakistan and India have continued and there were several instances in 2019 when it looked like the two countries will go for an all-out war. The trade war between US and China can push this region into further complexities.
The situation in Occupied Balochistan has deteriorated rapidly. Hence 2019 has shown a bloody picture like in the previous years.
Pakistan’s “Kill and Dump Policy”
The occupying state of Pakistan carried out 626 military operations against the Baloch nation in 2019. In these operations, 785 people have been forcefully kidnapped and have now disappeared which includes a large number of women and children. Also during this year, 302 dead bodies were found, of these 80 had been killed by Pakistani forces and while the exact motives of 144 killings were not found, 78 dead bodies went unrecognized. The burning and demolition of houses across Balochistan and looting them has also continued. More than 1,416 houses were looted, 200 houses burnt, 321 persons were released from the torture cells of state forces and 42 new check posts were built in Occupied Balochistan as Pakistan continues with its barbaric policy in Balochistan.
Furthermore, no motives were found for the deaths of these missing people. Because of state barbarism, thousands of Baloch families were compelled to migrate to Iran, Afghanistan and in the internal areas of Balochistan and Sindh and southern Punjab in Pakistan.
If we compare the devastation in Balochistan, it is in no means lesser than to those other regions that have been declared as war zones by the United Nations and other superpowers. Balochistan’s situation is much worse but the international community does not bother to focus on Balochistan, thus giving the occupying state of Pakistan an exemption to increase its policy of barbarism in Balochistan. So Baloch organisations and political parties fighting for freedom have to struggle really hard in order to show Pakistan’s real image to the world.
Missing Persons of Balochistan
The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) has been struggling for the last 10 years. They have been trying to show and uncover the state barbarities in front of the world. In the year 2019, organisation fighting for Balochistan freedom were busy with human rights issues and they struggled to draw the attention of the world towards the Baloch nation.
Yet, it can be said that Balochistan is not raising a coherent and forceful voice at international platforms. The Baloch freedom fighters and Baloch political parties who are struggling for Balochistan’s independence need to come on a single platform and speak in a forceful voice so that the world can get a clear understanding about the Balochistan issue. This will double the hopes of Baloch nation for freedom from Pakistan.
Baloch leadership has to also think about national interests of Balochistan and then catch the world’s attention towards them. This will counter-balance and negate those Baloch parliamentarians who only want to further their political ambitions at the expense of Baloch national struggle for independence. Whether it is the National Party (NP) or Balochistan National Party it will not be able to further enslave aspirations for an independent Baloch nation or cover up the Baloch genocide. All those who are fighting for Balochistan independence need to understand the present geo-politics where occupying forces of Pakistan have been weakened economically and politically. There is a massive social unrest across Pakistan, tussle among superpowers such as China, US and Russia, and situation is tense in South Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East. In the wake of these developments, the strategy for Balochistan’s freedom struggle needs to be right and efforts streamlined. If the Baloch make a concerted effort, Balochistan will soon be a free nation.