It was on 28 and 30 May 1998, during the peak of summer, when Pakistan conducted its nuclear tests in the Chagai Hills of occupied Balochistan. These tests were a response to India’s recent nuclear tests and aimed to showcase Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. However, the cost of these tests was immense. Let’s delve into why and how this event from 25 years ago is still fresh in the memory.
Since the occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan, the Baloch revolutionaries have continuously challenged their control. Pakistan saw an opportunity to assert its dominance and conducted the nuclear tests in the region without any evaluation, security protocol, or consideration for the inhabitants. The Rawalpindi Generals strategically chose the Ras-Koh Mountain range in the Chagai district of Balochistan.
In 1998, Pakistan conducted five consecutive nuclear blasts, resulting in immediate devastation. The nuclear radiation caused the black mountain to turn white within seconds, wiping out all life forms in the area. Experts later emphasized the need for clear boundaries to prevent the entry of contaminated organisms into the food chain.
The deliberate attempt by Pakistan to spread death through lethal nuclear radiation had tragic consequences for the Baloch people. They suffered from life-threatening diseases such as cancer, tumors, respiratory diseases, and long-lasting disorders caused by birth defects, miscarriages, and infertility. Shockingly, neither the Pak Army nor the government made any effort to warn or relocate the residents, nor did they provide medical aid to mitigate the impact of radiation.
Balochistan experienced seven consecutive years of drought. Cattle and livestock perished, and the contaminated water bodies poisoned or killed aquatic life. Moreover, the Baloch people developed radiation-related diseases and life-altering disorders. The remaining livestock became incapable of breeding, leading to the loss of income and pushing the Baloch people into abject poverty. While some migrated to neighboring areas, their living conditions remained dire, with no support from the government.
The question arises: why have international health and human rights organizations remained silent about these violations? This crisis has been swept under the rug and remains a lesser-known topic in public discussions.
Despite the atrocities committed against them, the Baloch people have not forgotten their suffering. They are raising their voices to make the world aware of their plight. Balochs around the world are organizing rallies and protests.
In London, the Baloch National Movement UK organized a protest at Trafalgar Square, condemning Pakistan’s nuclear bomb tests conducted on 28 May 1998, in the Chagai area of Balochistan. The demonstration included an awareness campaign conducted by the participants, including members and leaders of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) and prominent figures from the World Sindhi Congress, Lakho Lohana, Hidayat Bhutto, and Abdullah Baloch, the leader of Baloch Raji Zrumbesh (BRZ). Banners and placards were displayed, highlighting the impact of Pakistan’s nuclear tests on Balochistan, and a pamphlet titled “Destructive Continuation of Pakistan’s Nuclear Tests and its Effects on the People of Balochistan” was distributed, providing details about the adverse effects of nuclear explosions on the region’s inhabitants and Pakistan’s intentions.
In South Korea, the BNM-SK Chapter organized a demonstration in the city of Busan on 28 May 2021, to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests on Baloch land in the Chagai region. The protest aimed to raise awareness about the long-term consequences and impact of these tests on the local population and the environment. Participants distributed pamphlets in both Korean and English, informing the public about the effects of nuclear tests and condemning Pakistan.
In Germany, the Baloch National Movement organized a protest in Göttingen against Pakistan’s nuclear tests in Balochistan. Asghar Ali, the President of BNM Germany, stressed the need for international organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, to assess the aftermath of Pakistan’s nuclear tests in Balochistan. Samul Baloch, the Vice President of BNM Germany Chapter, highlighted the global concerns regarding nuclear testing, its impact on the environment, and human lives. She called for transparency, accountability, and disarmament to ensure a safer world.
In Amsterdam, BNM activists staged a rally and demonstration to observe the 23rd anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests in Balochistan as a Black Day. The protesters held banners and placards denouncing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and highlighting the catastrophic effects of the tests on the Baloch people and the environment. They also condemned the human rights abuses committed by the Paki Army in Balochistan. Jamal Baloch, the Media Coordinator of BNM’s Human Rights Department, addressed the demonstrators, emphasizing that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons pose a threat to global peace and stability. He urged the international community to speak out against Pakistan’s nuclear program and work towards its dismantlement, bringing an end to the conflict and suffering in Balochistan and the surrounding region.
Another participant, Nabeel Baloch, spoke about the devastating impact of the nuclear tests on millions of people in Balochistan. He highlighted the alarming rate of deformities, disabilities, and cancer cases among children, with many not surviving beyond a few years of age. Nabeel stressed that Balochistan should not serve as a testing ground for Pakistan’s chemical weapons.
Aalia Baloch discussed the consequences of radiation on the health and environment of the Chagai district. She expressed concern over the contamination of soil, water, and the ecosystem due to radioactive materials. Aalia mentioned the prevalence of skin diseases and hepatitis among the affected population. She demanded concrete actions from the United Nations to restrain Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and impose strict sanctions against them. The protesters regarded 28 May as a black day, symbolizing the tragic events associated with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in Balochistan.
Despite the immense suffering endured by the Baloch people, the international community has largely remained silent on this human rights violation. However, the Balochi themselves have not forgotten the atrocities committed against them. They have used their voices to raise awareness and demand justice.
Protests and demonstrations organized by the Baloch National Movement in London, South Korea, Germany, and Amsterdam have highlighted the detrimental effects of Pakistan’s nuclear tests. These events have brought attention to the ongoing struggle of the Baloch people and their demand for accountability, transparency, and disarmament.
It is crucial for international organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, to investigate the aftermath of these nuclear tests and support the Baloch people in their fight for justice. The United Nations should take concrete steps to address the issue, impose strict sanctions on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and work towards dismantling its nuclear program to ensure global peace and stability.
May 28 will forever be remembered as a black day for the Baloch people, symbolizing their resilience in the face of adversity and their determination to seek justice for the grave injustices committed against them. It is our collective responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Baloch people, amplify their voices, and work towards a world free from the devastating impacts of nuclear weapons. Only then can we strive for a future where such atrocities are not repeated, and every individual’s right to life and dignity is respected.