The world watched silently when Pakistan captured Balochistan in 1948 through brute force. Even today, the world continues to remain mute when Pakistan’s military commits worst human rights violations across mineral rich Balochistan. But the Baloch refuse to be cowed down and have been valiantly fighting Pakistani occupation and are resisting Chinese plunder of their natural resources. Baloch National Movement (BNM) spearheads the freedom struggle of Balochistan, and BNM’s Secretary General Dr. Murad Baloch tells Vivek Sinha in his first ever interview that Baloch struggle should not be dismissed as just another armed insurgency, rather it is a genuine freedom struggle for a separate country, Balochistan. Dr. Murad Baloch requested News Intervention not to publish his photograph as he faces grave threats to his life from the Pakistani deep state.
Vivek Sinha: Why are Baloch up in arms against Pakistan? What exactly do they want?
Dr. Murad Baloch: 71 years ago, at the time of British withdrawal from the Indian subcontinent, Balochistan was declared as a free, autonomous and sovereign state. Balochistan was treated much differently than other princely states of the subcontinent. For eight months after British withdrawal from India, Balochistan was an independent nation. But eight months later, Pakistan annexed the free and sovereign state of Balochistan through the barrel of guns. Since then the Balochistan nation has been primarily resisting the Pakistani occupation. Baloch want to regain their lost sovereignty and the free status of Balochistan which is guaranteed in the Charter of UN (United Nations) to each nation.
VS: We keep hearing about the human rights violations in Balochistan by the Pakistan armed forces. Why does this happen regularly?
Dr. Murad Baloch: Yes, Pakistani security agencies have created a havoc with their barbarism. They have sealed Balochistan and made it almost impossible for international human rights and media organizations to operate here. This has allowed them to continue with their gross human rights violations. As mentioned earlier, the notorious “Kill and Dump” policy against the Baloch people, enforced disappearances of Baloch youth and elders, women and children are a daily routine. More than forty thousand Baloch have been forcibly disappeared. The desensitization of world powers has allowed Pakistan to continue this slow-motion genocide with complete impunity.
VS: Please give a historical perspective about the Balochistan freedom struggle.
Dr. Murad Baloch: The Baloch nation had been struggling against British colonization in different periods and then against Pakistan. But the British had exerted power on Balochistan through different treaties and agreements while Pakistan used brute force to occupy and colonize Balochistan and is even doing the same in this modern era of the 21st century. The Baloch nation resisted this forceful occupation from the first day onwards and has continued the struggle to defend themselves and regain their freedom.
VS: Very few people in the world know or understand about the Balochistan freedom struggle. Several people brush aside the Balochistan freedom struggle as just another armed resistance, which is aimed at destabilizing Pakistan. Your comments.
Dr. Murad Baloch: I will answer the second part of your question first. I reject the notion that the Baloch movement is to destabilize Pakistan, we merely want our lost freedom. As I told you earlier that our movement is even older than Pakistan itself and has roots in our freedom struggle against the British colonizers. Pakistan has merely replaced the British as a more wicked and brutal occupier.
And you are right that the world doesn’t know about the miseries and troubles of the Baloch nation because there is a total media blackout in Balochistan. The internet is blocked in the interiors of Balochistan. Secondly, Pakistan is suppressing the Baloch nation in various ways. Pakistan is carrying out a systematic cultural genocide and has kept the dwellers of mineral-rich areas illiterate to deprive them of a voice. Further, we are also cornered in the international arena and our voice is still not loud, multifaceted and more frequent in the international arena. That is why the world knows little about the Pakistani brutalities in Balochistan.
VS: How can you justify your demand for an independent nation of Balochistan?
Dr. Murad Baloch: First of all, I want to state that Pakistan does not have any right to force its writ upon us. We have had an independent state and we are now unlawfully occupied by Pakistan. Thus we have a historical right of a State. Secondly, the Baloch nation is the second-largest nation after the Kurds that do not have their own free state. We have our own language, culture, history and land. Our people have a common psyche. We have all those components that are essential for a state. Moreover, right after Pakistani occupation, the State of Pakistan has with all its military, economic, religious, cultural and soft power tried to assimilate the Baloch nation into the British drawn lines which we know by the name of Pakistan. Pakistan does not, and will not, recognize diversity within its boundaries and is carrying out a systematic genocide in its quest for nation-building. That being said is obviously a question of do or die for us. Our whole survival is on the line and it can only be guaranteed if we acquire our own free and sovereign state based on democratic and secular values. And above all, the ideology of Pakistan’s “pure country” is itself a fascist ideology comparable to the NAZI ideologies. You can see the brute fascism in its global fascist agenda of supporting Islamic terrorism throughout the world and in its domestic politics of religion and military rule, which compels us to resist its existence.
VS: China has invested immensely in Balochistan for the CPEC. Don’t you think that infrastructure development by the Chinese has helped create jobs in Balochistan?
Dr. Murad Baloch: No. Never. The CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is an imperialistic project. Baloch have not benefited from it or got any jobs due to CPEC, instead it has accelerated the exploitation and plunder of our national wealth and is only benefiting the Punjab province of Pakistan and China. The Baloch people are left to deal with pollution, mass displacement and the environmental damage done by these projects. The major fishing grounds from our seas have been already depleted by the Punjabi (Pakistan’s province) and Chinese fishing companies and the way of life of thousands of our coastal people has been drastically and irrevocably changed. In addition to that, all peaceful voices against this project have been silenced with enforced disappearances and the notorious “Kill and Dump” policy. Hence this project brought only death and destruction to the Baloch people and is in no way for the welfare of the Baloch. I do not want to sound anti-development but in simple words, on one hand, this project is a part of Pakistan’s genocide machinery against the Baloch nation and on the other hand its part of a Chinese bid for regional and international hegemony.
VS: What is your view about the ongoing violence in other parts of Pakistan (FATA, NWFP, PTM, etc.)
Dr. Murad Baloch: I think that Pashtoons are also realizing that they are being oppressed and their identity is being annihilated like the Baloch and Sindhi nations.
VS: Kurds had been at the forefront of the war against ISIS, yet they have been left midway by the US. And now Kurds are being attacked by Turkish forces which is supported by Pakistan. Your comments on these developments in the Middle East.
Dr. Murad Baloch: You are right that the Kurds were betrayed by the USA and now Turkey has been allowed to attack the Kurds. It is the nature of world powers’ foreign policy that they have no permanent friends and enemies. We know that Pakistan is the base of terrorism and fascism and has historically committed genocide in Bangladesh and so has Turkey committed the historic Armenian genocide and is now carrying out the Kurdish genocide. Both, Genocide and Terrorism are their (Pakistan and Turkey’s) tools of foreign policies. These similarities make these two birds of a feather flock together. But the support of world powers like the USA and the EU countries is disappointing. It is also disappointing to see that Pakistan benefits from the EU’s GSP+ (Generalised Scheme of Preferences) trading system despite having such a horrific human rights record in Balochistan.
VS: Though the US betrayed their Kurdish allies, yet US remains the center of world politics. I want to understand what relations has BNM achieved in world politics including the USA. Over last few years we have seen only the Pashtun and Sindhi voices echo in the US congress. The sole speech for Baloch people was by Dana Rohrabacher, which was five years ago.
Dr. Murad Baloch: I do agree with you, and as in my previous answer I said that there still is a lack of tactics in oppressed nations. Nowadays Sindhi and Pashto have a large diaspora around the world. They both have nation states like India and Afghanistan. Unfortunately Baloch do not have any other way than to consistently struggle until the world realizes the miseries of the Baloch nation and comes to support us.
VS: You took over after Dr. Mannan Baloch’s murder by Pakistani forces in 2016. He was famous to visit every corner of Balochistan for mass mobilization. Can you or your team do this? Or is it even possible in today’s circumstances? If not possible, then what steps have you taken to engage the Baloch mass in the freedom struggle for Balochistan?
Dr. Murad Baloch: No doubt Dr. Mannan Baloch was a hero and a great political worker and a teacher. Although the circumstances do not allow me to do what Dr. Mannan Sahib has done, but we have kept his work going on. We have changed our tactics of mass mobilization completely. Now we are in touch with our people in day to day activities through other means which can be both covert and overt. Our political workers and activists also play the role to convey the policy of our party to the masses.