Pakistan is using all its modern military facilities to crush Baloch people and yet it has failed to do so. In this interview with Vivek Sinha, Editor-in-Chief News Intervention, Dr Naseem Baloch, chairman Baloch National Movement (BNM) explains how Balochistan is struggling for independence from Pakistan.
Vivek Sinha: You have taken over as BNM chairman at a time when Pakistani atrocities over Balochistan are increasing every day. How do you think can the Pakistani atrocities over Balochistan be stopped?
Dr Naseem Baloch: Pakistan aims to eliminate the Baloch nation, Baloch civilization and the way of life as it had existed for centuries before Pakistan was created. In pursuing these goals it has, as a substance of state policy, adopted suppression, genocide (including cultural and lingual) and brutal oppression, and I do not expect them to stop as long as they are not satisfied that they have wiped out Baloch identity. On the other hand, Baloch are struggling against it to regain the independence of their land and also to preserve their culture, their identity and their way of life. As a result Pakistan is reacting, and has decided to go to extreme extent to silence the Baloch people into non-existence. In my view, Pakistan has failed to do so. Particularly as long as the resistance against Pakistani occupation exists, it is Pakistan’s failure. When a state with all the modern military powers reacts in a genocidal way to continue its occupation, it signifies its failure. Otherwise normal states talk and engage with nationalities in their domains. Recently we have seen how UK after a long colonial history had learned to handle its differences with the Scottish nation through a referendum instead of brute violence as it did in India. Pakistan has failed to convince our people, so it continues its brutalities, violence and thuggery, and evil manipulation of Balochistan’s political and cultural landscape to continue its occupation and exploitation of Baloch resources.
Vivek Sinha: What are your top priorities as the BNM Chairman?
Dr Naseem Baloch: Organization in Balochistan and abroad, selection of experts in BNM and giving them responsibilities accordingly in different departments which we have created recently; for example, foreign, information, human rights and welfare departments. All of them have elected secretaries and are empowered to assign tasks to members. We have plans to further develop and structuralize these departments based on data collection, analyses and record keeping so that the upcoming leadership doesn’t lack records and continue to function smoothly. It eases our works. All departments have already started to function in a coherent manner according to the tasks and work in their respective fields. This would help us, in future, in our covert and overt diplomacy, including highlighting of Human Rights violations and other forms of public diplomacy which might help us in achieving our various goals on the world forums.
Vivek Sinha: Do you trust United Nations and other 5-star human rights organizations to pressurize Pakistan to stop “enforced disappearance” of innocent Baloch people? How do you plan to stop Pakistan’s infamous “kill and dump” policy towards innocent Baloch people?
Dr Naseem Baloch: As I mentioned in the previous question that Pakistan is not going to stop its atrocities because it has failed as a state and on the other hand Baloch are not willing to compromise on their liberty. About UN and other Human Rights organizations, I would say that we have not lost hope although they are very much under the influence of a few world powers. Working Group of Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance of UN has visited Islamabad to know about the cases. Even though they were not allowed to enter Balochistan, yet Baloch representatives met them. As our people have lost hope in Pakistan and its justice system, our hope can be UN and other rights organizations. No matter, they have turned a blind eye to Balochistan at this crucial moment, but we hope our international protests, and the unending Pakistani brutality can compel the world including the UN to intervene. Other than that it also helps as a public diplomacy tool increasing awareness in the international community about the plight of the Baloch people and the evil character of Pakistan as an occupying country with no regards to human lives.
Vivek Sinha: What is the total number of Baloch who have been disappeared or killed by the Pakistani regime during the last 25 years?
Dr Naseem Baloch: Balochistan is a very vast country. It is very difficult to gather all the information and data of all the persons who are extrajudicially killed or abducted. But, after so much obstacles and restrictions by Pakistan, various organizations including BNM have succeeded to enlist a large number of them. It is clear that thousands have been forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially killed. Pakistani officials have repeatedly accepted most of cases of missing persons one or other way, mostly on their own media platforms. Top government officials in the past including Federal Home Minister Aftab Sherpao, former Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti and Secretary Interior Akbar Hussain Durrani have openly acknowledged to the media about the arrest of more than 20,000 people during their tenures. Non of them was brought forward to the court. Similarly, a devastating high number of extrajudicial killings were registered, surpassing 7,000 dead tortured bodies. According to a BBC report, more than 1,000 Baloch were killed by state forces from 2011 to 2016 alone.
Vivek Sinha: A lady called Naila Qadri tours the world and lectures on human rights violation in Balochistan. Your comments.
Dr Naseem Baloch: There are many people who are individually doing their part to highlight the plight of the Baloch people, including many non-Baloch friends. Everyone has the freedom of expression and freedom of speech and we respect that. Ms. Qadri is an experienced activist as she has been member of all the political parties of Balochistan at different occasions. If she has chosen to highlight the issue of grave human rights situation in Balochistan, it will be welcomed by everyone. But one has to be firm and consistent for an extended period on his or her stand, and political commitment so as the people could trust them.
Vivek Sinha: Naila Qadri has also formed a Balochistan government-in-exile. What is this whole story about? Do the people of Balochistan accept this govt-in-exile?
Dr Naseem Baloch: I believe, for the sake of legitimacy, such a step would need consensus with the multiple stakeholders in Balochistan’s freedom struggle. It would only work when we start to develop a unified consensus and a minimal level of understanding among ourselves. Otherwise, I only see it as another unnecessary public statement put forward to serve the sentimental emotions of the Baloch public.
Vivek Sinha: Recently Saqib Baloch was murdered in Azerbaijan, which is similar to the murders of Sajid Hussain in Sweden and Karima Baloch in Canada. Do you see Pakistan’s hand in Saqib Baloch’s murder? Why do you think Pakistan is targeting Baloch diaspora?
Dr Naseem Baloch: In every movement, diaspora has played vital roles. Baloch Diaspora is not huge and only recently it reached several countries. It is gathering and getting strength now. Pakistan knows that a large number of Baloch youth has escaped and has taken refuge in different countries. Pakistan also knows that after undeclared ban on Baloch political parties like the BNM and BSO, and the brutal kill and dump policy, many political activists went underground or abroad. The activists play vital role in motivating the resistance in Balochistan and are also engaged with other communities to bring about awareness about the Baloch independence struggle. This number and their work has worried Pakistan. So it has decided to target the diaspora. Saqib Baloch is one of them. Two of his brothers were targets of “enforced disappearance”, killed and dumped by the Pakistan Army for their activism. Saqib had managed to escape to Azerbaijan. He was targeted there.