South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in Balochwarna News on Aug. 16 :: Opinions : By Shawn Forbes::

On August 14th 1947, Planet Earth established its first terrorist factory. Soon after British Colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent came to an end the nation of Pakistan was founded. A country was established based solely on religious beliefs, its borders drawn by foreign hands with the blood of the ethnic and religious minorities of the region. The ensuing bloodbath became of the most brutal in all history. Nearly a million people are estimated to have been slaughtered in the newly created Pakistan. To this day Pakistan proudly celebrates the massacres and atrocities committed on August 14th.

Since its creation, Pakistan has been a hotbed of oppression and violence. Ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan have faced continuous discrimination, oppression, and genocide throughout Pakistan’s history. Balochi, Bengali, Pashtun, Sindhi, Christians, Sihks, Shia Muslims, Hindus, and many other ethnic minorities have faced severe persecution in Pakistan. In 1971 Pakistan killed an estimated 3 million people in an attempted genocide against the Bengali ethnicity in what was once Eastern Pakistan & is today Bangladesh. 

The entire Balochistan region was forcefully annexed by Pakistan in 1948. On 5 different occasions the Pakistan army occupied the Balochistan region and engaged in a brutal campaign of human rights abuses and barbaric atrocities under the pretense of fighting Baloch insurgencies. Since the armed occupation of Balochistan in 2004, the region has become an epicenter of human rights abuses. The Pakistan administration openly conducts a violent campaign of ethnic cleansing in Balochistan. Pakistan’s armed forces have adopted a “Pick Kill & Dump” policy to facilitate the ultimate extermination of Baloch nationalism and Balochi culture. Baloch activists, journalists, educators, students, and other professionals are targeted for extra-judicial abduction torture and execution. Bullet riddled bodies of abductees bearing marks of severe acts of torture are found dumped in rural areas on a daily basis. Rural Baloch villages are relentlessly bombarded by artillery and gunship helicopters killing, injuring, and displacing thousands of residents. Earlier this year in Khudzar, Balochistan, Mass graves containing hundreds of extra judicially executed Baloch were discovered.

Although rich in natural resources, such as natural gas, copper, gold, coal and many other minerals & fuels, Balochistan is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped regions in Pakistan. Despite Pakistan’s theatrical promises of infrastructure and development, the indigenous population of the region remains impoverished. Any discontent amongst the public is met with swift and severe military action. Professional death squads are employed by Pakistan’s military establishment to assassinate Balochi nationalists and their family members. Since 2006 over 19,000 Baloch civilians have been abducted, and more than 2,000 tortured bodies found in Balochistan. Not one single victim of these extra judicial executions has been brought before a court or even charged with a crime.

Many Baloch separatist parties have worked tirelessly towards a free and independent Balochistan. Although these parties have pursued peaceful means towards independence, they have been outlawed in Pakistan. The leaders of these parties have been abducted, exiled or assassinated. The exiled leaders continue to protest the occupation of Balochistan on the international stage and work to create awareness among the world governments of the gross human rights abuses in Balochistan. The Baloch separatist groups remain unified in their goal of a moderate secular independent Balochistan and have consistently condemned religious extremism. Prior to the annexation of the region by Pakistan in 1948, Balochistan was home to a myriad of ethnicities from many different religious denominations. Historically Balochistan and the indigenous Baloch people are a very tolerant and progressive community.

A few brave Balochi ‘Sarmachar’ or Freedom Fighters have established several small guerilla units in Balochistan to defend against the FC bombardments and ISI Death Squads, but are drastically outnumbered and outgunned against the Pakistan army. Albeit small in numbers, but very capable, the Balochi Fighters are able to fend off the Pakistani Soldiers using a very limited arsenal of primitive weapons. Although capable and effective, the Baloch Freedom Fighters lack the capacity and logistics to establish a defense force. Instead they are forced to use guerilla tactics such as ambushing convoys, attacking army encampments and disrupting supply lines. Baloch Freedom Fighters do not target civilians, use human bombs, religious rhetoric or any other terrorist type tactics to achieve or justify their goals. The Baloch Sarmachar proudly fight for an independent Balochistan and their entitlement to basic human rights.

Meanwhile, violent gangs of extremist thugs such as Lashkar-e-Janghavi, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Tanzeem-ul-Furqan-ul-Islam, and many others continue their violent campaign of terrorism with total impunity. TuF has forced the closure of schools in several regions throughout central Balochistan after distributing pamphlets condemning girls’ education and teaching of modern or secular materials. Soon after the threats a school bus carrying girls to school was attacked with rockets and machine guns near a FC checkpoint. Regional security not only failed to respond to the attack, but was entirely complacent. Pakistan’s FC has itself attacked and occupied schools numerous times in Balochistan. English language centers and other secular educational institutions are being systematically replaced by Madrasas. By sabotaging the educational system in Balochistan Pakistan not only prevents Baloch from achieving adequate education but they also encourage religious radicalization amongst the youth.

The complacency of the state security forces is consistently demonstrated by the disturbingly frequent attacks against the Shia population of Pakistan. Terrorist organizations such as LeJ regularly slaughter Shia civilians with total impunity. Numerous times this year alone busloads of Shia pilgrims were attacked by LeJ suicide bombers killing hundreds. With little to no justice for the victims of terrorism in Pakistan, the Pakistani State is in essence endorsing these terrorist groups. When Balochi graves, Hindu temples, Christian churches, & Shia shrines are desecrated and destroyed, Pakistan’s State Security refuses to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators. Quite the opposite in fact, earlier this year when a Hindu temple in Larkana was burned to the ground, a nearby Hindu resident was arrested and accused of blasphemy. Pakistan’s barbaric blasphemy laws are regularly used to justify blatant persecution of minorities. As a result of the Pakistani State’s barbaric policies and full endorsement of religious extremism, Pakistan has not only become a haven for terrorists, but a breeding ground for terrorist recruits. Entire generations of youth are indoctrinated through state sponsored Madrasas and empowered by the freedom to act against minorities with impunity. 

Even in developed regions, Pakistan is unable to provide basic necessities of life. Scheduled power outages, and lack of
running water plagues many developed regions. Despite the inadequate infrastructure, and deteriorating security situation, the Pakistan government continues to make military spending a priority over public infrastructure. While fundamentalist gangs of terrorists operate freely, Pakistan’s state security forces spend their time and resources persecuting nationalists and civilians.

In May of 1998 Pakistan became a nuclear armed country. Deep in the Chagai mountains of Balochistan, Pakistan conducted their first nuclear bomb tests. Much like August 14th, May 29th is forever remembered as a black day by the Baloch nation. The Chagai nuclear tests were conducted with total disregard for the indigenous civilian population of the area, who to this day still suffer the horrific effects, both physical and environmental. And much like August 14th, Pakistan also celebrates this brutal atrocity annually. 

Pakistan maintains a consistent track record of harboring and fostering terrorism, violent oppression of minorities, indiscriminate bombardment of civilian areas, extra-judicial abductions, torture, unlawful executions, and abandoning their own populous to inhuman conditions and abject poverty. In its current state of affairs, a nuclear armed Pakistan is a serious threat to global security. Pakistan’s capacity to adequately secure their nuclear arsenal is questionable at best. So long as the Pakistani administration continues to enforce their policies with violence and tyranny, Pakistan will continue to produce terrorists. One is left to wonder how much longer the international community can enjoy its sense of security while a terrorist infested country, who cannot afford to provide proper infrastructure for its own citizens, possesses weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and the Balochwarna News does not necessarily agree with them.