Pakistan is a country which has been in crisis since its inception in 1947. From war with India Over the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to sponsoring terrorists to destabilize the Afghanistan government, this country is only committed to one thing- wiping itself off the world map. Accused of grave human rights violation by various organizations and countries, it is an abjectly managed state that proselytizes on terrorism and is no stranger to global terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed along with many other big names. This country in South Asia, is the fifth most populous country and is ranked the 53rd poorest country in the world despite immense manpower and investment opportunities. One of the biggest indictments on Pakistan is the despotism and callous war crimes on the province and people of Balochistan.
Balochistan is one of four provinces and lies in the southwest region of Pakistan. It is the biggest province in the country along with being the least populous and in the middle of what some Baloch activists say, an incessant civil war. Being an area of dissension between Pakistan and Baloch Liberation Army (based in Afghanistan), this province is continuously fighting for independence from the Pakistan administration. Baloch nationalists have been working for independence since 1955 and since then, many questionable acts have been done by the ISI and Frontier Corps (FC). As a matter of fact, ISI spies approached US based academicians and journalists to warn them about the “consequences” of reporting on the same. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised concern on many international forums regarding the incessant killings of innocent civilians and Baloch activists.
As stated by Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a staggering 5228 people are missing in Balochistan in the period of 2001 to 2017. Although the Pakistani Interior minister Aftab Sherpao in December 2005 said that an estimated 4000 Baloch civilians were detained by the authorities only in the period of 2002 to 2005. Out of these, only 200 were taken to the court. In 2011, the government itself acknowledged that 5369 missing persons complaints were filed and claimed that 3600 of them were reunited with their families. The VBMP suspended protests for missing persons in 2019 as many people had reunited with their families and were taken care of by the government. However, it still gave a list to Imran Khan led PTI of 110 missing persons they expect to see home within two months. Disappearance is common for Baloch civilians, but they have bigger problems, like 80 percent of citizens in and around Quetta do not have access to potable drinking water. The only source for drinking water for the poor in Balochistan is rainfall. People must walk 10 to 11 kilometres with buckets just for a day’s water.
The main allegations step in when we talk about the security forces of Pakistan and their role in this systematic hecatomb of the Baloch people. The ISI and FC are accused of decade long atrocities, the most notable one being the “kill and dump” campaign in which Baloch citizens, activists, nationalists or even bystanders are abducted, tortured, mutilated and finally, with no more pain to endure, killed. In 2008 alone, an estimated 1102 persons were reportedly tortured and killed, and many bodies were found on the roadside with holes drilled in their skulls, nails forced out by pliers, or even beaten to death. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report over the illegal “disappearances” of individuals and cornered in against ISI and FC and blamed them for the abomination. Many Baloch activists have asked PM Narendra Modi to raise the concern in the UN, regarding the Balochistan independence movement.
Balochistan has seen low-intensity insurgency since the last 15 to 20 years as the nationalists blame the government for not giving the deserving benefit of the resources to Baloch people. For years, natural gas from Balochistan has been used for powering up stoves and homes across Pakistan but the authorities gave diminutive share to the largest and most resourceful province.
In the early 2000s, small scale attacks on the security forces triggered the government which led to them killing Baloch tribal leader Akbar Bugti, causing mass antagonism. From political autonomy to complete independence, Baloch nationalists were designated as terrorists and were banned. To be relevant amid the dying Baloch movement, the nationalists set up camp in Afghanistan, persistently trying to cause damage to the government forces. Many experts blame the Pakistan Army for the rising number of youths picking up arms against the state as their crackdowns involved crimes against civilians. Foreign interference and religious extremism are the main causes for this problem to be compounded.
Balochistan is not a rare occurrence. With all the countries trying to be at the top, many wars start over expansionism and are still going on. Many activists protest now and then over the Baloch genocide and exodus outside UN headquarters in Geneva. Pakistan should now mend its ways as it is facing dissent from PoK as well and if they do not get their ducks in a row, they can soon be on the brink of a major rebellion and civil war.