US house committee hearing on Balochistan: Oversight and Investigations – by Mureed Bizenjo

Source: Pakistan Blogzine

Related post: This is how a fake champion of human rights backstabs the Baloch cause

Let’s think about creating a Balochistan in southern part of Pakistan, said Congress republican Louie Gohmert, who completely backed the idea of independant Balochistan. Many people in Pakistan at present are not aware of the fact that Balochistan was invaded and forcibly annexed on March 27, 1948 (Seven and a half months after the creation of Pakistan), against the wishes of Baloch people and the two houses of Baloch parliaments who voted unanimously against the accession with Pakistan. That very day is mourned and marked as “Black day” in the land of miseries (Balochistan)

After nearly six and a half decades of annexation and prolonged journey of injustice, of discrimination, death and hopelessness, Today Baloch voice was heard in the fortress of United States, in a congressional hearing convened by the congress republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, focusing Balochistan, which was attended and rejoiced by the Baloch diaspora and pro-Balochistan activists. The Committee’s unprecedented hearing on Balochistan is the witness of of ongoing uncared-for Balochistan crisis. Rohrabacher has previously stated in one of his articles “Perhaps we should even consider support for a Balochistan carved out of Pakistan to diminish radical power there (in Pakistan)” where as the US house committee hearing has definately annoyed Pakistan’s government considering it an internal matter, and some years ago Pakistan government had refused to allow the US to open a consulate in Balochistan.

The hearing held in Rayburn House Office Building February 8, 2012 in Washington DC USA, chaired by Dana Rohrabacher. Key witnesses to speak in the hearing were C. Christine Fair (Ph.D. Assistant Professor Georgetown University), Mr. Ralph Peters (Military Analyst and Author), Mr. T. Kumar Director (International Advocacy Amnesty International USA), M. Hossein Bor (Ph.D. Counsel Entwistle & Cappucci, LLP), Mr. Ali Dayan Hasan (Pakistan Director, Asia Division Human Rights Watch)

Full scale Baloch genocide far exceeding to what Selig. S. Harrison said about a slow motion genocide two years ago, and the indigenous people’s deprivation of right to self-determination were the most significant points of discussion which were also agreed upon by all the key witnesses in the hearing. There is substantial evidence the fact that the people of Balochistan are deprived of their right to self-determination, they are being tortured forefully abducted and dumped in remote areas, over the past years there has been a gruesome increase in these human rights abuses, also highlighted by various human rights organizations (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission)

Ironically out of all the witnesses Mr M. Hossein Bor was the only Baloch representative present in the hearing reflecting the true picture of the Balochistan Crisis. Mr Hossein highlighted the forceful annexation of the Balochistan province calling it an occupied territory, with his astute observation Mr Hossein reported the actual number of extra-judicial killings and fored abductions by the state sponsored institutions, he said “Extra-judical killings include 23 bullet-riddled bodies found in the first month of this year (2012), from 2001 till date around 4000 baloch have been disappeared” to which Chairman Rohrabachr expressed astonishment, in 5 minutes allowed by the chairman Mr Hossein discussed a brief but and articulated history of Balochistan highlighting the historic Durand line and Goldsmith line of 18th century, he also mentioned the Baloch insurgencies and uprisings of 1948, 1958, 1973, & 2005 till date, these insurgencies have been dealt with force and brutal military operations in which thousands of Baloch were killed. In the recent past, in 2011 alone atleast 300 bullet riddled bodies (on an average one each-day) were found, Mr Hossein also argued that the Humanright abuses were the main impediment in the process of dialogue in the province.

Christine Fair, a fairly controversial representative and an intense supporter of Pakistan with anti-India stance was also amongst the speakers. Just a week before the hearing she tweeted that “The ethnic Baloch are a minority in Balochistan” she also accused Dr Ralph peters a fellow witness of being a “nut”. Dr Ralph Peters is also known as the “Map re-drawing man” who In a June 2006 article titled “Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look“, conducted a thought experiment by changing the borders in the Middle East, wherein Balochistan was shown as an independant territory covering Baloch population of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, which are the historic borders of greater Balochistan.
Christince Fair in her five mintues talk voiced against extra-judicial executions and various human rights abuses, she also refuted her tweet regarding her question of Baloch majority in the province saying “Baloch are the largest ethnic group in the province” She also highlighted the target killings of Shia muslims in the province by extremist millitant groups, there is enough evidence of millitant groups (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba) backed by Pakistan millitary and Intelligence agencies perpetrating against the ethnich shia minority in Balochistan.

The only representative from Pakistan Mr Ali Dayan hassan who is also the Pakistan director of Human Rights Watch, was also provided an opportunity to speak at the US house committe hearing, he clearly stated that he being HRW representative takes no position on the Independance of Balochistan, he further added that there is not just one but multiple actors including state and non-state actors perpetrating in Balochistan involved in human rights abuses, he also said “At-least 40% of the population of Balochistan are non-Baloch” .
It is widely known that Baloch because of their small population are a minority in Pakistan, being 4% but claiming nearly half of the country’s geographic land. In Balochistan, the ethnic Baloch are atleast 75% of the total population, the southern part being a Pashtun majority, a part of British Balochistan to which Balochistan and the ethnic-Baloch historically does not have any claim, other minority ethnic groups based in Balochistan include Pashtuns, Hazaras, Urdu-speaking, Punjabi, and Sindhis. The province is sub-divided in 30 districts out of which only 9 disctricts (Ziarat, Zhob, Pashin, Quetta, Chaman, Mosakhel, Qila abdulah & Qila saifullah, Loralai) are of Pashtun majority and the remaining 21 being Baloch populated areas.
Mr Dayan’s testimony submitted to the US house committee chairman also stated ” Militancy in Balochistan has been fueled by ethnic Baloch anger over the Pakistani government’s efforts to harness local mineral and fossil fuel resources, maintain large numbers of troops in the province, and construct the Gwadar deep-sea port at the mouth of the Persian Gulf with non-Baloch workers”. If we go back half a decade we actually find out that the current insurgency was never against ” government’s efforts to harness local mineral, or against construction of the Gawadar-port”, the region is currently going through its fifth insurgency, which was ignited after the brutal assassination of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 by General Musharraf in his dictatorial regime who before the brutal assassination openly said ” “We (millitary) will hit them (Baloch) in such a way they wouldn’t even know what hit them” The aftermath of General sahab’s millitary operation executing Nawab Bugti and state’s conolization policies which can be seen without manifestation are reasons that transformed a rights movement into a freedom movement, harnessing the resources of Balochistan, maintaining large number of troops and construction of Gawadar port are secondary issues.

Before the hearing was aired live, Pakistani embassy in Washington held that it has taken strong notice of the scheduled meeting and Pakistani officials claimed that some foreign hands are involved in fanning the violence in the province along the Afghan border. Instead of inventing another conspiracy theory out of the legitimate hearing, Pakistan government and officials should rather reconsider their colonial policies lodged against the Baloch, If Balochistan had any hopes from the state, ‘independant’ judiciary, or media, this issue would not have been picked up by the Republicans who may aswell regain power in forthcomming elections. The ordinary people of Balochistan have been tolerant for six prolonged decades, witnessing horrific executions, endless stories of deception, and shallow promises, but this day in history will be marked as a new begining of diplomacy voicing the Baloch rights, new era of  endurance and expectations. The Baloch might have to pay a high price for being heard but will hope that justice will be ‘served’ than ‘denied’

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