BY Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
July 10, 2011
The states in general are obsessed with their sham ideologies or at times enticed by multi-nationals and lending bodies forget that the people are of primary importance. This obsession is so strong that even parties ideologically committed to peoples’ rights and welfare become anti-people
The Pakistani state’s ‘abduct and dump’ policy in Baluchistan continues as viciously as ever and the recent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report was a lot of water off duck’s back. Those who put no premium on human lives exhibit callous indifference and care not a whit for reports. This newspaper reported on the July 5 that bodies Zubair Baloch and Hafeez Baloch abducted a few months back were recovered and one Khalid Haji Hatim abducted by security personnel. On the July 7, it reported that bodies found from Turbat, Khuzdar and Gwadar included that of Hanif Baloch, a former president of BSO-Azad (Pasni zone), kidnapped from Hub two days before, and Azam, Rahim and Qadir Baloch.
The established policy of immunity for state sanctioned atrocities perpetrated from day one is the real reason for continuation of this reign of terror in Baluchistan. Admiral Mullen said, and he must have had good reasons, that Saleem Shahzad’s murder was government sanctioned; he should also have mentioned killings in Baluchistan. In the last ten months, more than 180 such victims have been recovered and not a single case has been investigated, even the assassination of Professor Saba Dashtiari has been conveniently forgotten.
The official approach in Baluchistan is ‘everything is well’ and only a few hundred miscreants supported by India have to be dealt with and their preferred approach, like all occupying forces, is eliminating them. The state eliminates the educated Balochs youth, lawyers, etc, while spending massive sums on an educational city complex in Mastung. The politicians, having lost touch with reality, do not see the Balochs embitterment groundswell against the state, which they consider as solely responsible for their privation and tribulations. They are much too busy appeasing the Centre and one another with a 57-men cabinet. The Balochs feelings of resentment for this country, state and its institutions are now fearlessly and unambiguously expressed.
Surprisingly, no one mentions the fact that Baluchistan’s Pashtun inhabited areas, despite bordering Afghanistan, are calm because there is a tacit understanding between the state and the Taliban, who hold sway there, to live and let live. Agha Humayun Amin, a reputed analyst, says that, “It is again no secret that some 1,500 of Afghanistan’s 2,400 km border with Pakistan has no regular Pakistani forces and Taliban freely move to and fro across this border.” The ease with which the Swiss couple was kidnapped and shifted from Loralai shows that this area is a Taliban safe haven. Little wonder that the US and NATO strategy is now turning towards these regions
There have been some attacks on NATO transport in these areas but most have occurred in the Balochs areas, not that the Baloch are responsible but because the good Taliban are facilitated there so that these safe havens do not get undue attention. That this area may be housing Mullah Omar and Quetta Shura is a strong possibility. I would not be surprised if Ayman Al-Zawahiri is discovered living in this region. Needless to mention, both Zawahiri and Osama were recruited and facilitated by the US to fight the religious war against the Soviet Union to get even on the Vietnam defeat.
The states in general are obsessed with their sham ideologies or at times enticed by multi-nationals and lending bodies forget that the people are of primary importance. This obsession is so strong that even parties ideologically committed to peoples’ rights and welfare become anti-people, the Communist Party in West Bengal being the prime example. For them, too, people no longer mattered.
State institutions and the civil society are duty bound of trying to keep blundering states in check though most states are not amenable to corrective measures. Here, as I said, the HRCP report was totally ignored and, unfortunately, the Supreme Court is more concerned with transfers of FIA’s investigating officers rather than the state atrocities in Baluchistan.
In the Indian state of Chhattisgarh the government had created special police officers (SPOs) also known as Salwa Judum, which ironically means peace march and was responsible for burning hundreds of villages and killing thousands, to curb the Maoist rebellion. These were in fact officially sponsored death squads, which could and did abduct and kill with impunity anyone they branded as Maoist. They were also used by corporations to intimidate and kill those who resisted exploitation and rape of their land.
Petitions against the use of vigilante groups in Chhattisgarh were heard by the Indian Supreme Court and in their judgement on Tuesday banned the SPOs and ordered their disarming. Jawed Naqvi, a seasoned columnist, in his piece, ‘A judgement in Delhi’ says the judgement is a literary masterpiece, which it is, and adds, “The court did not justify Maoist violence, but offered an explanation. ‘People do not take up arms, in an organised fashion, against the might of the state, or against fellow human beings without rhyme or reason. Guided by an instinct for survival, and according to Thomas Hobbes, a fear of lawlessness that is encoded in our collective conscience, we seek an order. However, when that order comes with the price of dehumanisation, of manifest injustices of all forms perpetrated against the weak, the poor and the deprived, people revolt....’”
This judgement is not going to be a magic wand to end the atrocities against the people but it will at least give the rights activists a leg to stand on and resist the perpetrators. During the last hearing the bench had observed, “You are playing with the so-called SPOs. What will happen if they turn against the state? God save this country.” They were so correct on this point. The strategic assets here have already turned upon the state and I am fearful that even the patrons of ‘strategic assets’, if pushed, are capable of doing so.
For the state and its institutions, including the judiciary, the brutalities and atrocities inflicted on the Balochs people do not register as crimes against humanity. For had these been considered abnormal and abhorrent, someone or something would have stirred but as far as Balochs are concerned the state and its institutions are clinically and morally dead. Here no institution is going to redress grievances of the Balochs because all want the monolithic status quo to be maintained at all costs, and even if that cost is life of thousands of Balochs.
The writer has an association with the Balochs rights movement going back to the early 1970s.
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore