A Human Rights Day Feature
Prelude: Often I wonder how can the Pakistani rulers and civil society be happy and content as they are, when one integral part of the country not only bleeds but is pining to cut away from Pakistan…and very few if any are much concerned about it, how can one be happy when people say Pakistan Murdabad…the very same people who tried to administer the province of Balochistan under various governments and took oath under the Pakistan constitution but as one Baloch youth tweeted “when I was a child I used to celebrate 14th August but now I regret”. So it’s not that the people were always against Pakistan….circumstances have led people into standing up for an independent Balochistan. What can one do but resort to the other extreme with an unending onslaught of fundamental rights of a people. On Human Rights Day. I speak to all Pakistanis as Balochistan and hope you hear its Cry!
I am Balochistan, bigger than Germany and 44% of Pakistan’s land mass with an inverse population. I am 2-3rd of the country’s very strategic coastline, I have large deposits of coal, copper, lead, gold, other minerals. It is my coal which is 40% of the national product, I have been supplying 35% of natural gas to the whole country; but I have only 3.5%consumers; when I contributes 85 billion through revenues; I only get around 7 billion from the federal govt. 78% of my population has no access to electricity. 10 of lowest ranked (on the human development index) and 13 most underfed districts of Pakistan are mine. 92% of my districts are high deprivation districts and 91 % of my people live in these districts. Although I was always the poorest but over the years I have become poorer (rural poverty from 21 % 1999 to 57%) an upsurge of more than 200%, (urban poverty from 17.9% to 32.4%).
Only 49 % male and 14 % females are literate, 59% of my children are out of school, 87 % of these are the poor rural children. I have the highest maternal and child mortality rates worst than Afghanistan, I am home to the highest number of polio cases. I can go on and on with statistical evidence (presented through research and international organizations) of the injustice that has been meted upon me.
My tribal chiefs are blamed for keeping me illiterate and poor but my southern Pashtun population doesn’t have any tribal chiefs; ironically the situation for them is also the same, even my so called urban areas are deprived of basic necessities – no Sardars; so this excuse by those who have usurped my rights is counterfeiting. If you visit me I will take you to my villages and your definitions of poverty and marginalization and deprivation will change.
I am used by terrorists and agencies for their cross border warfare, whether it’s the nuclear test or the shamsi base I am home to it all. I am used for all kinds of things but I am not treated with respect and as an equal partner when it comes to the rights of my men, women and children. I don’t accept this discrimination which is against the constitution of the country, against the charter of humanity and against the international human rights law. I respected the constitution of this country but every time my elected govt was toppled, every time I was bombarded. I have been bombarded by Pakistan army four times in 64 years!
My population lives by its code of honor, hospitable, generous and kind but when it comes to it – it is vociferous and wrathful too. I became a province of Pakistan with the hope and dreams of living in a country that would respect me and my children. But instead I was robbed, they took my resources and left me and my children without education and in desolate poverty. When I ask for my rights I am termed as a traitor, then I lose patience, get enraged and my men pick up guns and take refuge in the mountains.
I had been going in vicious circles with men in power at the Center; every time they hold talks with me, every time they promise things to change and every time they backstab me. I got fed up yet again by the broken promises, empty slogans, hypocrisy and sham. While my Pashtun population still patiently or perhaps strategically holds on to the ideology of Pakistan my Baloch population largely wants independence from Pakistan. The Baloch youth are now rebellious and joining an uprising or more precisely according to Pakistani dictionary have become ‘terrorists’ and according to Pakistani military dictionary ‘bad terrorists’ because the very same army supports the ‘good terrorists’ for Kashmir and for Afghanistan. So discrimination persists even in the choice of terrorists – if you are from Balochistan.
In 2008 the new ruling political party apologized to me on the basis that they have learnt from their past mistakes they made in Balochistan. I also hoped that now democracy will be the best revenge for me also and it will compensate for all the injustices till now. But PPP also didn’t keep the promise; it never tried to negotiate with the estranged. Instead of bombardment this time my youth are picked by the security forces and killed, torchered and dumped on roadsides, 300 dumped bodies of Baloch in less than 2 years time! Most of these are students and political workers and even journalists who have little to do with the war but support and believe in independence of Balochistan. I fight back (with one of the largest army in the world) again my leaders, my political workers and my students are killed for supporting the independence, they are not tried, they never appear in courts, they go disappearing are tortured and later the bodies are dumped. They don’t deserve a fair trial those who preach law violate the very laws and constitution of Pakistan; through this state terrorism.
I am war torn – the beautiful land which was a tourists’ heaven is now a killing field in many instances.
My teachers my doctors and other professionals have fled from this land for fear of their lives This itself has been so unfortunate for me to watch. My heart bleeds to see my own people being killed and fighting with each other, but this discontent has been created to make me weaker. I am becoming a land that is simmering with several conflicts now and who has brought all this upon me? – remember it all started with asking for the fundamental rights of my people.
I don’t need these economic packages anymore; I fought for that too long, I want my political rights to be respected. You have to understand that mine are a fiercely independent people. This doesn’t augur well with the brutal and undemocratic forces who want to oppress, so where will this lead to, because to work out a solution you will have to talk to my people unarmed, you will have to stop killing and dumping, you can’t hold a gun on my head and ask me to give up mine. The choice this time is not yours Pakistani establishment, it is mine – as I have finally decided to be a chooser and not a beggar!