Politics – Peter Tatchell on Terror and Talibanisation in Balochistan

In an exclusive essay, writer and campaigner Peter Tatchell sheds light on the invisible, Western-supported war by the Pakistani state against the people of Balochistan.

Ideas, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:36 - 10 Comments

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Downing Street Protest against Pakistani crimes in Balochistan, 2008. (Photo: Peter Thatchell)

By Peter Tatchell

A former British Protectorate, Balochistan was granted independence in 1947 but invaded and annexed by Pakistan the following year. Ever since, it has been under military occupation and subjected to a terror campaign of kidnappings, disappearances, detention without trial, torture and extrajudicial killings and assassinations.

Widespread human rights abuses have been independently corroborated by recent reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Asian Human Rights Commission. They confirm that the Pakistani military and intelligence services are implicated at the highest level.

Subsumed as a province of Pakistan against its people’s wishes, Balochistan is engulfed by a dirty war, waged mostly in secret, by the Pakistani armed forces. This war is almost unreported in Pakistan, let alone the rest of the world. The whole region is under military lock-down. Most journalists and human rights defenders are barred from travelling there, in order to cover up Pakistan’s crimes against humanity.

The Baloch people are caught in the cross-fire of Pakistani subjugation, Talibanisation and the West’s so-called ‘war on terror’.

Western responses to the plight of the Baloch people have been shameful. Because Britain and the United States want Islamabad as an ally in the fight against terrorism, they have armed Pakistan and acquiesced with its deployment of these weapons to suppress the Baloch people. US-supplied F-16 fighter jets and Cobra attack helicopters have been used to bomb and strafe Baloch villages, killing many civilians and destroying houses, crops and livestock.

Western collusion was also evidenced in 2008 when two London-based Baloch human rights campaigners, Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch, were charged with terrorism at the alleged insistence of the then military dictator of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. He wanted the two men silenced to curb their exposure of Pakistani atrocities in Balochistan. Marri and Baluch were detained for months in London’s top security Belmarsh prison, before eventually being acquitted of all charges. The prosecution of these innocent men on false accusations and baseless evidence shows the willingness of the British government to connive with Pakistani military bosses and the suppression of the Baloch freedom struggle.

One of the lesser known facets of Pakistan’s war against Balochistan is the strengthening of the Taliban, who have exploited the unstable, strife-ridden situation to establish bases and influence in the region.

From these bases, the Taliban terrorise the often more liberal, secular Baloch people and enforce the Talibanisation of parts of northern Balochistan, including the imposition of extreme versions of religious law.

The Pakistani military frequently tolerates the Taliban, on the grounds that its presence acts as a second force to crush the Baloch people and weaken their struggle for independence. The Taliban is, in effect, a de facto proxy force that acts in the interests of Islamabad’s grand plan to suppress Baloch nationalism .

The Taliban bases in Balochistan are hide-outs from where their fighters mount military operations to overthrow the government of Afghanistan. This campaign to usurp power in Kabul and re-impose a fundamentalist regime seems to be taking place with the tacit collusion of sections of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. They are talking no serious action to stop the Taliban using Balochistan as a base for their Islamist war against democracy and human rights. It looks like complicity.

The international community should stand in solidarity with the Baloch people against the Taliban fundamentalists. It ought to oppose Pakistan’s repression in Balochistan and support the Baloch people’s right to self-determination.

Baloch secular nationalism could act as a powerful bulwark against the Talibanisation of the country, which ultimately threatens all the people of Pakistan and Afghanisatan – and the wider region.

Whether self-determination means the restoration of independence or full regional autonomy within a federal Pakistan is a matter for the Baloch people. The best way to resolve this issue would be for the government of Pakistan to authorise a UN supervised and monitored referendum to allow the people of Balochistan to freely and democratically determine their own future. The Baloch people, like all people everywhere, have a right to self-determination, democracy, human rights and social justice.

Peter Tatchell is a writer and human rights campaigner.

* For more information on the Baloch freedom struggle: www.balochvoice.com and www.balochwarna.org

For more on Peter Tatchell’s human rights campaigns visit www.petertatchell.net

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Jahanzeb Baloch
Sep 15, 2011 4:08

Well done Mr. Tatchell

Only Baluch
Sep 15, 2011 7:40

Well done! Mr. Peter Tatchell thank you, I really value and appreciate you concern about Balochistan Issue, we Baloch are really thankful to you for each and every thing you shared and exposed about ongoing conflicts in Balochistan.

Greater Balochistan
Sep 15, 2011 16:17

Mr.Peter Tatchell! We Baloch are pleased to express our deepest gratitude for your kind concerns about Balochistan issue. We would appreciate your every step to confronting Pakistan’s real face with her atrocities against innocent Baloch infront of the world. we would like once again thank you for your continued support.

kamal baloch
Sep 16, 2011 8:00

very good and true article.thank you for aticle about balochistan.
now baloch cant live with paistan and iran. expolitation and genociding of baloch naion must be finished.balches cant live in slavery and be a colony of pakistan and iran in 21th century.Baloches want freedom like other nations who have their own country.

Taimoor Baloch
Sep 16, 2011 9:05

well done mr peter nd thnx alot 4 supporting us…!

nosherwan
Sep 16, 2011 20:25

It’s great to see such a great research by mr peter, well done sir and hoping for more from you

Ahmar Mustikhan
Sep 18, 2011 5:37

Dear Peter Tatchell:

Freedom is the destiny of Balochistan. We are indebted to you for exposing the ongoing atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Balochistan.

Lloyd Copper
Sep 20, 2011 0:52

Indeed this is very distubing. I would like suggestions of how we can help though. Love your work Peter

shahdad
Sep 20, 2011 18:36

i am a baloch and i want freedoom for balochistan i am a baloch and my destiny is to get freedom give us liberty

Jagan Mohan
Sep 18, 2016 8:43

Thanks to people like yourself, the world now knows more about Balochistan and Pakistani human rights abuses there.

We hope that Balochis will gain either freedom or more autonomy and say over their natural resources within Pakistan.

Thank you, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi for highlighting the Baloch Issue before the entire world.

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