baluch pattern
Sanaullah Baloch Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur Karlos Zurutuza Selig Harrison Malik Siraj Akbar Zaffar Baloch Sanaullah Baloch: Exploitation of Mineral Wealth... Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur: Negligent dereliction of duty... Karlos Zurutuza: Inside Iran's Most Secretive... Selig Harrison: The Chinese Cozy Up... Malik Siraj Akbar: Remembering Qambar Chakar... Zaffar Baloch: Balochistan's Burden...

Terror outsourced

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

In Balochistan, the lives of Baloch journalists, intellectuals, students and activists are very tenuous. Newspapers reported that on August 18 and 19, a total of eight bodies of missing persons were found from Pasni, Hub and Mastung areas. Four of these were found in Mastung, which the Baloch claim were in retaliation for the attack on Siraj Raisani. The terror against the Baloch people has been outsourced by the army and the FC to death squads going under names such as Baloch Mussala Diffa Tanzeem and Tehreek Nifaz Aman Balochistan, which are run from Mastung and Khuzdar.

On August 14, Munir Ahmed Shakir, a Baloch journalist, was gunned down in Khuzdar, which, along with Mastung, Pasni, Turbat and Hub, has become the death capital of Balochistan. This brave journalist persisted with the truth knowing that those who had murdered Mohammad Khan Sasoli and Faiz Mohammad Sasoli, the former presidents of the Khuzdar Press Club, were brutally merciless. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says he is the fourth in Khuzdar and seventh journalist from Balochistan killed in a year.

About such redoubtable and intrepid men who speak the truth and fight for the truth, Sheikh Saadi (1184-1283) says: “Naseehat-e-padshahaan Mussalim kassay ra ast, kay beem-e-sarr na darad, ya umeed-e-zar” (those who will speak the truth to the kings and emperors, are those who doth not fear death nor doth seek favours).

This murder was condemned by the local press club, Quetta Press Club office holders and PFUJ only. The picture showing journalists protesting this murder outside the provincial assembly building numbered only 22. Certainly there are a lot more journalists in Quetta. The mainstream media, as in the past, chose silence on these relentless murders of Baloch journalists by death squads. However, the UN and UNESCO condemned his killing.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) annually publishes an ‘Impunity Index’. Its 2011 list of countries notorious for killing journalists is headed by Iraq with Pakistan placed at the 10th position. Unfortunately, conventions limit these organisations; if the impunity index separately calculated Balochistan journalists’ deaths, Iraq would be a miserable second. On August 24, an iftaar party for editors and journalists was hosted by the inspector general (IG) of the Frontier Corps (FC) in Quetta, essentially to discredit the recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, ‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan’. He was probably dissatisfied with his and the ISPR Director General Major-General Athar Abbas’s August 3 media briefing.

The journalists and editors should have boycotted this event in protest against the murder of Baloch journalists but then refusing the top guns’ invitation requires unbending principles and spine. To quote Aung San Suu Kyi, “People are flattered when the ruling governments bathe them some attention...this attraction that power and influence has over humanity in general works against dissidents because people tend to think that those who are in power must be in power for good reasons when actually there can be very, very horrible reasons for people being in power.”

I digress — they had then said that the HRW report tried to malign the law enforcement agencies by not projecting their good deeds and had called for probing the funding of these organisations as this could be traced back to those forces that want to destabilise Pakistan. The IG also alleged then that some militant organisations kill their own people when they become useless after being injured but he did not elaborate why they get injured since, according to them, no operation is going on in Balochistan.

This time round, the IG rejected the HRW report on enforced disappearances in Balochistan by saying that it was an attempt to encourage terrorists and, at the same time, discourage the law enforcement agencies. Ironically, the army and the FC do not understand that the atrocities perpetrated against the Baloch, whom they conveniently term as terrorists, encourages them to resist injustices.

He also lamented the losses to the state caused by the insurgency without a word about the sufferings of the Baloch people. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), the black American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman who, after escaping from slavery became a leader of the abolitionist movement once said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class (read nation) is made to feel that society (read country) is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Douglass also said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” The Baloch have decided that they have endured enough.

In a Freudian mea culpa, the IG said that militant organisations like the Baloch Liberation Army or the Baloch Liberation Front had been recognising the services of all whose decomposed bodies were found, an admission that those killed by them were considered guilty by the ‘establishment’.

Ironically, he criticised the nawabs and sardars for neglecting their poverty-ridden people. I wonder which sardars and nawabs he had in mind because most of them are in their 65-member Balochistan Assembly, where with the exception of a lone opposition member, most are ministers or government supporters; déjà vu of the Musharraf era albeit with some change in faces. The incumbent governor, chief minister, speaker and motley ministers have accused the FC of running a parallel government in Balochistan so I wonder who is to blame for the agony and anguish of Balochistan; them or the dissidents?

In Balochistan, the lives of Baloch journalists, intellectuals, students and activists are very tenuous. Newspapers reported that on August 18 and 19, a total of eight bodies of missing persons were found from Pasni, Hub and Mastung areas. Four of these were found in Mastung, which the Baloch claim were in retaliation for the attack on Siraj Raisani. The terror against the Baloch people has been outsourced by the army and the FC to death squads going under names such as Baloch Mussala Diffa Tanzeem and Tehreek Nifaz Aman Balochistan, which are run from Mastung and Khuzdar.

Similar tactics were used by the Indonesian state against the people of East Timor and there, as Noam Chomsky quoting David Jenkins in his book Rogue States tells: “The state terrorists were not simply going after the most radical pro-independence people but going after the moderates, the people who have influence in the community.” He says a well placed source in Jakarta reported that “the aim is ‘to terrorise everyone — the NGOs, the Red Cross, the UN, the journalists’”. Chomsky adds, “These were the tactics of the US Phoenix programme in South Vietnam that killed tens of thousands of peasants and much of indigenous South Vietnamese leadership.” This policy is insidiously being carried out in Balochistan.

The FC and the army have outsourced terror to death squads but the fact remains that when a company, say Toyota, outsources parts’ production to favourite outfits and this results in shoddy production, no one blames the companies from Bakra Piri or Gowalmandi; they rightly blame Toyota and here too the eventual responsibility rests with the mother company, i.e. the FC and the army.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com


Share/Bookmark