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Liberated woman of Balochistan is the mother of a free nation

by Imtiaz Baloch

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

It is a day for the women in the world to enjoy liberation, but today more than 10,000 Baloch mothers and sisters are screaming loudly of the horrible nightmares of their loved ones who were disappeared by the Pakistani army in occupied Balochistan. There are over 1,100 cases registered with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) by the London based International Voice for the Baloch Missing Person (IVBMP). As per Balochistan based Voice for Missing Baloch Persons (VMBP), for the last seven months Baloch mothers have embraced over 105 decomposed bodies of their loved ones who were abducted, tortured and killed by Frontier Corp (FC) in occupied Balochistan.

Today the Baloch mothers are being punished for raising the slogan of a secular and democratic Balochistan. Unlike Canada, the US and other western countries, photos of abducted children do not appear on the back of a return envelop or on a bus. In occupied Balochistan, the mothers know where they are--in the torture cells of the Pakistani Army. Today Balochistan is in turmoil due to the kill and dump policy of the Pakistan Army.

The indigenous Baloch populace has been marginalized and the province militarized for the last 63 years by the Pakistan Army. Today the hostile military operations of the Pakistan Army, combined with the terrorist actions of its kill and dump policy of mutilated dead bodies, have prompted an exodus of over 80 percent of the native Baloch population from Kohlu and Dera Bugti. The social, economic and political effects of the ongoing military operation on the civil society are devastating, especially for women and children. One such case in point is the mass exodus of 84,000 internally displaced people from the war torn areas of Kohlu and Dera Bugti. According to UNESCO, among the thousands of displaced families, 26,000 women and 33,000 children are forced to live in refugee camps under sub-human conditions without proper shelter, food and medicine. So far 76 fatalities, mostly children, have been reported in these camps, scattered in the districts of Quetta, Nasirabad and Jaffarabad. Islamabad is in complete denial of the realities and has blocked all aid to these suffering people of Balochistan by international aid agencies.

Today the world is oblivious to the peace making role of Baloch women in the Baloch history. Banari, the sister of Chakar Khan, chief of Baloch tribes, led the Baloch tribal army in war against Delhi in the late 15th century and won the throne for Moghul emperor Humayun.

The secular nature of the primitive tribal structure was the source of gender equality in Balochistan for centuries before the arrival of the ‘puritan brand of Islam’ (Deobandi) and British colonial rule. The religious orthodoxy preached gender discrimination, while the British changed the primitive tribal set-up of collective land ownership into a feudal control of the land owned by the chieftain. This religio-economic mix later on was inherited by Pakistan as state policy of control and exploitation based on ethnic, religious and gender bias.

Pakistan’s collaboration with the fanatic Islamist is not hidden to any rational mind. This military-mullah alliance had brought constitutional changes against religious minorities and women. This alliance had fueled a culture which is a hallmark of terrorism and violence against women and other minorities in Pakistan and it destroyed not only the very basis of human creativity, but growth and democracy, as well. Dr. Shazia Khalid (raped by a Pakistani Army official in Balochistan), Zarina Marri (disappeared in Balochistan), Salman Taseer (Governor of Punjab, killed by a Jiahdi police officer) and Shebaz Bhatti (a Christian Minister killed by a Jihadi)--they have all become victims of the forces of darkness cultivated by the decades old policies of this Military-Mullah alliance.

Despite these hardships, the women of Balochistan are fighting back against the decadent system maintained by the state as a borrowed tool of oppression from their colonial masters. Never before in the modern history of Balochistan, has there been such an upsurge of political activism among women across Balochistan – from Karachi to the coast of Bandar Abbas - the struggle against military and mullah atrocities is transcending the gender barrier.

Probably the Baloch women have found their inner Banari, leading the way to battles against the enemies of equality and freedom. Today the morally bankrupt state of Pakistan and Iran with their twin evils of theocracy and military autocracy are responsible for all the crimes committed against women. If a woman was more independent in the medieval Baloch society, then what good is this so-called modern state of Pakistan and Iran?

History has given the Baloch Women an inescapable choice--a choice about the future. And the future belongs to freedom--freedom from the state that has generated the ideological, political and social basis for gender bias, discrimination and crimes against women. Today, women's liberation in Balochistan is connected with the broader question of national emancipation of the people from the yolk of religious conservatism and military adventurism.

Imtiaz Baloch
Spokesperson
Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada)
The writer can be reached at Imtiaz2000@hotmail.com, BHRCCanada@gmail.com

(Balochistan is a Texas size state occupied by Pakistan in the year 1948. This is the fifth Baloch uprising against the Pakistani brutal military regime)

Imtiaz Baloch is spokesperson for the Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada) and member of International Voice for Missing Baloch (IVFMB)


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