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Balochistan: Heavy-handedness Undermines Moderate Voices

By Ahmar Mustikhan

Pakistani army operations in Mashkay, Balochistan, to capture Dr Allah Nazar Baloch have left property destroyed and many civilians abducted or believed killed – against this backdrop calls for peaceful solutions to Balochistan’s problems will have to argue even harder to justify such a nonviolent path - but the cycle of violence must end.

In a bid to kill or capture "Baloch Robin Hood", guerrilla leader Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, Pakistan army troops are conducting a brutal military operation in his hometown of Mashkay, resistance sources and Baloch leaders based in the West said.

Pakistan troops set ablaze homes and shops and were allegedly looting property of Baloch natives, while more than two dozen civilians were shifted to military torture camps.

“At least 20 Baloch patriots, including the brother of Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch have been abducted by the Pakistani troops. The troops have also torched at least 50 homes including that of Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch,” said Zaffar Baloch from Toronto.

As the military brutalities continued in Mashkay, Baloch masses took to the streets to express their resolve for freedom from Pakistan's military occupation. The protesters accused Pakistani soldiers of loot, plunder and bombardment on the civilian population in Mashkay.

According to the pro-independence Baloch Warna website, shops, educational institutions and government offices were shut in several towns and cities of Balochistan including Turbat, Gwadar, Pasni, Thump, Mand, Buleda, Zamran, Panjgor, Ormara, Hoshaab, Shehrak, Awara, and Mashkay, the Jhao region of Makuran division while Khuzdar, Kalat, Soraab, Zehri, Baghbaana, and Naal in the Jhalawan region also resented the look of ghost towns.

The main roads linking Balochistan to Karachi from the towns of Gwadar, Quetta and Kalat were all blocked.

Addressing the crowds, Baloch patriotic leaders said that Baloch liberation movement can not be crushed by military means.

Crowds at Mir Chakar Khan Road set ablaze a vehicle of the TCS courier company and set on fire the offices of the pro-Pakistan National Party in Faisal Market.

The Baloch protesters decried Pakistan's mostly Punjabi and mohajir-dominated print and electronic media have shut their eyes to the ongoing military operation in different parts of Balochistan.

Just as the military was conducting an all out offensive in Mashkay, military intelligence officials shot to death a senior leader of the nationalist Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) in Kalat district near his residence.

As many as 40 U.S. supplied tanks and four gunship helicopters were being used in the joint operation by Pakistan military, Frontier Corps and Police. Pakistan forces are reportedly using gunship helicopters for aerial bombardment on civilian populations.

Local sources claim there have been an unspecified number of civilian causalities amid a complete media blackout in the region. As Mashkay was besieged, Pakistan troops conducted a house-to-house search, with the help of some masked men -- presumably their local hired agents-- in the town. Locals bitterly complained that their valuables including cash were forcefully taken away by the marauding Pakistani troops.

Food and medicines were scarce and the residents of Mashkay town are not being allowed to leave their homes and nor was medical aid being allowed to enter the town. Local sources reported in the media that the military have cut off all the electric and phone lines before the launch of the operation.

A leader of the Baloch Rights Council, Mr. Abdul Wahab Baloch, condemned the murder of Mir Noordin Mengal and said the assassination was an attempt to divert the attention from the military operation in Mashkay. Mengal was the third top leader of the BNP to be murdered in as many months.

More civilians were made victims of enforced disappearance. Bashir Ahmed Baloch, a tailor and his two sons of aged 9 and 13 were disappeared from Wahejo, a small town in Mashkay, while his tailoring shop was set on fire by the Pakistan troops.

Meanwhile in Mehi, birthplace of Dr. Alah Nazar Baloch, school teacher Raza Mohammed Baloch, his relatives Adam Baloch, Aziz Baloch, Rasool Bux Baloch and Ibrahim Baloch were forcibly disappeared for alleged torture to make them confess about the Baloch Liberation leader's whereabouts. All five were shifted to an unknown torture center.

Baloch Warna reported the homes of Akhtar Nadeem Baloch, a leader of the Balochistan National Movment, and his father-in-law Dr. Ghulam Mostafa Baloch were set on fire in Gorchik area 25 miles from Mashkay.

Dr. Ghulam Mostafa Baloch is the secratery of Union Council Gujar in Mashkay.

Speaking to Daily, Intekhab Dr Mostafa Baloch alleged that Pakistan forces looted Rs. 700,000 cash, a tractor, motorcycles, several expensive carpets, and blankets as war booty.

In Mandel, near a military garrison, the Pakistani forces raided the house of Dr. Haneef Baloch and six of his neighbours. They later set ablaze the houses. The soldiers accused the Baloch for being agents of India and the United States.

Pakistani military forced the shopkeeper to open their shops and some shopkeeper who were not present lost their shops as the soldiers torched them. Houses of the members of Baloch Student Organisation (Azad) Fida Baloch, Zahoor Baloch, Haroon Baloch, Mustafa Baloch and Gul Hassan Baloch were burned down.

Family members of these students, including women and children, were humiliated in public and severely beaten on the roads.

In related developments, elsewhere in Balochistan, a spokesperson of Baloch Liberation Front Bashaam Baloch said that Baloch freedom fighters lobbed rockets on a camp of the Frontier Corps in Besima and on Wednesday six F.C. militia men were killed in Baloch retaliation against the military offensive at the Taleemi Chowk in Turbat.

A spokesperson of the Baloch Liberation Front, in a call made through satellite phone to the NNI news agency warned “the defeated military’ of Pakistan” not to violate the international laws regarding the conduct of war.

“We want to make it clear to the international community that the loot and pillage of Baloch houses, stealing [gold and valuables], and the genocide of Baloch civilian by Pakistani military are in violation of the International war laws. Notice should be taken against such conduct [of the Pakistan military.]” The B.L.F. spokesperson asked Islamabad to immediately withdraw its occupying forces from Balochistan.

Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, who is the main target of the ongoing military operation in Mashkay, is a member of the Baloch liberation troika that includes Hyrbyair Marri and Brahamdagh Bugti.

Ahmar Mustikhan is a journalist from Balochistan, a Texas-sized stateless region divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, and now resides in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area.


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