The call was made at a “National Conference on Balochistan” organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association here on Sunday. Renowned human rights activist and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) former president Asma Jahangir and Balochistan High Court Bar Association President Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani and Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch were among the prominent speakers.
Other notables who addressed the conference included Dr Jahanzaib Jamaldini of Balochistan National Party, Dr Abdul Malik of National Party, General (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch of PML-N, Khuda Dad of Awami National Party, Sadiq Umrani of PPP and Raza Muhammad Raza of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.
Asma Jahangir said that Army wants to exploit the resources of Balochistan and wants to snatch the right of ownership of the Baloch people. She said, “It is agonising for me whenever I hear about the recovery of decomposed dead bodies because I am a mother and can feel the pain of a mother.”
She said that she had filed a petition in 2007 the Supreme Court in which she had asked the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) that whom they were accountable and under which law they operated. She said that when Farhatullah Babar raised the same question in the Senate, he was told that security agencies were accountable to the defence ministry in the operational sense but they had some other accountabilities pertaining to state secrets which could not be told to the House.
“Thousands of people have come up with evidence against those who had picked up their loved ones but the responsible were not arrested,” Asma said. She said she and Zahoor Shahwani advcoate had met late Nawab Akbar Bugti before the operation in which he was killed and they asked him if he was ready for talks; and he remarked, “Talks! In language of guns? Orders have been issued for my murder and those of Balach Marri and Barhamdagh Bugti as well”
Asma said that Ulema had a positive role to play in Balochistan; they were not imported ones and that’s why they could better understand the local issues and help in ending the killing of Hazaras, settlers and the Baloch nationals. She said that nobody was born a separatist in Balochistan, but they were born as nationalists and it was not a sin, adding that they have the right to work for the welfare of the people.
“The representatives of Balochistan are seen in the supermarkets of Islamabad. If they cannot handle the situation and fear for their lives, they should resign from the government,” Asma remarked. She said, “It has to be decided who is going to rule in Balochistan: civilians or the Khaki’ elections are to be conducted free and fair or by the ISI and MI?”
The veteran lawyer demanded that a high powered commission should be formed with complete mandate of reaching out to all the stakeholders and implementing their suggestions. “The high powered commission should have the authority to take decisions,” she said, and then addressing to the army chief, she remarked: “Mr Kyani this is what we civilians want and you will do it.”
She recommended that the Supreme Court monitor the upcoming elections so that they could be transparent and so that genuine leadership could come forward. However, she expressed her fear that given the volatile situation elections may not take place in Balochistan, saying that if they don’t take place, the blue caps (UN representatives) would be controlling the matters in Balochistan.
SCBA former president Ali Ahmed Kurd said that target killings had turned Balochistan in general and Quetta in particular into a highly volatile place, adding that those silent on these acts were a party to it. He said that no conference would yield any results unless the responsible were made accountable. He said, “If the people of Pakistan won’t come on the roads and oppose the cruelty, as we did for restoration of judges, nothing is going to improve.” He said that it was very true, as said by fourth caliph of Islam, Hazrat Ali, “States could survive with pagan rule but not with cruelty and injustice.”
The BNP-Mengal acting President Dr Jahnzaib Jamaldini said that the conference had one positive thing that the invited guests from all over the country saw the appalling condition in Balochistan and the damaged infrastructure. He said that the word, disgruntled Baloch, was a contemptuous word for Baloch as their hatred did not emanated from a single day rather it was a result of 64 years long deprivations. He said nobody bothered about the fate of Baloch for the last ten years when they were killed and their bodies thrown in barren place. “But since the day a bill was presented in the US Congress, everyone seemed to be concerned.
He said that Baloch did not need the sympathy of anyone rather they wanted the national identity. He said that the rivers of Punjab and their revenue went to Punjab but the natural resources of Balochistan were being snatched as all the revenue of Reko Diq, Chamalang and the 780-km provincial coast go to Islamabad. He also stressed that the role of agencies should be ended in Balochistan and the missing persons should be recovered.
Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani said that everyone said that FC was involved in the cases of missing persons while a government report on Balochistan missing persons also said that dozens of evidences suggested that FC was involved in most of missing persons’ cases. He said that on February 6 this year Sadique Umrani accepted on the floor of the assembly that he had eye-witnessed FC killing three people. He said that the Balochistan problem was neither a priority of the provincial government nor the federation.
Zahoor said that the toothless committee led by Naveed Qamar came to Balochistan and that too only for 3 hours so what could be expected of it. He said that mine owners in Balochistan had requested him repeatedly to save them from the brutality of FC, saying that FC demanded 320 rupees on every tonne of coal excavated form mines and the owners had to show their ID cards to enter into their own mines. He said he was opposed to the Governor Rule in Balochistan but suggested that FC should be withdrawn from the province at the earliest as it was itself part of the problem.
Qadir Baloch said that nobody spoke of independence before Musharraf era, however, following the excesses carried out by his regime people got disillusioned. He suggested that a commission should be formed to investigate if military operation was necessary in 2005. He said that FC had a police like training that’s why it misbehaved with the people.
The chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, Nasarullah Baloch said that some genuine stakeholders were missing in the conference whose presence he felt was necessary, saying that 450 mutilated dead bodies of the university students, doctors and political activists had surfaced. “These people, the cream of Baloch nation, are killed because they talk and propagate the fact and highlight the injustices being done to them.” He said that a complete army rule prevails in Balochistan and it was responsibility of journalists to highlight the issue internationally.
The veteran politician and a founding member of National Party Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch said that Balochistan was never a part of India historically and in 1948 both the houses of Kalat had unanimously decided to remain independent. However, Balochistan was forcibly merged into Pakistan and since then they were trying to turn the Baloch into Red Indians. “In Quetta alone, more than 2 million Afghan refugees have been enlisted as voters to turn the Baloch into a minority,” he said. “We are not going to be Red Indians at any cost. We will fight and sacrifice our lives for Baloch land,” Dr Hayee concluded.
National Party President Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said until and unless the nationality question was resolved the issue of Balochistan could not be settled. “The Tamil strategy (strategy of Sri Lanka against the Tamils) will never work in Balochistan,” he said, adding that Balochistan had been held hostage by powerful people in army and government. He said that Pakistan has to wind up its “Jihadi” policy.
Other speakers stressed for early recovery of missing persons saying that it could set the stage for the normalisation process in Balochistan. The conference could not release its declaration after a rumpus in the hall.
Call for end to agencies’ role, recovery of the missing