Balochistan is a region is south-west Pakistan. Though rich in natural resources like Natural Gas, Oil, Coal, Copper, Sulphur, Fluoride and Gold, it is the most under-developed and poor region in Pakistan. According to the separatists of Baloch, the government of Pakistan is systematically suppressing development in this region to keep the Balochs weak. The government of Pakistan has also been accused of human rights abuses and deteriorating law and order, resulting in the people of Baloch being reduced to a minority status in their very own state. The nationalists of Baloch have staged many insurgencies in the past with an aim of gaining greater autonomy, increased royalty for their natural resources and provincial revenue and an independent nation-state.
There have been five major conflicts starting from as early as the British Raj. Amongst them the fifth conflict has been continuing for more than a decade, from 2004 to the present day. According to an exiled, US based Baloch journalist, ‘the ongoing resistance is Baloch has created serious challenges for the Pakistan government, unlike the past resistance movements because this one has lasted longer than the previous insurgencies, has greater breadth (including the entire province from the rural mountainous regions to the city centres), involves Baloch women and children at regular protest rallies and has drawn more international attention (including a 2012 hearing by the US Congress).’ However, infighting amongst groups in the Baloch insurgency has weakened the movement since late 2014.
What is India’s role in the Baloch insurgency?
Pakistan has, since long, insisted that India is behind Baloch insurgency and continues to repeatedly support the Baloch rebels. In fact, it is convinced that no evidence is required to prove the alleged support. In 2016, Pakistan claimed that it caught an Indian Naval Officer who was tasked by the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) to carry out terrorism in Balochistan. It has also been reported that western observers believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
India, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied these claims, stressing at Pakistan’s lack of ability to provide any evidence. A Baloch activist is reported to have laughed and said, in a 2008 interview, that their conditions would not have been so miserable, had they enjoyed support from India, when asked about the alleged link of his group with India.
In his 2016 Independence Day speech, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized Pakistan and human rights issues in Balochistan. While Pakistan condemned Modi’s remarks and called it an attempt to create a diversion from the violence in Kashmir, exiled Baloch separatist leaders welcomed it.
Human Rights issues in Balochistan –
- Pakistan has been accused of engaging in systematic repression and marginalization of Balochs. Islamabad has reportedly detained thousands of Balochs nationalists, denied Balochs positions in governmental institutions and the military, assassinated Baloch leaders and funded religious schools to aid religious radicalization.
- The Pakistan government has been accused of imposing extraordinary restrictions on the freedom of press in Balochistan. It has also prevented international media from reporting from conflict zones. Foreign journalists have also been physically assaulted by intelligence agents.
- It is reported that the human rights violation in Balochistan has reached a whole new level of ‘genocide’. The Pakistan Army is said to have killed Balochs indiscriminately, abducted women and taken them to rape cells and torture cells.
- It is also alleged that Pakistan has created a local Al-Qaisa and ISIS group in the region. It also smuggles Balochistan’s energy resources away from the rightful beneficiaries.
What is the judiciary doing?
With more than 5000 forced disappearances from Balochistan and many innocent inhabitants stuck in Pakistan’s slow legal relief system, waiting to be heard on a variety of matters ranging from robbery to gun smuggling, the Supreme Court of Pakistan was forced to take initiative and ask around about the situation in depth. According to its findings, it said that the situation was going out of control.
The Supreme Court is currently investigating the ‘missing persons’ and has issued an arrest warrant for Military Dictator Pervez Musharaff. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also said that the military must act under the government’s direction and follow well-defined parameters set by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court, headed by Justice Iqbal, has also ordered the government to grant subsistence allowance to the families affected by these missing persons. The Justice has advices the families against losing faith. He said that the situation of missing persons is becoming an epidemic problem.
A Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances has been constituted on the orders of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is vying to make it a permanent body.