Pakistan’s Absurdity of Negotiating With Taliban But Not the Baloch
The B.B.C. Urdu has reported that since the general elections of May 11, at least a dozen people have become the fresh victims of Pakistan’s ‘kill and dump‘ policies in Balochistan. While the so-called “mainstream national media” often do not report these cases, Baloch human rights activists have done a remarkable job in bringing the atrocities to public attention on platforms such as C.N.N.’s Eye Report segment.
There is no let up in human rights abuses in Balochistan even after the general elections. Similar to the past incidents, most of the people whose bullet-riddled dead bodies are found are young students and political activists (between the ages of 18 to 24) belonging to remote parts of Balochistan.
Among the fresh incidents, the most shocking is the killing of Shahzeb and Shah Noor, two brothers from Panjgur District whose bodies were found in neighboring Kech on May 19.
According to the Daily Times, the two brothers “were in their 20s and were brutally tortured and subjected to electric shocks… They were abducted on March 11 from Turbat area of Kech district.”
Unfortunately, no Pakistani politician, including Nawaz Sharif, the country’s future prime minister, has condemned the fresh kill and dump incidents in Balochistan. Mr. Sharif is too excited over his victory in the province of the Punjab and at the Center but he barely realizes that the country’s security establishment is still actively implementing Musharraf’s policies in Balochistan.
The Pakistani media and the newly elected political parties are aloof to the plight of the Baloch people. Mr. Sharif seems to have gotten his priorities wrong. He says Pakistan’s electricity crisis worries him so much that he cannot sleep at night whereas mothers in Balochistan, on their part, cannot sleep because their children continue to disappear and return only as corpses.
The continuity of the kill and dump operations post elections is indeed very alarming. Since reports of disappearances in Balochistan emerged in the media for the first time in early 2000s, Pakistan has transitioned between three different governments. Yet, democracy means nothing for Balochistan and elections barely mitigate the Baloch sufferings. With the arrival of the third government, we have entered the third generation of a government under which enforced disappearances and brutal killings continue unabated in Balochistan.
The culture of absolute impunity continues as usual and the country’s spymasters, as repeatedly blamed by credible organizations such as the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International, remain immune to official accountability for their brazen involvement in massive human rights violations. How much mandate do political parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz require to end the extrajudicial activities of the intelligence agencies? Someone on the land has to take the courageous initiative to bring these rights abusers to justice.
The trauma the Baloch children go through every single day because of the fear of eventually ‘disappearing’ one day is far more intense, genuine and widespread than what the victims of the drone strikes go through in Pakistan’s northern tribal regions.
Pakistan has a selective policy toward human rights and civilians’ fears which is why there is a hue and cry against the drones but no one in the military utters a word against enforced disappearances and kill and dump operations in Balochistan. While the Americans may be violating Pakistan’s ‘sovereignty’ through the drone strikes, but what armies on the earth are subjecting their own people to enforced disappearance, torture and dump? This only happens in Pakistan and it should immediately end.
We do not understand why Islamabad is paying so much emphasis on negotiating with the Taliban on the one hand but intensifying its kill and dump operations against secular Baloch nationalists on the other hand. If the central government is willing to negotiate with the Taliban who are known across the globe for their terrorist activities and human rights abuses, particularly toward women, then what is wrong with talking to the Baloch who are actually the victims of Pakistani state-sponsored repression?
The recent developments indicate that the upcoming P.M.L.N. government does not find itself in an urgent situation to ask the military to stop its brutal actions in Balochistan. The military is only supportive of peace with the Taliban and determined to continue operations in Balochistan.
A word of caution: The P.M.L.-N is doing the right job by (reportedly) supporting Dr. Malik Baloch, a member of the Baloch middle class, to become the next chief minister of the province but it should not forget that there is also a parallel middle-class uprising in the province headed by Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch. Gone are the days when Islamabad could put out the fire in Balochistan only by covertly reaching a settlement with a handful of Baloch tribal chiefs. What should further worry Islamabad is the fact that almost all victims of the kill and dump policies belong to middle-class families. Each killing will only strengthen the middle class rebellion instead of facilitating a middle-class chief minister, provided that Dr. Baloch is appointed, to resolve or at least reduce Balochistan’s problems.
Published in The Baloch Hal on May 28, 2013