They were once called the “wild herds” of southwest Asia: the Baluch after whom their stateless homeland Balochistan –or Baluchistan — is named, now soaked in daily bloodshed.
In the backdrop of the so-called Great Game being played out in the greater southwest Asia and the Middle East for future control of world’s energy resources, Balochistan has discretely come on the radar of the defense establishments of leading world powers, including the United States.
It’s sexy location as the upper lip of the Straits of Hormuz has made it equally enticing for global powers — NATO, China, Russia and India.
The area is vast – the Balochistan territory in Pakistan is the size of New Mexico, that in Iran the size of Nevada and that in Afghanistan the size of West Virginia — and is extremely rich in terms of natural resources.
Balochistan in Pakistan is where an Islamic republic tested it first nuclear weapons in May 1998 and is the place where the local populace have revolted against Pakistan’s central rule five times in the last six decades with a low-level insurgency going on to this day. Thousands, from top tribal leaders to common citizens, have perished in these uprisings.
In the four previous uprisings 1948, 1958, 1962 and 1973, the battles lines were clearly drawned — between the armed Baloch guerrillas and Pakistan army, secret services and paramilitary forces.
“We would hang them upside down and even cut off their genitals to get information, but they would not betray their comrades,” one army major who took part in crushing the 1973-77 movement told this scribe. He said the military would even hurl the guerrillas from flying choppers to instil fear in the populace.
However, since the killing of Baloch politician, former governor and chief minister, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti on August 26, 2006 and the subsequent death of his comrade Mir Balach Marri, who was also called Baloch Che Guevara on November 20, 2007, the movement has lost experienced leaders and began hitting soft targets.
“More than 1800 Punjabi settlers were killed,” in the years since Bugti’s says Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, son of one of the main founders of Baloch nationalism Mir Ghoush Bakhsh Bizenjo in the towns and cities of Balochistan as an expression fof hatred for Pakistan army.
Bizenjo, who is vice president of National Party, has been receiving threats from the militants for his politics of moderation.
First time in the history of Balochistan a woman, Professor Nazima Talib, an assistant professor at the department of mass was gunned down in spring last year by the shadowy Baloch Liberation Liberation. Like people any honor-based culture, killing of women and unarmed people is deemed cowardly in Baloch culture.
An allied militant Baloch Liberation Liberation Front has targeted at least five Baloch political workers. The two underground organizations have owned responsbility for countless civilian killings. Their modus operandi is to kill and then call news organizations through sataellite phones to claim responsibility.
Baloch Diaspora elements insist the militants must realize their folly of targeting Baloch political activists. “They must show the courage to apologize to the victims’ families as well, who were shot dead without any obvious reasons. The killing of National Party leaders doesn’t give you freedom,” says U.S. official Rashid Baloch, who lost two cousins Maula Bakhsh Dashti on July 11 2010 and Mohammed Hussain on September 14, 2011 at the hands of the B.L.F.
Immediately after Dashti’s killings in July last year, Pakistani intelligence and security agencies came down heavliy on the militant supporters and forcibly disappeared the intellectual cream of the militant movement comprising professors, lawyers, doctors, journalists and student leaders. The killings are in line with massive secret dirty war that Chile and Argentine launched against their citizens four decades ago.
Islamabad’s crackdown has forced many politicians and educated youth to seek asylum in the West. (Picture shows one youth Abid Baloch aka Abid Al-Balushi from Mekran who is now living in Seattle, Washington, with two of his American female friends).
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have all condemned human rights violation in Balochistan being conducted by Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, Military Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence.
According to Balochistan observers both the killing of the best brains by the Pakistani secuirty and intelligence services out of sheer frustration in failing to win over the hearts of the Baloch people and the escape of notable leaders militant leaders Brahumdagh Bugti and Hyrbyair Marri have created negative trends in the movement.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also charged Baloch militants for human rights violations.
In stead of trying to launch a united front, militants in Balochistan are resorting to killing and dumping of unarmed civilians in the same way like Pakistan security and intelligence services, Baloch civilians say.
In November the Baloch Liberation front of Dr. Allah Baloch accepted responsibilty for the enforced disappearance and killing of Malik Mohammed, 22.
The deceased was son of Mohammed Hassan, resident of Gomazi, Tump.
The victim was first abducted then killed on October 26. He did not have any political links.
Hassan said the B.L.F. had in a statement on November 5, 2011 claimed responsibility for the killing of his son and accused him of being a government “informer and traitor.”
Hassan refuted the militant charge against his dead son and said everyone in the area respects his family for being decent people.
“My 22-year-old son was innocent and was clean, and was not involved in any activity to harm anyone,” Hassan said. “B.L.F. not only snatched from me my loved son who was my support in old age but has stigmatized the reputation of my family by their baseless allegation and dirty accusation against my son,” Hassan said.
He said the B.L.F. must provide proof that his son was a government informer, his actions that might have harmed the freedom movement or any snitching he did that helped capture and killing of anyone.
Jan Buledi, central spokesman for the National Party, told this scribe on Facebook the victim was jobless.
Earlier in September, in addition to the Taliban-style killing of Mohammad Hussain, the B.L.F. owned responsibility for the Dr. Lal Bakhsh. the two victims belonged to the N.P.
Hassan said such actions of the B.L.F. of killing innocent persons and then accusing them of being government informers were unacceptable.
“The B.L.F. has killed almost an equal number of Baloch civilians like the Pakistani security and intelligence services in Mekran,” torture victim Sattar Baloch told this correspondent on phone from Mand, a town bordering Iran, that
Baloch said they quit the B.L.F. after the militant organization turned its guns on the Baloch civilians. And nine months ago along with Salim Baloch and others launched the Baloch National Liberation Front.
“Recently Dr. Allah Baloch (B.L.F. chief) told his close circle of friends the B.L.F. (popularity) graph has gone down by 50 percent,” said Sattar Baloch. “In fact, it has gone down by 80 percent.”