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News :: Human Rights : International : Politics
BALOCHISTAN & KASHMIR — DIFFERENT NOTES
by Malladi Rama Rao
18 Jul 2007
Malladi Rama Rao
The Khan of Kalat, the traditional ruler of the predominant Baloch state of Kalat, chose independence, and claimed that Nepal and Kalat had the same status. In 1947, he was the most powerful ruler of what is today’s Balochistan and acknowledged lord of all Baloch tribes. However, after the British departed, Pakistan army moved in and the Baloch territories were merged with Pakistan. Who ratified the merger? Well that honour went to the Quetta municipality, a body dominated by non-Baloch settlers. Since then, violence has erupted in Balochistan five times – 1948, 1958, 1963-64, 1973-77 and again now with the Khans of Kalat again in the forefront. Interestingly, Baloch leaders are not seeking independence. Their plea is only for a share in the development pie, an end to what the economist William Easterly has described as “growth without development” and a voice in the management of their affairs. In short, what they are clamouring for is provincial autonomy under a federal set up as envisaged in the 1973 constitution. The demand is met by ‘slow motion genocide being inflicted on Baluch tribesmen in the mountains and deserts of southwestern Pakistan’, according to Selig S. Harisson, the US expert on Balochistan, who heads the Asia Centre for International Policy in Washington.
On the other hand, Maharaja Hari Singh, wanted accession of Kashmir to India. And the Lion of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah agreed with him. The accession documents were signed in time to save the people of Kashmir from a barbaric and brutal invasion mounted by Pakistan army with tribals as their front. Indian army mounted a rescue mission, reached the valley and checked the advance of marauders, who had by then pillaged Baramulla. <![endif]>
Militancy – Official Response
Militancy in Kashmir is a post -1989 phenomenon. Independence is the plank of Hurriyat conference, a conglomerate of parties and groups, which is active on the Kashmir scene for a long while. Nonetheless, the Indian state is providing security cover to the Hurriyat leaders notably its chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who often shuttles between Srinagar and Islamabad. “The Daily Excelsior” of Jammu wrote on January 16, 2007, a day after a blast took place near Mirwaiz house. “While the separatist leader and his family members are guarded by about a dozen of Personal Security Officers (PSOs) provided by the state Government, over a company strength of J&K Police personnel are deployed for round-the-clock protection of his house at Nageen, in the neighbourhood of the University of Kashmir”.
In Sharp Contrast the popular Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed when the army blew up a cave he was hiding in on August 26, 2006. A former Governor and former chief minister he was highly respected not only in Balochistan but across the entire country. Not surprisingly, the Pakistan media has dubbed the ‘targetted’ killing as the biggest military blunder after the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Islamabad keeps asserting that army has been sent to Balochistan to protect Baluchis from their Sardars (tribal leaders), “who are against development’. But the fact, as repeatedly highlighted by “The Dawn”, The Karachi daily, in its editorial comment and reports from Quetta, is that current insurgency is not being led by the tribal elders but by a new generation of politically conscious Baluch nationalists.
Under the heading “Balochistan Folly”, the Blogger, Onlooker writes in his The Glasshouse (http://politicalpakistan.blogspot.com), “Akbar Bugti was the only Baloch leader amenable to negotiating with the Establishment. After killing him, there is no one left in Balochistan willing to talk to Islamabad. All one can say is: You reap what you sow”.
Balochistan still lacks the basic services that most consider human rights. It is rich in natural gas yet only 6% of the Baluch have gas connections, less than half the children get any education, and only 2% of the population has clean water. Women’s literacy in the region stands at just 7 per cent, the lowest in Pakistan.
Millions of dollars are poured into building Gwadar port as Pakistan’s show piece and the new gateway of Central Asia and even China. “Our impoverished people and economically discriminated province don’t stand to benefit’, says the Khan of Kalat, Suleiman Daud.
Adds Dr Wahid Baloch, President, Baloch Society of North America, (BSO-NA)), “We call Gwadar project a Mega project of death for Baloch people. Despite the strong opposition from all over Balochistan, Pakistan continues aggressively working on this project with the help of China to bring millions of Punjabis from Punjab into Gwadar so they can change the Baloch demography forever and turn us into a minority in our own homeland, just as they did this to our Sindhi and Baloch brothers in Karachi, making them strangers amidst their own homeland”.
Study In Contrast
What a study in contrast Kashmir development story makes? Despite the best efforts of the militants, the demographic identity of the population is being scrupulously preserved and more per capita central aid is being poured into the state than in any other Indian state. The state’s population is less than one percent of India. Yet it receives 2.7 per cent of national developmental outlay. The allocation per head thus works out to Rs. 1122 in its case. This is much higher than the average for all other states which is below Rs. 300. Another index of growth, people below poverty line hovers around 3.7 per cent mark against the national average of 26 per cent. Literacy rate stands at 55.5 per cent as compared to all India literacy rate of 64.8 per cent.
Against the annual growth of 7 per cent at all India level during first four years of 10th five year plan, the State has achieved 6.11 per cent annual average growth rate during first two years of the plan and is expected to achieve 5.75 per cent annual average growth rate during last three years of 10th five year plan. The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is estimated to be Rs 25,050 crore for the year 2006-07. The per capita income at Rs 17,174 per annum is impressive given the fact the state suffers from all the handicaps of a disturbed area and its mainstay tourism is crippled by militancy.
From all accounts, militancy in Kashmir is an export from outside. And it doesn’t tolerate moderate voices on Kashmir scene. Kashmiriyat stands for catholicity and not sectarianism of any kind. Terror infrastructure in POK is an acknowledged fact which also finds a mention in the European Union’s draft report on Kashmir. The report prepared by Baroness Emma Nicholson, rapporteur of the European Paliament (EP) is due for adoption in March 2007.
Upholding human rights in any disturbed area is a tough job. The security forces need to be sensitized. Anyone found violating the HR code should be given exemplary punishment. Indian army knows first hand there is no substitute to transparency and the only way to win over people’s love is to put in place a credible mechanism . This approach is best illustrated by the action taken against a Major who was alleged to have committed a rape in Handwara. Suspension, court martial and summary dismissal from service followed in that quick order though the charge of rape could not be established against Major on the basis of forensic evidence. Entering at night into a house where he was accused of committing the crime was considered as sufficient ground to punish him.
But in Balochistan, a Pakistan army Major went scott free even after raping a lady doctor on night duty at the Sui Gas Hospital at Quetta. No police case. No inquiry. The lady was from a respectable family and luckily for her, her husband stood by her at the traumatic moment and both migrated first to London and then to Canada with the help of friends and human rights groups to lead a new life. Yet they faced the taunt from their rulers, “Get raped, get money and get a visa to Canada”.
This work is in the public domain