A Baloch woman leader and rights activist has accused Pakistan of “genocide” in Balochistan and says India must support the “freedom movement” in the restive province for its own “strategic interests” as an “antidote for the Pakistan-China anti-India coalition”.
Naela Quadri, 50, said she was here to make a “conscience awakening call” to the government and people of India who helped liberate East Pakistan from Islamabad in 1971 to help it become an independent Bangladesh.
“It is not only for us. An independent Balochistan is the only antidote for Pakistan-China anti-India coalition,” Quadri, a Harvard graduate and a champion of Baloch rights, told IANS in an interview.
The Balochistan Independence Movement leader made a passionate plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get involved in the “freedom movement” of the sprawling western region which borders Iran and Afghanistan.
“India has to take a stand, not only against gross human rights violations in the neighbourhood but also because its strategic interests are involved,” said Quadri, who also heads the World Baloch Women’s Forum and campaigns for Baloch people’s rights worldwide. She was once jailed in Pakistan.
Pakistan has been accusing India of stoking trouble in Balochistan, which is the size of France and is rich in gas, gold and copper reserves. It is also home to massive untapped sources of oil and uranium. Angry over Pakistan’s exploitation of the resources and alleged repressive rule, Balochis have so far launched five armed insurgencies since the territory, a princely state under the British, was annexed by Islamabad in 1948.
She accused Pakistan of resorting to “genocide” in Balochistan in response to the “political, democratic and secular” freedom struggle.
“They have killed some 200,000 Balochis in the last decade. The Pakistan Army has participated in enforced disappearance of 25,000 people including men and women,” she said.
“They are using all the eight UN indicators of genocide including dehumanization, polarization, extermination and denial.”
Recalling the May 28, 1998 Pakistan nuclear tests, Quadri said the army “illegally” used Balochistan for testing its atomic weapons that it got from China. “They have hid the weapons in Balochistan.
“The Balochs are facing all this in isolation and loneliness. No country has come to our help. Not India, so far.
“India is not what it was in 1971 (when Bangladesh was liberated). You had a strong headed and brave leader in Indira Gandhi. She was determined and had a tough foreign policy to deal with Pakistan.
“Unfortunately, the case is different now.”
She hoped that Prime Minister Modi would come off “as strong as Gandhi” to help Balochistan win its freedom.
“Modi has a popular mandate and I am sure Indian people would support the Balochistan initiative,” said Quadri, an activist since her childhood. (IANS)
(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at [email protected])