Thursday January 18, 2018
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Plight of Indian fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan, Pakistani jails

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New Delhi: Thousands of Indian fishermen are languishing in the jails of neighbouring countries with nearly 650 of them arrested this year until October only by maritime security agencies of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh.

According to government sources, Sri Lanka is topping the chart as some 350 Indian fishermen have been arrested and 52 fishing trawlers seized by the Sri Lankan navy. Pakistan’s MSA has arrested 239 Indian fishermen and seized 35 fishing boats. Bangladesh has 56 and Burma has 6 Indian fishermen in their custody.

In most of the cases, Indian fishermen set forth into the waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the neighbouring countries, which led their maritime security agencies to take action against them.

Two incidents were witnessed in September and October where fishermen were fatally attacked by MSA when they ventured into Pakistan waters. Thereupon, the Indian coast guard issued a fresh advisory to the Gujarat government recently warning them not to wander in the “no-fishing” zone.

This advisory came against the backdrop of the killing of a 40-year-old fisherman who had set forth 10 nautical miles inside Pakistani waters and was shot dead on September 18. Another fisherman was found injured when his boat was in Pakistani waters on October 15. He was identified as Dhanji Bamaniya and was let off on humanitarian grounds along with five others.

Authorities have warned the fishermen against not only crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) but also not to do fishing in the “no fishing” zone, failing which their documents would be forfeited.

“We have informed the Fisheries Department of Gujarat government about this. On our part we can only seize their documents and hand it over to the state authorities,” a Coast Guard official said.

An Indian delegation is scheduled to visit Pakistan to inspect 22 Indian boats seized by the neighbouring country and discuss modalities for their release. Coast Guard sources said that the Pakistani authorities keep releasing fishermen, but not the boats.

(With inputs from agencies)

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak
American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.