Balochistan constitutes almost half of Pakistan (44%) and is home to around 14 million people
By virtue of its strong natural resource reserve, it is a key energy supplier to many regions
There have been mass killings, rape and blood baths in the region which have made Balochistan call for International intervention
Sipping on some coffee, I watch an anchor from a leading portal interview Naela Qadri Baloch, the face of the Baloch struggle. She makes a rookie mistake by calling her a Pakistani. Tch Tch. The rage isn’t visible on her unreadable face but her words, “Humein Pakistani kehna hamare liye takhleef ki baat hai (It’s painful hearing someone call us a Pakistani)” elicits an apology from the interviewer. In a matter of minutes, Naela pours her heart out and talks about the struggle of the entire Balochistan. From the rapes to the 25,000 missing cases to the bodies found chopped off for Organ trafficking, her blow-by-blow account of what goes on in Balochistan will give you goosebumps and will definitely send chills down your spine.
Activists fighting for a cause are usually backed up by a single group, but in this case, Ms. Quadri says, she has the support of an entire nation. Here are the principal facts of a soon to be an independent nation, has been penned down-
On March 27,1948, the Pakistan Army was ordered to make its move of aggression towards the coastal regions of Balochistan. There’s a lot that went about leading to that day of conquest, from Jinnah accepting the accession under the barrel of a gun to the Balochistan parliament rejecting the accession as the British Empire had given an Independent status to the then country under the Kalat reign even before India. Unfortunately, the Pakistan military occupied Balochistan and their independence lasted for about 227 days after the British withdrawal.
Understanding Balochistan’s Importance-
The land mass named Balochistan is of the size of Texas, constituting almost half of Pakistan i.e. 44 percent. Amongst a myriad of reasons, there are three well-talked areas that make Balochistan economically and strategically, an important resource for Pakistan.
By virtue of its strong natural resource reserve, it is a key energy supplier to many regions in Pakistan. Large quantities of minerals such as copper and iron ore are found in the reservoirs. The Geographical Survey has discovered reserves of 200 million tonnes.
II. Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline
Balochistan shares its border with Iran, a major gas and oil producer and this fact has been leveraged by Pakistan. There has been a proposed 2,100km long Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline part of which will pass through Balochistan, which is estimated to be around 1500km.
III. Gwadar Port
The Gwadar port is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue due to its strategic value. It’s the shortest route for oil supplies to China and passes more than 13 million barrel oil per day.
Current Day Balochistan-
Exploitation of its natural wealth and military atrocities has led Balochistan to follow the path of Independence like Bangladesh. Naela Qadri in her recent interview with a leading news portal said that the Pakistan army has wiped many villages by killing men or torturing them after their abduction leading to a land filled with thrown corpses. On the other hand, the Baloch women are victims of Army rape cells.
Even in the face of such horror, Balochistan’s struggle against the Pakistan rule has been relentless.
Hue and cry about Balochistan’s plight is all over social media. With support from the Indian mass and PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech on August 15, the future of Balochistan seems to be optimistic. Modi said, “Today from the ramparts of Red Fort, I want to greet and express my thanks to some people. In the last few days, people of Balochistan, Gilgit, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir have thanked me, have expressed gratitude, and expressed good wishes for me. The people who are living far away, whom I have never seen, never met – such people have expressed appreciation for Prime Minister of India, for 125 crore countrymen. This is an honour for our countrymen.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan has been wrongfully accusing India; the Pakistan government reported a case of an Indian spy entering Balochistan with a fake Iranian passport but these claims have been refuted by Ms. Quadri.
Madrid, October 22, 2017 : Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has outlined plans to remove Catalonia’s leaders and take control of the separatist region.
Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday, Rajoy stopped short of dissolving the region’s parliament but put forward plans for elections, BBC reported.
The measures must now be approved by Spain’s Senate in the next few days.
Large crowds have gathered in Barcelona to protest against direct rule from Madrid. It comes almost three weeks after Catalonia held a disputed independence referendum.
Spain’s Supreme Court had declared the vote illegal and said it violated the constitution, which describes the country as indivisible.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has ignored pleas from the national government to abandon moves towards independence.
Rajoy said the the Catalan government’s actions were “contrary to the law and seeking confrontation”. He said it was “not our wish, it was not our intention” to impose direct rule.
This will be via Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, which allows it to impose direct rule in a crisis on any of the country’s semi-autonomous regions.
Spanish law dictates that elections must be held within six months of Article 155 being triggered, but Rajoy said it was imperative that the vote be held much sooner.
Reports say that Spain’s interior ministry is preparing take control of Catalonia’s Mossos police force and remove its commander Josep Lluís Trapero, who is already facing sedition charges.
The government is also considering taking control of Catalonia’s public broadcaster TV3, El País newspaper reported.
Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras said Rajoy and his allies had “not just suspended autonomy. They have suspended democracy”.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said it was a “serious attack on the rights and freedoms of all, both here and elsewhere” and called for demonstrations.
The president of Barcelona football club, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said the club gave its “absolute support for the democratic institutions of Catalonia chosen by its people”.
But he called for any reaction to be “civil and peaceful” and said dialogue was the only way to a solution.
Eduard Rivas Mateo, spokesman for the Catalan Socialist party — which supports the Spanish government’s stance but also wants constitutional reform — said he could not accept a “harsh application” of Article 155.
But Ines Arrimadas, head of the centrist Ciudadanos party in Catalonia, which is against independence, said holding fresh elections would “restore goodwill and democracy” in the region.
Rajoy’s use of Article 155 had been widely anticipated, but his announcement when it came still had a huge impact. The article has never been invoked before, so there was a certain amount of mystery surrounding its potential reach and meaning.
Although Rajoy insisted that Catalonia’s self-government is not being suspended, many will disagree. The removal from office of Carles Puigdemont and all the members of his cabinet, to allow ministers in Madrid to take on their duties, amounts to a major reining in of Catalonia’s devolved powers.
The Spanish Prime Minister said one of his aims is to restore peaceful co-existence to Catalonia with these measures.
Many Catalans who want to remain in Spain will approve of this strident action. But those who want independence for their region are likely to see this as a provocation rather than a solution. (IANS)
The definition of ‘Independent women’ is always weighed with the money she earns.
Societies see bread earners as the ones who run the family.
This societal taboo disrespects the woman’s choice.
People are of the opinion that an educated woman limiting herself as a housewife is “squandering” her qualification. Women often hear, “what’s the use of studying, if you have to become a housewife”. The choice of staying at home or going to work is completely a personal decision. Both sexes pertain the right to take decisions of their lives.
It’s not necessary that the option to stay at home is always imposed on women, some may opt to become a housewife. The ‘taboo’ of a woman wasting her degree by sitting at home, relegates the choice made by her. Women education is questioned, if they decide being independent by not spending eight hours outside of their homes.
The work profile of a housewife gets restricted to the domestic drudgery in many societies. Had home-making been doing just the domestic chores, then why do working mothers prefer leaving their kids with English-speaking maids or send them to creches, where their baby is under the guidance of educated people. Why do they not randomly pick someone?
An educated woman can make better decisions in home-making. The quality of life of the family would be better in terms of nutrition, cleanliness, health and stress when the person devotes a lot of her time at home. From choosing the right kind of household items to childcare, her qualifications would play a huge role. Young minds benefit from interactions with an educated person. The housewife’s qualifications would help her decide the kind of school her child would fit in, the kind of environment is required for his/her growth, and most importantly the lessons and values to be given to her children.
The contribution made by a housewife gets quantified with money. She is asked, “Do you not feel ashamed while asking for money from your husband?”. Does the woman’s time, effort and sweat in cleaning and maintaining the house, not anything? The definition of ‘Independent woman’ is often misconstrued. The self-earned cash is an important sign of freedom, however, being independent is only weighed with earning money. People fail to understand that, a lady taking the onus of the whole family, making wiser decisions for the well-being of its members qualifies to “being independent”.
The relationship between a husband and a wife is mutually dependent. Both are reliant on each other for physical and mental support. If a lady homemaker needs money from her husband, then the latter needs cooked food, ironed clothes, clean house and good parenting for his child.
Working parents juggle the responsibilities of home and work, which makes them stressed. In such situations, some choose to be the multitasker, while some want to stay at home. Every individual chooses the best for themselves. Rather than judging them, we should respect their decision and show some compassion. Women education never gets wasted if, they willingly decided to take part in the selection of household items. And, we must never forget that education passes on wisdom, and wise decisions always succeed
Megha can be reached at Twitter @ImMeghaacharya
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Even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, Balochistan refuses to associate itself as a part of the country
Pakistan’s military occupation of Balochistan began in 1948 before which the province had existed as an independent state
The insurgency in Balochistan traces its roots in ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion
Balochistan, August 31, 2017 : Located in the South West of Pakistan, the Balochistan province of Pakistan constitutes nearly 45 per cent of the country’s territory. However, even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, the people of the province refuse to associate themselves with Pakistan or its framework of a nation state. They believe they have been Balochis for over three thousand years, who have now been invaded.
“It is freedom struggle,” believes activist Naela Quadri Baloch like many other Baloch nationalists. According to her, Balochistan had been occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and “ever since we have been fighting against Pakistan to free ourselves”, she believes.
What can I say on the day of #EnforcedDisappearance. I have lived a witness of the sufferings of my people waiting days, months and years.
In 2016 during an interview with The Times of India, the women’s leader and activist Naela Quadri Baloch had asserted that Pakistan is not interested in Kashmiris but specifically in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir for its desire to control the Indus river system. Similarly, it is also not interested in the Balochis, but the land of the state for its strategic location and mineral reserves.
Baloch nationalists assert that Pakistan’s economy is dependent on loans from the IMF, World Bank and the Western countries that are allegedly taken on the pretext of Balochistan’s rich mineral resources. They further claim that Pakistan’s strategic importance is also due to Balochistan coast. Pakistan would not be able to survive, which is why it does not want Balochistan to emerge as an independent state.
While the world views it as an insurgency movement, Balochis address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
They maintain that Balochistan was never a part of India or Pakistan and it had always been an independent country.
Balochistan At The Time Of Partition
Balochistan comprises of four erstwhile princely states – Kalat, Kharan, Lasbela and Makran, that had been unified by Naseer Khan, the Khan of Kalat.
During the British rule, the province was divided into British Balochistan (25 per cent) and Native Balochistan, occupying 75 per cent of the total territory with people pledging adherence to Naseer Khan.
Immediately following partition and the creation of Pakistan, Khan’s descendant, Mir Ahmed Yaar Khan was faced with three options – independence, or accession to either India or Pakistan. He decided upon independence, following which a communiqué was released on August 11, 1947 giving independent sovereign status to Kalat.
However, by October 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted Kalat to formally join the state of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat did not agree to the accession which was followed by a standstill between the two leaders upon the status of present-day Balochistan.
Becoming A Part Of Pakistan
By April 1948, the Pakistan army moved into the province and captured Kalat. The Khans’ attempts of an armed campaign against the Pakistan army went futile and the province was merged with Pakistan by June 1948.
At the center of Balochistan’s forced accession was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had previously been hired by the Khans for his legal services to negotiate Kalat’s independent status with the Britishers.
Before partition, Jinnah had successfully mooted an ‘Independent Status’ of Kalat for which he was graciously awarded with gold. But, Balochistan breathed as a free country only from August 1947 to March 1948, after which Jinnah breached trust and betrayed the Khan, forcing the Pakistani invasion and eventual accession of Kalat.
Surprisingly, during the struggle and annexation of present-day Balochistan, the Indian Congressmen, Mahatma Gandhi or the then-Governor General Lord Mountbatten made no attempts to hinder in the remonstration. This indifference can be attributed to the Indian leaders’ failure to realize the strategic implication of a sovereign Balochistan at the time.
A Growing Ethnic Nationalism
Following the formation of Pakistan, distorted power relations existed among different Muslim ethnicities. Additionally, unchallenged power was exercised by Punjabis who comprised of about 56 per cent population of the state.
In 1954, the One Unit scheme was launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four existing provinces of West Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkawa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab) to form a homogeneous, united political entity in an attempt to,
Forge national unity on basis of Islam and geography
Reduce gross expenditure
Help eliminate ethnic prejudices.
The move triggered violence throughout the country and especially in Balochistan, wherein this was interpreted as a strategy to establish Punjabi domination.
Balochistan rose against the move, which came to an end in 1970 with the overthrow of the One Unit scheme.
However, following the rebellion, a strong sense of nationalism, propounding larger political autonomy and a separate state for Balochistan broke a full-fledged insurgency from 1973 to 1977; over 80,000 personnel were deployed to quell the rebellion.
Armed struggle to achieve separation from Pakistan lasted throughout the 1970s, in which 3,300 army personnel and 5,300 Balochis were killed. However, the Pakistani government successfully compressed the movement.
Baloch nationalists have repeatedly argued that they are yet to receive any benefit from the development projects that have been initiated by the government in Balochistan.
Reportedly, the Sui Gas Field in Balochistan caters to most urban households in the country. Despite producing about 45 per cent of gas for Pakistan, the province gets to consume a mere 17 per cent. Additionally, the Balochis get a nominal amount of Pakistani Rupees 6 for a 24-hour supply.
The Pakistani government, in collaboration with China, initiated the development of the Gwadar port in the province, with an aim to better trade ties with Asia, Europe, and US. However, a large number of Punjabis and non-Baloch people were hired for the project, leaving an increasing population of Baloch engineers and technicians unemployed.
Balochistan has one of the world’s richest reserves of copper and gold. However, as much as 16 kgs of gold is seized everyday by the Chinese under an arrangement with the government, which robs the Balochis of major economic benefits.
Despite being one of the country’s key providing areas,
80 per cent population of Balochistan continue to live in the absence of safe drinking water
80 per cent people do not have access to electricity
70 per cent children have never been to school
63 per cent of Balochis live below the poverty line
It frustrates me to see d natives of Gwadar dying of thirst. No drinking water for locals thanks to all being spent on so-called CPEC scam.
While ethnic nationalist interests continue to worry Balochistan, a primary demand has also been about better control over the economic resources of the region.
However, the Pakistani government blames the nationalist struggle in the region for impeding the developmental process.
Political Subjugation By Islamabad
Balochistan makes up nearly 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory but the Balochs comprise only 5 per cent of the total population, making them a minority in Pakistan.
Their representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan is also negligible (17 out of 342) which reveals that the Balochis have lost their say in policy formulations and are forced to adhere to laws that have been put in place for them by power honchos sitting in Islamabad.
Additionally, the Pakistan government centered in Islamabad has eradicated most of the Baloch activists and nationalists, calling them ‘foreign agents against the state’. This can be supplemented with the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti who was an ex chief minister of Balochistan.
Ever since the creation of Pakistan, it has been evident that the Pakistan government is more concerned with occupying the physical territory of Balochistan, with meager interest in its indigenous population.
The Pakistan army, on command of the government has employed every possible armory against its own people of Balochistan, in an attempt to contain the province within its seizure. Furthermore, army cantonments have been established at Dera, Gwadar, Bugti and Kohlu to gauge activity and movement of the Baloch people.
Additionally, despite occupying 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory, the budget allocated to Balochistan is minuscule in comparison to its vast landmass.
In 2002, General Pervez Musharraf had striked a deal with China over the Gwadar port development as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Baloch people condemned the allocation of land to the rich businessmen of Punjab and Karachi and further lamented the unemployment stemming from the project. The move also instigated further violence in the region.
As of now, according to report, all 22 districts of Balochistan continue to suffer at the hands of the enduring insurgency with the tally of displaced people now crossing over 2 lacs.
In more recent times, the Pakistan army took aid of suicide bombers to tackle the ongoing insurgency. On August 8, 2017, as many as 54 lawyers became victims of a suicide attack, which is being touted as a State-funded action as the group included several Baloch activists who had been vocal about Pakistan army’s interference in state affairs.
According to a report published in Dawn,prince of the now redundant Kalat state, Prince Mohyuddin Baloch who is now the Baloch Rabita Ittefaq Tehreek chief, had said that Balochis are not looking to wage wars. Until now, Balochis have not once attacked Pakistan, but only defended themselves.
He said the objective of their protests has been to draw the government’s attention. However, regretfully, no one is paying any heed to their cries.
Dr. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar had rightly quoted in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly that the “ethnic difference remains the single biggest fault line in Pakistani politics.”
The Balochistan insurgency thus, traces its roots in a ripe ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion. This animosity among the country will continue unless Pakistan accepts its non-Muslim history.
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