Monday January 20, 2020
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Pakistan’s handling of Balochistan is reminiscent of its step brotherly treatment to East Pakistan

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Speaker in Ramadan

By Harshmeet Singh

In most cases, talks about Pakistan remain confined to the Kashmir conflict and home-grown terrorism. While Pakistan has somehow managed to restrict International media’s coverage of its human rights violations in Balochistan, it has never missed a chance of blaming India for the ongoing insurgency in one of its most impoverished provinces. Pakistan’s handling of Balochistan is reminiscent of its step brotherly treatment to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Balochistan’s long held demands for increased autonomy have fallen to deaf ears over the past half century. If Pakistan’s handling of the matter is any indication, the decades-long conflict doesn’t seem to have any concrete solution in sight.

Tracing the roots

The Balochistan conflict dates back to 1948 when the Pakistan Army launched an operation to neutralize the rebels in Kalat, after they refused to accept the King of Kalat’s decision to join Pakistan. According to them, the King was made to sign the instrument of accession by the Pakistan army at a gunpoint. Kalat lies at the centre of present day Balochistan.

With a new constitution coming into force in 1960s, the province was given limited provincial autonomy which further escalated the separatist movement in the province. In 1973, the unrest led to a joint military operation by the Pakistani and Iranian forces in the province which diluted the insurgency considerably. But with the emergence of Taliban in the early 2000s in the neighbouring Afghanistan, conflict resurfaced in the area and law and order took a backseat.

Despite having one of the biggest reserves of natural resources in the country, Balochistan remains one of the poorest areas in Pakistan. The province doesn’t get any royalty for the resource extracted from its land. While the central government blames the separatists for creating an unfavourable environment for development, the separatists accuse the central leadership for neglecting the province due to political interests. In the past decade or so, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has launched many violent operations against the Pakistan army, resulting in many deaths. Headed by Hyrbyair Marri, the BLA has been named as a terrorist organization by the Pakistan government, the USA and the EU.

The Baloch population was divided among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran due to the illogical Durand Line drawn by the British that divided Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Balochis now want to unify the area lying in all these countries, an idea which isn’t acceptable to any of these nations.

India’s connection

The ISI has been constantly accusing India of providing financial aid to the BLA, with an aim to divide Pakistan. Parvez Musharraf was once quoted saying that Pakistan possessed concrete proof that Afghanistan and India have been “involved in efforts to provide weapons, training and funding for Baloch extremists through Brahumdagh Bugti and Balach Marri, two Baloch nationalists, who were living in Kabul”. Pakistan has also accused India of offering its consulate offices in Afghanistan and Iran as the meeting place for Baloch separatists.

Balochistan has never shied away from seeing India as a friend. In 2008, the founder of Balochistan Republican Party, Brahumdagh Bugti, said that he is ready to accept help from India. Pakistan isn’t alone in thinking that India has an indirect involvement in Balochistan. Military officials in the US and the UK have hinted multiple times that they are certain about India’s active role in the conflict-ridden province. India, on the other hand, dismisses all such claims and calls them baseless and frivolous.

Many experts compare the Balochistan conflict with Kashmir issue and hint towards India using the Baloch province to gain some ground in Kashmir. Though these comparisons are personal imaginations of a few experts, the two regions stand poles apart. Unlike India’s dismissal of all allegations about its role in Balochistan, Pakistan has been open in its support to the Kashmiri militants and separatists. India has never given shelter to any Baloch leader seeking exile, as opposed to Pakistan’s royal treatment to India’s wanted criminals. Despite India’s neutral stance, Baloch people are known to be highly respectful towards India.

President at the Baloch Society of North America, Dr. Wahid Baloch, tried to reach out to India in 2009, saying, “We love our Indian friends and we want them to help us and rescue us from tyranny and oppression. In fact, India is the only country which has shown concern over the Baloch plights, but showing concern is not enough. We want India to take Balochistan’s issue to every international forum, the same way Pakistan has done to raise the so-called Kashmiri issue. We want India to openly support our just cause and provide us with all moral, financial, military and diplomatic support (sic).”

Gwadar Port

Soon after Pakistan gave its Gwadar port to China for ‘development purposes’ in 2003, a terrorist attack was carried out in the area, which killed 3 Chinese engineers. Without giving much thought, Pakistan blamed India for this attack. Lying in the Baloch area, the port was a major hope of development for the local Balochis. But neglecting their demands for royalty on production of natural gas, Musharraf ordered the Pakistan army to carry out a military operation in the province, to suppress any rebellion.

The first export ship left Gwadar Port earlier this month, thus marking the successful completion of the project. India is keeping a close eye on the developments at the Gwadar port due to many reasons. An increasing Sino-Pak bonhomie isn’t a great sign for India.

The Baloch nationalists, who have taken the path of armed violence, seem convinced of this method’s effectiveness in getting them closer to their demands. They would do well to re-think their approach since their ‘war of independence’ is just adding to their misery and bloodshed. India, on the other hand, must make a choice between getting engaged in Balochistan or forming a partnership with Pakistan on Gwadar Port to get easier access to the planned gas pipelines through the port.

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Mercy for the Nirbhaya Rapists?

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past.

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Nirbhaya
The Nirbhaya incident in Delhi was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India.

By Salil Gewali

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past. Apart from various kinds of physical tortures, the mental tortures undergone by defenseless females are endless. Within the confinement of four-walls innumerable sins are still being committed which mostly go unreported. However, it was Nirbhaya’s rape incident in Delhi that was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India. Post-Nirbhaya incident, a lot many changes in the laws have been made. The safety and security of women have been prioritized, the nation-wide the whole police departments have been sensitized, to a greater extent the road transportation has been made women-friendly.

Nirbhaya rape
The public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night.

Thanks to the countless number of protests across the country condemning the six rapists. The people from all walks of life came together and relentlessly pressurized the government that the Nirbhaya convicts must be awarded capital punishment. Media’s contribution in the campaign is immeasurable. Alas, India’s judiciary is so annoyingly slow it has taken over 7 years to pronounce the death sentence.

Nirbhaya rape
Advocate Indira Jaising suggested that the convicts of Nirbhaya rape case could be “forgiven” by the parents.

However, now nothing could be so mind-blowing than the flood of condemnation against the comments by a veteran advocate and social activist Indira Jaising. Without a sense of guilt and potential backlash, she suggested that the convicts be “forgiven” by the parents. Jaising’s idea has clearly touched a raw nerve of the major population in the country. People’s anger is spilled well over social media. What is most noteworthy is the scathing condemnation directly from the horse mouth — the mother Asha Devi. A very bold lady, who determinedly fought for justice for so many years, thunders – “Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Just because of people like her, justice is not done with rape victims,” Asha Devi aptly further adds — “Can’t believe how Jaising even dared to suggest such this; I met her many times over the years in Supreme Court, “not once” she asked for my well-being and today she is speaking for convicts. Such people earn a livelihood by supporting rapists; hence rape incidents don’t stop,”

The latter comments by the Nirbhaya’s mother clearly hint the doubt at the “integrity” of the advocate Ms. Jaising. How on earth that one who has not spoken a word of sympathy in spite of many encounters in the court can reserves the right to suggest that which offends the distressed victim party. Asha Devi deserves a salute for her boldness. Yes, India Jaising is one of the advocates who knocked the door of the Chief Justice of India in the middle of the night in July 2015 in order to seek the mercy for the dreaded terrorist Yakub Menon.

Nirbhaya rapists
In 2015, the Delhi Government proposed to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine.

Again, here is another bombshell to drop which many of us may have forgotten. Can we ever “forgive” for the shocking proposal in 2015 by Delhi Government to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine?  Who has approved such bizarre ideas and which leaders are responsible? What kind of lesson should the citizens take from this?

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I think the public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night. They had used the iron-rod to inflict deep injuries upon the girl which is unspeakable, which is very unpardonable. So, given the increasing cases of rapes and subsequent inhumane cruelty and cold-blooded killings, Capital punishment can be the only answer and “one of the deterrents”. Before the divine retribution, the hard rod of punishment should not be spared at all. 

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali