'Baloch Nelson Mandela' mocks at apex court of Pakistan
In his opening statement before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, "Baloch Nelson Mandela" Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal mocked at the apex court by saying that it has given "timely attention" to the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations.
Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal was chief minister of Texas-sized Balochistan for 18 months in 1996-98, while his father Sardar Ataullah Mengal was chief minister for nine months in 1972-73.
Mengal ended his self-exile in Dubai and appeared before the Supreme Court of Pakistan last month.
Mengal's appearance before the apex court created a political storm in Pakistan.
His politics of moderation has come under fire by both the stooges of Pakistan's intelligence services and Baloch hardliners demanding nothing less than secession of their homeland.
Though some youngsters of the Mengal family are also involved in militancy -- his nephew Noordin Mengal was not allowed entry into the U.S. and was deported even though he has U.K. passport in summer 2009--, the two main Mengals believe in political struggle for securing the right to self-determination for the Baloch people.
Pakistan's secret services have propped up death squads and criminal mafias, who are armed to teeth, to counter the national and democratic forces in Balochistan.
Mengal has asked Islamabad to end these death squads as the first baby step for reconcilation with the moderate nationalist forces.
Following is the full statement of Mengal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan delivered on September 27 in Islamabad.
On behalf of Balochistan National Party and the people of Balochistan, let me sincerely thank you and honourable Judges of Supreme Court for the timely attention to gross human rights violations in Balochistan.
Honourable Chief Justice,
The Baloch people are living a life at the gunpoint in the shadows of inhuman atrocities.
Their physical survival is at stack with the systematic and organized acts of genocide being carried out by the Security Agencies. All the parameters indicate a classical colonial relationship between Pakistan and Balochistan. The Baloch political struggle is the response to cultural domination, economical exploitation and political subjugation of the Baloch by Islamabad.
Honourable Judges of Supreme Court,
Let me briefly describe various aspects of Baloch Pakistan relationship.
1. Political marginalization: The Baloch access to the political process has been deliberately suspended, to the detriment for conciliation and co-existence with the State. During the last six decades, only three provincial governments with a semblance of the Baloch representation were allowed to function for nearly 3 years in total. During the remaining period, the province was ruled by central government in Islamabad through proxy.
Once the military control was established in 1948, a system of 'indirect colonial rule' was employed in Balochistan in order to gradually gain comprehensive economic, cultural and political control. A small, carefully selected group of the Baloch who had no standing in the Baloch social and political system and their only credentials was their loyalty to the state establishment exercised limited powers in the province on behalf of the central government. The state intelligence agencies selected, instructed and often co-opted such individuals. Beginning from 1970s, a new and previously unknown breed of politicians, the ‘religious leaders’, was created in a secular Baloch society and was also incorporated in the scheme of ruling Balochistan by proxy. The state functionaries have been promoting non-entities as alternates to recognised Baloch leadership of Nawab Marri, Sardar Mengal and Nawab Bugti, which not only proved to be a futile exercise, but also engendered the hostility of the Baloch masses. The Baloch political movement was led by their representative parties like National Awami Party and Balochistan National Party in different periods. In order to counter the Baloch political resistance, the state intelligence agencies created various political parties and organizations to weaken the political mobilization of the Baloch masses. This internal colonizing mechanisation is yet another gloomy aspect of the State and the Baloch conflict.
2. Exploitation: The process of expropriating the natural resources of Balochistan is going on from the very beginning. First, they extracted the natural gas resources of Eastern Balochistan at the extent of exhausting the reserves. Then was the turn of mineral wealth of North-western Balochistan. Various new exploratory schemes to discover and utilize the remaining natural resources in various regions of Balochistan are on the agenda of military establishment. Balochistan is among the few regions of the world where the population is poor but the land is rich. For the Baloch it is difficult to come with the fact that with all the riches of their land they are living in disgusting poor conditions.
3. Human Rights Violations:
Human rights situation in Balochistan is continued to deteriorate. The Pakistani authorities continuously suppressed, violated and subdued the Baloch people right to self-determination and political development.
Grave human rights violations have been documented by the reputable organizations during the on-going military operation (2004-2012) against moderate Baloch nationalists in Balochistan. Rights violations include indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against civilians, target killings, displacement and disappearances and kill and dump.
Security forces have committed hundreds of unlawful killings in Balochistan. Intimidation, harassment, arrests; torture is a common practice by non-local military and intelligence agencies against dissident Baloch. Peaceful protestors are being suppressed, political representatives are killed with frequency, activists are detained unlawfully, and freedom of expression and assembly is completely restricted.
The forced disappearance of political opponents by State intelligence services continues in spite of end to the Musharaf’s military rule.
Many people have died at the hands of the security forces in extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody, and thousands of people are reported to have been subjected to enforced disappearance. The confrontation between Baloch nationalists and the state is characterized by human rights abuses.
The State agencies alleged involvement in cases of disappearance focused attention on a new form of criminal assault on citizen’s rights to liberty and due protection of the law.
According to HRCP ethnic Baloch population is prime victim of enforced disappearances in Pakistan. Practice of ED has created unprecedented level of fear in the society and people are living in state of shock. Due to the fear of being disappear they are powerless to raise their voice for their legitimate basic human, political and economic rights.
Islamabad’s persistent policy to physically eliminate moderate Baloch political representatives is alarming. The unrelenting killing of Baloch political leaders is a clear sign that, instead of using logic, arguments and political means to respond to Baloch grievances, in fact state has decided to eliminate all politically conscious Baloch leaders and activists.
In last seven years (2005-2012) more than seven thousand innocent civilians have been killed due to the conflict and more than 400 top Baloch leaders have been systematically killed by the state authorities.
Honourable Chief Justice,
The Baloch Pakistan conflict has its ugly manifestations. On the one hand, the Baloch reaction to the subjugating measures of the state was the mobilization of the masses to assert their presence in Pakistan as a distinct national entity and to regain their hold on the destiny of their nation while on the other hand, Pakistani reaction was to employ ruthless muscle power in order to force the Baloch into submission. The intermittent armed conflicts between the Pakistani armed forces and the Baloch national resistance for the last six decades has caused tremendous sufferings for the Baloch in men and material besides its negative psychological impacts on the society.
Extra judicial killings of the Baloch by the army, paramilitary and state intelligence agencies, harassment, kidnapping and inhuman torture of the Baloch political activists and intellectuals are the permanent features of the State and the Baloch conflict. Crude military power has been the only way adopted by almost every Pakistani Government in dealing with the Baloch demands for basic rights. The Pakistani army launched major military offensives in Balochistan during 1948, 1958, 1962, and 1973. The recent military aggression in Balochistan which was initiated in 2001 is the continuation of that policy; nevertheless, it surpasses all previous military operations in its intensity and ruthlessness. The actions of Pakistani army establishment constitute violation of international human rights and cherished humanitarian laws and many of these actions could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Many of the actions by the State come into the orbit of the legal definition of articles II and III of UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
Honourable Chief Justice,
To eradicate the Baloch national aspirations once and for all, the Pakistani army is waging a war with no regards for Baloch lives and human dignity. The war against the Baloch is being waged without witnesses. They are refusing access to foreign observers, journalists and humanitarian organizations.
Para-military organizations established with different nomenclature are targeting Baloch nationalist activists, social leaders, businessmen, students and teachers to frustrate the voice of the Baloch and undermine the support for national resistance. This is in addition with increasing number of extra-judicial killings being carried out directly by the armed forces. Similarly, the state secret services have grouped together, armed, and supported certain criminal elements as bands of dacoits and proxy killers in various areas of Balochistan. A new and mentally torturing aspect of the conflict for the Baloch is the targeting and killings of women and children from the families of the Baloch national leaders and political activists by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
Thousands of the Baloch political and social activists have been picked up by the security agencies since 2001 and their whereabouts are not known. This ruthless practice is still being employed. The families of the missing persons are increasingly losing hopes for the lives of their loved ones.
Resistance to oppression is the consequence of the oppression itself. When the state violates the rights of a people, insurrection becomes for the people the most sacred of rights and indispensible of duties. The reactions of Pakistani state to the Baloch national demands ranged from the bloody and ruthless suppression of dissent by the use of military muscles to indiscriminate killings to the mass imprisonments and curtailments of political activities or violations of civil rights of the Baloch people. The result of this is that the Baloch have been forced to seek some form of defence against these cruelties.
The needs and interests of the state establishment of Pakistan and the Baloch are in many ways diametrically opposed to one another. The struggle of the Baloch is for their cultural, historical, geographical and economical rights while the State is concerned with political marginalization of the Baloch, cultural hegemony and ruthless exploitation of the Baloch resources.
Since the conflict is the direct result of oppression, the only way out is that the products of oppressions are removed, and that is to stop the oppression and the settlement of the dispute through a fair process involving conflict mediators. The Baloch people will welcome any effort from the Supreme Court for an amicable settlement of Baloch-Pakistan conflict.
In any conflict resolution process it is imperative to take into consideration the essence of the conflict. The Baloch Pakistan conflict is historical, cultural, economical and political in nature. It is obvious that in any conflict resolution process, the agenda should encompass all those issues.
Due to obvious reasons without a neutral international supervision, there is no chance of a peaceful resolution of the Baloch Pakistan conflict and there is no hope of lessening the miseries and sufferings of the Baloch people.
In recent decades, longstanding conflicts of similar nature in Europe, Africa and Asia have been resolved peacefully with active help and facilitation of civilized world. Application and implementation of the UN articles on the right of self determination for oppressed nations was successful in bringing peace in East Timur, Kosovo and South Sudan.
Before initiating a meaningful process of conflict resolution it is imperative that Pakistan should take and practically implement some measures which are must to build a conducive atmosphere for Baloch Pakistan reconciliation process.
1. All covert and overt military operations against the Baloch should immediately be suspended
2. All missing persons should be produced before a court of law
3. All proxy death squads operating under the supervision of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded
4. Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies
5. Persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of dead bodies of the Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice
6. Measures should be taken for the rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition.
After taking the above mentioned confidence building measures, a meaningful negotiation between the recognised and genuine representatives of the Baloch and Pakistani military establishment could take place to decide the future relationship of Balochistan with Pakistan.
Honourable Judges of Supreme Court,
The Baloch have been consistently calling for meaningful intervention in Balochistan and have been stressing upon the Supreme Court to take notice of gruesome violations of humanitarian laws by Pakistan. The Baloch are still hopeful that the Supreme Courtwill realize the gravity of the situation and come forward and fulfil its historic responsibility in saving a whole nation being systematically wiped out.