Two Euro journalists to get Nawab Bugti award
WASHINGTON DC: Two European journalists have been given the Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Reporting Award for their objective news writing on the situation in Baluchistan, a DC-based organization announced on Tuesday on the eve of the third anniversary of the slaying of the Baluch statesman at the hands of Pakistan army.
The premier American Friends of Baluchistan has announced it will honor the works of two distinguished European journalists, Peter Tatchell of London and Karlos Zurutuza of Basque Country, Spain, for highlighting the Baluchistan struggle for independence in the The Guardian and the Spanish-language Gara newspaper, respectively.
"The two journalists have taken great personal risks to professionally bring to the fore one of the most under-reported struggles in the world today: the Baluch fight to regain their lost statehood from Pakistan and Iran," three presiding council members of the A.F.B., Rasheed Baloch, Mohammad Ali Baloch and Nabi Baloch said in a statement on the eve of the third death anniversary of Nawab Bugti that falls on August 26.
Nawab Bugti, 79, one of the most popular Baluch statesmen, was killed extra judicially by the Pakistani occupation army in Baluchistan on August 26, 2006. His martyrdom has strengthened the Baluch liberation movement that has now become widespread all over Baluchistan.
"Peter Tatchell is a well-known name all over Europe for his fight for human rights, including the birth rights of the oppressed minorities," the A.F.B. members said.
The latest Pakistani army massacre in occupied Baluchistan is further evidence that the democratic government of Pakistan is in office but not in power. The military is calling the shots. It is carrying on killing the Baluch people, against the wishes of the elected president, Asif Ali Zardari.
Last Tuesday, 3 February, in another brutal military operation, Pakistan army units fired at random into a wedding party in Baluchistan, killing 13 people including the bride and groom and injuring 21 others, most of them women, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.
The massacre occurred near the town of Dera Bugti, which has been under Pakistani military occupation since 2002 and has been bombed repeatedly and indiscriminately by the Pakistani air force, using US-supplied F-16 aircraft and Cobra attack helicopters. The British government also supplies arms and components to the Pakistani military.
"Karlos Zurutuza in the past earned the love and respect of the Kurdish people and his bold writings on the freedom movement in Baluchistan has been widely appreciated, " the three presiding council members said.
"Karlos Zurutuza in the past earned the love and respect of the Kurdish people and his bold writings on the freedom movement in Baluchistan has been widely appreciated, " the three presiding council members said.[q url="http://thebaluch.com/081109c_news.php"]
"What has Pakistan given us?" asks Ahktar Mengal, in his home in Quetta, Balochistan's capital. "The Punjabis [Pakistan's dominant ethnic group] have confiscated everthing: our property, our resources, and above all, our rights. Mengal is the tribal leader of the clan that bears his name, and also the president of the Baloch National Party (BNP). It's difficult to find a house in Quetta that's more under surveillance--and, as a consequence, more carefully guarded--than his.
"Why has the world forgotten us?," exclaims the sardar (tribal leader) of the Mengal clan.
It's possible that the world has, indeed, forgotten the Baloch people, but has anyone forgotten Balochistan? Let's take a look. Obama needs it for his oil pipeline, TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), Iran and India need it for the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India), and so does Qatar. China's constructing a gateway to the Persian Gulf at the port of Gwadar. Meanwhile Australia, Canada and Chile are extracting tons of gold and copper from Baluchistan's enormous reserves, the second largest in Asia. The greedy scramble for Baluchistan's treasures will probably heat up even more when the vast stores of petroleum and uranium hidden beneath its deserts are opened up.
The award will be in the form of a coin-like medal with the picture of Nawab Bugti, who was a former governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, and an inscription that will read "Baluchistan azaat ba'at." The inscription means "Baluchistan shall be free."
It will be presented to the two journalists at an upcoming event in London, England, by London-based leaders of the Baluch liberation movement.
The A.F.B. said next year, it will award famous U.S. writers and journalists, Selig S. Harrison of the Center for International Policy and Wendy Johnson, publisher of www.thebaluch. com for their services in highlighting the ongoing struggle in Baluchistan.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Oakley, described Nawab Bugti as a martyr for a just cause. He was awe-inspired by Nawab Bugti's leadership skills and came on public record to say he was capable to become a governor of any U.S. state.
Meanwhile, A.F.B. activists will stage a protest demo and distribute handbills against Pakistani businessmen Muslim Lakhani who is accused of looting the Baluch gold and copper resources at Reko Diq during the regime of former coup leader and dictator General Pervez Musharraf.
"Well done boys," General Musharraf, who is a son of Zarin a famous dancer from Lucknow -- the India city known for its brothels since the Mogul days -- congratulated the Pakistani soldiers who killed Nawab Bugti. The coffin of the slain leader was kept locked by the Pakistan army and none of his next of kin were allowed to see his last remains.
"Even the British never treated the Baluch so bad," said De Jure Ruler of Baluchistan, the Khan of Kalat Suleman Daud, who is now in exie in England, U.K.
But Lakhani was all praise for the Musharraf regime and was allegedly very close to his handpicked premier, Shaukat Aziz.
Pakistani media had raised concerns over the way the $100-billion copper and gold project changed hands from BHP Billiton, Australia, to Lakhani's Tethyan Copper -- though he had no experience in gold mining -- and then to Barrick Gold Corporation and Antofagasta of Chile.
The A.F.B. is demanding international auditing into the transactions of the copper-and-gold mining project at Reko Diq to expose what is believed to be the largest white-collar crime amounting to billions of dollars. The organization is also in touch with watchdog bodies like MiningWatch, Canada, over the matter.
Lakhani is now on the council of the prestigious Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He spent more than $80,000 in campaign contributions in one year.
Lakhani also paid for the travel, lodging and boarding of five journalists from Pakistan, including two brothers of Pakistan military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, for an event at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC last year. The subjects discussed by the Pakistani journalists -- all non-Baluch -- included challenges in reporting from tribal areas.
The A.F.B. activists will stage a protest in front of the Woodrow Wilson Center at the Federal Triangle very early on Wednesday morning. The A.F.B. is demanding of Lakhani to apologize to the Baluch people for heaping praise on Musharraf and to come clean in the controversial multi-billion transaction at Reko Diq.
The Baluch say they are as much different from the Punjabis and Persians as Frenchmen are from Britons and Germans and argue there is no sense in their national subjugation at the hands of Iran and Pakistan. The Baluch are staunchly secular while Iran and Pakistan are both Islamic republics.
The A.F.B. presiding council members presently include Bob Selle, Laurie Deamer, Waja Karim Bakhsh of Qatar, Waja Ghafoor Baluch of Miami, Fla., and Malik Rehmani Baluch of Houston, Texas.
The A.F.B. strongly opposes personal projection and publicity as counterproductive to the collective good of the Baluch struggle and tries to echo the demands of the Baluch liberation movement in Washington DC.
The A.F.B. was founded in the wake of the killing of Nawab Bugti in fall 2006. The organization is calling upon Pakistan to give a firm timetable for its troop pullout from Occupied Baluchistan.