Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 20:50 PM EDT, 5 April 2012
BALOCHISTAN, Pakistan - Recently, we wrote about the Tuareg of North Africa and the battle they are fighting in Mali for independence as an autonomous country. There is another little known group of people also fighting for their independence, as well as control over the natural resource in their region, the Baloch. These Asiatic people inhabit Balochistan which is a territory located in southwest Pakistan.
It lies in a mountainous region that is rich in natural gas. It is also Pakistan’s largest province and the area from which Pakistan imports much of its natural gas.
The Baloch, view Pakistan's unilateral ownership of this natural resource as larceny because they are not remunerated, nor can they adequately utilize the gas because so many of their homes and villages have been razed to the ground.
Balochistan borders two conflict nations, Iran and Afghanistan. The Baloch rebels control the border crossings into Iran and Afghanistan, and in the case of the latter, this nearly inaccessible region can only be navigated with the permission and guidance of the Balochian militia.
Although it is not a common occurrence there have been reports that members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have joined their ranks, but this could be because these religious ideologues have fled into hiding, or they are meeting arms dealers to replenish their weaponry.
The Baloch, an ethnic minority in Pakistan, has been engaged in a 60-year-long insurgency against the government. Because America and other nations have focused on Pakistan for its tacit support and harboring of Taliban operatives, other injustices that occur in the country often go unacknowledged and definitely under-reported in the Western media.
In fact, some have even labeled this conflict as “Pakistan’s Dirty Little War.” A fact which should give America pause when Congress continues to approve economic support for this country. In fact, America provides Pakistan nearly $1bn in foreign aid annually. (Source: Guardian UK)
As with many conflict torn areas of the world, some warring factions employ the frightening practice of kidnapping, torture, and forced disappearance of the relatives of their enemies. This occurred in Libya post-Gaddafi, in Congo, and also in Pakistan. In fact, in Pakistan, there are organizations which have been formed to help families get information about loved ones who have been kidnapped, and Amnesty International has focused extensive attention to this issue.
As with the Tuareg and other minority groups around the world who are persecuted and marginalized, the Baloch live in a constant state of conflict. They not only face violence, murder, and larceny, but they must also contend with the kidnapping of their loved ones. Often children are taken who could be trafficked into sexual slavery, pressed into war as child fighters, or outright killed.
The Baloch have refused to negotiate with the Pakistani government which they view with suspicion. During the six decade conflict the Pakistani government has failed to make a good faith effort to meet the needs and requests of the Balochians. There have been gross human rights abuses as well as the burning of homes and rape of women.
It seems the only end to this 60-year conflict will occur when the Balochian achieve the right to self-governance in a country which has seceded from Pakistan.
- The tricky demographics of Balochistan (dawncompk.wordpress.com)
- More than 14,000 Baloch have 'gone missing' from Pakistan (examiner.com)
- A hearing on Balochistan that stirs up new tensions between U.S. and Pakistan (thehindu.com)
- First Baloch women's conference calls for Balochistan sovereignty (altahrir.wordpress.com)