Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A meeting with Mehran Baluch, Dr Shabir Choudhry

A meeting with Mehran Baluch
Dr Shabir Choudhry   22 September 2014

I first met Mehran Baluch many years ago in Geneva during the UN Human Rights session in Geneva. He was young and energetic; and full of love for his people.  He addressed a seminar, which I and Abbas Butt also attended. One can disagree with contents of his speech; however his speech was informative and brilliantly delivered. He had very good command of English language, and he spoke with confidence and passion; and won sympathies of his audience. Of course, there were some who hated him for what he said because they thought he was ‘anti Pakistan’.

Pakistani establishment through its consistent propaganda and power has strengthened this erroneous notion that anyone who criticise policies of Pakistani government, or expose their wrong doings is ‘anti Pakistan’ and either an ‘Indian agent’ or ‘agent’ of another country that wants to destabilise Pakistan.

This weapon they have used very effectively; and even in 2014 people who hate Pakistani policies be they are related to Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, India, Baluchistan, Iran, Israel etc are frightened to speak out their minds because they know they will be castigated as ‘traitors’ and agents of some country. Once a label is attached to their names, they will spend rest of their lives giving clarifications and explaining that they are not agents of anyone.

Before the seminar, I was advised not to go to the Baluchi seminar as it was ‘anti Pakistan’; and was sponsored by India. That did not deter me, if anything, I was more determined to attend this seminar and see for myself what Mehran Baluch had to say. I knew how the Pakistani establishment works, and how they malign reputation of other political activists by smear campaign. I have been victim of this nefarious and shameful policy, many years before Mehran Baluch emerged on the political scene.

I know many people don’t like us to attend demonstrations and seminars of the Balochi people because they think that is against Pakistan. I, however, have a different view on this. As a student of history and politics, I think it is my duty to attend such seminars to understand their grievances. Furthermore, the ruling elite want to divide the suffering people by giving them different labels. Why we, the suffering people, can’t be friends and well wishers of each other, and support each other.

Whenever Mehran Baluch and other leaders met me, they always extended full respect and honour to me. I found him and other Baluchi people very friendly, hospitable and good hosts. I together with other Kashmiri leaders met Mehran Baluch during the September 2014 UN Human Rights session, and congratulated him on becoming Chief of his tribe. With smile and confidence he said, I am thankful to you all and the people who trusted me; but all this means more responsibilities and more work to safeguard lives, dignity and honour of the Baluchi people.

In reply to a question that Baluchistan is a legal and constitutional part of Pakistan, so why don’t you work within the framework of the constitution and struggle for your rights. He didn’t look happy with this question. He said, even you educated and politically active people are influenced by the propaganda of the Pakistani establishment. They have fabricated evidence and told so many lies that people are confused. Fact is that our Parliament unanimously rejected accession with Pakistan- both Upper House and Lower House passed resolutions and rejected accession.

He said let me ask you a question, ‘Is Gilgit Baltistan part of Pakistan or part of Jammu and Kashmir State?’ After hearing that Gilgit Baltistan is part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, ‘but practically Pakistan has annexed this large area and people are denied of their fundamental human rights, I hear these things at every UN session. What if Pakistan makes Gilgit Baltistan part of Pakistan and provide some legal and constitutional cover to it, as they have done to Chitral? After ten or twenty years many people may accept this change; but you people who call yourselves Kashmiri nationalists, will you accept this so called constitutional change or struggle against this?’

There was a lot of logic in what Mehran Baluch said. I replied we will not accept this illegal occupation. He laughed and said that is exactly what we are doing. He said, ‘You people perhaps don’t know all the details how many times the Pakistani governments have let us down, broken promises made on Quran, and attacked us. Our people are systematically arrested, tortured and killed’.

He was clearly disturbed. He said, ‘You don’t know what they do to our people. They are the worst occupiers anyone can have in the world, much worse than the Israelis. Do you know they capture our people, torture them, take organs from their bodies and sell them? They have made a business out of this. Human organs are very expensive and they are the biggest suppliers of these organs to other countries.’

He paused for a moment, and said did you see my intervention in the UN on this topic. When I replied no, he said, ‘This is the problem. We are crying for help and raising our voices, but not many people listen. You people call yourselves human rights defenders - how sad that you are selective even with the issue of human rights. When non Muslim country kills Muslims you people cry out and hold demonstrations, seminars and conferences, but when worst crimes are committed by a Muslim countries against Muslims, you people remain quiet. True human rights activists should avoid this hypocrisy’.

I replied by saying that we have on many occasions spoken about human rights violations committed by Pakistan and some other countries...’ Mehran Baluch got carried away with emotions, something he normally doesn’t do, he interrupted me and said, ‘Dr Sahib with all due respect, you and your party only speak about human rights violations committed by Pakistan on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. You and your party deliberately choose not to support suffering people of Baluchistan, may be you are afraid that the Pakistani establishment and their agents will target you. The only Kashmiri party that has openly supported rights of the people of Baluchistan is Shaukat Kashmiri’s PNP. We are grateful to him for speaking about our plight and supporting rights of the suffering people’.

He paused for a moment and said, ‘You are older than me and more experienced than me in these matters, but I just want to remind you that the suffering people and victims of the state oppression remember who sided with them in their time of need; and who chose to remain quiet. If you don’t want to help and support other nations under occupation, and stand with the victims of the state terrorism, more than likely when you are in real difficulty others will also ignore your plight’.

Angry Baluch leader said, ‘You don’t know what Baluch people are going through. Tens of thousands of young Baluch are missing, and you know what, when we find them, to our horror we find organs of their dead bodies are missing. But over the past weeks and months we are faced with another trauma; you may not believe it, but the fact is Pakistanis are selling meat of our young people. I have said this in my intervention a few days ago. We have found many bodies with no flesh on them’.

I was dismayed by this. I said, one can understand there could be torture, oppressions, imprisonments and killings which result in every conflict zone where gun in used, be it Baluchistan, Kashmir, Palestine or Syria, but it is hard to believe that the Pakistani army or Pakistani secret agencies are selling organs of Baluch people or selling their meat’.
‘Trust me it is happening’, Mehran Baluch interrupted me again. When Baluch people are picked up they are normal fit men, but when we find their dead bodies, they are without vital organs, where else could these organs go?’ He asked me.

He showed me a letter addressed to the UN Human Rights Council by the Pakistani Mission in which they accused Mehran Baluch of many things including fake accreditation and making interventions with bogus papers. ‘You know no one can make intervention here with fake papers. This is Pakistani diplomatic terrorism. They have accused NGOs of conducting business in name of human rights. In the past those NGOs which supported the Baluch cause, or supported those people who had grievances against Pakistan were targeted and some lost their ECOSOC status; and others also find themselves in hot water. This means in future, these NGOs will be reluctant to help and supported those who have grievances against Pakistan.’

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs

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