Interview: World ignores Balochistan occupation

While the international community continues to focus on ever small detail related to the so-called Israeli occupation, there is another occupation that Pakistan has engaged in that is far less benign that the world has been ignoring: “The Balochistan issue is far away from getting any attention from the international community compared to that of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Photo Credit: Ashraf Sherjan

While the international community continues to focus on every small detail related to the so-called Israeli occupation, there is another occupation that Pakistan has engaged in that is far less benign that the world has been ignoring.   In an exclusive interview with JerusalemOnline, Baloch activist and representative of the Baloch Republican Party in Germany Ashraf Sherjan stressed that while the international community has not responded to the numerous human rights abuses taking place in Balochistan as we speak, the situation continues to deteriorate for the Baloch nation that is living under Pakistani occupation: “The Balochistan issue is far away from getting any attention from the international community compared to that of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  However, Balochistan was an independent and sovereign state before its illegal and forceful occupation by the Pakistan state in 1948.”

Unlike the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where foreign journalists and NGOs are given unlimited access to the territories under Israeli control, journalists and human rights organizations operating in Balochistan do not have this kind of freedom: “Human rights organizations and the international media is banned from entering Balochistan because only they can expose what's going on there. The NGO Save the Children were recently ordered to leave the country because they were working for helping the helpless people of Balochistan who have no access to clear water or food yet they inhabit the one of richest land in the world in terms of natural resources.”

While foreign journalists and NGOs feel free to criticize Israel due to the fact that it is a democratic country that grants everyone freedom of speech, the visceral reaction of the Pakistani government has made foreign media outlets reluctant to speak out about the Balochistan issue with the same vigor: “The response from the international media has not been so positive, as there is not much coming out of Balochistan that can be seen in mainstream media.  And it is certain that the international media would only be interested if these issues are highlighted in any electronic media, i.e. Pakistani local Media, but the Pakistani media does not have access to occupied Balochistan because of the pressure from the army. Journalists inside the country, if they dare to report about Balochistan, are either killed or tortured to remain silent. The attack on Hamid Mir is a clear example. There are certain journalists, paid ones, who only report what the army direct them to.”

However, despite the silence of the international community, Sherjan noted the atrocious situation that presently exists for the Baloch nation, especially Baloch women: “Baloch women have also been the target of the state as they have a growing influence on the Baloch Freedom Movement.  Sister of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti along with her daughter were targeted in the streets of Karachi in 2012, which indicates a deadly atmosphere for the women there.  Thirteen Bugti women have been abducted by Pakistani forces in the Asreli area of Deri Bugti; their whereabouts have remained undisclosed ever since.  40 Baloch women were recently abducted from Bolan during an operation.  Their fate remained the same. The plight of Baloch women can also be imagined from the fate of their men.  I mean, how would the rest of your life look like when your husband, brother or father is abducted and after that, disappears for the rest of his life or is recovered dead in a mass grave?  Instead of sitting in their garden decorating their trees and flowers, they come out to the streets protesting for the release of their sons, husbands, and fathers.”

According to Sherjan, the Pakistani authorities have not even spared Baloch children: “Basically, what children need is a better education, which the children of Balochistan have been deprived of since the occupation of Balochistan.   Children are butchered in bombings.  In an operation in Dera Bugti in the house of Baloch leader Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti, 80 people including innocent children were killed in 2005.   Similarly, children across Balochistan are targeted during military operations.  The Pakistani Occupation Forces feels threatened from the next generation.”

In conclusion, Sherjan noted: “We Baloch are not Pakistani.  Neither do we want to live with Pakistan anymore.  So why are we forced to live under Pakistani rule?”   While the international community has not reacted so far, Ashraf is optimistic that they eventually will: “Our Party, the Baloch Republican Party, which is a political and democratic party, has been heading protests and awareness campaigns across Europe including Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, UK and so on.  Balochistan's issue is deeper than how it appears to be in social media and how it is seen in the rest of Pakistan, so it would probably take time.”



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