Monday, October 25, 2021

Forget Kashmir, What About The Decades Long Curfew In Balochistan – MQM Chief Asks?

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief – Altaf Hussain denounced Pakistan PM Imran Khan over politicising the Kashmir issue in United Nations instead of speaking on decades-long savagenesses by Islamabad against Mohajirs, Baloch, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Gilgit Baltistanis and religious minorities.

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Hussain, according to ANI said, “Pakistan PM said in United Nations that there is a curfew in Kashmir for the past 25 days. Imran Khan is talking about 25-day curfew, while there is an unannounced curfew imposed in different areas of Balochistan, North-West Frontier Province and urban areas of Sindh for years.”

Appealing to the international community, especially the Indian Government for moral and diplomatic support to Mohajirs and other communities, Hussian added, “In Pakistan, minor girls are being abducted and married off after conversion to Islam. The same thing is happening to Christian girls as well. For god’s sake– international community, the United Nations, the Indian government, please come forward to help.”

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Balochistan Insurgency 

Resource-rich Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest region by area but the least populated, has been clutched by an insurgency for more than 15 years. Islamabad has had a irritable association with Baloch nationalists who complain that locals haven’t profited from the resources of the province.

For years, natural gas from Sui region in Balochistan fuelled power plants, factories and stoves in homes across Pakistan. But the federal government gave the province a miniscule share of the national budget.

Around 90 per cent of the settlements in the province don’t have access to clean drinking water and people there earn less than the national average, according to 2017 study.

The latest round of conflict started in the early 2000s as militant groups started attacking the security forces who have been blamed for massive human rights violations by Pakistan Army. The conflict intensified after a tribal leader, Akbar Bugti, was killed.

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Since then, the demands of some nationalists have morphed from political autonomy to all-out independence. “It was the state’s repressive response that radicalised most elements of the ‘nationalist’ movement,” Frederic Grare, a South Asia security expert, wrote in a report.

Balochistan is also home to the Port of Gwadar, which is run by a Chinese operator. The province features prominently in Beijing’s multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

Separatists have targeted Chinese engineers working on different projects and last year even attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi. A heavy-handed approach by the state, including the Pakistan army’s brutalities, is often blamed for pushing young Baloch towards the separatist groups.

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Security forces are accused of killing and dumping the bodies of suspected militants without a fair trial. For years, the dead bodies of missing Baloch activists have surfaced in different parts of the province.

Foreign interference, shifting tribal loyalties and the presence of religious extremists have compounded the problem. The Pakistani military has also been accused of promoting religious groups to counter the narrative of Baloch nationalists.

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