By Archen Baloch
As if Pakistan made death and destruction were not enough, Mother Nature struck the 6th most powerful quake to Balochistan on Tuesday, 24 September killing almost 1000 people and injuring scores. This merciless earthquake was so powerful that it gave rise to a small island off the Gwadar coast which is reported to be about 200m long, 100m wide and 20m high. According to US Geological Survey the earthquake measured at magnitude 7.7, recording its duration as eight seconds. At a depth of 15 kilometres, it struck at 4:29 pm local time, 60 miles southwest of Khuzdar city in occupied Balochistan.
Pakistan army, consists of Punjabi and Pashtun ethnic, is a red rug to bull in Balochistan. Almost all Baloch resistance organizations have made it loud and clear that they would oppose Pakistan army to carry out relief operation in Balochistan but the military is hell bent to control everything in Balochistan. In the cover of relief operation it has established so far 15 check points in Mashkai alone forcing the locals to carry out the banker and check post construction work in several other areas including Perwar, Meyani Kalat and Bansar of Awaran district.
“Baloch have the capacity to weather this storm, if only Pakistani army intervention is stopped! But I feel we’re lurching in isolation and UN has turned a blind eye to our plight. We need political support, rather than relief aid as Pakistan army has utterly refused to allow aid work to be carried out in Balochistan,” said a political activist on condition of anonymity. More than hundreds relief trucks are stranded in Mangoli and Jebri army camps; army is adamantly refusing them to reach to the needy people. Several vehicles loaded with relief goods, belonging to different NGOs and Baloch Welfare Associations have been confiscated by army. In the name of data registration, youth are specific targets, he said.
Meanwhile, the pro freedom Baloch political and armed organizations have repeatedly said that they would welcome international and local aid agencies to carry out humanitarian relief works in Balochistan with the help of local people. And people also refused to take aid from Pakistani army.
Almost every day Pakistan army conducts unwarranted punitive operation in quake affected areas in Awaran. According to local reports army has forced people to evacuate these areas and established check post and bunker in strategically important locations. As result, people are fleeing the area and seeking refuge in neighbouring districts. The helpless condition isn’t the only reason that has forced people to flee the area, the arrest and harassment of people by army is a daily routine in Awaran district. Pakistan army has abducted more than 16000 political activists, Journalists, educators, doctors. Out of them 1500 activists have been tortured to death and thrown in ditches across Balochistan since 2011, despite repeated protest and concerns raised by international human rights organizations, Pakistan refused to acknowledge the disappearances and the killing of the political activists. Pakistan’s apex court so far conducted more than 80 hearings of the enforced missing persons, but it failed to convict the culprits.
The fact is that Pakistan is afraid of the exposure of Balochistan landscape to international media, where it has contained Baloch society into abject poverty for 67 years.
Given the media blackout and restrictions, Balochistan is off limited for international media and aid agencies. Oxfam and UN have a better understanding of the situation in Balochistan regarding Pakistani sanctions over Balochistan.Pakistan has imposed such a steel coated media blackout in Balochistan that it has made it virtually impossible for world community to peek into Baluchistan’s inner parts where its army has wreaked havoc and forced Balochistan to meet human catastrophe. Pakistani Urdu and English media, Instead of covering the devastation, acting on the line of state containment policy of Baloch nation, seem to have embarked upon two types of campaign against Baloch resistances forces, Urdu media with the task of a psychological war frightening people of the God punishment – implying that Pakistan is a mystical entity, if you go against it, it invokes the ferocity of the divine in the form of Quake. And English media with specific guidelines and narratives has been assigned the responsibility to portray Baloch resistance as a terrorism menace associated with religious outfits to frighten international aid agencies and media from coming to Balochistan.
All entrance ways into Awaran have been bottlenecked with new check posts, where Baloch parties and relief givers are forced to go through harsh scrutiny. But Jumaet-e Dawa, JuD and other religious organizations, including the pro Pakistan pocket parties are at their leisure to distribute propaganda leaflets inscribed with Islamic teachings – asking to people have faith in God!
When the quake gave rise to a mini Island off the Gwardar coast, we saw Pakistani media was quick to call it a tourist spot and Pakistan Navy took over the guard, hoisted Pakistani flag, and declared it an off-limited zone for local fishermen. NASA also captured its photo and posted it in its site, but failed to present the extent of the devastation in photographic details in Awaran and Kech districts. The geographical location and its vast mineral resources at the juncture of three important regions in Asia have marked Balochistan as an important land on this earth!
The pillage of Baloch mineral resources including Natural Gas in Sui and Dera Bugti, Cold and Copper reservoirs in Chagai, Marine products of Baloch Sea is not limited to Pakistani itself; it has also involved Chinese Dragon to suck the Baloch blood. The Saindak copper and cold project and Kashgar-Gwadar economic corridor have underscored the Pak-Chinese predatory collusion in Balochistan.
Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in Chagai – Balochistan – on 28, May 1998 against the will of Baloch nation. The blasts have devastating impacts on local people and wildlife in the Chagai and its surrounding areas. The international scientists and investigators have not so far visit the site to gauge the effects of these blasts on people. The international community, especially, the IAEA has neither protested against such inhuman acts of Pakistan nor did they insist on carrying out a survey of the area.
Given Pakistan’s state policy of Baloch punishment, containment and exploitation, it goes without saying that Baloch are facing undeclared Pakistani state imposed political and economic sanctions right under the nose of 21st century’s ‘enlightened world’.