|Two men held on terrorism charges|
Two men have been arrested over alleged terrorism offences, Scotland Yard said.
Officers detained the men, aged 25 and 39, on suspicion of the "commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism" under the Terrorism Act.
Police say the arrests came after raids at two separate homes in north-west and west London early on Tuesday morning.
The allegations are reportedly related to offences being planned overseas. The men are being held in custody at a London police station.
|European Parliament protests arrest of Baloch nationalists|
Sunday 9th December, 2007
British authorities have been criticised by the European Parliament as well as human rights activists and accused of plotting a 'prisoner swap' with Pakistan after the mysterious arrest this week of two London-based nationalists from the oil-rich province of Balochistan.
The two men, Faiz Mohammed Baluch and Nawabzada Hyrbiyar Marri, were held under the Terrorism Act following raids in London Tuesday morning, sparking condemnations by the high-profile British rights activist Peter Tatchell and the Strasbourg- and Brussels-based European Parliament.
And, according to Lakhumal Luhana, a Baloch human rights campaigner in London, the arrests were part of a plan to exchange the two men for Rashid Rauf, a suspected Islamic terrorist who is being held in Pakistan and is wanted by Britain.
Britain and Pakistan are claimed to be in secret talks for the extradition of 26-year-old Rauf, a suspect in an alleged plot to blow up US-bound passenger planes with liquid explosives in August last year.
Rauf, who is from the city of Birmingham and is a dual citizen of Britain and Pakistan, was arrested in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, in August 2006 - a month after Britain put an organisation known as the Baluchistan Liberation Army in its list of banned terrorist groups.
Although charges against him in Pakistan were dropped in December 2006, British newspapers reported in April this year that Pakistan was prepared to extradite Rauf in exchange for eight suspected members of the Baluchistan Liberation Army.
Islamabad says the eight men are involved in low-intensity insurgency in Balochistan, a remote and insurgency-prone Pakistani province that is said to be rich in oil and natural gas deposits.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Rauf is expected to be extradited in the next few weeks but that Britain has become increasingly frustrated by Pakistan's insistence on arresting Baloch nationalists.
It said Pakistan has held back intelligence vital to Britain's counter-terrorism effort and co-operation with the campaign in neighbouring Afghanistan on the grounds that Britain must first arrest Baloch activists suspected of being involved in insurgency.
The two men arrested in London are being detained on suspicion of the 'commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism,' according to the police.
But Luhana said: 'This is a prisoner swap. We have asked the British not to succumb to pressure and to support the Baloch, a secular force in Pakistan.'
Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament, an elected body that meets in Strasbourg and Brussels, criticised Pakistan at an urgent meeting held Wednesday for what they described as Islamabad's 'illegal and indirect ways to pressurise and curb Baloch human rights workers living outside Pakistan.'
MEPs claimed Pakistan was 'making forged police cases against Balochis living abroad', and urged British authorities not to hand over the two arrested men to the Pakistani Army.
British human rights activist Peter Tatchell said the pair was lawful campaigners for Baloch independence, and feared the two men could be sentenced to death if extradited to Pakistan.
'I urge the British government to not give in to pressure from the Pakistani dictator, President (Pervez) Musharraf,' he said. 'The extradition of these men would result in their arrest, torture, imprisonment and possible execution.
'The Pakistani authorities have repeatedly sought to frame peaceful nationalists and human rights campaigners, both inside Baluchistan and abroad. These arrests are likely to have been at the request of the Pakistan government, which has long been seeking the extradition of Baluch nationalists exiled in London,' Tatchell added.
The British High Commission in Islamabad has denied reports of a prisoner-swap. Reports said Britain will find it difficult to extradite Baloch nationalists as Pakistan regularly imposes the death penalty.
|Pair Facing Terror Charges|
Updated:23:47, Monday December 10, 2007
Two men have been charged with jointly inciting others to commit an act of terrorism "wholly or partly outside the UK", under the Terrorism Act.
Faiz Baluch, 25, of Wembley, north London, and Hyrbyair Marri, 39, of Ealing, west London, will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates Court tomorrow.
The two men were campaigners for human rights in a troubled province of Pakistan, a fellow activist said previously.
Peter Tatchell said the pair were lawful supporters of the independence movement in Baluchistan, a vast region bordering Afghanistan and Iran in the southwest of the country.
The men were charged by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.
They are charged with jointly inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism, wholly or partly outside the UK which would, if committed in England and Wales, constitute murder.
The charges relate to a period "on or before December 4" is contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000.
Marri is also charged under the the Firearms Act 1968 that on December 4 he had a weapon "designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing".
Police confirmed that two men, aged 25 and 39, arrested at separate addresses in northwest London and west London on December 4, remain in custody at a central London police station.
|Foreign Office accused of swap deal over terror suspects|
Tuesday December 11, 2007
Two men wanted in Pakistan for alleged terrorist activity have been charged in London under the Terrorism Act as part of what human rights campaigners claim is a secret deal between the two countries.
Faiz Baluch, 25, of north London and Hyrbyair Marri, 39, of west London, were charged with inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism "wholly or partly outside the UK". A Scotland Yard statement said they were due to appear at City of Westminster magistrates court this morning. Marri is also charged with possessing a weapon capable of discharging a noxious liquid, gas or other substance, police said.
The Guardian revealed this year that the Foreign Office was engaged in behind the scenes discussions with Pakistani officials in an effort to secure the extradition of Rashid Rauf, a 26-year-old Briton held in a high security prison in Pakistan.
Rauf, from Birmingham, is wanted in connection with an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in the summer of 2006. He is considered a key suspect by senior counter-terrorism officers. But the Pakistanis demanded that Rauf be swapped for people living in the UK who they claim are involved in an uprising in the oil-rich western province of Baluchistan.Two of these men, Marri Baluch, were arrested last week in London.
The Pakistani authorities have dropped charges against Rauf, allowing the British to seek his extradition.
Supporters of the two Baluchi nationalists believe a secret deal has been made between the two countries. They warned that the men would be tortured and imprisoned if returned to Pakistan.
Mehran Baluch, Marri's brother, claimed the arrest came two weeks after the Pakistani authorities killed another brother, Balach Marri, in Baluchistan. "This seems like no coincidence but a planned conspiracy and collaboration by the two governments."
Baluch said President Pervez Musharraf's envoy, Tariq Azim, had recently visited the UK as part of collaboration between the two countries on the war on terror.
The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "If these men are extradited they will never get a fair trial and they could face a death sentence.
"The Pakistan authorities have repeatedly framed peaceful nationalists and human rights campaigners, both inside Baluchistan and abroad."
Earlier this year lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service flew to Islamabad to help the Pakistani authorities prepare extradition papers for up to eight Baluchi nationalists living in the UK. Rauf's arrest in August last year by Pakistan's security services sparked a series of raids in Britain linked to an alleged attempt to blow up transatlantic airliners, over which 15 people have been charged.
Rauf is also wanted by West Midlands police in connection with the murder of a relative.
|October 2006 - Pakistan's Baluch insurgency: A sophisticated armed fight for a province’s autonomy (Selig S Harrison, Le Monde Diplomatique, link). Examines the history of the Baluch independence struggle following recent troubles in the resource rich province and the assassination of an opposition leader in August. Ben Hayes comments:|
"Barely an eyebrow was raised when the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) was proscribed as a "terrorist organisation" by the UK government in July 2006 [see below]. The upshot of this "quid pro quo" - a direct reward for General Musharraf's support of the US-UK "war on terror" - is that Britain has decreed as "terrorism" another complex struggle against the repression of legitimate demands for autonomy. Instead of pressing Musharraf for a political settlement with the minorities, as some EU officials have done, Britain and the US have backed him with political support and F16s".
December 21, 2007 - BALUCH:FRIENDS OF PETER TATCHELL FACE TERROR TRIAL WEMBLEY, NW LONDON; EALING, W LONDON.
Two friends of human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell are to face an Old Bailey trial next year for inciting terror in Pakistan. Faiz Baluch, 25, and Hyrbyair Marri, 39, are both said to be supporters of a Pakistani group responsible for 145 soldiers being killed last year.
The arrest in London of exiled Baluch human rights activists looks like a bid by Musharraf to frame his opponents and silence critics
February 1, 2008 11:15 AM | Printable version
A former MP and government minister from Pakistan-occupied Baluchistan, Hyrbyair Marri, has been languishing in Belmarsh prison for the last two months. He was arrested at his west London home in early December on charges of plotting terrorist acts abroad (it is assumed in Pakistan). His next pre-trial hearing is today at the central criminal court.
Marri was minister for construction and works in the provincial assembly of Baluchistan from 1997 to 1998.
Baluch leaders and Pakistani opposition figures believe the charges against him are without substance and have condemned Marri's arrest and imprisonment. They claim that the Pakistani dictator, President Pervez Musharraf, has a vendetta against the Marri family, who are leading nationalists in the province of Baluchistan - a formerly independent nation that was invaded and annexed by Pakistan in 1948. They cite leaks that Musharraf has privately vowed to crush the Baluch self-determination movement and destroy its leaders. They also highlight the fact that the Pakistani authorities have been pressing the British government to arrest and extradite Marri and several other Baluch nationalists who live in London.
Their claims seem to have some credibility. Marri's arrest in London two months ago came just two weeks after the Pakistani authorities assassinated his brother, Balaach Marri. His murder was strongly condemned by opposition leaders such as Imran Khan and the late Benazir Bhutto.
Marri's other brother, Mehran Baluch, who also lives in the UK and is the Baluch representative to the UN human rights council, was last year the subject of a top-secret extradition bid by Pakistan, on charges that critics have condemned as trumped up.
The actions of the Musharraf regime against these three brothers look like a systematic attempt to target the family and crush three major voices of Baluch dissent. What is particularly shaming is that the UK government appears to be colluding with this plot by the despots in Islamabad.
Marri's arrest in London also coincided with a major Pakistani military offensive against Baluchistan, which has included the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas using US-supplied fighter jets and other weapons small arms, some of which may have been supplied by Britain. The Labour government is aiding the Pakistani tyrant; authorising the sale of the military hardware that he uses to sustain his dictatorship and suppress his own people.
Hundreds of innocent Baluch civilians have been killed in Musharraf's scorched-earth military campaign. Thousands more people have been detained without trial or forced to flee their homes to escape Musharraf's terror tactics.
Earlier this week, I spoke to the chair of the human rights commission of Pakistan, Asma Jahangir. She confirmed the apparent attacks on civilian areas; saying she visited the site of a supposed rebel military camp that was blasted to pieces by the Pakistan army and air force. Littering the ground, she said, were domestic artefacts, civilian clothing and children's toys.
Marri has been charged alongside another Baluch human rights activist, Faiz Baluch, of north London.
I know both the detained men. They are Baluchistan nationalists and human rights activists. We worked together to expose Pakistan's persecution of the Baluch people and to support the broader struggle for democracy in Pakistan. The defendants never expressed to me any support or sympathy for terrorism. All our campaigns have been lawful and peaceful. I would be very surprised if either man was involved in any terror plot. Marri is a member of one of the most distinguished and esteemed Baluch families. He is a rather unlikely terrorist.
It is my opinion that these terror charges are likely to have resulted from pressure by the Musharraf regime. We know that Musharraf has been pressing Britain for the extradition of Baluch nationalists exiled in London.
Britain and Pakistan have been in secret negotiations for a prisoner-swap deal. The UK police want to extradite terror suspect Rashid Rauf from Pakistan. They are keen to question him in connection with the 2006 plot to blow up transatlantic airliners.
In exchange for handing over Rauf to the UK, the Pakistani government is demanding the extradition from Britain of Baluch nationalists.
Late last year, however, after the UK government failed to extradite Mehran Baluch, Rauf, a high security prisoner, mysteriously escaped from police custody in Pakistan.
Despite their carelessness, Musharraf's men are still pressing for the Baluch nationalists to be handed over. If Marri and Baluch are extradited, they will never get a fair trial and will face torture, imprisonment and probable execution.
Astonishingly, our government, in our name, is colluding with a bloody dictator like Musharraf. Gordon Brown should refuse to give in to pressure and blackmail by the Pakistani dictatorship. He should publicly reject requests for the arrest and extradition of Baluch leaders and activists, and cease supplying military aid to the tyrant in Islamabad.
|Man bailed on terror charge|
A west London journalist accused of inciting terrorism in Pakistan has been bailed by the Old Bailey.
Hyrbyair Marri, 39, from Ealing, faces charges over his alleged involvement with the Baluchistan Liberation Army.
Faiz Baluch, 25, an Iranian student from Wembley, charged with inciting terrorism, remains in custody after his bail application was adjourned.
|London terror trial – Defendants framed|
Human rights activists on terrorism charges
UK colludes with Musharraf's agents
London UK – 27 October 2008
Two London-based human rights campaigners will stand trial on terrorism charges, starting next Monday 3 November at Woolwich Crown Court, before Mr Justice Henriques.
"This trial will expose high level collusion between the British government and the agents of the former Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf," according to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is a personal friend and political ally of the two defendants.
"These men were framed by the Musharraf regime, to silence their highly effective campaigning against Pakistani human rights abuses in Balochistan," added Mr Tatchell.
"The British government was blackmailed into arresting them. Musharraf's agents issued an ultimatum to the UK authorities: arrest these men or we will halt all cooperation in the war on terror. The Labour government caved in to these demands from Musharraf's dictatorship. It decided these men were expendable for the so-called greater good of anti-terrorist cooperation with the Pakistani regime," said Mr Tatchell.
The defendants are Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch. They are accused of preparing acts of terrorism abroad – charges they strenuously deny. Both men have been law-abiding citizens. They fled to Britain to escape persecution by the military coup leader and tyrant, General Pervez Musharraf.
Mr Baluch is represented by Jim Nichol of Taylor Nichol solicitors (020 7272 8336) and Mr Marri is represented by Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce solicitors (020 7911 0166).
Mr Marri is a former MP and government minister in the regional assembly of Balochistan – a previously independent state, which was invaded and annexed by Pakistan in 1948, and which has ever since been under Pakistani military occupation.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Asian Human Rights Commission have documented and condemned severe and widespread human rights abuses by the Pakistani armed forces in Balochistan – abuses that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas and the systemic use of torture.
Mr Marri's father, Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, a renowned Baloch national leader, attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, along with other world dignitaries, as a guest of the British government.
His uncle is Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the UN Special Representative to Sudan and the former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, and his wife is the great grand daughter of the first Prime Minister of Iraq (1920-1922), Abdul Rahman al Gillani.
Mr Marri and Mr Baluch, were arrested by police in London last December. Mr Marri spent four months in Belmarsh high security prison, and Mr Baluch eight months.
"The police and security agencies in the UK have pursued these terror charges based on evidence provided to them by Musharraf's dictatorship – a dictatorship that the arrested men campaigned against," said Mr Tatchell.
"Our government has ignored the fact that Musharraf's henchmen in the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, are notorious for framing political opponents, especially Baloch nationalists.
"Marri and Baluch have been set up by Musharraf's agents because of their highly effective exposure of Pakistan's war crimes and crimes against humanity in annexed Balochistan.
"This belief has been reinforced by the acting Interior Minister of the new democratic government of Pakistan, Rehman Malik. He recently announced that terror charges against Mr Marri in Pakistan have been dropped; stating that the case against him had been politically motivated. This discredits the whole basis on which Marri and Baluch have been charged in London.
"Marri's and Baluch's arrest came just a few months after Musharraf demanded that the British government arrest Baloch activists in London. In exchange, Musharraf offered to hand over Rashid Rauf, implying that action against the Baloch activists was a precondition for surrendering Rauf to the UK. Rauf is wanted in this country in connection with the 2006 Islamist terror plot involving liquid explosives on trans-Atlantic airliners, which resulted in the conviction of three men in London in September. He is also sought in connection with a murder in the UK.
"The arrest in London of Marri and Baluch took place two weeks after Pakistani government agents assassinated Marri's brother, Balach Marri, a prominent Baloch nationalist leader.
"Prior to Marri's arrest, Musharraf's regime made repeated representations to the UK government that he was wanted on terrorism charges in Pakistan - charges that have now been dropped by the Pakistani authorities.
"Soon after Musharraf met Gordon Brown at Downing Street in January this year, he held a press conference for Pakistani journalists where he allegedly denounced Marri as a terrorist and praised the British government and police for cooperating with his regime.
"Claims of connivance are credible. For nine years, the UK's Labour government supported Musharraf's dictatorship politically, economically and militarily, despite him having overthrown Pakistan's democratically-elected government in 1999. Labour even sold him the military equipment that his army uses to kill innocent Baloch people.
"Marri is an unlikely terrorist. He is a former Balochistan MP (1997-2002), and was the Minster for Construction and Works in the provincial assembly in 1997-1998. He fled to Britain in 2000, fearing arrest, torture and possible assassination by Musharraf's men.
"One of his brothers is Mehran Baluch. He is the Baloch Representative to the UN Human Rights Council. He was the subject of an attempted extradition plot last year by Musharraf's regime, on trumped up charges.
"The arrest of Marri - together with the murder of one brother and the attempt to frame another brother - looks like a systematic attempt to target his family and crush three leading voices of Baloch dissent.
"A former British Protectorate, Balochistan secured its independence in 1947, alongside India and Pakistan, but was invaded and forcibly annexed by Pakistan in 1948. The Baloch people did not vote for incorporation. They were never given a choice. Ever since, Balochistan has been under military occupation by Islamabad. Baloch demands for a referendum on self-rule have been rejected. Democratically elected Baloch leaders who have refused to kow-tow to Pakistan's subjugation have been arrested, jailed and murdered.
"The Asian Human Rights Commission reports that Pakistani army raids have resulted in 3,000 Baloch people dead, 200,000 displaced and 4,000 arrested. Thousands more have simply disappeared," said Mr Tatchell.
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Monday, 3rd November 2008
Trial begins for two men on terror charges
Published Date: 03 November 2008
Two London men are going on trial accused of links to a banned international terrorist group.
Faiz Baluch, of Wembley, and Hyrbyair Marri, from Ealing, are accused of inciting terrorism and murder in Pakistan via links to the Baluchistan Liberation Army.
The men are also charged with possessing a list of people who could be terrorist targets and materials on guerrilla warfare.
Marri faces a further charge of possessing a CS gas canister at his home.
The two were arrested by counter terrorism police during raids at their homes last December.
But the men claim they are peaceful activists calling for the independence of Baluchistan, a troubled province in eastern Pakistan.
They are supported by prominent human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who provided bail security for the men.
Mr Justice Henriques will oversee legal argument and jury selection at Woolwich Crown Court on the first day of a trial expected to last about six weeks. The prosecution is expected to open on Tuesday.
Iranian student Baluch, 26, and Pakistani journalist Marri, a 40-year-old father-of-four, deny the offences.
The Baluchistan Liberation Army was proscribed by the Home Office in July 2006 under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Copyright © Press Association Ltd. 2008, All Rights Reserved.
The full article contains 222 words and appears in Press Association newspaper.Page 1 of 1
Last Updated: 03 November 2008 11:29 AM
Source: Press Association
Location: The Press Association Newsdesk
|December 02, 2008|
BALUCH:ASYLUM SEEKERS PLANNED TERROR ATTACKS ON PAKISTAN FROM UK
EALING, WEMBLEY, W LONDON.
Two asylum seekers used their British base to plan terror attacks on senior government and military figures in Pakistan, a court heard today (Tues).
Faiz Baluch, 26, and Hyrbyair Marri, 40, used 'every modern means of communication' to promote the cause of the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) and incite murder among its supporters, jurors were told.
|Protest Against UK: Puppies for Queen's Hygiene?|
by Ahmar Mustikhan | December 29, 2008 at 01:55 am
QUETTA: Baluch students and youths protested in multiple cities and towns in Baluchistan and in Pakistan's commercial capital of Karachi Sunday against the terror trial of two Baluch activists Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch in London.
“Protests were held all over Baluchistan,” Majeed Baluch, a member of the Baloch Human Rights Council, said from Muscat, Oman—a Gulf nation with significant Baluch population. The Baloch Students Organization (Azad), organized the rallies.
Marri and Baluch were arrested after the British government reportedly made a secret, unspoken deal with Pakistan military generals to get Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani origin, extradited to the U.K., in return for charges against them.
Rauf, a relative of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar, was allegedly involved in a conspiracy to blow up Western airliners flying to the U.S. from Europe over the Atlantic.
Rauf mysteriously escaped from a jail in Islamabad last year.
Marri and Baloch had tried to organize the Baluch against the atrocities of the Pakistan army in Baluchistan. The Baluch accuse Pakistan army of Nazi-style brutalities against them in five military operations in the last six decades.
At the protest rally in Karachi Sunday, a girl protester Maheen Baloch said every nation has the right to freedom under the United Nations charter. “Why can't the Baluch enjoy the same rights?” she asked.
She deplored Baluch villages were being bombed by fighter jets supplied to the Pakistan army by Pentagon.
“The United Kingdom is a democratic country and talks about human rights, how has it put on trial two defenders of Baluch human rights,” she questioned in a live interview with the Sweden-based Baluchi Radio channel Gwank from the protest venue in front of the Karachi Press Club.
This is the first time in Baluch history girls and women have taken to streets of Pakistan. As many as 900 activists remain missing in Baluchistan and 600 are still languishing in Pakistani jails, according to Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, president of the Baluchistan National Movement.
In Iran too, Baluch face public hangings at the hands of the Islamic regime.
Baluchistan, named after the ethnic Baluch people in southwest Asia, is a Texas-sized stateless region divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
Marris' brother Bala'ach Marri was allegedly killed by the Pakistan army in November last year in Sarlath area.
Twice-premier Benazir Bhutto had visited with his father Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri to condole the death, inviting the ire of Pakistan military generals. Bhutto herself was killed on December 27 last year.
Samad Baloch, a leader of the B.H.R.C. in London, has accused the Pakistani military of using phosphorous bombs to bomb Baluch villages in the Marri and Bugti areas, strongholds of resistance against Pakistan military.
Recent Pakistani Press reports have suggested kidnapped Baluch women are being forced into sexual slavery. Pakistan military has routinely used rape and sodomy against the Baluch resistance.
In spring this year, Pakistani soldiers burned alive three Baluch tribesmen, loyal to resistance leader Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti, grandson of former governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.
Earlier on January 2, 2005 a woman doctor Shazia Khalid was raped in the Sui area in Baluchistan. Nawab Bugti, 80, rose up in arms against the rape and the aging leader along with nearly three dozen of his supporters were killed in army bombing in the Bhanbore area of Baluchistan in August 2006.
Former military coup leader-turned-president General Pervez Musharraf defended the rapist Captain Hammad and congratulated the Pakistani soldiers who killed Bugti.
The prosecution tried to link Marri and Baluch, both secular nationalist leaders with the Taliban movement, said Maheen Baloch.
The American Friends of Baluchistan described Marri and Baloch as foot soldiers in the war against religious extremism and bigotry promoted by Islamabad. It hoped the British authorities under Prime Minister Gordon Brown would come out of its Victorian age mindset.
“Those were the days when Victorian queens used Pomeranian puppies for hygiene as they could not take regular shower because of the extreme cold. This is an age when all secular forces should unite against Al Qaeda,” said Mohammed Ali Baloch, an A.F.B. leader.
Maheen Baluch regretted that the trial of Marri and Baloch showed the U.K. Government was colluding with Pakistan army in its human rights violations in Baluchistan. “Britain is not lagging behind Pakistan when it comes to Baluchistan,” she said.
International human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell Sunday deplored the politically motivated terror trial against Marri and Baloch in spite of lack of any real evidence.
The trial will expose high level collusion between the British government and the agents of the former Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, said Tatchell, who is a personal friend and political ally of the two defendants.
He stood bail for Baluch.
"These men were framed by the Musharraf regime, to silence their highly effective campaigning against Pakistani human rights abuses in Baluchistan," added Tatchell.
He accused the U.K. authorities of conduct unbecoming of a civilized European power.
"The British government was blackmailed into arresting them. Musharraf's agents issued an ultimatum to the U.K. authorities: arrest these men or we will halt all cooperation in the war on terror. The Labor government caved in to these demands from Musharraf's dictatorship. It decided these men were expendable for the so-called greater good of anti-terrorist cooperation with the Pakistani regime," said Tatchell.
Marri and Baluch are accused by London of preparing acts of terrorism abroad - charges they strenuously deny. Both men have been law-abiding citizens. They fled to Britain to escape persecution by the former military coup leader and tyrant, General Pervez Musharraf.
Marri is a former MP and government minister in the regional assembly of Baluchistan - an independent state, until 1948.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Asian Human Rights Commission have documented and condemned severe and widespread human rights abuses by the Pakistani armed forces in Baluchistan - abuses that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas and the systemic use of torture. In one of the most gruesome recent abuses, human rights campaigners allege that Pakistani soldiers boiled to death four Baloch prisoners in April this year.
Marri's father is a renowned Baluch national leader, attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953 as a guest of the British government, Tatchell said.
The elder Marri has stubbornly resisted any deal with Islamabad and has thrown the gauntlet at the Pakistan army twice in the last four decades
Marri and Baluch, were arrested by police in London last December. Marri spent four months in Belmarsh high security prison, and Baluch eight months.
"The police and security agencies in the UK have pursued these terror charges based on evidence provided to them by Musharraf's dictatorship - a dictatorship that the arrested men campaigned against," said Tatchell.
"Marri and Baluch have been set up by Musharraf's agents because of their highly effective exposure of Pakistan's war crimes and crimes against humanity in annexed Baluchistan," Tatchell said.
"Our government has ignored the fact that Musharraf's henchmen in the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, are notorious for framing political opponents, especially Baluch nationalists.
"This belief has been reinforced by the acting Interior Minister of the new democratic government of Pakistan, Rehman Malik. He recently announced that terror charges against Marri in Pakistan have been dropped; stating that the case against him had been politically motivated. This discredits the whole basis on which Marri and Baluch have been charged in London.
"Marri and Baluch's arrest came just a few months after Musharraf demanded that the British government arrest Baluch activists in London. In exchange, Musharraf offered to hand over Rashid Rauf, implying that action against the Baluch activists was a precondition for surrendering Rauf to the U.K.
Rauf is wanted in this country in connection with the 2006 Islamic terror plot involving liquid explosives on trans-Atlantic airliners, which resulted in the conviction of three men in London in September. He is also sought in connection with a murder in the U.K.
"Prior to Marri's arrest, Musharraf's regime made repeated representations to the U.K. government that he was wanted on terrorism charges in Pakistan - charges that have now been dropped by the Pakistani authorities.
"Soon after Musharraf met Gordon Brown at Downing Street in January this year, he held a press conference for Pakistani journalists where he allegedly denounced Marri as a terrorist and praised the British government and police for cooperating with his regime.
"Claims of connivance are credible. For nine years, the U.K.'s Labor government supported Musharraf's dictatorship politically, economically and militarily, despite him having overthrown Pakistan's democratically-elected government in 1999. Labor sold him military equipment that his army uses to kill innocent Baluch people. The US supplies the F-16 fighter jets and Cobra attack helicopters that are used to bomb and strafe villages.
"Marri is an unlikely terrorist. He is a former Baluchistan MP (1997-2002), and was the Minster for Construction and Works in the provincial assembly in 1997-1998. He fled to Britain in 2000, fearing arrest, torture and possible assassination by Musharraf's men.
"The arrest of Marri -- together with the murder of one brother and the attempt to frame another brother [Mehran Baluch]-- looks like a systematic attempt to target his family and crush three leading voices of Baloch dissent.
"The Asian Human Rights Commission reports that Pakistani army raids have resulted in 3,000 Baluch people dead, 200,000 displaced and 4,000 arrested. Thousands more have simply disappeared," said Tatchell.
Marri is represented by Henry Blaxland QC and Jim Nichol of TV Edwards Taylor Nichol solicitors (020 7272 8336) and Baluch is represented by Helena Kennedy QC and Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce solicitors (020 7911 0166).
Prominent civil liberties lawyer Sajida Malik is also on the defence panel for Baluch.
"A former British Protectorate, Baluchistan secured its independence in 1947, alongside India and Pakistan, but was invaded and forcibly annexed by Pakistan in 1948. The Baluch people did not vote for incorporation. They were never given a choice. Ever since, Baluchistan has been under military occupation by Islamabad. Baloch demands for a referendum on self-rule have been rejected. Democratically elected Baloch leaders who have refused to kow-tow to Pakistan's subjugation have been arrested, jailed and murdered,” said Tatchell.
|Terror suspect is victim of Pakistan geopolitics: lawyer|
1 hour ago
LONDON (AFP) — A refugee in Britain accused of calling for terrorist attacks on Pakistan was a "casualty of geopolitics" due to the West's backing for former president Pervez Musharraf, a London court heard Monday.
Faiz Baluch, 27, was not a terrorist but was calling for self-defence of his homeland Baluchistan, an oil-rich province in southwest Pakistan, said Helena Kennedy, representing him at Woolwich Crown Court.
Baluch was the victim of close ties between Britain and the Pakistani government under Musharraf, who was courted by both London and the US administration in its "war on terror" after September 11, 2001, said Kennedy.
"Musharraf, an undoubted dictator, called the Baluch terrorists," she told the southeast London court, typically used for high-security cases.
"And it is Faiz Baluch's case that the British government were drawn into that distortion purely for political reasons because Britain, like America, at the time, wanted Pakistan on side in the war on terror.
"He will tell you that he believes he is a casualty of geopolitics. He is a casualty of that allegiance."
Baluch and Hyrbyair Marri, 40, are accused of calling for murder in the name of the banned Baluchistan Liberation Army, via websites and telephone links. Both men deny terrorism charges.
Hundreds of people have died in violence in Baluchistan, on the border with Afghanistan and Iran, since an insurgency flared in late 2004, with rebels demanding autonomy and a greater share of profits from natural resources.
The province has also been hit by attacks blamed on Taliban militants and sectarian extremists.
Baluch's lawyer said his case was that "the Baluch people are entitled to defend themselves against brute violence, death and destruction.
"What he is saying to you is that if your survival is at stake you are entitled to defend yourself... If the Germans had marched into Britain we would have been entitled to resist," Kennedy said.
Pakistani officials have previously accused rival India of sponsoring the separatist rebels from its consulates in southern and eastern Afghanistan, a charge that New Delhi denies.
A widespread insurgency in Baluchistan was brutally suppressed by the government during the 1970s with the loss of hundreds of lives.
|Refugee cleared of terror charges|
By Chris Greenwood, Press Association
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
A refugee was today cleared of using his UK home as a base to orchestrate overseas terrorist attacks.
Faiz Baluch, 27, was accused of being a key supporter of the banned Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA).
But a Woolwich Crown Court jury cleared him of five charges linked to terrorist offences.
He was cleared of possessing terrorist materials, two counts of collecting terrorist information, preparing terrorism and inciting acts of terrorism overseas, including murder.
Baluch's close friend Hyrbyair Marri, 40, who faced the same five charges, was also accused of links to the BLA.
He was cleared of possessing terrorist articles, one count of collecting terrorist information and preparing terrorism.
But the jury failed to return verdicts on the two further counts of inciting acts of terrorism overseas, including murder, and a second charge of collecting terrorist information.
Prosecutors said the men used websites and telephone links to call on others to murder in the name of the separatist group.
They also gathered military information and a "hit list" of potential targets, including officials and judges who opposed their cause.
In their defence, the men said the prosecution was politically motivated and the men were simply calling on people in their homeland to protect themselves.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC said the defendants were victims of an alliance between Britain and the Pakistani government under General Pervez Musharraf.
She said the men were arrested as part of the "war on terror" following the 9/11 attacks and that Mr Musharraf distorted the role of the BLA.
Baluch, of Mount Pleasant, Wembley, north-west London, claimed asylum after arriving in the UK in September 2002 without a passport, the court heard.
Since his application was turned down he has exhausted his right to appeal and must report monthly to immigration officials.
Married father-of-four Marri, of Heronsforde, Ealing, west London, holds a Pakistani passport and was granted leave to remain in the UK in March 2003. This was later extended.
Baluchistan, the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan, has seen an insurgency by BLA fighters calling for a separate state.
The group, proscribed by the UK Government in July 2006, has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in Pakistan.
|Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009|
'Terror abroad' retrial ruled out
A man accused of orchestrating terror attacks in Pakistan from his home in London will not face a retrial.
Hyrbyair Marri, 40, was accused of being a key supporter of the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
A jury at Woolwich Crown Court last month cleared him of three terror charges but failed to reach verdicts on two further counts.
Prosecutors said it was not in the public interest to pursue allegations against the ex-Balochistan politician.
Insurgents have been fighting for independence for the province.
But defence lawyers maintained Mr Marri and a co-defendant had been acting in self-defence.
Refugee Mr Marri, of Ealing, west London, was cleared of possessing terrorist articles, collecting terrorist information and preparing terrorist acts.
Jurors failed to return verdicts on counts of inciting acts of terrorism overseas - including murder - and collecting terrorist information.
The jury cleared Mr Marri's friend Faiz Baluch, 27, of Wembley, north-west London, of all five charges.
The men were alleged to have used websites and telephone links to call on others to kill in the name of the banned organisation.
A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokeswoman said: "The CPS has decided not to seek a retrial of Hyrbyair Marri on two charges relating to the inciting of others to commit terrorist acts abroad in pursuit of self-government for Balochistan.
"The CPS counter-terrorism division has carefully considered the evidence against Hyrbyair Marri in light of the jury's verdicts and decided that the case no longer meets the tests set out in the code for Crown prosecutors.
|Former UK terror suspect aiding UN over Baluchistan hostage|
• American captured eight weeks ago in poor health
• Kidnappers want Pakistan to free 1,100 prisoners
* Saeed Shah in Islamabad and Sandra Laville
* The Guardian, Saturday 21 March 2009
A British resident recently acquitted of terrorism charges is playing a key role in efforts to secure the release of a United Nations official kidnapped in Pakistan.
Hyrbyair Marri, a dissident from the tribal heartland of Baluchistan, has been asked by the UN to use his influence with the kidnappers of American John Solecki, who was captured at gunpoint in the city of Quetta nearly eight weeks ago and is believed to be in failing health.
Marri, who lives in exile in London, is a member of a prominent Baluch family and for many years was viewed by the Pakistani state as a terrorist. In 2007 the British government, following a request from the government of former president Pervez Musharraf, charged Marri with organising terrorist attacks, but the jury could not reach a verdict. Earlier this month the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue a further trial.
It has now emerged that Hyrbyair Marri and his father, Khair Baksh Marri, the 90-year old head of the powerful Marri clan, are assisting in attempts to free Solecki, an employee of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
The UN has approached both father and son in an attempt to open up a dialogue with the Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), a previously unknown group which has claimed responsibilty for the abduction. Fears for Solecki's life grew this week after the passing of a deadline set by the group, which had demanded the Pakistani government release hundreds of Baluch political prisoners in return for Solecki's freedom.
"We have been in contact with various families [tribal leaders]," said Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Islamabad. "We have also approached the Marri family because of their standing in the Baluch community. We asked them for any assistance they could provide in securing John's release.
"We have talked to Hyrbyair Marri, we have talked to the Nawab [Khair Baksh] Marri, they've all been helpful. We appreciate their support."
The oil-rich province of Baluchistan has been home to successive insurgencies since the 1970s. But until now foreigners had not been targeted by the secular nationalist groups who have sought international sympathy for their cause.
The region's main armed groups have condemned the kidnapping.
Khair Baksh Marri and his sons are associated with the Baluchistan Liberation Army, which was declared a terrorist organisation in 2006 by the Pakistani and British governments.
Malik Siraj Akbar, a journalist and commentator based in Quetta, said that the BLUF appeared to be a new breed of rebel group, youngsters who had adopted more radical methods than the likes of the Baluchistan Liberation Army. But the Marri family remain an influential force in the region, he said, adding that Hyrbyair Marri had issued statements that had been instrumental in extending deadlines set by the kidnappers in the past.
"Hyrbyair Marri is acceptable to the armed groups, that's made him the focus, the most important person right now [in the negotiations]," said Akbar. "He is the only man who can influence the BLUF."
The UN has been unable to hold direct talks with Solecki's kidnappers, while the Pakistani authorities have been unable to determine who the BLUF are. In setting the latest ultimatum of a 48-hour cut-off, on Monday this week, BLUF spokesman Shahak Baloch said that his group had given the government a list of 1,109 people including 141 women it wanted released, but blamed UN officials for not showing "seriousness".
"His condition is deteriorating, we are providing him every possible medical treatment but it is making no difference," Baloch said.
In pursuing the 2007 prosecution of Hyrbyair Marri, human rights campaigners had accused Britain of doing Musharraf's work. The CPS went ahead, despite the newly re-elected Pakistan government telling the court that they no longer viewed Marri as a terrorist. The Pakistani high commissioner to London made it clear that Marri was a leading figure in peace negotiations between the government and Baluchistan, a largely tribal area in the south-west of Pakistan which is rich in oil and whose people were suppressed for years by Musharraf's government.
| We are victims of war on terror: Faiz, Hyarbyar|
By Our Special Correspondent
Thursday, 07 May, 2009 | 04:58 AM PST |
Supporters of BNM carry posters of their leader as they march during a rally in Karachi.—AP/File
LONDON: Faiz Baloch and Hyarbyar Marri, the two Baloch youths who had recently been found not guilty after having undergone the harrowing experience of a long-drawn prosecution on terror charges, went public late on Tuesday evening at the House of Lords declaring that they were in one way ‘the invisible victims of the war on terror’.
Organised by their lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy and attended by human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce and human rights campaigner Peter Tetchell, the ‘public meeting’ indicted both the former Pakistani military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and the British government for using the excuse of war on terror to victimise ‘freedom fighters’.
Faiz Baloch who had done nothing more than run a website dedicated to what he said the struggle of Baloch people for their rights ridiculed the prosecution’s unsubstantiated charge that they were al Qaeda men.
‘The prosecution was deceived into charging us as al Qaeda members. We are everything that al Qaeda hates. We are not extremists, we are secular and we are Muslims but that has got nothing to do with our struggle for our freedom,’ he said.
According to Faiz, the media has so far failed to report on the continuing tragedy of Balochistan because of the blanket censor imposed by the Pakistani security forces. ‘They had recently expelled two ‘nosey’ foreign journalists.’
He said development projects in Balochistan launched by the Musharraf regime were a curse instead of a blessing because he thought these projects were pretence to change the demography of the province and turn the native Baloch into Red Indians.
He was also very bitter about the nuclear tests carried out on May 28, 1998 in Chaghai and said so far the government had not allowed the WHO representatives to visit the area to find out the impact of the test on the environment and the health of the people.
Hyarbyar in his presentation said he, his brothers and their father was implicated in the murder of a judge, ‘at the time of the murder of the judge my brothers and I were in the UK. My father was arrested and his case was sent to a terrorist court but even after ten years they had not been able to unearth any evidence to get a guilty verdict’.
He traced the current intensification in what he said the security establishment’s repression in Balochistan to the alleged rape of Dr Shazia Khalid by army Captain Hammad in 2005 which he said triggered a massive public protest to quell which the army ‘went berserk’.
‘A Hindu temple in the Bugti area was attacked during this campaign in which 32 Hindus were killed,’ he alleged.
Ms Kennedy, Ms Gareth Peirce and Peter Tetchell took the UK government to task for collaborating with a military dictator and what Mr Tetchell called caving in to the blackmail of Gen Musharraf.
‘Musharraf told the UK, if you don’t cooperate with me I will not cooperate with you on terror war. So if you want Rashid Rauf then you hand me over the two Baloch youths,’ Mr Tetchell said.
|April 05, 2009|
Balochistan: John Solecki Release , email exchange between Dr.Wahid Baloch and Baloch Warna
From: Dr. Wahid Baloch
Date: Sunday, April 5, 2009, 5:39 PM
Dear Baloch Warna,
If you want to support an act of terror, you are free to do so, but don't expect us that we will do so. We can not support kidnappers and terrorists. How can you claim to be a victim of Pakistani terrorism when you resort to terror by yourself. I don't see any difference between those who kidnapped John Solecki and those who have kidnapped Baloch sons and daughters. They are all terrorists and criminal, and we must condemn their actions no matter what. Terrorism is terrorism.
John Solecki's kidnapping was a deliberate attempt against the interests of Baloch nation and paid ISI agents were behind it to give Baloch struggle a bad name but they miserably failed in their evil act, because all Baloch leaders including Brahmadagh Bugti, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, Habib Jalib and many others prominent Baloch leaders and almost all Baloch political groups and organizations strongly condemned it except few paid ISI agents who are out there to sabotage Baloch struggle and give Balochs a bad name. Obviously they are not working for the Baloch cause.
Those who think Baloch cause can be internationalized by kidnapping UN workers, they are very wrong and are in illusion. I don't know what they are smoking but in toady's world no one will support terrorists and kidnappers.
Balochistan case can only be internationalized through legal means at the ICJ and through peaceful struggle and diplomatic efforts.
Dr. Wahid Baloch
--- On Sat, 4/4/09, Baloch Warna wrote:
From: Baloch Warna
Date: Saturday, April 4, 2009, 2:27 PM
Some friends who were really worried for Mr jhon should celebrate now. They are safe now and America will not ask them to leave their country (America). Those who were crying for jhon should dry their eyes and start thinking about missing Baloch persons. Most of our friends from USA and UK must have ruined thier sleeps thinking about Jhon.
Now first thing they should do is get some sleep.
Posted by Naxal Watch at 7:50 PM
| Dr. Wahid Baloch|
Dr. Wahid Baloch is the president of newly formed BSO-NA (Baloch Society of North America) formed to “educate the American people and the world community about Pakistani and Iranian occupation of our land and exploitation of our resources, and to bring their human right violations in Balochistan into the world notice.” He hails from Dasht Makran, Balochistan, graduated from Bolan Medical College-Quetta, in 1990 and Immigrated to the USA in 1992. He is a US citizen, working at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.
|Interview: President, Baloch Society of North America |
By: Nagesh Bhushan
October 31, 2005
NB: Please Tell me about BSO-NA, and what it aims to achieve?
Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA) was founded on Mar 27th, 2005, as a reaction to the latest military operation in Dera Bugti Balochistan which occurred on March 17th, 2005, in which scores of Baloch people, mostly our Hindu Baloch brothers, were killed and many were injured, including innocent children and women, by the Pakistani army. I was in Pakistan at that time, when the operation was going on. It was a very tense situation in Balochistan. And then BSO’s whole leadership, including Dr. Imdad Baloch, was kidnapped from Karachi, on March 25th, by Pakistani Security forces. When I came back to US, I felt obligated to do some thing about it. I decided to make an organization and expose the Pakistani and Iranian crime against our people to the world. The Very Next day I founded the BSO-NA.
|Pakistan terror accused acted in self-defence, court hears|
The Guardian, Tuesday 6 January 2009
Two London-based men accused of inciting terrorist attacks in Pakistan were acting in self-defence, a court heard yesterday.
Faiz Baluch, 27, from Wembley, north London, and Hyrbyair Marri, 40, from Ealing, west London, have both pleaded not guilty to assisting terrorism and incitement to murder abroad.
Defending Baluch, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC told Woolwich crown court he was a "casualty of geopolitics" and the US-led war on terror.
It is alleged that the two men encouraged acts of violence against Pakistan via website Baloch Warna (Baluch Youth).
"This case is not about jihad or al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden," said Kennedy. "These men abhor the distortion of Islam by Osama bin Laden."
She said the people of Baluchistan were "suffering a slow death" at the hands of the Pakistan government. Their land had been used for nuclear weapons tests in 1998, which had caused cancer and leukaemia. Those who protested against the behaviour of the Pakistani authorities, she said, faced prison, torture and death. "This case is about classic self-defence, not regime change." If the case was not so serious, she said, "it would be laughable."
After 9/11, said Kennedy, "a lot of nations called their dissidents terrorists" and the former Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, had used this excuse to label the Baluchis as such. "In law, people are entitled to defend themselves," she said. "If the Germans had marched into Britain, we would have been entitled to resist."
Giving evidence, Baluch said he had been born in the part of Baluchistan now in Iran but had been educated in Quetta, which was under the control of Pakistan. He came to Britain as an asylum seeker in 2002, and worked as a kitchen porter in Coventry before meeting fellow exile Marri and moving to London.
Baluch said the website, which was set up in 2004, was "to report what is happening, the human rights violations and to bring the plight of the Baluch people to international attention." He denied he ever used the site to incite people to kill.
He told the court about the shelling of the Baluch village of Dera Bugti in 2005 in which around 30 people died after protests that a woman doctor had been raped by members of the Pakistani military.
The case, which started last month, continues.
|Asylum seekers compiled 'hit list' for Pakistan revolution from London|
Two asylum-seekers have been accused of compiling a "hit list" and bomb-making instructions from their homes in London in an attempt to stir up murder and revolution in Pakistan.
By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:28PM GMT 02 Dec 2008
Faiz Baluch and Hyrbyair Marri were allegedly supporters of the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) which was fighting for the independence of a province of Pakistan.
Max Hill QC, prosecuting told a jury at Woolwich Crown Court in south London: "These defendants were actively engaged in encouraging and planning terrorist activity in their homeland. They did so from the safety of Ealing and Wembley.
"Although living thousands of miles from their country of birth, the defendants used every modern means of communication to further a cause which they claim to have been purely political but which, as you will see, embraced terrorism and violence of the worst sort."
It is alleged that a list of targets, which included government officials, judges and lawyers, was found at Baluch's home in Wembley and had Marri's fingerprints on it.
Mr Hill said the list was a "sinister and chilling document" and the men also had CDs that contained "military manuals such as weapons handbooks, instructions on how to make detonators, high powered igniters and improvised explosive devices."
A type-written document with hand-written annotations was called "strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare".
The men had also collected a "vast array of communications equipment" that included 53 mobile phones and 69 SIM cards for the phones.
Three computers at Marri's home had allegedly been used to research military information including a "Bangalore torpedo", an explosive device for cutting through razor-wire fences and making safe anti-personnel mines.
The men were also accused of running two websites, balochwarna and balochvoice, controlled by Marri.
In one statement he is alleged to have posted, Marri said: "We should not limit our struggle to speeches, rallies and processions, instead we have to spring into the battlefield."
Baluch is said to have sent a text message that read: "Learning history is easy but making history is so difficult.
"Make yourself a history and make others learn it! Like Shaheed [martyr] Balach. Long live Baluchistan!"
"These defendants were in control and in touch with their homeland and prepared to go to any means, including the use of military violence in the struggle for Baluchistan independence, resulting in nothing short of murder to reach their objective.
"Glorifying a so-called political struggle is one thing, you may conclude, but making and repeating calls to arms and thus inciting murder is quite another."
The jury was told that Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan's four provinces and the aim of the BLA was to unite the Muslim Baloch population in Pakistan and neighbouring Iran and Afghanistan to form a new country.
The BLA began an insurgency in 2000 and was said to be responsible for 261 bomb attacks and 167 rocket attacks in Baluchistan in 2005.
The court heard that Baluch, 26, was an unemployed Iranian national who arrived in Britain in 2002 without documentation and made a fresh asylum application in November 2003 after a previous attempt was turned down.
Marri, 40, a Pakistani national, was said to be the son of the head of a Baluchi tribe who is married with four children and was granted leave to remain in Britain under a work permit.
The case continues.
|Balochistan Liberation United Front|
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Balochistan Liberation United Front is a Baloch nationalist militant organization in Pakistan. It first became known for claiming the kidnapping of American UNHCR worker John Solecki from Quetta on February 2, 2009. The BLUF demanded the release of thousands of Baloch nationalist prisoners it claimed were being held by the Pakistani government in Baloch insurgency. The group eventually released Solecki on April 4, 2009, on humanitarian grounds without any of its demands being met. Veteran Baloch nationalist leaders including Khair Bakhsh Marri had called on the BLUF to release Solecki, saying that targeting guests was not helpful for the Baloch struggle.
|Ghulam Mohammed Baloch|
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ghulam Mohammed Baloch (Balochi: غلام محمد بلوچ) was a Baloch nationalist politician. At the time of his death, he was serving as the president of the Baloch National Movement, as well as the General Secretary of the newly formed Baloch National Front. He had earlier served as a chairman of the Baloch Students Organization. His dead body was discovered on the 9th of April 2009, five days after being detained by Pakistani intelligence agencies. (See Turbat killings). The killing lead to riots around Balochistan. He had been detained several times in the past by Pakistani intelligence activities due to his political activities. He had also played an important role in securing the release of abducted American UNHCR official John Solecki just days before his death.
|* Grant rejects British agencies' involvement as 'conspiracy theory'|
ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner to Pakistan Sir Mark Lyall Grant rejected as 'unfounded' charges of the alleged involvement of British secret agencies in the Balochistan insurgency.
His denial came as a delegation of British MPs was questioned about the alleged involvement of British secret agencies in Balochistan in a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Defence on June 3, a report by the Senate body said. The report will be tabled in the Senate soon.
"We have a great deal of interest in the stability and security of Balochistan, simply because that is linked with the security of British troops deployed in [resource rich] Helmand across the border in Afghanistan," Grant is quoted as saying in the report.
The meeting was chaired by Senator Nisar Memon. James Arbuthnot led the 10-member House of Commons Defence Committee delegation.
Pakistani senators raised the of alleged involvement of British agencies in Balochistan. Grant said this was a 'conspiracy theory' based on three factors.
First, Grant explained, was a meeting between the British consul general in Karachi and Senator Shahid Bugti. He said Bugti might be considered a 'terrorist' by some members of the military establishment, but"he is also member of the Senate and no cases are pending against him". "We don't agree with the policies of the MMA, but even then we meet its leadership to interact with each other."
Second, Grant said, a BBC correspondent had managed to get an interview of Nawab Akbar Bugti in an "entrepreneurial fashion" and it was believed that the British government might have helped in this. He denied this to be the case.
Third, Grant said, several exiled Pakistani politicians were in London, including some who were related to Sardars in Balochistan.
Grant said these three factors had led to media speculation that the UK had a hidden agenda in Balochistan, but "nothing could be further from the truth".
|Balochistan: After the ‘Triumph’|
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution
On July 20, 2006, the military regime of President General Pervez Musharraf claimed that security forces had broken the back of the insurgents in Balochistan and that the insurgency in the province was over. Between July 21 and August 20, 2006, there have been at least 44 incidents of violence in the province in which at least 24 people have died. Most of the attacks have, however, sought infrastructure targets, and include 17 bomb blasts, a grenade attack and five landmine explosions. There have also been seven instances in which gas pipelines, railway bridges and power transmission towers have been blown up by the insurgents. Evidently, the insurgency is not quite ‘over' .
Of Balochistan's 28 Districts, the 16 that are most strategic and important in terms of natural resources are now directly affected by the insurgency, and constitute an acute security problem for Islamabad. Contrary to General Musharraf's assertion that only three of the 78 tribal chiefs in the province were "troublemakers", insurgent attacks have left no part of the province unaffected. There has also been a continuous series of bomb and rocket attacks on gas pipelines, railway tracks, power transmission lines, bridges, and communications infrastructure, as well as on military establishments and governmental facilities and enterprises over the past 12 months. According to open source information monitored by South Asia Terrorism Portal, in 624 insurgency-related incidents, at least 197 civilians, 60 security force personnel and 92 insurgents have died, and 559 people have been wounded in the Province during 2006 alone (till August 20). There have been 353 arrests in the year, thus far. However, given Islamabad's understated accounts, the suppression of the Press and erratic reportage from this poorly covered region, the actual numbers could be much larger.
Official sources claim that there have been 1,582 ‘surrenders’ by Baloch rebels till August 16. These claims are, however, yet to be corroborated by any independent media or source, since the Press and various independent agencies are being rigorously kept out of Balochistan by the military. Interestingly, 1,533 of these surrenders occurred between July 8 and August 16, coinciding with the military regime’s boast about the end of the insurgency. None of the insurgents’ leadership has surrendered, been arrested or neutralised.
Intense counter-insurgency operations did, however, bring three brigades, backed by helicopter gunships, into the Bugti and Marri areas, leading to a temporary dispersal of the insurgents into the relatively inaccessible hills, and a consequent lull in their operations. This, however, was rapidly reversed, and just a month after Islamabad’s massive military operations in the Province, the insurgents appear to have regrouped to resume attacks on a variety of state installations. Karachi-based Syed Shoaib Hasan reports that, currently, the Marri and Bugti combined strength is roughtly 25,000 with 5,000 guerrilla fighters. Reports from Kahan in Kohlu district confirm that, “Brohi tribesmen and Seraiki separatists [from south Punjab; the Seraiki people are demanding a separate Seraikistan] have arrived to supplement the Marris.”
With the Army now assuming a dominant role in counter-insurgency operations, there is the inevitable escalation of ‘collateral damage’. According to BBC, the Pakistani Air Force Chief has acknowledged that fighter jets have been used in Balochistan against ‘the insurgents’. Baloch sources claim that the weaponry being used includes helicopter gunships, fighter jets, heavy artillery and missiles, and civilian concentrations have frequently been targeted. Many innocent civilians, including women and children, have been killed or have “disappeared”. Numbers on this aspect are hard to find given the complete clampdown on reportage and information flows from Balochistan.
The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), on August 10, released a list of more than 100 political activists allegedly detained illegally by intelligence agencies. BNP President Sardar Akhtar Mengal, a former Chief Minister of the Province, stated that the actual number of “missing political activists” was higher than the numbers given in the list. He alleged that hundreds of political workers of the BNP and other nationalist parties had been detained illegally along with their families, and nobody knew of their whereabouts. Sources indicate that large groups of extended families of insurgents have been arrested or are ‘missing’.
Among those arrested were Obaidullah and Samiullah Baloch, brothers of Sanaullah Baloch, a Senator from the BNP-Mengal. Both were arrested from the Askari area of the provincial capital, Quetta, by military police on July 16, 2006. While Obaidullah has since been released, the fate of his brother Samiullah remains unknown. Sanaullah Baloch described the arrests as “political victimisation” of innocent people, and added, “If the Government has to settle political scores with me, I should be taken in, not my innocent brothers who have no link to my political struggle.” He noted further, “Every day, intelligence agencies are picking up people in Balochistan; and it is sad that the lives of family members of Baloch politicians have been threatened.” A number of activists of the Baloch Students Organisation who had ‘disappeared’ earlier, were recently released from detention. They subsequently claimed that they had been tortured, had their feet shackled and heads covered for extended periods of time, and subjected to electric shocks. Arrests and ‘disappearances’, meanwhile, have served to unite the disparate Baloch nationalists. Joint airborne and ground operations by troops have also strengthened the popular perception that military action is not directed at the three tribal chiefs but against the entire Baloch people.
A fair measure of the insecurity and fear that prevails in the province is visible in the fact that few civil administrators and police officials are willing to accept a posting there, despite generous incentives. Indeed, many such officials have reportedly resorted to political networking to get their transfer orders revoked. In one such instance, the passing of the Finance Bill by the National Assembly became captive to an officer's demands, The News reported, quoting sources in Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's office. The District Management Group (DMG) official allegedly “contacted members of the National Assembly, who in turn demanded that the transfer order be cancelled before the bill was put to vote in the National Assembly.” Aziz directed the Establishment Division to cancel the order. "The officer continues to enjoy his posting in Lahore," the newspaper stated. Reports indicate that even attractive employment incentives have failed to convince federal officials to serve in the beleaguered province, and some have even been charge-sheeted for the refusal to join duties. "Every time the Establishment Division issues transfer orders of police and DMG officers with the full backing of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, the result always remains the same: non-compliance of government orders. Barring exceptions, generally the officers either get their transfer orders cancelled or remain defiant for months and months on end," The News reported. Besides those who have already been able to get their transfer orders cancelled, “there are at least 16 DMG officers whose posting orders were issued way back in February 2005, but are yet to report to the Balochistan Government. Several of these officers are currently serving in Punjab and Sindh provinces.”
A total deadlock now prevails, with Islamabad having virtually closed the door on a negotiated political settlement. The military option is now the only manifest policy being pursued in Balochistan. Criticising “drawing room critics and pseudo intellectuals”, General Musharraf, who has eloquently advocated the ‘negotiated solution’ in other theatres, declared: “I want to tell them that security and peace is only guaranteed through force and strength, never through weakness.” He disclosed, further, that 13 Districts of the ‘B area’ in Balochistan (where the police do not operate) have been converted into ‘A area’ and the rest of the Districts would also soon be converted into ‘A area’ and the police system would be implemented so that the Government’s writ is established completely. The intensity of Islamabad's response is entirely in line with President Musharraf's earlier proclamations on a 'solution' to the 'Baloch problem'. In early 2005, he had warned the rebels, "Don't push us… It is not the '70s. We will not climb mountains behind them, they will not even know what and from where something has come and hit them."
But Islamabad continues to struggle to contain the fallout of the world’s attention focusing on the Baloch insurgency. The military regime and its political proxies have repeatedly sought to lay the blame on the 'hidden hand' and 'external actors'. India was long projected as the arch villain and agent provocateur, but official rhetoric has progressively brought in the UK and US into the circle of ‘conspirators’ seeking to destabilize the Province, positions that are finding few takers. On August 8, 2006, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, rejected as unfounded charges of alleged involvement of British secret agencies in Balochistan. His denial came after a delegation of British parliamentarians was questioned about the alleged involvement of British secret agencies in a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Defence on June 3, 2006. Grant observed, “We have a great deal of interest in the stability and security of Balochistan simply because that is linked with the security of British troops deployed in Helmand across the border in Afghanistan.”
Contrary to the military regime’s braggadocio and the extravagant rush to declare victory, the ground situation in Balochistan suggests that the Province is far from quiescent. Massive military operations notwithstanding, on all conventional indicators, the insurgency is expected to retain its intransigence and vitality in the proximate future.
|Sunday, September 24, 2006|
Baloch Diaspora congratulates the King of Balochistan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, President of the Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA) Dr. Wahid Baloch phoned and congratulated His Highness Mir Suleman Dawood Khan, King of Balochistan, for summoning the grand meeting of all Baloch tribal chieftains.
“The Baloch Diaspora in the United States and Canada extend their full support to Your Highness,” Dr. Baloch said.
“The convening of Grand Baloch Shahi Jirga (grand meeting) of Dar-ul-Umrah (the Upper House of Balochistan Parliament), is an historic event for the Baloch people all over the world,” he informed His Highness, and added that the Baloch Diaspora are rejoicing His Highnesses’ courage to assemble this meeting against all odds.
Dr. Baloch informed His Highness that BSO-NA endorses the Dar-ul-Umrah’s decisions, and along with the rest of the Baloch Diaspora he is delighted that Balochistan’s case would now finally be taken up at the International Court of Justice (I.C.J.) at The Hague. He regretted that some apologists and supporters of the military regime from Punjab were trying to belittle the importance of the historic event.
Dr. Baloch also spoke with the former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, who was visiting His Highness on Friday. Sardar Mengal stated that the Baloch leadership appreciates the extremely useful service Baloch expatriates in North America and Europe were rendering to the struggle of achieving the inalienable rights of the Baloch people.
On behalf of the BSO-NA, Dr. Baloch asks all friends of Balochistan and international organizations to take this opportunity to contact His Highness Mir Suleman Dawood Khan, King of Balochistan, and congratulate him for convening the Grand Jirga, and to assure him of their support. To contact His Highness, email Dr. Wahid Baloch to get His Highnesses’ phone number.
Dr. Baloch also advised the Baloch people to collect all the relevant information and documents that will help the legal case at the I.C.J. He recommended that extensive consultation and communications is imperative among the King of Balochistan, Nawab Khair Buksh Marri, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Baloch tribal chieftains and elders, political leaders, Baloch Students Organization, Government of Balochistan (in Exile), Balochistan National Movement (BNM), Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Haq Tawar, Balochistan National Party (BNP), National Party (NP) and all other political entities and groups who believe in the Baloch right to self determination.
“We can now move forward to pursue our case at the I.C.J. in real earnest,” Dr. Baloch said.
Dr. Baloch also suggested floating the idea of establishing the “Balochistan International Legal Fund” in the United States to help finance the legal battles that lie ahead.
Dr. Wahid Baloch is the President of the Baloch Society of North America http://www.bso-na.org/ based in the U.S.
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
|Americans to Help|
Baloch End Tragedy
WASHINGTON DC - Americans concerned over the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Balochistan have joined hands with the Baloch living in the United States to launch the "American Friends of Balochistan" (AFOB).
The stated goal of the new organization is to create awareness of the need of a safe, independent, and secular peaceful Balochistan in southwest Asia . The organization will advocate for the establishment of an independent and impartial War Crimes Tribunal to try individuals responsible for crimes against the Baloch people.
The organization will be headed by Bob Selle, contributing Editor of the World & I, a publication of the Washington Times Corporation. Dr Wahid Baloch, a prominent Baloch activist, would be the general secretary of the American Friends of Balochistan.
The American Friends of Balochistan goals and programs would be:
1. Provide a continuous flow of information to the U.S. Government, public, and non profit institutions about the situation in Balochistan which is occupied as a colonial possession of Pakistan and Iran. Promote Baloch visitors to the United States to speak before public organizations with the intent of building support among existing non profit organizations that would take Baloch under their wings.
2- Monitor and highlight the human rights conditions of the Baloch in Iran and Pakistan. Interface with existing human rights organizations who rarely consider Balochistan so as the help break the silence that facilitates impunity for those who kill and torture. Help Baloch opposition groups that are targets of victimization by Pakistani and Iranian state forces.
3. Advocate for the establishment of an independent and impartial War Crimes Tribunal to try individuals responsible for crimes against the Baloch people. Network with existing organizations that might address legal aspects of evidence and procedures that war crimes tribunals require to participate.
3- Help end the nuclear programs of both Pakistan and Iran. Nuclear testing on the soil of Balochistan is a common practice by both Iran and Pakistan. At the least, the Chagai test range should be opened for international inspections. But inspections should not diminish the goal of making the entire region a nuclear free area.
4- Counter the state-sponsored trend of promoting Talibanization and fanaticism in Balochistan by government of Pakistan. The alternative to Pakistan's machinations can only come from an informed and involved western influence. Sadly, most Baloch feel that the western world does not appreciate their community, human rights and culture of civility that is most closely related to modern western world values. VOA and other media need to communicate with Baloch to help rectify this misconception.
5- Find peaceful but effective ways to help Baloch resist Pakistani army expansion (cantonments) on Balochistan soil. Advocate the immediate withdrawal of all Pakistani and Iranian army personnel from Baloch soil. This might be considered as a counterpart of what the United States did, very successfully, for the Kurds prior to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
6- Through public media, such as the VOA, sponsor programs that emphasize the age-old Baloch traditions of respect for all great religious traditions of the world, especially Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and sufi Islam.
|Dr. Wahid Baloch of BSO-NA addressed the rally with the following words: "Balochistan was never a part of Pakistan, but a sovereign state and one year after the creation of Pakistan out of India, Pakistan attacked the sovereign Baloch state and forcefully annexed it into Pakistan". He said, "Baloch people are fighting for their freedom for the last 60 years and in this connection a Case is being filed to the International Court of Justice by Khan of Kalat in near future, to challenge the Pakistani illegal occupation of Balochistan". He further said, "While Pakistan celebrate the Independence Day, the Baloch and Sindhi are observing a black day worldwide and in Sindh and Balochistan". He asked the United Nation and the world community to intervene in order to end the Pakistani illegal occupation of Balochistan and genocide of Baloch people.|
|Balkanization to rid world of ISI threats: Ahmar Mustikhan|
WASHINGTON, August 1, 2008. Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani debuted in the United States at a time when his nation's secret support for al Qaeda is coming under increasing world scrutiny.
Meeting with leading U.S. think tanks and thinkers, he parried key questions pertaining to nuclear security, threats to the regional and world security posed by current and former members of Pakistan's dreaded Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency and its controversial role in Afghanistan.
But questions about regional autonomy for the rebellious state of Baluchistan - scene of a bloody insurgency, which the Baluch call the "Fifth War of Liberation," may have been the most contentious.
Gilani was speaking at a meeting co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Middle East Institute at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Washington D.C. Tuesday evening.
Gilani is already under fire at home due to a YouTube video circulating in Pakistan and on the Internet that allegedly shows him inappropriately touching Sherry Rahman, now his information minister, at a public rally last year.
Among the ruling Pakistan People's Party old timers, Gilani is looked upon as someone who is close to the Punjabi establishment - Punjab is the bastion of Pakistan army - and making his entry into politics through the backdoor during the nonparty elections under former dictator General Ziaul Haq.
Gilani is believed to be close to billionaire smuggler-turned-developer Seth Abid. Abid in turn is a very close friend of retired Gen. Hamid Gul, a former chief of the ISI and an avowed enemy of the U.S. Gul is said to be one of the main strategists of the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, along with Maulana Fazlur Rahman, chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam.
Gilani, Abid and Gul are all from the dominant Punjab state.
While responding to some harsh questioning, Gilani preferred one-liner answers, much to chagrin of Richard N. Haass, president of the Council Foreign Relations and presiding host of the talk, which was themed "A Conversation with Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister Islamic Republic of Pakistan."
Most of the U.S. intellectuals privately said they were extremely disappointed over Gilani's political I.Q.
"Dancing with the dictators have always come to haunt the world," Gillani said in reference to the preference of some U.S. politicians, including Vice President Dick Cheney, for working with despots.
The prime minister also poked fun at the U.S. for leaving a mess in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. "This is not Charlie Wilson's war, This is Benazir Bhutto's war," he joked. Gilani's comments sometimes seemed an effort to assuage President Bush's feelings over Pakistan's ISI secret links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Charlie Wilson was a flamboyant, playboyish Democratic congressman from Texas who joined hands with the CIA to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan.
Over the last two years, Pakistan has been demanding extradition of Baluch opposition activists in exchange for known al-Qaeda terrorists, U.K. press reports said.
July 7, the day chosen for the Kabul attacks, marked the third anniversary of the London subway bombings that left 52 killed and 700 injured in the U.K. capital. The terrorists in that were mostly of Punjabi origin.
At least one high-profile alleged al Qaeda terrorist, Rashid Rauf, 26, who carried dual U.K.-Pakistani nationality, was arrested in Pakistan for the 2006 Transatlantic Airlines Plot to detonate bombs aboard a Western airliner. He mysteriously escaped from an Islamabad jail weeks before his extradition to Great Britain.
Rauf had links with Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman Alzwahiri.
A Daily Telegraph report said Pakistan held back intelligence vital to Britain's counter-terrorism effort and co-operation with the campaign in neighboring Afghanistan on the grounds that Britain must first arrest Baluch political and human rights activists.
Iran, North Korea and Libya," he said.
The Baluch opposed Pakistan's nuclear tests, conducted on May 27, 1998, in Baluchistan and claim those tests destroyed hundreds of square miles of their nomadic lands. "The tests showed the plight of Baluchistan is worse than Darfur. I want to take the Pakistan army generals to answer before the International Criminal Court at the Hague," Baloch said.
To the applause of a planeload of mostly Punjabi and Mohajir [descendants of Urdu-speaking Indians] journalists that Gilani brought with him from Pakistan, the Pakistani premier passed the buck onto the U.S. when asked about the challenges he faced in dealing with the I.S.I.
Gilani recalled the ISI was a close friend and favorite of the U.S., alluding to the period when the ISI worked as proxy for the C.I.A. during the war in Afghanistan to drive out the former Red Army.
"No head of government will say his secret service is trying to screw him up," comments Frederic Grare, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who listened to Gilani's talk.
Wahid Baloch said the only way to rid the world of the ISI was a balkanization of Pakistan on the lines of the former Soviet Union.
Haass repeated his question, asking again whether Gilani felt concerned about the integrity of his country, but the premier responded, "Ninety-nine percent of the people are patriots. Only a handful of them want to destabilize the country."
Baluchistan state, where more than 95 percent of the people want International Security Assistance Force in neighboring Afghanistan to replace the Pakistan army, according to one online poll, has been the hotbed of an insurgency - the fifth since the Texas-sized territory's controversial annexation to Pakistan in March 1948.
The standoff plunged into chaos on August 26, 2006, when the Pakistan army extra-judicially killed former governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 81, on the instruction of military hawks led by New Delhi-born former Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Nawab Bugti was also the chief of the powerful Bugti tribe and head of a major political party.
Bugti's grandson, Nawab Brahamdagh Bugti, is now one of the main leaders of the Baluch resistance movement. He has said his struggle is meant for the ouster of Pakistan army from Baluch soil and the Baluch regaining sovereignty over their homeland. He has made it clear he will accept help from any quarter to defeat the Pakistan army.
Baluch nationalists said Pakistan's dominant Punjabis and Mohajirs do not want to address the core issue that they owe as much as $15 billion in unpaid monies for gas from Sui, ancestral lands of the Bugti tribe.
They argue Baluchistan was never a part of Pakistan but that the Texas-sized state was forcibly annexed by Pakistan in March 1948. They say they have proof to show their state maintained an independent existence for more than seven months after the British left
India divided in August 1947.
Immediately after Nawab Bugti's assassination, the de jure ruler of Baluchistan Khan of Kalat Suleman Daud Ahmedzai called a historic "jirga," or gathering, at his Shahi Mahal, or royal palace, in his native and historic Baluchistan town of Kalat. Nearly 100 powerful chiefs of various Baluch tribes and 400 notables were among 1,500 people from different walks of life in Baluchistan who attended the jirga under Ahmedzai's leadership.
Ahmedzai, whose ancestors have ruled Baluchistan since the mid-1600s, has sought asylum in the U.K., and is now seeking world support to get justice at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
On a question on regional autonomy, Gilani said that issue has been solved under the 1973 Constitution and that he has abolished the concurrent list,that said some of the powers would be shared between the center and the states or provinces, and that he had given those to the provinces.
"Gilani is totally right in that the 1973 Constitution offered a solution, though Baluch nationalist may disagree," said Grare. "The problem is the 1973 Constitution has never been respected by the successive military or the civilian governments. The violations were more blatant under military rule."
But Grare acknowledged over the last 35 years there have been drastic changes in the constitution. "I know there are many Baluch who are not willing to be part of Pakistan, but there are others who say they want autonomy under the 1973 Constitution," Grare said, adding that what Baluch people really desire can be known in an atmosphere of genuine freedom of expression.
Baluch nationalist argue that if the 1973 Constitution could not save the life of its main author, President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, how could it guarantee anything significant to Baluchistan? Wahid Baloch pointed out that in spite of the so-called 1973 constitution an army operation is going on in Baluchistan that has left more than 100 people, including women and children killed, over the last two weeks.
The elder Bhutto's killer, General Zia ul-Haq on record referred to the 1973 Constitution as toilet paper.
Wahid Baloch said provincial autonomy will not work in the presence of a Punjabi-dominated national assembly where Balochistan has no say when it comes to policy making.
"The provincial autonomy slogan is a ruse to continue the illegal occupation of Baluchistan and exploit its resources at gun point. We want nothing short of sovereignty over our resources," he said.
According to the 1973 constitution, any person who aborts the constitution and stages a coup can be sent to the gallows, but Pakistan's last coup leader, now-President Pervez Musharraf, is still president of the country under a U.S.-brokered agreement.
Gilani was handpicked by Asif Ali Zardari, spouse of twice-premier Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated last year. Zardari, once a playboy from Karachi's club scene, is today the country's second richest man in Pakistan with a net worth of $1.8 billion dollars, according to the Dubai-based Khaleej Times newspaper. He is known widely by his critics as "Mr 10 Percent;" Bhutto had put a gag order on Zardari during her lifetime.
Independent U.S. scholars believe the democratic dispensation in Pakistan should be given a chance.
Marvin Weinbaum, scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute, said more time needs to be given to Gilani to tackle the mindboggling issues confronting Pakistan.
"Give us more time this was his message," Weinbaum who heard Gilani speak at two events said.
Weinbaum said he had followed with interest the announcement, rescinded within hours, of putting the ISI under civilian control. "This was a recipe for greater tension between the military and the civilian sections of the government," he said.
Weinbaum felt Baluch calls for independence for the resource-rich Baluchistan was basically a demand for greater autonomy and more control over their resources.
But Wahid Baloch said the Western scholars do not realize practising true federalism was impossible within Pakistan or Iran, as the jihadists do not believe in borders and think they have the license to do whatever they want on foreign lands as the 9/11 attacks showed. "Life for one, is death for the other," Wahid Baloch said about Baluchistan's irreconcilable differences with Islamabad
"That is exactly the reason why the overwhelming majority of Baluch people, 97 percent or more, want the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] to replace Pakistan army," Baloch said.
|World Baloch Jewish Alliance fully supports President Karzai|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – World Baloch Jewish Alliance (WBJA) convener and journalist, Ahmar Mustikhan, has fully supported Afghan President's statements at the United Nations that Pakistan was training the terrorists for attacks inside Afghanistan and is a sanctuary of Al Qaeda and Taliban.
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
|Balochistan comprises of areas in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. But, Iran and Pakistan forcibly occupied Balochistan and oppressed the Baloch people. The “Baloch War of Independence” has begun, and our freedom fighters are engaged in guerrilla warfare to liberate Balochistan. On April 18, 2006, we declared the Government of Balochistan in Exile, nominated His Highness Mir Suleman Dawood Khan as our King, chose the red, green, blue with sun as our flag, and reinstated Kalat as our capital.|
The Government of Balochistan in Exile
|Baloch to go to any lengths for rights: Khan of Kalat|
KARACHI, Nov 7: Mir Suleman Dawood Khan, the Khan of Kalat, has said the Baloch people will go to any lengths to achieve their rights and alleged that the main purpose behind building cantonments is to control the Baloch people and exploit Balochistan's mineral wealth.
In a wide-ranging interview with Dawn, the Khan of Kalat said all land in Balochistan belonged to the tribes; "nothing belongs to the state." His emphasis was on Balochistan getting adequate royalty for fisheries, gas and other minerals, besides payment of overflight rights.
As a Baloch he had no objection to the building of Gwadar as a commercial port. But he feared that the ambitious schemes that were being announced would need a million people, while the port at present had a population of 60,000. "Where will these people come from? Obviously from Karachi." he said.
Asked if the reports about "camps" were true, and if true who was running them, he said these were Baloch camps. "Give us our rights or we will fight".
Baloch to go to any lengths for rights: Khan of Kalat
KARACHI Nov 7: There has been a slight quiescence in Balochistan in recent days, but there is no sign that the underlying problems or passions have subsided. An indication of this is the way Mir Suleman Dawood Khan, the Khan of Kalat, talks.
Give us our rights, he says, or we will do anything to get those rights. We created Pakistan, he says, and it needs to survive. This is his message in a nutshell.
Royalty on fisheries, royalty on gas, royalty on all minerals. He even wants money to be paid to Balochistan for overflights. All land in Balochistan belongs to the tribes, he says, "nothing belongs to the state."
It is difficult to beat the Khan in argument. He is knowledgeable about Baloch history, and the facts about Gwadar and the land ownership pattern are on his finger-tips.
Interviewing him for Dawn the other day in Karachi turned out to be a daunting task. He tells you in a jiffy about Prince Saeed's flight from Oman in 1783, the grant of asylum by Khan Mir Naseer Khan the First, his re-conquest of Oman with Baloch help in 1791, Gwadar's position after Prince Saeed won, the coming of the British, Gwadar's sale to Pakistan in 1956, and so on.
He put it graphically, "Great Game Part II is being played. We want our rights. If we don't get them, we will be a major player in the Great Game Part II."
The thrust of the Khan's arguments was on the unique position Kalat enjoyed in August 1947 when the British left the subcontinent. Unlike the hundreds of other princely states in British India, he said, Nepal and Kalat occupied an entirely different position. Kalat had the right to have diplomatic relations with other countries, and the British paid "taxes" to Kalat, while in the case of the princely states the situation was the other way around.
Between August 1947, when the British left the subcontinent, and March 1948, Kalat was an independent country. Unlike Pakistan, which became independent on August 14, 1947, Kalat became independent six days earlier - on Aug 8. It acceded to Pakistan on March 27, 1948, after the Khan of Kalat, His Highness Baglar Begi - the present Khan's grandfather - signed an agreement with the Quaid-i-Azam.
According to the terms of the agreement, the centre was to control only four subjects: defence, foreign affairs, communications and currency. In all other matters, Kalat was to be completely independent. (As an aside, he pointed out, Kalat was the only area in Pakistan where there was still a Qazi court. This was to point out the continuity in Kalat's political tradition.)
However, subsequent governments did not abide by the terms of the agreement of accession. Makran, Kharan and Bela were part of Kalat, but later they were given separate status when during the time of Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad a Balochistan States' Union was created.
Balochistan then constituted 62 per cent of (West) Pakistan. Later, parts of the province were given to the NWFP, Punjab, and Sindh. But even now it constitutes 46 per cent of Pakistan.
As a Baloch, the Khan has no objection to the development of Gwadar as a commercial port. But what he fears is the trampling of the rights of its people. The port has a population of 60,000, he says, but the grandiose schemes that have been announced will need at least a million people. "Where will these people come from? Obviously from Karachi, mostly Urdu-speaking," he says.
Khan Salman said when India was partitioned, most of the Urdu-speaking people who came to Pakistan had lost everything they possessed, unlike the local people, "who were quite prosperous". The tragedy was, he said, that policy-making in this country had always been in the hands of the migrants. The result was that "the refugees are controlling your country, and the sons of soil are beggars".
Told that this could have been the position in Pakistan's formative stages, he said even now 40 to 50 per cent of those making policies were Urdu-speaking or had an Indian Civil Service background. Along with Urdu-speaking and Punjabis, he said, the Pathans were now a partner in the triumvirate ruling Pakistan.
The Khan's main grievance is that Balochistan's minerals and other natural resources are being exploited without any benefit to the Baloch people.
Balochistan had a coastline of 600 miles, and the fish catch got Pakistan something between $750 million and one billion dollars a year, but Balochistan got nothing. Similarly, overflight rights for aircraft should give billions of dollars to Balochistan but "not a rupee is given to us". The same was true of marble and natural gas. "Gwadar belongs to the Gichkis", he said, and wondered of what use Gwadar's development would be to the people of Balochistan.
The Khan referred to the question of royalty time and again and emphasized that "every inch of the land belongs to the tribes and not to the state".
He was bitter about the cantonments issue. He was asked what objection a Pakistani could possibly have to the building of cantonments in Pakistan, because every country reserved the right to defend itself and build cantonments within its territory. Khan Dawood said one only had to travel through Balochistan to realize what the cantonments issue was all about. One would find a "qila" (fort or mini-cantonment) after every 30 miles. It was obvious that those "qilas" were being built not for Pakistan's defence but for what he described as exploiting Balochistan's mineral wealth and for controlling the Baloch people. This was a colonial approach, the aim being "to plunder Baloch resources".
Asked if the report about "camps" were true and if true who was running them, he said these were Baloch camps.
"Give us our rights or we will fight". For achieving those rights, he said, the Baloch could go to any lengths and contact any power.
Asked if he condemned the murder of the Chinese engineers involved in Gwadar's construction, the Khan said enigmatically that he would "condemn nothing, and support nothing ". The issue was that the Baloch people should be given their rights. If they were denied those rights they would fight for their rights. If the situation continued this way, there could be more casualties.
The Baloch were more pro-federation than anyone else in the country. "We created it (Pakistan) and we can damage it." If Kalat had not acceded to the federation and Pakistan had not come into being, he said, "we would be the underdogs of the Hindus. The papers (of accession) are lying in the Mohatta Palace and you can see them".
In November 2003, the Supreme Court, he said, had given a ruling saying no court could admit any case that challenged the (accession) treaty documents. This means an agreement signed by the Quaid was not being honoured. With the door of the judiciary closed on the Baloch, "what is the remedy left for us? Confrontation?"
The Khan referred to the close ties between his grandfather and the Quaid, who was legal adviser to Kalat. When there was an assassination attempt on Mr Jinnah in 1943, no one in the entire subcontinent gave him protection, except Kalat. As a measure of his grandfather's love and respect for the Quaid, he had given him ll security guards, two cars, two drivers, and two bearers. But, while the Quaid's picture adorned the office of every government leader, nobody was prepared to honour the agreement signed by the Father of the Nation.
He said the Baloch would now become a major part of the Great Game Part II.
It was a myth, he said, that Gwadar was being built for trade with Central Asia. Most of Central Asia's trade was already going through Chah Bahar (Iran), and Gwadar was of no use in this respect.
The country that hoped to benefit most from Gwadar was China.
In the development of Saindak and Gwadar, the Baloch people were playing no role, even though trained Baloch engineers and other skilled hands were available. He wondered why they were not being trained by China.
The murder of the Chinese engineers, he said, was part of the larger international forces that were at work in the region. He referred to the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the break-up of the USSR and Yugoslavia, the virtual division of Iraq into four zones, the situation in Assam, and the Tamils and Biharis. "If the Baloch do not get their rights, we will demand independence".
About his role as a mediator in disputes among different Baloch tribes, the Khan of Kalat said he was helpless against the divide-and-rule policy followed by the government. This policy suited the English, because they realized one day they would go back go England. "But where do our rulers have to go? Or us?"
He said the government was protecting murderers and often helped both sides to a dispute. In the dispute between the Rinds and the Raisanis, the corps commander, the Khan alleged, gave millions of rupees to one side and the governor to the other.
He is happy he can move about freely in Balochistan, unlike many other Baloch politicians - whom he said he wouldn't like to name - who had committed murders but were now ministers and members of parliament.
He regretted that people still thought of themselves in terms of Punjabis, Sindhis, Baloch, Pathans and Mohajirs but not as Pakistanis. -By Muhammad Ali Siddiqi and Shamim-ur-Rahman
|Hyrbair Marri sought help of the international community to help end the occupation of Balochistan|
United Kingdom, May 5, 2009: CAMPACC (Campaign against Criminializing Communities) organized and sponsored a public meeting on issues related to Balochistan in the House of Lords. The meeting was hosted and chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, one of the UK's top defence barristers. Labour Peer Lord Rea attended the meeting and said he will do his best to raise these issues with other members of the Houses of Lords. Khan of Kalat Suleiman Daud Ahmadzai was also in attendance. A large number of Baloch other human rights activists including Ms Estella of CAMPACC, and the lawyers of Hyrbair Marri and Faiz Baluch attended the meeting. The speaker included Baroness Helena Kennedy one of the top defence barristers in the UK, Ms Gareth pierce an extinguished human rights lawyer, peter Tatchell a human rights campaigner and candidate of Green party, exiled Baloch leader Sardarzada Hyrbair Marri and Faiz Baluch a human rights activist.
Hyrbair Marri in speech gave graphic explanations of Balochistan’s history of struggle and the Pakistani military offensives in Balochistan. He said that since the occupation of Baluch land the Baluch have been suffering from slow motion genocide at the hands of Pakistani army. He said that Pakistani army was committing war crimes in Balochistan. Former dictator Genrel Musharraf and his Regime are guilty of crimes against humanity, killing and abducting of thousands of Baloch in Balochistan.
He said that “0n 20th November 2007, my brother Balach Marri was murdered by Pakistan’s army in Balochistan. That gave Musharraf the opportunity to put more pressure on the British government to arrest me. As he had got rid of my brother and now he was after me. Mr Brown’s government succumbed to Musharraf’s pressure and they arrested me to appease him”.
Praising the British jury system while expressing his disappointment at Mr Brown’s government he said that “The jury which comprised people from different walks of life have understood the gravity of our problem and recognised our struggle for Independence. I sincerely thank the jury who have acquitted me of the terrorism charges. However I was appalled to find out that I was being prosecuted only because of my political stand. I was being prosecuted only because I am opposed to the exploitation of Baloch wealth and I am against the atrocities that the Pakistani army is committing against my Nation. I was being prosecuted because I asked my Nation to stand up for what is theirs. I was being prosecuted because I am a supporter of Independent Balochistan. “Freedom is the right of every Nation and asking for freedom should not be a crime”.
After giving a graphic detail of military offensives and human rights violations in Balochistan by Pakistani army and intelligence services Mr Marri said that “The slow motion genocide and massacre of Baloch people is taking place right under the nose of International community but the so called champions of human rights and International law makers remained silent on the death and destruction of my nation. Musharraf and his army generals had committed war crimes in Balochistan. They should be arrested and tried in the international criminal court, as its common knowledge these Pakistani army generals come to stay in the UK and United states after their retirement. Although they have committed crime against humanity, they are protected in western democracies. It is very unfortunate that UK being one the most democratic countries have arrested and put us behind bars to silent our voice forever. Our arrest was no co-incident but it was the result of Musharraf’s pressure on Mr Brown’s government, it was the result of the collusion between the UK and Pakistani agencies. They arrested us only to please Musharraf and the Pakistani army”.
Directly appealing to the international community Mr Marri said that “Today my main plea is that the international community must recognise our legitimate struggle against the illegitimate occupation of our land. Our struggle is for Independence and restoration of our sovereignty only. We are not trying to break or make Pakistan. Our struggle is not a movement of separation but it is against the occupation of our Independent state which was occupied at gunpoint by Pakistan in 1948.
Our language, culture, identity and existence are at the brink of extinction and we are struggling for our survival. We need the International community’s moral support. We need international intervention in Balochistan. International community must act now and help us to end the occupation of our land”.
Faiz Baloch also spoke of the trial and pointed out that “One of the most ridiculous things about our case and trial was that the CPS has tried to deceive the jury into thinking that we were Al-Qaeeda. We are everything that Al-Qaeeda hates. We are secular people. We are not extremists; we are proud to be Muslims but that has nothing to do with our struggle for the freedom of our country. Maybe the prosecution was trying make the jury prejudiced toward the Baloch struggle, but I am glad that the jury have taken the side of the truth and justice by acquitting me of the terrorism charges unanimously. The credit however goes to our legal teams who have worked tirelessly to make the jury understand that this case was totally different then what the prosecution was trying to portray. During my trial I felt like it was not only me and Mr Marri on trial but it was the Baluch nation versus Pakistan – we have put the state on trial and won with pride and dignity. That is why the victory in this trial I believe is the victory of Baloch nation as Nation and Baloch National struggle of Freedom”.
Talking about his expectations form the international community he said that “I really believed that if the international community knew what was happening in Balochistan they would help us. But after my arrest I have begun to think that I was naive. I was being prosecuted in a democratic country like the UK for running a website, which was basically aimed to bring the plight of the Baloch nation to the world’s attention, and for exercising my freedom of speech. The CPS has acknowledged, as has the British government, that the Baloch have been subjected to acts that are tantamount to war crimes and yet I was the one who had been arrested and banged up in UK’s high security prison for months, only for trying to inform the world about the abuses that were taking place in my country. I feel that the Baloch are just victims of a complicated geo-political situation. There are many countries that have their own designs and interests in our region because of the geographic and strategic importance of Balochistan and our natural resources.
The website I ran is called Balochwarna. Balochwarna’s aims are simple – we want to bring news of what is happening in Balochistan to the international community’s attention. We want to engage and inform human rights groups around the world about what is happening in our country”.
He also spoke about the media blackout in Balochistan and abduction and torture of Baloch journalists and writers. Talking about the development in Balochistan is said that the mega projects are not aimed to benefit the Baluch but these to change the Baluch into a minority on their own homeland. Talking about the nuclear explosions in Balochistan he said that Pakistan is using the Baloch land as a waste dump.
Baluch in his concluding remarks said that “The message I am here trying to convey is that the Baloch, recognised as a separate and distinct people have suffered a brutal and lengthy occupation. Our lands have been confiscated, our resources are being stolen, and our young people are discriminated against and denied education. We have only ever asked for the same rights as all other peoples. We have only ever asked to be heard. We have a right to have a say in our future and the future of our country. The Pakistani government has only ever had one real answer to the legitimate demands of the Baloch and that is violence. They persecute and murder our activists. People of all ages are dragged from their homes and disappeared and tortured. Our towns and villages are destroyed using laser guided weaponry supplied by the west. When possible we have tried to protect ourselves through the political process but this is not possible. The natural wealth of Baluchistan is so great and the strategic position of Baluchistan is so significant that the Pakistani army who run the government will never recognise our rights. We need your help. We need your support. The British government’s response to our suffering was to prosecute me and Mr Marri for just talking about it and highlighting our cause. Fortunately an ordinary British jury saw through this and found us not guilty. We now want you to help us tell the world about Baluchistan our struggle for independence and to stop the Pakistani army killing another generation of Baluch”.
Peter Tatchall a human rights campaigner and candidate for Green party said that it the high level collusion between the british govt and the agents of Pakistani dictator. He said that british actively and knowingly collaborated with the agents of Musharraf and thats shamefull. He said looking back at the sequence of arrests one can clearly see that Musharraf wanted Marri and Baluch to be arrested. Musharraf agenda was clear and that was to crush and silence the voices of Baloch people. Mr Tatchall said there are questions to be asked authorise the arrest of these two men and who sent our security services man to Islamabad at the taxpayers’ expense. He said he was shocked and surprised that his democratic government would open collude with a dictator’s regime. He said it however seems that the British government was black mailed by the Pakistani government in particular in the case of Rahid Rauf.
(click for more pictures) (Click for the videos - Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 , Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7)
|News : Baloch should unite, I see difficult times ahead: Khan of Kalat|
on 2009/5/9 4:00:00
London: Khan of Kalat Suleiman Daud Ahmadzai said that in order to get independence the first and a foremost condition is that Baloch parties should unite under a single party or a Front. While speaking to Akram Baloch the Khan said that Nawab Bugiti when alive said that Baloch should form a joint struggle and a single party but unfortunately some Baloch parties and personalities for their own petty interests did not act on Nawab Bugti’s will. He said it was the high time for the Baloch nation and Baloch political parties to form a joint strategy and leave their confusing policies. All Baloch parties must clearly say what they want.
He said that according to 1947s agreement between Khan Ahamd Yar Khan and Mr Jinnah Pakistan had recognised Balochistan as a sovereign state. Talking about Kalat jirga the Khan said that Zulfiqar Magsi and Aslam Raisani were participants of that jirga and it was decided that we’ll take Baluchistan’s case to the international court of justice, that is why both the leaders Magsi and Raisani should keep their Balochi promises, resign from the government and make a joint strategy. He said Baloch have gone a long way ahead and there is no way back now. For some lucrative jobs and offer we should not leave the Baloch struggle.
The Khan further said that Baloch should be prepared for all sort of sacrifices because there are difficult times ahead. He said after the military offensive of NWFP and FATA they will turn their guns toward Balochistan.
About his stay in the UK the khan said that he was not hiding or silent but trying to raise the Baluch issue at every available forum. He said that currently he cannot travel outside United Kingdom but whenever he gets permission to travel he’ll go to the capital of Europe (Hague) and register the Baluch case. He believed that he’ll succeed registering the Baluch case in the international court of justice. While paying tributes to Shaheed Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and his comrades the Khan said that they did not sacrificed their lives for money or any jobs but they have laid their lives for the sake of Baluchistan and shown us all the way how to get rid the slavery. In the end he once again stressed that Baloch parties must be united for the greater interest of Balochistan and Baloch Nation.
Courtesy: Daily Intekhab
|LETTER FROM BALUCHISTAN|
A Call to Resistance: The Khan of Kalat Gathers the Tribes
by Annie Nocenti
The Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleiman Daud, is speeding. He’s a fast driver, but so expert a wheelman there’s no fear in the wide black Hummer. “Who drives American cars?” he says, mocking himself. “But when I saw this one, I knew it was my toy.” Handsome and charismatic, Khan Suleiman enjoys hiding his eyes behind Gucci shades, and prefers a ball cap to a turban.
Add in the traditional long baggy shirts and baggy pants of the region, what sounds like Pakistani hip-hop blasting, the carload of his men packing pistols and Kalashnikovs that rides behind us, and it feels like quite the posse. But considering Khan Suleiman once took four AK47 bullets in the gut and chest in the tribal equivalent of a drive-by and lived, the bullet-resistant Hummer makes practical sense. Khan Suleiman’s survival of that shooting was considered so miraculous that there is a university doctor who teaches a class in the incident. As for all the guns and ammunition, Baluchistan is one of the tribal provinces of Pakistan, and in tribal regions, one needs protection. Especially the Khan of Kalat, which literally means King of the Fort, the chief of chiefs. But it’s not his own people he needs protection from.
Khan of Kalat Suleiman’s country is rich in resources that everyone wants to take and he doesn’t have the power to stop them. “We sit on a mountain of gold,” he says, “and the devil sits on us.” His people, the Baluch Nation, are being indiscriminately bombed, arrested, and kidnapped, and he’s powerless to stop it. Journalist Selig S. Harrison has called it a slow-motion genocide and Human Rights groups have called it an ethnic cleansing. “We have 700 miles of coast and oil and gas and gold,” says Khan Suleiman. “We try to do something to have rights to it, we get spanked. We resist every ten years and get spanked every ten years.” For the past few years, he has been in the middle of an unseen war that few beyond the regional press are reporting.
But then something horrible happened and it radicalized his people. In August 2006 the chief of the Bugti tribe, 79-year-old Newab Akbar Bugti, was murdered by the Pakistan Army. “Bugti was buried with three locks on the coffin,” says Khan Suleiman. “They thought his soul might come back and make trouble. So the army put locks on it. None of his tribe was around to see his body. Still they’ve got a guard on his body.” The Baluch people were outraged by the murder, and Khan Suleiman had found his moment, the catalyst he needed. He called a national jirga, a meeting of the tribes, the first in 130 years. He wanted to find out if his sardars, his chiefs, the heads of tribes that have been, on and off, at war with each other for hundreds of years, could lay down personal disputes and unify for a common cause: an autonomous Baluchistan. Khan Suleiman’s allies would be his former enemies. In the way of tribes, his enemies are also his friends. He put out his call.
My first thought was: this man is a modern Sitting Bull. Which makes him a sitting duck. Which is why he travels in a Hummer and why his travel plans are never announced. What Khan Suleiman has just done is akin to Sitting Bull asking the Apache, the Cherokee, the Mohawks, all the major Native American warring tribes to smoke the peace pipe and unify against the migrating settlers that were stealing their land out from under them.
Khan Suleiman’s historic jirga was attended by 1,500, including 85 sardars and 300 tribal elders. The Baluch people have always protested the Punjabi-dominated military regime of Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf that has been made rich off the Baluch province but gives so little back in terms of resources and tax revenues that the entire region still lacks the basic services that most consider human rights. The province is rich in natural gas yet only 6% of the Baluch have gas connections, less than half the children get an education, and only 2% of the population have clean water.
The answer to Khan Suleiman’s call for unification and resistance against this state of affairs was a resounding yes. “When you make a call you get an answer,” says Khan Suleiman. “The answer means that Baluch is a nation. They have problems, but they have roots. I know them 700 years and they know me 700 years. I gave a call in the 21st century and 95% answered. Students and prime ministers agree. There are the rocket guys and the pen and paper guys, but we come together directly or indirectly.” The jirga was so inspirational that the Pashtuns, the Sindhi and the Afghans have all decided to hold their own jirgas to unify their tribes. Even General Musharraf called a jirga of his own, “But nobody went,” laughs Khan Suleiman.
Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is sparsely populated by people and overwhelmingly a land of rocks. Flatbed trucks pass carrying enormous marble hunks as big as cars. An old man sits by the side of the road, a mountain of rocks to his left, a pile of smaller rocks to his right, he in the middle with a hammer. A task for Sisyphus. But the more one looks at these majestic, dusty gray-brown mountains, the more one sees they are not at all dull, but coyly streaked in color. “Rubies, diamonds, lapis lazuli, gold, emeralds,” says Khan Suleiman. “We have it all. Oil and natural gas and minerals.” It is, of course, the enormous reserves of natural gas that have perked up the eyes and ears of those with a nose for such things. “All the ‘guys’ are around,” says Khan Suleiman with amusement, meaning the big powers. He lists the US, Iran, India, China, Russia.
We pass walls scrawled with graffiti, written in delicate Urdu script: “Azad Baluchistan, Baluchistan Zindebad”; Free Baluchistan, Long Live Baluchistan. We pull into a gas station, and the Khan is met by a group of men that somehow knew he’d be stopping here. They pay respect, ask him advice on property disputes. A day in the life of a Khan. One man asks Khan Suleiman if he thinks the Baluch people are unified. The Khan answers in Baluch, then translates for me. “I asked them, will they come out and protest on a certain day? Will they join the protest march this month? If they do, then that is my answer and that is their answer.”
Back out on the highway, my tinted window slides up automatically, and I look ahead to see an open black jeep coming the other way loaded with armed men staring at the Hummer. I wonder, has Khan Suleiman just closed my window to keep the dust out, or did he see that car coming and decide it best to not let them glance in and see the obviously foreign woman with the large video camera whose protective veil of her dupata (the headscarf worn by women in this mostly Muslim country), is constantly slipping off her head. As it is with many things a foreigner sees and hears when stepping fresh into a new culture, it’s hard to know.
Drive sixty miles out of Karachi, Pakistan, and into Baluchistan, and you drive 600 years back in time. As the roadside mosques lit up at night like discos fade, there are more goats and donkeys; fewer buildings, more huts. Women spend all day walking deserts for one bucket of water. Our convoy of SUVs often pass caravans of camels loaded with sticks of firewood, men riding mule carts loaded with hay. “The poor shepherd’s barefoot son herds his sheep over mountains full of riches,” says Suleiman. Or as Suleiman’s uncle, Yahya Baloch, Prince of Kalat, said to me the day before, “The shepherd has his goats and makes his cheese and his butter. He sits in the mountains and is his own boss but belongs to a tribe. But every ordinary person has a small radio. And they may be listening to Air America, not the lies of Pakistan radio.” Prince Yahya, like most of the older men we’ve met, has survived many wars in Baluchistan. He shows me the bullet holes in his home to prove it, from the times his brother, the previous Khan of Kalat, was attacked. He then shows off his astounding collection of antique guns; from muskets to guns hidden in canes like something out of James Bond. He speaks in moderate tones but it is easy to feel how much he loves his country. “Asia is the belt,” he smiles, “Pakistan the buckle, but the pin is Baluch. The pin opens, your pants will fall.”
Meanwhile, General Musharraf has brought in Chinese engineers to develop a strategic port in Gwadar and build a road to the border, and gave a ten-year lease to China which has been over-mining the copper and gold in the Chaghi district. The Baluch resistance, angry at the lack of economic return to the Baluch for these developments, periodically responds by blowing up power lines, pipelines and other infrastructures. And there is widespread fear among locals that a major pipeline will be built that drains their main resource, natural gas, without any return. As one Baluchi Nationalist said to me, “The road is coming. The pipeline is coming. It’s not here yet, but it’s coming. The Americans are coming. One day they will just walk in. Under every mountain you’ll see a G.I. Write it down in your heart. You’ll see.”
Or, as the eternally unruffled Khan Suleiman puts it, with one of his sly smiles, “Where there is chaos, there is investment.”
While Islamabad fattens its coffers and others dream of wealth to come, the people of this resource-rich province are so impoverished and economically discriminated against that I’ve heard Baluchistan referred to as “the whore of everyone.” Pakistan has long controlled the area by playing the feuding tribes off one another in order to keep the Baluch resistance from unifying, which is why Khan Suleiman’s jirga is so important. Islamabad spins the actions of the freedom fighters into actions of “terrorists,” and disclaims any official power of the Khan of Kalat. General Musharraf charges that the feudal system of sardar rule is the problem, but to the Baluch this has long been their way of life. Islamabad also uses the presence of the Taliban as a cover for military actions against the Baluch.
A few nights back, we sat in Khan Suleiman’s home in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. It is located on Syriab Street, street of chiefs, and we met in in a simple room with banks of low couches, over a spread of nuts, pomegranate seeds, overripe bananas and cardamom tea. “Have you seen any Taliban yet?” Khan Suleiman likes to tease. I had told him that there was nothing much in the mainstream press about Baluchistan other than claims that Quetta was now thick with Taliban. When we’d flown into Quetta the day before, as the pilot flew like a cowboy, taking dizzy dips over the red hills that surround Quetta, I looked down and saw what reminded me of an old Wild West American outpost. Sand rolls off the desert, rock dust off the mountains, giving the whole town a shimmering, ghostly air. At the airport, the first man to help with my bags said: “I am Baluch, not Taliban.” The presence of Taliban in Quetta seems to be some kind of inside joke that’s probably not that funny. It’s not that the Taliban aren’t here in Quetta, a town not far from the Afghanistan border, but they are not messing with Baluch business, I’m told. “They cross the border, and they are with us.”
But there is unquestionably an ominous feeling in Quetta. Leaving and entering our hotel, a mirror on wheels is rolled under the car chassis to look for bombs. The first day we go to the Russian bazaar, we are followed by Pakistan’s Military Intelligence and photographed. As we shop for headscarves, the MI follows us and Khan Suleiman’s men follow the MI. It feels more Graham Greene ironic than dangerous, yet the implication is there. Khan Suleiman’s men confront the MI. “You do your job, we’ll do ours,” they are told. The day after we leave Quetta, three missiles hit the Parliament building. No one takes responsibility for it.
While in Quetta, Khan Suleiman has arranged some interviews with several tribal chiefs. It is important to the Khan that we understand this is not “his” call, but the call of all Baluch, and he wants us to hear it confirmed from other chiefs. The first is Chief of Sarawan Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani. We drive into a walled and gated courtyard, where tribesmen mill about with Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders as casually as women sling their purses. As I get out of the car, I hear the Mission Impossible theme song. It’s Abdullah’s cell phone. Abdullah is one of Suleiman’s men assigned to this trip, and he’s also got another cell phone that rings with the theme to The Godfather. Inside we meet Nawab Raisani, a distinguished chief with a raspy voice that I imagine is the result of an old war wound. He is gracious, gentle, and gestures towards a large plastic mat on the floor covered in food. He confirms his support for the Khan and that the tribes have “set aside our conflicts and disputes so that we can raise a collective voice.” He stresses the importance of identity, “The Pakistan government wants to finish our national identity,” he says. I ask if the tribes will be able to stay unified, and he answers that pressure is being put on the heads of tribes to do so. I ask if he would compromise on the question of autonomy for Baluchistan. “We will not go for any type of compromise,” says Nawab Raisani. “We want total autonomy.”
There is a problem with autonomy for Baluchistan. As it was with the Native Americans, there are broken treaties involved. The current troubles in Baluchistan date back to the 1947 agreement between Britain and India that created Pakistan. Six million Baluch were forced to become part of the newly created country. But a 1948 treaty, in which the current Khan of Kalat (Khan Suleiman’s grandfather) acceded to Pakistan, delineates that accession in only four areas: defense, foreign affairs, currency and communications. Resource and autonomy rights were not given up, but there is an ambiguity to the language of the treaty that has been exploited by Islamabad. There is also an older controversy around the 1893 “Durand Line” agreement between British India and Afghanistan, which divided the Pashtun and Baluch tribes into Afghanistan, sections of Iran, and what was to become, in 1947, Pakistan—slicing up a nomadic culture with arbitrary lines in the sand. The Baluch, a culture that dates back over a thousand years, ended up living under colonialist-style rule by Pakistan, a nation that at the time was one year old.
Revered author and historian Agha Mir Naseer Khan Ahmadzai Baloch is the keeper of Baluch history. “We founded the Baluch Nation in 1410. We Baluch made a kingdom. And we told the superpower at the time that they should confirm our kingdom. We were told: ‘You Baluch are sheep herders and on this condition I accept your kingdom. You should agree that annually you should give me ten thousand sheep.’ And in this way,” laughs Naseer Baloch, “our Baluch Kingdom came into existence. From this time right up to Khan Suleiman, 35 Khans have passed. The British conquered Baluchistan and annexed us to India. When they formed Pakistan in 1947, we were told, if you don’t join Pakistan we will attack you.”
Khan Suleiman’s next step will be to appeal to the World Court in Hague, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), claiming that Pakistan has violated the 1948 treaty as well as the 1973 Constitution that promised provincial autonomy. Violations include the plundering of resources, and the non-payment of royalties on fisheries, gas, minerals and overflights, and the building of cantonments. But the question is whether or not the ICJ can give fair hearing to Baluchistan, a tribal province without clear sovereign status, now that Pakistan has become a nation of international standing. Which is why it is imperative that such a move is backed in the press. The alternative, if an appeal to the ICJ fails, is likely to be armed struggle.
Khan Suleiman is slyly hopeful of U.S. help. Without U.S. or other foreign support, Baluchistan does not have the wealth nor military might to sustain a long insurgency. It is a hope that is touching, fragile, and ornery all at once. “We’ll see,” he says with a sideways grin, “if the Americans are as moral as they say they are. The elephant has different kinds of teeth. The ones the elephant shows, and ones he eats with. They are not the same teeth.”
We drive from Quetta to Kalat, where the Khan has his palace and his mosque, and Khan Suleiman casually tells us we are to meet Sardar Ataullah Mengal next, in a town called Wadh. I expect an interview similar to the one we had with Nawab Raisani, but that’s not the case.
As soon as we are on the road to Wadh, the air is electric. The convoy of cars and guns is longer this time. There are tribals that have come out of the hills to see Khan Suleiman off. The closer we get to Wadh, the more men we see on the sides of the roads. They raise guns in salute, or join the convoy on motorbikes. Some carry the flag of Kalat. The convoy gets larger and larger, until, when we pull in for gas, there is a swarm of followers. Khan Suleiman gets out of the car and the reverence for the man from his people is stunning. Islamabad may think Khan Suleiman has no official power, but neither did many a charismatic leader throughout history.
We arrive at Sardar Mengal’s compound. A huge fluttering tent is set up, laid out with gorgeous Persian carpets, light streams in from above and the tent flutters, as if Allah is announcing his presence. As we enter, a sea of men turns and stands. As soon as Khan Suleiman and Sardar Mengal are seated, everyone else sits. They speak for a while, as Sardar Mengal confirms his support of the alliance of tribes. “We want to use the tribal way to unify,” says Mengal, “then move on to democracy and the modern ways.” Khan Suleiman has said that the example to think of is Britain, with its combination of Parliament-style democracy and monarchy. And as Khan Suleiman says about his role in this model, “I’d rather be Queen Elizabeth than Tony Blair.” The gathering itself, with its open invitation to the people to attend, its transparent nature in that the people can listen to their chiefs talk and ask direct questions, does have the feeling of a Parliament-style meeting.
Later, as we speak of current U.S. policy in Iraq and the Middle East, Ataullah Mengal asks me, with a certain belligerence, “Why are Americans so dumb?” As if to prove it, I have no satisfactory answer.
The next day, we meet with Prince Musa and his son Noroz, a gentle young man ready to step up for his tribe. Prince Musa speaks of his love of flowers and weapons, his soft spot against the killing of animals. He dresses in camouflage clothes and dark sunglasses, and as he takes a whiff of the narcissus he grows, he reminds us of Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now. He describes his support for Khan Suleiman. “We are a traditional people,” says Prince Musa. “Tradition is that the elder son become Khan. We have a saying in Baluch: If one person sits on a horse it looks nice. Two people sitting on a horse it doesn’t look nice. They will laugh at you. A horse is made for only one person.”
Prince Musa’s tongue is for peace, but the sense one gets is that he is very ready to fight for it. No one we interviewed was shy about their readiness to go to war for their rights. And they believe their inferior weaponry and manpower are more than made up for by their superior guerrilla tactics and knowledge of their own land. “You Americans are worthless on the ground,” I am told more than once. As Khan Suleiman puts it: “When you’re eyeball to eyeball the first one that blinks is gone. So you have to be strong and not blink.” Later he says, speaking both of Iraq and Afghanistan, “The U.S. gets in quicksand and turns the wheels and gets in deeper.”
The Baluch Liberation Front and the Baluch Liberation Army, along with the more official Baluch National Party are increasingly made up of not just moderate to extreme tribals or politicians, but intelligentsia, merchants, laborers, out-of-work engineers, lawyers, and the new Baluch middle class. The Baluch Student Organization actively stages demonstrations, roadblocks and rallies. Rumor has it the BLF and the BLA are paid in dollars, but others contend India or Russia finances the opposition. Wherever the backing comes from, because of the geographic position and potential resource wealth of Baluchistan, and this new bid for autonomy, many have an interest and a hand in keeping the region unstable. At the same time, it is US aid to Islamabad and US weaponry that is being used against the Baluch opposition. But perhaps that is politics in the desert, the sands ever-shifting.
As this story goes to press, there is a 13-day protest march in progress, despite the house arrests of key players and other governmental attempts to stop it. It seems that, as I’ve been told, “All Baluch want independence. Even the birds want independence.” It also seems that calls to resistance are most effective when written on the wind.
About the Author
Annie Nocenti is a journalist and screenwriter. She was in Baluchistan shooting a documentary on the Baluch with documentary partner Wendelin Johnson, author of the novel The Durand Line. Visit www.thebaluch.com for more info and to watch video clips of the interviews mentioned in this article. See also the www.mondediplo.com article by Selig S. Harrison for further reading. For more on the Durand Line visit www.afghanland.com. For up to date regional reporting visit www.balochvoice.com, www.dawn.com, irinnews.org, balochwarna.org or www.atimes.com.
|British Raj in Balochistan|
Much of Balochistan was under the control of the King of Iran and the autonomous principality of Kalat, a part of Balochistan, when the British wrested control away from the Khan of Kalat in the early 1840s. The British objective at the time, was to set it up as a staging ground for various Afghan-British wars that took place in the latter half of the 19th Century. The 1876 treaty between the Khan of Kalat and Robert Groves Sandeman, an administrative officer of the British Raj, accepted the independence of the Kalat as an allied state with British military outposts in the region, according to Pakistani historian Sudhir Ahmad Afridi.
After the 1878 Afghan War, the British established Balochistan as a provincial entity, centered on the municipality of Quetta, while Kalat, Makran, and Lasbella continued to exist as princely realms. It was evident that the British had the intention to keep various tribes with their feudal chiefs separated from one another, and except for a train track, and the development and settlement of British holdings, the tribal population was excluded from all economic activities.
Around the 1930s, Baloch nationalist parties emerged to fight for freedom from British rule. They took the princely state of Kalat as the focal point of a free and united Balochistan. Baglar Begi Khan declared the independence of Kalat on Aug. 15, 1947. It was evident from the outset, that Baglar Begi Khan, a powerful chieftain, was not acting on his own. He had the support of Olaf Caroe, who was very knowledgeable about the area and was posted by the then-Viceroy of the British Raj, Lord Wavell, as governor of the NWFP. Caroe, a quintessential colonialist, whose policy was to keep all groups divided and fighting each other, in order to assert control over them, had been foreign secretary in Delhi from 1939-46, serving two Viceroys, Linlithgow and Wavell. His objective was to forestall alleged Soviet expansionism in Afghanistan, Xinjiang, and the region of the Persian Gulf. Caroe defined his task as to insure that the “lengthening shadows from the north” (i.e., the Soviet Union), did not reach the “wells of power” (i.e., the oil wells of the Persian Gulf), nor cast a shadow over Afghanistan. Caroe agreed with Churchill’s concept at the time, that an independent entity in the northwest of India should remain linked to Britain, and serve as an area from which London could exercise its influence over Afghanistan. In 1945, Churchill’s Cabinet debated the possibility of detaching Balochistan to maintain military bases there, in Quetta, the area of the Bolan Pass, and along the Makran coast near the entry of the Persian Gulf.
In March 1948, the Pakistani Army entered Balochistan, and forced Baglar Begi Khan to accede to Pakistan, ending the British game. Nonetheless, neither the British, nor Olaf Caroe, could get over that “loss.” After his retirement from the British Foreign Office, Caroe toured the United States, speaking on behalf of the somewhat depleted British Empire. These lectures were later put together in the form of a book, The Wells of Power. He pointed out in his lectures that the Port of Karachi and the coastline of Balochistan (the Makran coast, through which the bulk of Afghan opium and heroin travels to Europe today), standing at the mouth the Persian Gulf, were “vital to British reckoning.”
Caroe’s Shadow and Policy in Force
Caroe went on to claim that the British base in India—now in Pakistan—had maintained stability in the Middle East since 1801, defying Tsar Paul’s ambitions. He said “the Indian anchor is lost,” but Pakistan, “a new India,” has emerged, a Muslim state that could help to establish a defense community of Muslim states, and “show the way for reconciliation between the Western and Islamic model.”
From the very outset, it was evident that that Pakistani leadership (at the beginning, it comprised of Urdu-speaking Muslim leaders who migrated from the then-Indian state of United Province) had no understanding of the Baloch situation. They could neither speak the Baloch language, nor did they have any familiarity with the Baloch customs and traditions.
The annexation by force of Balochistan by Caroe’s “new India,” immediately provided the British, and the Baloch, a stick to beat up the Pakistani leaders from time to time. One of the descendants of Baglar Begi Khan, Khan Suleman Daud, the 35th Khan of Kalat, is still in Cardiff, Wales, and is seeking asylum in Britain.
In Britain, the 60th anniversary of the Pakistani invasion, annexation, and occupation of the independent state of Balochistan, was commemorated on April 1, 2008. The British intelligence-linked Amnesty International, and Soros-linked International Crisis Group, among others, were shouting themselves hoarse over the years on behalf of the British Crown about Pakistan’s human rights violations in Balochistan. The British news daily, The Guardian, claimed on that occasion, that Pakistan illegally occupies Balochistan, and Islamabad has looted Balochistan’s natural resource. It also said: “Thousands of Baloch people have been massacred, hundreds of thousands made refugees, and thousands more have disappeared or been tortured and jailed, often without trial. Pakistan is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
In June 2006, during President Musharraf’s regime, Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Defence accused British intelligence of “abetting the insurgency in the province bordering Iran” (Balochistan). Reports indicate that ten British MPs were in a closed-door session of the Committee, regarding the alleged support of Britain’s Secret Service to Baloch separatists.
The history of the British Empire indicates that Britain has not changed, and therefore, its present role in Balochistan is no surprise at all. But two other things happened to worsen the situation.
First, the American role: Having been manipulated into an anti-Iran policy, beginning in 1979, and then seizing upon the opportunity to whip the reckless
Soviet Army invading Afghanistan in 1979, Washington joined hands with the British, carrying all the dirty laundry. Washington brought in a lot of money to maintain the British assets, and to develop their own assets, whom they promptly dumped, after the Soviets turned tail in 1989. The outcome of this insane policy is now bearing fruit in Afghanistan and in the western part of Pakistan.
The Bush Administration, until its final days, backed the anti-Iran Jundullah terrorists who operate from Balochistan, while carrying drugs for the British and destabilizing Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led War on Terror.
Pakistan’s Adoption of Colonial Policies
The other factor contributing to Pakistan’s deterioration, one which is perhaps even more important than the historic British role, was Islamabad’s adoption of the British policy in dealing with its citizens living along the Afghan borders. To begin with, instead of integratingBalochistan with the Republic in order to uproot a deep-rooted feudal system, which is sheltered by the British, Pakistan’s powers-that-be have treated their own citizens in Balochistan as unwanted foreigners.
In 1954, Islamabad merged the four provinces of West Pakistan—Balochistan, NWFP, Punjab, and Sindh—into “One Unit.” This was done to counter the population strength of East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh). One Unit was formed without adequate dialogue and, as a result, an anti-One Unit movement emerged in Balochistan. To overcome this opposition, the Pakistani Army was deployed, and the Khan of Kalat was arrested, but not before the Baloch oppositionists to the One Unit had engaged the Pakistani Army in pitched battles.
In 1973, following his visit to Iran, then-Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, dismissed the elected provincial government of Balochistan. The pretext for dismissal was that a cache of 350 Soviet submachine guns and 100,000 rounds of ammunition had supposedly been discovered in the Iraqi attaché’s house, and were destined for Balochistan, according to Ray Fulcher in his Nov. 30, 2006 article, “Balochistan’s History of Insurgency.” Other reports indicate that Bhutto acted that way because the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, had warned him against allowing nationalist movements on Iran’s border.
The ensuing protest against the dismissal of the duly-elected government brought in another wave of the Pakistani Army—78,000 men, to be precise—supported by Iranian Cobra helicopters. The troops were resisted by some 50,000 Baloch. The conflict took the lives of 3,300 Pakistani troops, 5,300 Baloch, and thousands of civilians, Fulcher pointed out. That 1973 invasion created deep divisions between the Baloch people and Islamabad, and made the Baloch vulnerable to London’s machinations.
However, Islamabad’s British colonial-like policy towards Balochistan did not end in 1973. As the Baloch internal security situation deteriorated, following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Islamabad, under President Musharraf, began to become uneasy. Between December 2005, when the Pakistan military launched its most recent assault on Balochistan, and June 2006, more than 900 Baloch were killed, about 140,000 were displaced, 450 political activists (mainly from the Baloch National Party) disappeared, and 4,000 activists were arrested, some reports indicate. There were also reports that the Frontier Corps (FC)—a creation of the British Raj that remained intact in Balochistan, the NWFP, and the FATA—has been responsible for indiscriminate rocket, artillery, and helicopter gunship attacks causing significant destruction of civilian areas.
|QUOTE ("Wiki Gwadar Port")|
Strategic location of Gwadar, and possible oil lines through the region
The Gwadar deep-sea port emerges as a place of great strategic value, enhancing Pakistan's importance in the whole region, extending from the Persian Gulf through the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia and the Far East.
Gwadar is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the important Straits of Hormuz, through which more than 13 million bpd of oil passes. It is strategically located between three increasingly important regions of the world: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-rich Central Asia.
The construction of the Gwadar deep-sea port is just one component of a larger development plan which includes building a network of roads connecting Gwadar with the rest of Pakistan, such as the 650 km Coastal Highway to Karachi and the Gwadar-Turbat road (188 km). This network of roads connects with China through the Indus Highway. Pakistan, China, Kazakhistan, Kyrgizstan and Uzbekistan are developing extensive road and rail links from Central Asia and the Chinese province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea coast.
The Pakistani Government has initiated several projects, with majority financial and technical assistance from China, to develop Gwadar's strategic location as a goods transit and trade point. The primary project is the construction of a deep-sea port at Gwadar to enable high-volume cargo movement to and from the landlocked Central Asian states. The new port will also encompass conversion facilities to allow for the movement of natural gas as a part of plans for a termination point for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan natural gas pipeline. The secondary project is a coastal highway connecting Gwadar to Karachi, whose $200 million cost will be completely financed by the Chinese. Gwadar will serve as a port of entry for oil and gas to be transported by land to the western regions of China.
The significance of Gwadar is great to both Pakistan and China. Pakistan will be able to have a strategic depth southwest from its naval base in Karachi that has long been vulnerable to blockade by the Indian Navy. China is going to be the beneficiary of Gwadar's most accessible international trade routes to the Central Asian republics and Xinjiang. By extending its East-West Railway from the Chinese border city of Kashi to Peshawar in Pakistan's northwest, Beijing can receive cargo to and from Gwadar along the shortest route, from Karachi to Peshawar. The rail network could also be used to supply oil from the Persian Gulf to Xinjiang. Pakistan's internal rail network can also provide China with rail access to Iran. Rail access will however be hampered somewhat by differences in gauge: China and Iran - 1435 mm; Pakistan - 1676 mm; Central Asia - 1524 mm.
|Carnegie P a p e r s|
Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism
Why Baluchistan Matters
Baluchistan, which straddles three countries (Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan) and borders the Arabian Sea, is a vast and sparsely populated province (6,511,000 people2 occupying 43 percent of Pakistan’s territory) that contains within its borders all the contradictions that affect the region, including conflict between the United States and the Taliban.
A large part of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan are launched from the Pasni and Dalbandin bases situated on Baluch territory.  The Taliban, backed by both Pakistan and Iran, also operate out of Baluchistan. If the pressure on Western forces in Afghanistan were to become unbearable, Washington and its allies could conceivably use the Baluch nationalists, who fiercely oppose the influence of the mullahs and also oppose the Taliban, to exert diplomatic pressure on Islamabad as well as Tehran.
Further, although it is the most sparsely populated province of Pakistan (about 4 percent of the present population),  Baluchistan is economically and strategically important. The subsoil holds a substantial portion of Pakistan’s energy and mineral resources, accounting for 36 percent of its total gas production. It also holds large quantities of coal, gold, copper, silver, platinum, aluminum, and, above all, uranium and is a potential transit zone for a pipeline transporting natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to India.
The Baluchistan coast is particularly important. It provides Pakistan with an exclusive economic zone potentially rich in oil, gas, and minerals spread over approximately 180,000 square kilometers while giving Baluchistan considerable strategic importance. Two of Pakistan’s three naval bases—Ormara and Gwadar—are situated on the Baluchistan coast. Located close to the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Gwadar is expected to provide a port, warehouses, and industrial facilities to more than twenty countries—including those in the Gulf, on the Red Sea, and in Central Asia and East Africa as well as Iran, India, and parts of northwest China.  Now that the first phase of construction has been completed, the port is capable of receiving freighters with a capacity of 30,000 tons and container vessels going up to 25,000 tons. The completion of the second phase of construction by 2010 will enable the port to receive oil tankers with a capacity of almost 200,000 tons. A special industrial development zone and an export zone have also been planned, and Gwadar should soon be declared a free trade zone. Finally, to make Pakistan the nerve center of all commercial activity in the region, the Pakistan government is building a road and rail network linking Gwadar to Afghanistan and Central Asia; the network is intended to provide these landlocked areas with an outlet to the sea.
Gwadar port, situated 725 kilometers to the west of Karachi, has been designed to bolster Pakistan’s strategic defenses by providing an alternative to the Karachi port, which once had to face a long blockade by the Indian Navy. Karachi’s vulnerability was confirmed when the threat of another blockade loomed large during the Kargil conflict. In fact, the Gwadar project is an integral part of a policy that seeks to diversify Pakistan’s port facilities. The construction of the Ormara base in Baluchistan, which became operational in 2000, is also a part of the same policy.  China’s presence further enhances Gwadar’s importance. In fact, the port was built mainly with Chinese capital and labor. Some even consider this isolated township in the southwest of Pakistan as a Chinese naval outpost on the Indian Ocean designed to protect Beijing’s oil supply lines froprotect Beijing’s oil supply lines from the Middle East and to counter the growing U.S. presence in Central Asia.8 General Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz, who was then finance minister, were supposed to have insisted that the Chinese government finance the project in exchange for docking facilities in Gwadar and Ormara and for permission to set up a listening post on the Makran Coast to intercept the communications of U.S. military bases in the Gulf. Beijing also operates the gold and copper mines in Saindak, near the borders of Afghanistan and Iran not far from the Ras Koh, the mountains where Pakistan’s nuclear tests are conducted.
Iran, which has a Baluch population of about one million, is closely monitoring these developments. Tehran is afraid of Baluch nationalism and of subversive U.S. actions (supported when the need arises by Islamabad) on its own territory. It is also worried about competition from Pakistan in opening up Central Asia.
Reasons Behind the Crisis
Today’s crisis in Baluchistan was provoked, ironically, by the central government’s attempt to develop this backward area by undertaking a series of large projects. Instead of cheering these projects, the Baluch, faced with slowing population growth, responded with fear that they would be dispossessed of their land and resources and of their distinct identity. In addition, three fundamental issues are fueling this crisis: expropriation, marginalization, and dispossession.
Baluchistan has failed to benefit from its own natural gas deposits. The first deposits were discovered in Sui in 1953. Gas was supplied to Multan and Rawalpindi, in Punjab, in 1964; but Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, had to wait until 1986 for its share of the gas, which it received at that time only because the central government decided to extend the gas pipeline because it had decided to station a military garrison in the provincial capital. In the Dera Bugti district, home to the gas fields of Sui and Pircoh where conflicts have taken place recently, only the town of Dera Bugti is supplied with gas. It receives its supplies only because a paramilitary camp was opened there in the mid-1990s. Overall, only four of the twenty-six districts constituting Baluchistan are supplied with gas.
In fact, although it accounts for 36 percent of Pakistan’s total gas production, the province consumes only 17 percent of its own production. The remaining 83 percent is sent to the rest of the country. In addition, the central government charges a much lower price for Baluch gas than it does for gas produced in other provinces, particularly Sind and Punjab.  Moreover, Baluchistan receives no more than 12.4 percent of the royalties due to it for supplying gas.
What to do about the gas and hydrocarbon reserves lying under the soil of Baluchistan is also an issue. Baluchistan produces more than 40 percent of Pakistan’s primary energy (natural gas, coal, and electricity). The government has announced that the gas deposits being exploited at present will be depleted by 2012, leading to the need to drill deeper and undertake fresh exploration. Reports by geological experts indicate the presence of 19 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil reserves in Baluchistan, but the Baluch are determined to prevent further exploration and development without their consent. They want an agreement for the equitable sharing of resources. 
The Baluch have had only a small role in the construction of Gwadar port, a project entirely under the control of the central government.  The project will benefit the people of Baluchistan only if a massive effort is undertaken to train and recruit local residents and if the port is linked with the rest of Baluchistan, which is certainly not the case at the present time. Of the approximately six hundred persons employed in the construction of the first phase of the project, only one hundred, essentially daily-wage workers, were Baluch. There has also been only one road, which joins Gwadar to Karachi, opening the port to the rest of the country.
Although Gwadar is the region’s only deepwater port, there is yet no well-defined policy to turn it into a free trade zone. No effort has been made to train the local population so that they can find work with the development project. There is not a single technical school or college in Gwadar or in the surrounding area. In addition, the land around the port that was acquired below market price by the Pakistan Navy and Coast Guard and distributed to officers has since been subject to a great deal of financial speculation. 
The Baluch in Gwadar fear that they will become a minority in their own land. If the central government’s plans succeed, the population of Gwadar and its surrounding areas will rise from seventy thousand to almost two million. The Baluch are convinced that the majority will be Sindis and Punjabis.
The government is willing to construct military garrisons in the three most sensitive areas of Baluchistan—Sui, with its gas-producing installations; Gwadar, with its port; and Kohlu, the “capital” of the Marri tribe, to which most of the nationalist hard-liners belong. The Baluch, already feeling colonized by the Punjabis, feel dispossessed by these projects.
Behind these three problems, which the Baluch consider a casus belli, looms the demand for autonomy, if not for total independence. While Islamabad considers Baluchistan’s resources as national property and has acted accordingly, the Baluch are demanding that the province’s resources be used only for the benefit of the Baluch people.
Charges by Pakistan that the Baluch rebels are financed abroad are mainly important for what such accusations are trying to achieve politically: they could serve to mobilize international support for Pakistan, particularly from the United States, and neutralize opposition to a Pakistani military intervention. The charges are part of a larger effort to discredit Baluch nationalism. They should be seen alongside Pakistani attempts to use the specter of Islamism to undermine the claims of Baluch nationalism in Pakistan and internationally.
Following the policies adopted by Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, Pakistan’s government continues through its Ministry of Religious Affairs to encourage the setting up of madrassas in the province in order to penetrate deeper into the ethnic Baluch areas stubbornly opposed to the mullahs. Setting up these religious schools has been at the expense of secular education, the lack of which is even more noticeable in Baluchistan than in the rest of the country. The budget of the Ministry of Religious Affairs for the province is said to be approximately 1.2 billion rupees, compared with 200 million rupees allotted to the Ministry of Education. It inevitably follows that the role of the clergy has been increased, angering nationalists who have long been demanding that the Ministry of Religious Affairs be dismantled. 
The growing power of the clergy—enhanced by the manipulation of elections enabling the religious parties and particularly Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam to join the provincial government in October 2002—has allowed the central government to draw the attention of foreign powers to the risk of the spread of fundamentalism in the region and to launch a systematic disinformation campaign equating the Baluch resistance with Islamic terrorism. Pakistan’s intelligence services have linked nationalist militancy to the terrorism of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  (Ironically, when the Baluch insurgents took refuge in Afghanistan, they sided with the Communist forces and their Soviet protectors. ) The same attempt at disinformation dictates the identification of Baluch nationalism with Iran’s Islamic revolution at a time when the United States and Western Europe are protesting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Consequences of an Independent Baluchistan
If Baluchistan were to become independent, would Pakistan be able to withstand another dismemberment—thirty-four years have passed since the secession of Bangladesh—and what effect would that have on regional stability? Pakistan would lose a major part of its natural resources and would become more dependent on the Middle East for its energy supplies. Although Baluchistan’s resources are currently underexploited and benefit only the non-Baluch provinces, especially Punjab, these resources could undoubtedly contribute to the development of an independent Baluchistan. Baluchistan’s independence would also dash Islamabad’s hopes for the Gwadar port and other related projects. Any chance that Pakistan would become more attractive to the rest of the world would be lost.
Pakistan’s losses from an eventual secession would not be limited to the economic domain. Although the central government could still find facilities for testing its nuclear weapons and missiles, the test sites would have to be in the vicinity of more populated areas. Some nationalists, who are fully aware that they hold a trump card that would allow them to play on international sensitivities, claim that they would accept immediately the denuclearization of any future Baluch state in exchange for international support in their struggle for independence.
Neighboring countries are also not very enthusiastic about the prospect of a Pakistan weakened by the secession of Baluchistan. Iran, which in 1973 sent its military helicopters to assist Pakistani armed forces, and Afghanistan have strong Baluch minorities in their territories. They do not want a Baluch state, with a raison d’être that is essentially ethnic, on their southeastern border. The independence of Pakistani Baluchistan would inevitably give rise to the fear of the revival of Baluch support for a Greater Baluchistan.
India may be tempted to look at the further partition of Pakistan as an opportunity for forging a new anti-Pakistan alliance. An insurrection in Baluchistan might pressure Islamabad to resolve the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, but a change of regional boundaries could revive fears of irredentism in Kashmir and in the territories of the Northeast that a vengeful Pakistan would be only too eager to exploit.
Despite the secular nature of Baluch nationalism, the United States is worried about the possibility of a war for independence complicating the U.S. fight against Islamist terrorism in the region. If the United States were to undertake a military action against Iran, it could also use Pakistani Baluchistan for conducting subversive acts in Iranian Baluchistan. For the United States to be able to do this, the Pakistani province would have to remain calm and not pose a threat to the interests of Washington’s allies.
The final question is whether an independent Baluchistan would be a viable state, or whether it would itself become a threat to regional stability. If an independent Baluchistan did not receive foreign technical assistance, it might not be able to exploit the control of its natural resources it would gain from independence. With a ridiculously low level of literacy  and a lack of administrative experience, Baluchistan may not at the present time have the human resources required to develop its natural resources.
Baluchistan’s sparse population, which is scattered over a huge area, would also affect the economic and political viability of the new state. In addition, its ethnic composition could pose problems. Although the population of Baluchistan in 1998 was estimated to be about six and onehalf million, only approximately three and one-half million are Baluch; two and one-half million are Pashtun and a little more than a half million belong to other ethnic groups.  The Baluch do not see this as a handicap because the Pashtun population is found in the northern part of the province and along the Afghan border, territories that are not historically a part of Baluchistan.  They do worry, however, about projects like the Gwadar port that bring in non-Baluch residents; these newcomers could bring about a marked change in the province’s ethnic balance. Although large Baluch minorities have settled outside the province, they are not likely to return to their homeland if it becomes independent because of the lack of adequate development there.
If Pakistan is divided at some time in the future, an independent Baluchistan would become in all probability a new zone of instability in the region. Its instability would affect the interests of all the regional players. Yet, unless Pakistan changes its policy toward Baluchistan dramatically, the possibility of Baluchistan eventually gaining its independence cannot be ruled out.
In the absence of foreign support, which does not appear imminent, the Baluch movement cannot prevail over a determined central government with obviously superior military strength. Still, it can have a considerable nuisance value. The risk of a prolonged guerrilla movement in Baluchistan is quite real.
Most observers concur that the Baluch nationalists are raising the stakes to strengthen their negotiating position vis-à-vis the central government. Movement leaders have made it known that they would be satisfied with a generous version of autonomy. In the absence of their winning autonomy, however, the medium- and long-term consequences of the struggle for independence cannot be predicted today. The outbreak of another civil war in Baluchistan between the nationalists and the Pakistan Army cannot be ruled out if the minimum demands of the Baluch are not met.
Almost six decades of intermittent conflict have given rise to a deep feeling of mistrust toward the central government. The Baluch will not forget General Pervez Musharraf’s recent promises and the insults hurled from time to time at certain nationalist leaders. The projects that were trumpeted as the means to Baluchistan’s development and integration have so far led only to the advance of the Pakistani military in the province, accompanied by the removal of the local population from their lands and by an intense speculation that benefits only the army and its henchmen.
Baluch nationalism is a reality that Islamabad cannot pretend to ignore forever or co-opt by making promises of development that are rarely kept. For the moment, with little certainty about the conclusion of an agreement between the central government and the nationalist leaders,  the province is likely to enter a new phase of violence with long-term consequences that are difficult to predict. This conflict could be used in Pakistan and elsewhere as a weapon against the Pakistan government. Such a prospect would affect not only Pakistan but possibly all its neighbors. It is ultimately Islamabad that must decide whether Baluchistan will become its Achilles’ heel.
|In the development of Saindak and Gwadar, the Baloch people were playing no role, even though trained Baloch engineers and other skilled hands were available. He [Khan of Kalat] wondered why they were not being trained by China.|
|The final question is whether an independent Baluchistan would be a viable state, or whether it would itself become a threat to regional stability. If an independent Baluchistan did not receive foreign technical assistance, it might not be able to exploit the control of its natural resources it would gain from independence. With a ridiculously low level of literacy  and a lack of administrative experience, Baluchistan may not at the present time have the human resources required to develop its natural resources.|
|Pakistan’s intelligence services have linked nationalist militancy to the terrorism of Al Qaeda and the Taliban .... The same attempt at disinformation dictates the identification of Baluch nationalism with Iran’s Islamic revolution at a time when the United States and Western Europe are protesting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.|
|If the United States were to undertake a military action against Iran, it could also use Pakistani Baluchistan for conducting subversive acts in Iranian Baluchistan. For the United States to be able to do this, the Pakistani province would have to remain calm and not pose a threat to the interests of Washington’s allies.|
|The Taliban, backed by both Pakistan and Iran, also operate out of Baluchistan. If the pressure on Western forces in Afghanistan were to become unbearable, Washington and its allies could conceivably use the Baluch nationalists, who fiercely oppose the influence of the mullahs and also oppose the Taliban, to exert diplomatic pressure on Islamabad as well as Tehran.|
|If the United States were to undertake a military action against Iran, it could also use Pakistani Baluchistan for conducting subversive acts in Iranian Baluchistan.|
|Iran, which in 1973 sent its military helicopters to assist Pakistani armed forces, and Afghanistan have strong Baluch minorities in their territories. They do not want a Baluch state, with a raison d’être that is essentially ethnic, on their southeastern border. The independence of Pakistani Baluchistan would inevitably give rise to the fear of the revival of Baluch support for a Greater Baluchistan.|
|Army clears contentious parts of package|
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani after getting some solid guarantees from the top military leadership of the country, is all set to announce an immediate ban on the construction of new military cantonments in Balochistan, general amnesty for the armed activists of the Balochistan Liberation Army(BLA) and talks offer to three rebel leaders-Herbiyar Murree, Baramdagh Bugti and Attaullah Khan Mengal, in his speech in the parliament today (Tuesday).
The sources said, the Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani was said to have endorsed the new package after the Prime Minister Gilani sat down with him and ISI Chief General Shujja Pasha to discuss all the important points of this package concerning the role of military in Balochistan.
The sources said, the ban on construction of cantonment and release the missing Baloch persons was said to have been made part of the package after the clearance from the top military leadership.
The sources said, it has been decided by the government that the that military would not construct new cantonments in the province however the two old cantonments would stay functional. Likewise, it was decided that the heads of the Balochistan and Gawadar Authority would be from Balochistan and no outsider would be appointed there. The SAINDAK and RECODIK contracts might also be reviewed to give ownership to the local Baloch people, with Islamabad only dealing ‘on their behalf’ with foreign contractors.
The top government sources privy to this major development of Balochistan package claimed that as a part of the short term strategy PM Gilani would direct the concerned secret agencies, forces and department to ensure the immediate production of all the missing persons in the province. One source said, the missing persons were being produced and released to create a friendly environment for the start of talks with the rebel leaders, Harbiyar Murree, Barahdagh Bugti and Akthar Mengal, who have been championing the cause of an independent Balochistan.
One top source claimed that these top leaders were taken into confidence by the powers that be before giving a final shape to the Balochistan Package but it might take some time before they come to the negotiating table as these leaders are likely to adopt a wait and see approach before publicly reciprocating the package initiative.
Meanwhile, in a bid to take the friendly Muslim countries into confidence before tabling the “Rahe-i- Haqooq Balochistan” package, a top federal minister, with strong links within both the PM House and Presidency, was given the task to give a secret briefing to about 50 Afro-Arabs ambassadors at the residence of Egyptian ambassador. The briefing was given to take all the ambassadors on board to counter international conspiracies being hatched to destabilize Balochistan.
Meanwhile, inside sources said, the backdoor channels unleashed by President Asif Zardari had played an important role in bringing the Baloch rebel leaders back to the negotiating table. Mr. Zardari was said to have used his Sindhi and Baloch contacts to get Baloch rebel leaders to agree to a new package on Balochistan before start of meaningful talks in the long run. These sources claimed that the PPP government in Islamabad had quietly paid a considerable amount to help Herbiyar Murree to fight a terrorism case in UK and get himself acquitted. The sources said, the amount was paid as a part of Confidence Building Measures(CBM) as PPP government greatly helped him to get the cases against him settled in the British courts. Herbiyar Murree was arrested by British Authorities in December 2007 on the request of General Musharraf. Before the arrest of Herbiyar, his brother Balach Marri was targeted and killed less than a fortnight ago. General Musharraf was using Rashid Rauf as a bargaining chip to bring Herbiyar Marri to Pakistan. But, now Islamabad has apparently taken a reconciliatory approach to soften the Baloch leader and this move may just pay dividends as PM goes to announce the new package.
Likewise, sources said, during the backdoor negotiation with Baramdagh Bugti, the PPP government had also agreed to offer him some concessions. Baramdagh was said to have asked the official negotiators to first give him a new green passport as his old one had expired.
The sources said, the establishment forces too had been in touch with Sardar Akthar Mengal on the issue of new initiatives as the Baloch leaders knew that political commitments with them would not work unless the establishment forces gave them firm assurances. The sources said, the Baloch leaders were now taking these initiatives seriously. The sources said, the abolition of cases against Akthar Mengal and his colleagues on terrorism charges during Musharraf regime had played a major role in convincing these leaders in showing flexibility and resuming a dialogue with the government.
The joint session of the parliament would continue even after the Eid so that the house could debate the new package before its approval. It was decided that a parliamentary committee would be formed to monitor the progress on this package after getting the full nod of the parliament as all these arrangements would be given a legal shape so as the Baloch rebel leadership could not find any excuse on the basis of trust deficit. (ends)
The sources said, earlier a four and half hours long meeting was presided over by the prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday to give a final shape to the new package and his speech to be delivered in the joint sitting on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by Khursheed Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Dr Babar Awan, Raza Rabbani, Naveed Qamar and others.
|Baloch leader denies visiting Pakistan|
By our correspondent
LONDON: The son of Baloch leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, Mehran Baloch, has denied that he had secretly visited Islamabad to hold talks with the authorities. Talking to The News, Mehran said such rumours were a ploy and a crude attempt towards his character assassination. He said he was committed to the principles and goals of his father. Press reports suggested that Mehran had visited Islamabad, along with former senator Sanaullah Baloch, who is a leader of the Balochistan National Party and considered very close to Sardar Ataullah Mengal. He recalled that Musharraf pressurised the British authorities to have him, Hyrbyair Marri, and Faiz Baluch deported to Pakistan in exchange for British terror suspect Rashid Rauf.
|From the Baloch nightmare to the British "Guantanamo"|
As told to Karlos Zurutuza and Wendy Johnson.
A shorter version of this article (De la pesadilla baluche al Guantánamo "británico") will appear at gara.net in the near future.
Photo by Karlos Zurutuza
September 1, 2010
"Did you know where Balochistan is the first day you came to this court?” I asked the jury. “Now you know where it is, and what’s happening to our people there.”
I was born in Western Balochistan. My family lives on both sides of what some people call “the border between Iran and Pakistan.” The name of my village is Kohak, and it is quite close to Panjgur town of Eastern Baluchistan (Pakistan-occupied Balochistan). Kohak was originally located in Pakistan, but our villagers tell us that one day they awoke to find themselves Iranian—the town had been given to the Shah of Iran. Nobody knows when the transfer officially took place.
We don’t record our birth dates, but my guess is that I was born in 1982. Our way to remember is to relate our birth with something relevant that happened at the time; it can be big floods, a war, drought, etc. In my school documents it was recorded as 1982. Because we had few opportunities in Kohak—no school and no public transportation, only a mosque—my mother decided to send me to Quetta, Balochistan. The living conditions of the family on this side of the border were relatively better. I was around ten when I moved to Quetta for primary education. I went to high school and studied pre-medical at Baluchistan Degree College in Quetta, as well.
My college was filled with Marri boys—Baloch belonging to the Marri tribe—who had left Pakistan in the 70s to seek refuge in Afghanistan when Bhutto began a military incursion in the Marri tribal area. Now they had returned from Afghanistan in the 1990s to live in an area called New Kahan, very close to Quetta city. Here they had no facilities at all—no houses, schools, etc. I had myself experienced what these Baloch were going through. In the East we are discriminated against because of our ethnicity, but in West Balochistan there is also the religious factor because we’re a religious minority—Sunni Muslims, not Shia like the majority of Iranians. When I learned of the misery the Marris had suffered at the hand of Pakistan—and even in Afghanistan they had been repressed—I realised how difficult it had been for them and we became close friends.
Most of the Marris had no schooling certificates from Afghanistan, but local Baloch managed to get permission for older boys to enrol in Middle schools in Quetta. The younger boys and the girls, however, had nowhere to study. One of my uncles in Quetta was a friend of a local NGO called BLLF (Bonded Labour Liberation Front). He introduced the NGO to the New Kahan area and they were able to provide some school materials, but couldn’t afford to pay for teachers. The teachers were all volunteers. I taught, as well, but not full-time because I was still a student myself.
I was in my second year of college when Musharraf took power in Pakistan. This was followed by an escalation of army oppression in Balochistan. In January 2000, Musharraf’s army ravaged New Kahan in a joint military operation using paramilitary forces, police and Rangers. In one day alone 125 people were arrested; others disappeared forever. Following the operation I went to the area to see what had happened to teachers and friends. I remember I went in the morning—a very cold and cloudy day. When I arrived, I found the area deserted. The tents were destroyed; the windows of the houses smashed—as if a war had happened. All the men had been taken away. Only women, elderly men and children remained. At the damaged school I asked for my teacher friends. They had been arrested, as had many of the students. Almost three weeks had passed, but nobody had heard news of the arrested Marri men. Finally, after meeting with the remaining elderly people in the area, I decided to help. Along with two aged Marri men, I went to the police station to ask for information. But the police had no answers. They said they didn’t know—nobody knew where these people were being held and under what conditions. We eventually hired lawyers and petitioned the court about the arrests. I signed my name to this petition, along with two other Marri Baloch friends.
We first applied to a session court regarding the whereabouts of the Marri men. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Criminal Investigation Department (DSP CID), Mr. Shahr Yar, the SHO (Station House Officer) of Shalkot police station, along with two other police officers, appeared in court to say they knew nothing about the Marri men. The lawyers then decided to approach the High Court. The court summoned the same police officers and instructed them and the ATF to either release the men or present them in court. The officers asked for three days to respond. Eventually the officers admitted that the Marri men were in their custody and had been arrested in connection with the murder of Justice Nawaz Marri who was killed in January 2000. They demanded more time to make a decision about filing charges and the court agreed, giving them another week or so.
During this period I managed to locate and visit most of the Marri detainees who were being held in City Police Station and Bijili Road Police Station. Some detainees we were unable to find. A friend who had connections with some police officials helped us; we also bribed a duty officer. One officer admitted privately that some Marris were in his police station, but that he couldn’t allow us to meet them. He told us to return after 10 am the following morning as the officers would not be there. He would then allow us to see them.
The next morning I arrived at the station and was told to stand next to a small room where some Pathans were detained. If the station officer returned, I was supposed to speak Pashtu and explain I was visiting the Pathans. I was given only five minutes to visit. The Marris were stuffed in a very small smelly room and shivering from the cold. They had been brought there two nights earlier. They told me that following their arrest they were separated between two police stations in Quetta. Each night 10-15 men would be transferred to Kulli Camp (Quetta Cantonment) where they were tortured by military intelligence (MI) until dawn. The interrogation rooms were located in a basement, painted black—with sharp objects hanging on the walls. Two officers would interrogate two detainees at a time, first asking basic questions. They would then send the men to a second room—this one had small holes in a wall. They guessed the dark adjacent room held informants who would provide details to the interrogators. Before I left, the men asked me to provide them some blankets because they were very cold.
As I left the police station, the officer at the gate (the one whom we bribed) suggested I approach the SHO to ask if there were any Marris in his custody and if I could bring them blankets. I thought about this for two days, worried that I might face arrest myself, but then decided to go ahead. Initially, the SHO reacted with great anger, but finally admitted that, yes, he was holding them. When he took me to their cells, he said angrily, “Look at their faces—they will bloody die and I will be in trouble.” He allowed me to bring blankets on the condition I not tell anyone. He indicated an office next to his and identified it as secret service. The surname on the door read Hazara. He said, “They should not know you have come here for the Marris.” The SHO assured me that he would contact the Bijili Road Police station and ask them to allow me to bring blankets for the Marris (I already knew the SHO of Bijili Road, but I didn’t tell him). The following evening a Marri driver and I distributed blankets and sweaters to all the detainees. The driver had visited Marri houses and collected the stuff. In one police station, ten men were held separately and we were not allowed to see them. Instead an SHO delivered the blankets. He had told me, “Dear, we follow orders. We don’t plan operations and we don’t know what happens to people once we arrest them and hand them over to the ‘Big Brothers.” We later discovered the men had been beaten so badly, their faces were bruised and so we weren’t allowed to see them.
The police eventually charged all 125 men with the murder of Justice Nawaz Marri and sent them to the Hudda district jail in Quetta. There they were under the control of the non-police security agencies, but the routine of night-long interrogations and torture continued. Visitors were allowed, but they were subsequently followed. Two were arrested after visits to their jailed relatives. The New Kahan area remained under siege following the formal charges. Police would patrol the area at night; and many men would not return to their houses for fear of being arrested.
I visited (once only) Hudda Jail in Quetta, where those who had been formally charged were held. There I managed to meet one of my teacher friends with the help of a lawyer friend and a bribe, yes—a bribe was required in this jail, too. My friend was in bad shape. His beard had grown long and he could hardly walk. We talked for half an hour in the presence of an official (the lawyer had business with the jail superintendent). My friend talked a lot, but we could not speak openly. “You’re also interesting man,” he said. I didn’t understand at first, but he repeated that “they are interested in you, too.” I told him to shush, said that I already knew that, for earlier that day MI had come to New Kahan and asked an elderly shop owner about me. The shop owner denied knowing me, but told me people claiming to be my college friends had been looking for me.
I started to worry about the safety of my relatives in Quetta. I could return to Western Balochistan anytime, but they were at real risk here in Eastern Balochistan. I decided I had to leave before anything happened to my family. And so I returned to my village on the border, where the line splits us apart. There I felt disturbed for a number of reasons: my education was incomplete, the situation was worsening for the Marris, as well as for the Baloch throughout Balochistan. I had never been interested in politics during high school and college. I was once asked to join the BSO (Baloch Students Organization), but I declined. I did join protests against the atomic blasts in Chaghai, Baluchistan, as well as some other demonstrations, but I was not a member of any party. The BSO was very influential my college and a member once told me if I didn’t join, I would not pass my exams. I was shocked to hear that.
In the summer of 2002, a friend in my village was arrested. There were political and religious problems in and around my village in Iran, particularly with a Shia missionary group who seemed to enjoy the backing of the security forces, and I decided I had to leave Baluchistan. I walked for some time, travelled by cars for a couple days, then boats. Finally I flew to London from a Gulf country. The issues that compelled me to leave were varied, but we had been blamed for supporting anti-Iranian “Baloch groups” who were characterized by the Iranian mullahs as “enemies of God.” In Iran “enemies of God” are hanged.
I landed in the UK on the 9th of September, 2002, and applied for asylum upon arrival. After my screening interview, I was sent to Coventry, a small city two hour’s drive from London. An elderly man whom I met in a Coventry library told me that “back in the days people would be sent to Coventry as punishment.” It is not specified as a location for asylum seekers, but there were relatively more asylum seeks in Coventry than anywhere else at that time.
Approximately three months later the Home Office rejected my asylum. They acknowledged that the Baloch faced troubles, but they had determined that I’d be safe if I were to return to Iranian-occupied Balochistan. I had the right to appeal the decision and so went to court, but they, too, rejected my application for asylum. Days later I learned that my friend who had been arrested in my village had now disappeared. The following week they found his body. Like me, he had experienced problems with the Shia ‘missionaries.’ I informed my lawyer and we submitted a new claim to the Home Office based on this development. During the appeal process I was not allowed to work, but the NASS (National Asylum Support Service) offered me housing and some financial support. When the court refused my asylum appeal, I was asked to leave the house and the support stopped. I moved in with a Kurdish friend I´d met in Coventry. It was 2005.
Only one Baluch family lived in Coventry, Shahin Shah Baluch. One day he rang to invite me to a Baloch demonstration in London. There I met many Baloch whom I asked for help. I wasn’t allowed to work and I obviously needed to do something to survive. Eventually I was introduced to the Marri brothers, Mehran and Hyrbyair, in Central London. When they learned of my work with the Marris of New Kahan, they offered to help. I returned to Coventry for a short while and then moved to London with my Kurdish friend, Mr. Bahman. We both rented rooms until Hyrbyair invited me to move into his place. His family wasn’t living in London at the time and he had plenty of space. Later, when his family arrived, he moved to a second house. I remained in the first house till the date of my arrest in December 2007. I believe I was arrested because of my friendship with Marri brothers, especially Hyrbyair, but also because I had become a regular participant in the demonstrations in London. I now was fully involved in activities that helped to highlight the plight of the Baluch people.
The website I set up in 2004 with fellow Baloch students in Eastern Balochistan, www.balochwarna.org, also became an important factor in my story. Now that I was living abroad, my friends suggested that I register our new site under my name—to remove any risk to students in Balochistan. Our mission was to report what the Pakistani and Iranian media and authorities would deliberately try to hide—news of the atrocities committed against the Baloch people.
At the same time, the story about Rashid Rauf, the transatlantic bomber, appeared in the press. Rashid Rauf had been arrested in Pakistan and was alleged to be the mastermind of the plot. In March 2007, Margaret Becket, the UK Foreign Minister, travelled to Pakistan in the company of a journalist from The Guardian. Ms. Becket told President Musharraf that the UK wanted to extradite Rashid Rauf. Musharraf reportedly replied that he wanted to extradite some Baloch living in the UK—eight Baloch. Two were the Marri brothers, Hyrbyair and Mehran, but no one knows who the other six were.
After that official visit to Pakistan, both English and Pakistani security services started to monitor Hyrbyair and Mehran’s activities, as well as that of their friends—stopping the friends at airports to ask questions, visiting their homes, etc. One of Hyrbyair’s friends, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, was returning to the UK from Pakistan. Pakistani authorities had him arrested in Dubai and extradited back to Pakistan where he was held in a safe house and questioned by the Pakistani army about Hyrbyair and his close friends. When the young man’s family, based in London, sought help from the British authorities about the arrest and extradition, they received a phone call from Pakistani Military Intelligence threatening that “If you want your man back alive, do not go to the embassy again.”
A week after the murder of Hyrbyair’s brother, Balaach Marri, I helped organize a memorial at London University. The following night I was editing the footage from the meeting for my web site. I stayed up late—I think I went to bed around 3 am. Two hours later—at 5:08am—a big “bang” and the sound of shouting woke me up. Suddenly, two men were sitting on top of me shouting, “Show us your hands!” They handcuffed me while I was still in bed. I didn’t know they were police officers until they turned on the lights. They asked me if I had any remote controls at home. I didn’t understand and led them to the living room to point out the TV controls. This made them very angry and they clarified that they were looking for remote controls for explosive devices. I had no such devices and told them “No, there is nothing in the house that explodes.” I still had no idea why they were arresting me and asking about explosives.
We waited inside the house while other officers checked the place. They then placed me in a police car, I guess for an hour or so. One of the officers wanted to chat and asked me about Balochistan. “So Faiz, tell me about your country Balochistan (he pronounced it as Balokistan)—Is it like Ireland?” “No,” I replied, “it’s similar to Kurdistan, but I’d describe it better as Palestine. It is pronounced Baluchistan not Balokistan! Unlike Kurdistan, Balochistan was a free country until the British divided it and later Iran and Pakistan occupied it.” The conversation continued for a while. Finally I asked the officials, “Why are we sitting in the car? Can’t we stay in the house?” “We took you out in the darkness so that you won’t be embarrassed in front of your neighbours,” said the officer. “The neighbours have already heard the banging and shouting—and there are two dozen cars around my house. They’ve seen everything already,” I replied laughing. It was the 4th of December, 2007. I would spend the next eight months in prison.
That night the officers took me to the Paddington Green police station where they took my fingerprints, DNA and filled out preliminary forms. I was then taken to a small prison cell and locked up for almost the entire next day. The cell contained a restroom and was monitored by video (CCTV). In the afternoon, two detectives came to my cell, shook hands, and told me a lawyer would arrive shortly to represent me during an interrogation. Before they left the cell, one of the officials said “Please, Mr. Baloch, try to be flexible with us.” I didn´t really understand what he meant by “flexible,” but I said OK. After an hour or so, the officer on duty opened the door to tell me my lawyer had arrived. He led me to another room where my lawyer was waiting.
The lawyer introduced himself as Fadi Jan Daud, a Christian Arab from Egypt. Before we started he apologised and said that he knew nothing about Balochistan. I was annoyed. “If you don’t know anything about my country, how can you represent me?” He was a very polite respectful man. “Mister . . . Fayaz Balock, if you tell me a little bit about your country and people, I promise I will do my best to help you—I’m not working for the police,” he explained with a broad smiling face. “My name is Faiz and I’m a Baluch not Balock,” I told him. “Oh, Faiz is an Arabic name.” He laughed again.
Before the interview, the police handed us a disclosure document that outlined the questions they were going to ask during the interrogation. Most of them related to the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), the BRM (Baloch Rights Movement) and Mehran Baloch. Questions like: How do know Mehran Baluch? What is your affiliation with the BLA, if any? What is your affiliation with the Marri brothers? Are you working for the BRM? etc.
In the interrogation room I was seated with my lawyer and two police officers. They told me, however, that other people in the same building would be observing the interrogation. During the interview they also asked me how I had ended up in the UK. I just answered as best I could. Regarding the BLA, I told them I knew it existed, and that they were Baloch fighting for the independence of Balochistan, but I wasn’t involved at all as the police suggested I was. I had learned about the BLA through websites and news sources. They then asked me about the various Baloch websites. They had a list of most of the sites. They asked me who ran them. They mentioned BaluchSarmachaar.wordpress.com—what did “sarmachaar” mean? I answered their questions to the best of my knowledge. Later during another interview, their questions focused on www.balochvoice.com, balochwarna.com and balochunity.org. They thought I was running these sites.
The following morning my solicitor told me that I had the right to not answer their questions. That’s what I did going forward. He also told me he had spent the entire night reading about BaIochistan—the author Selig Harrison and other Baloch websites. “Now I know why they have arrested you and I know everything about Balochistan—look what I brought for you.” He pointed at a bundle of pages printed off the net. “All related to Balochistan. Oh, and I also brought you some oranges and dates which you can have later on,” he said smiling. He also told me that a friend of mine had been detained. He didn’t know his name.
Within 24 hours, a preliminary hearing took place via video link from the police station. That is when I saw Hyrbyair. My interrogations continued every day for a week, sometimes twice a day. Finally both Hyrbyair and I were charged with “inciting violence” and for “involvement in the Balochistan Liberation Army.” We were transferred to Belmarsh Prison*, Britain’s High Security prison where we were classified as “Category A prisoners.” Most people accused of terrorism and other serious crimes were category A. The majority of “Cat A” prisoners were Muslims.
According to the Govs (the term for prison officers) there were over 1,200 prisoners in Belmarsh. Cat A prisoners were held in private cells, while other prisoners were three to a cell. As Cat A prisoners we couldn’t receive visits without an invitation approved by the Home Office. Every time a Cat A prisoner leaves his cell, he is strip-searched on his return. We were confined to our cells for 21 hours a day. We would be taken out into the yard for exercise one hour in the morning from 8-9 am and for two hour breaks between 6-8 pm in the evening. The evening break was cancelled if there weren’t enough staff. There was a gym in the prison, but only accessible if one worked, and even then one could only use the gym for 40 minutes if it was not busy—too many Cat A inmates were not allowed in the gym at one time. After Hyrbyair was released, I was asked to work—mainly packing tea bags and biscuits for other prisoners. Those were the conditions for Category A prisoners, as I remember.
As a Baloch, one of the most degrading things for me was to get stripped; it was very humiliating. Each week they searched our cells. When the officers came by to announce search time, I would respond “humiliating time”—that was the hardest part for me. That and the dogs—they used to bring their dogs into the cell during the search and allow them to walk all over our beds, dining table, sniff our clothes, everything. We did have a small 14-inch TV, a kettle, a chair and table in our mini-cells. Most of the guards were very rude. They would swear a lot. Hyrbyair and I stopped talking to them. We would only speak if it was necessary to ask or answer a question. To them everyone was the same, whether he was a drug dealer, murderer or prisoner of conscience. One very young officer—he was a good man. He told us we were different from everyone else. When we told him we were Baloch and that we didn’t recognize either Iran or Pakistan as our country, he tried to explain this to the other guards—he was happy with us. Most of the food was not bad—mostly baked beans and half-cooked rice, but I’m generally used to food like this, so I had no complaints.
It was in Belmarsh prison that the brothers “Muslim inmates” suggested to me that I change lawyers because nobody knew them—their reputations were not well-established. Hadi Jan Dawood’s job had ended at the police station and he had introduced me to another lawyer—I don’t remember his name. The new lawyer was a good and polite man, but he knew nothing about Balochistan and he had not handled such cases. I was starting to worry. He used to tell me, “Mr. Baluch, please do not try to politicise your case; your case is simple.” “No,” I said, “it is not simple and it is already a politically motivated case.” In the meantime one of the brothers who was being represented by the Birnberg Peirce Law firm had provided me Gareth Pierce’s number and had strongly advised me to change my lawyer. I discussed the issue with Hyrbyair and we decided to apply for the change of lawyer. I rang Gareth and we arranged a video conference. She agreed to take on my case, but it took over a month to get approval. As I was not able to speak often with Gareth, my good friend in Wales frequently reminded her to take on my case. Eventually there was a court hearing via video conference because my previous lawyer was challenging the change of lawyer request. He said he had already spent money on my case and thought it unfair to make this change. I was told, however, that it was my right to ask for a new lawyer if I was unhappy with the assigned lawyer. The judge finally granted my request.
During one my next court hearings I finally met Gareth Pierce and Sajida Malik, both very kind and easygoing ladies. Gareth always looked serious, but Sajida was always smiling—she was very encouraging. Gareth introduced Sajida to me and said that “She will be visiting you, hopefully, outside the prison as we are trying to get you out on bail.” I was very relieved with this change in my lawyers—now I was in good hands.
In Belmarsh prison, we had made a lot of new friends, mostly brothers. We got to know them in the yard and during Friday prayer. Most of the inmates were really helpful and encouraging. “It is a testing time that Allah has brought on us and we will pass this test Inshaallah.”—This was the sentence repeated most often by the brothers. Though everyone was missing the food outside, we didn’t complain about the food. At night time we used hear the shouts of Window Warriors. Some inmates would shout things like “Hey bruv, how did your hearing go today?” or watch Big Brother or EastEnders (popular tv reality show and drama) and shout, “There’s a nice bird on bruv!” Then they would all start laughing uncontrollably. Whenever there was a football match, the window warriors would not let anyone sleep that night. The banging on the cell doors and shouting would continue till morning. Sometimes the shouting would escalate and turn into swearing, which would lead to verbal fighting over the football match. I remember the night Benazir Bhutto was killed. I had seen the news reports on TV, but later the window warriors spread the word. One of the men in the adjacent block shouted, “Hey Akhi, (Arabic word for brother) they killed BB!” “Yeah, Akhi mann, I saw it—served her well—she was against the Deen innit (she was against the religion, isn’t it so?)!” the other replied. Listening to window warriors was both fun and sad. Sometimes it made me laugh so much, but sometimes it was just swearing, even crying and screaming.
After five months, Hyrbyair was released on bail. Hyrbyair paid almost £300,000 for his bail security. Some of that money has not yet been returned to him. I was also scheduled to be released within the next couple of days, but to my surprise I instead received a notice stating that I was now being detained under immigration law. Because they had refused my asylum case, I now had to apply for a different type of bail through the Home Office. That decision dragged on for almost another three months. When Hyrbyair’s bail was approved, he insisted that he wait until my bail was also approved. “People will say that he left his friend and came out alone,” he said. I told him that it was nothing like that and that he should go. Let people say whatever they have to say.
When Hyrbyair left, they shifted me to another block, “the life-ies block.” Most of the people there were serving long sentences and it was relatively more relaxed than the previous one. This block was next to “a prison within the prison,” a place where the alleged Al-Qaeda leaders were kept. Abu Hamzah, the Hook Man, or the Claw Mullah, was also detained in this prison within a prison. Never did I see any inmate leaving or entering that place from that gate that faced me. All I could see were guards and their dogs.
After spending eight months in Belmarsh prison, my bail was finally approved and I was released. My Kurdish friend Bahman and his wife came to pick me up. The court didn’t request money for bail, rather they required two people to provide my surety. A good friend of ours, Mr. Raheem Baluch, graciously put up his house as security and Peter Tatchell paid £700. Thanks to both of these men, I was released. A third person was required to move in with me. My Kurdish friend Mr. Bahman, along with his family, moved in to fill that requirement. This was not a requirement of the court, but one my lawyers had suggested, so that I wouldn’t be alone in the house.
Though I was able to leave the house and visit with friends, it was still like a prison as there were very strict conditions attached to our bail. We had to wear a security tag 24 hours so that police would know my exact location all times. We couldn’t leave home between 8pm and 8am. We were advised against giving press conferences or attending any meetings related to Balochistan, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, nor could we phone anyone in those countries. We had to report to our nearest police station every day, exactly at the time fixed by the Court. Additionally, I had to answer a “voice recognition machine” once every hour during the night. After a week, the machine had really ruined my sleep and I requested the court to limit the number of calls. During the day I was trying to prepare my case in the lawyer’s office and I needed sleep. The judge decided they’d call me only once, before midnight.
There were five charges against each of us: (1) Possession of an article for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism – contrary to section 57 of terrorism act 2000. (2) Collecting information of a kind likely to be useful to a person for committing or preparing acts of terrorism – contrary to section 58 of terrorism act 2000. (3) Collecting information of a kind likely to be useful to a person for committing or preparing acts of terrorism – contrary to section 58 of terrorism act 2000. (4) Preparation of terrorist acts contrary to section 5 of terrorism act 2006. (5) Incitement to commit an act or acts of terrorism – contrary to section 59 of terrorism act 2000. Additionally, Hyrbyair Marri had been charged with possessing a CS Gas canister which comes under the fire arm act. Counts 2 and 3 seem identical, but they are regarding two different items.
The trial was to be heard by a jury of 12 men and women from a working middle-class neighbourhood. We were facing a 12-year sentence, but the length would ultimately be determined by the judge. And this judge we’d been told had a record of awarding long sentences. Also, the jurors were selected from a conservative neighbourhood that had a reputation for not being sympathetic to refugees. Lady Kennedy and Gareth had applied for a withdrawal of case because they felt there was no case, but this was denied. Sajida worried about me because she thought I was emotional and would get angry—she always advised me to avoid getting angry and defensive; she said you did nothing wrong. Just agree that yes, we did these things, but so what? What is wrong with what we did?
When the trial began, only then did we discover we had been followed since the death of Hyrbyair’s brother Balaach. The authorities (the counter terrorism branch of New Scotland Yard, I think) had installed cameras in front of my house to monitor my activity and had followed me almost every day. I remember some of their observations: exiting Sainsbury carrying ten bottles of water, buying medicine from Boots (a popular UK health and beauty retailer), shopping for a memory stick in Argos, printing out pictures of Balaach and shopping for a frame for the picture—stuff like that. I admitted all such observations were correct, but I didn’t understand how they made me guilty of a crime. Was it a crime to enter these shops? I didn’t think so; at least that is what I thought. The authorities also used my MSN conversations and text messages as evidence of my guilt, but again, all these electronic exchanges were typical of what an average person says; there was nothing sinister in my conversations and texts.
The prosecution also alleged that we’d been searching “dangerous words” on the internet—including names of people who could be potential targets. They also alleged that I had been trained and financed by Hyrbyair to set up my website and to promote his agenda through it. In fact, the mission of my site was to highlight the plight of the Baluch people and expose the atrocities committed by Pakistan and Iran—and that was every Baloch’s agenda, not just Hyrbyair’s.
To prepare for the trial, the prosecution travelled to Islamabad and several other countries to look for evidence against us. They even visited the US to investigate the company that hosted balochwarna.org on its servers. They secured a warrant against the company owner in case she refused to collaborate with the investigation. They only found what they already knew—what I had told them—that the website was registered under my name. That is all.
Next the prosecution turned to what they called “inflammatory statements” by Hyrbyair posted on the website. Our team pointed out to the jury that there were over 30,000 items on the website, including graphic evidence of atrocities committed by the Pakistani army—corpses of kids torn apart by aerial bombardment, artillery and rocket fire—“What about those?”
What I remember most about the trial is all the twists and turns of the prosecution and how the prosecutor tried to convince the jury that somehow we were linked to Al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremists. He showed some still images from Michael Moore’s movie (Farentheit 9/11) and told the jury that the Baluch have links with Al-Qaeda. I remember how their own expert on Baluchistan Mr Ion Talbot agreed that Pakistan has been very brutal to the Baluch people. During cross-examination, there was no single question that he disputed. He basically was of more benefit to us than the prosecution. The prosecution also tried to present me as a computer geek, which I am not.
Before the jury retired to consider the evidence, we had a chance to explain our side of the story. I spoke for two days and I think Hyrbyair spoke for three days. I told them that I didn’t think running a website should be a crime, especially when the Pakistani media reports nothing at all from Balochistan and even prevents foreign journalists from visiting the area.
“Did you know where Balochistan is the first day you came to this court?” I asked the jury. “Now you know where it is, and what’s happening to our people there.” One of the pieces of evidence the prosecution tried to use against me was a booklet published by the BLA that was found in my house. A picture of a Sui Gas pipeline was printed on the back cover. An old lady carrying a big tree branch on her head was passing in front of the pipeline. “You can see the picture of the gas plant on one side and the mud houses on the other. Here people still cook with wood and dung. Gas was discovered in Baluchistan in 1952 and today we’re in 2008, our people still do not benefit from the gas. This is the story of Balochistan which Mr. Hill, the prosecution QC, doesn’t want to tell you.” I also told them that an independent Baluchistan was our goal and that our people are only defending themselves. “They are under attack and they have a right to self-defence.”
I also related my personal experiences and described the difficulties I had faced at the hands of the occupiers of my country. In the end, the jury saw through the spin of the prosecution and decided in our favour, they chose the side of the truth, rather than side with the oppressors.
Hyrbyair also very clearly expressed his point of view. He explained in great detail the situation of Baluchistan. Regarding the al-Qaeda allegation, he told the jury that we are against these people. “They were beheading us long before they started killing your people. We have been facing them alone without anyone’s help.”
It took four weeks for the jury to deliberate and render their verdict of not guilty. I was acquitted of all charges and Hyrbyair was acquitted of three charges. The jury was unable to make a decision on two charges. The pending charges against Hyrbyair were later dropped due to lack of evidence. The prosecution also decided that it was no longer in the public interest to continue the case. I was not in court the day the verdict was delivered—I regret that now (I was sick in the hospital), for Hyrbyair told me that one of the jurors had walked straight up to him after the trial to congratulate him on his acquittal and said, ‘Long Live Balochistan.’
My team worked really hard to prepare for my trial. I want to express all my thanks to Hussain Zaheer, Sajida Malik, Gareth Pierce, and Lady Helena Kennedy. Gareth had hired Hussain Zaheer, a junior barrister, and Lady Kennedy, one of the UK’s top barristers, to represent me in the Court. Sajida worked tirelessly. She visited Munir Mengal in France, Khan of Kalat in Wales and rang several people in Pakistan to ask for their help. She spoke to Imran Khan, Itezaz Ehsan, Ali Ahmad Kurd and Sanaullah Baluch. In the end, only Munir Mengal and Imran Khan gave evidence. The rest of the witnesses were not needed and some were reluctant to participate. The support of the Baluch Diaspora, especially Baluch and Sindhi friends in London, as well as Peter Tatchell, has been a great help to us. I also give a big thanks to all my Baluch friends who organised protests in the chilling cold weather of London and thank those who have offered moral support, either by sending me encouraging letters or with phone calls—whenever I could speak to them. Estella from CAMPACC Campaign against Criminalising Communities has also been of great help throughout our imprisonment, trial and subsequent acquittal.
To conclude, I will return to my asylum story. While the trial was underway, my team submitted a fresh claim to the Home Office for their consideration based on new evidence that had emerged during the trial, as well as the fact of my arrest and my naming and shaming in the international and national media. We pointed out that the UK government had made me vulnerable and that it is impossible for me to return to Balochistan as they have exposed me to the authorities of both Pakistan and Iran. To my surprise, they rejected even this new application for asylum and instructed me to return to Baluchistan. We decided to apply to the High Court for a judicial review of my case, but the UK Border Agency requested that we withdraw our appeal and informed us they would reconsider my case. Previously the UK Border Agency had determined that my situation had not changed in the UK since my arrival in 2002 and that I would face no problems if I were to return to Baluchistan. My argument is that my situation had changed considerably since I first applied for asylum in 2002: I didn´t have a website then, my attendance at Baloch demonstrations was not publicized and most importantly, I had not been accused of “terrorism” by the British courts. I’m obviously more exposed now than I was eight years ago. The collusion between Iran and Pakistan is well-documented. Pakistan routinely arrests Baluch and hands them over to Iran for execution by hanging. Iran similarly helps Pakistan. It seems evident to me that my life would be at risk if I were sent back to Baluchistan.
And what happened to the Marris whose case helped put me on the radar of the Pakistani authorities in the first place? Two of the men, Murad Khan and Dad Mohammad Marri, later died from the torture they suffered—after their release. Most of the men were eventually released on bail (bail money was never returned to them). A few were held by MI and never released. I never learned what happened to them.
*Between 2001 and 2002 Belmarsh Prison was used to detain a number of people indefinitely without charge or trial under the provisions of the Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, leading it to be called the "British version of Guantanamo Bay". The law lords later ruled that such imprisonment was discriminatory and against the Human Rights Act (see Wikipedia for details)
Karlos Zurutuza is a freelance correspondent from the Basque Country. He's been awarded with the Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Reporting Award 2009 for highlighting the Baloch struggle in various newspapers and magazines.
| Marri’s son denied asylum in UK|
Wednesday October 20, 2010 (1308 PST)
LONDON: A well-known Baloch leader has cried foul after the Home Office rejected his political asylum application.
Baloch leader Hyrbyar Marri, one of six sons of veteran Baloch leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, had reluctantly applied for political asylum in Britain for himself and his wife and 5 children a month ago, 10 years after landing in Britain and living on a work permit visa.
Hyrbyar, who was at one stage accused of directing the insurgency in restive Balochistan from his London home, decided to apply for asylum after failing to get his passport back from the government despite trying all legal attempts. Hyrbyar and his family’s passports were seized by the anti-terrorism command unit in a dawn raid on the Baloch leader’s home in Ealing on December 4, 2007.
It is believed that Pervez Musharraf, then a key western ally in the ‘war on terror’ had personally asked for the extradition to Pakistan of Hyrbyar Marri, Mehran Baloch, Hyrbyar Marri’s younger brother and Baloch representative in the UN council for human rights, and Faiz Baloch, a 28 years old London based Baloch campaigner and Hyrbyar’s key ally who was arrested and released along with Hyrbyar Marri, in exchange of British Pakistani terror suspect Rashid Rauf, believed to have been killed recently in the tribal areas.
Both Hyrbyar and Faiz, who spent eight months in notorious Belmarsh jail, were acquitted by an ordinary jury due to lack of evidence against them. But despite being acquitted and PPP-led Pakistani government’s assurance to the British government that it was not interested in pursing the charges against Mr. Marri, the British authorities are still hounding him and harassing him in a number of ways. The PPP-led government has recently changed tone. A few weeks ago, Rehman Malik in a speech on the Senate floor specifically singled out Brahamdagh Bugti and Hyrbyar Marri for heading the operations of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
In May this year, a new case 29/2010 was brought against Hyrbyar Marri and his ageing father in Maach Town by the Frontier Constabulary in which both Baloch leaders have been accused of inciting insurgency.
Hyrbyar Marri insists that he has never been involved in armed struggle and would only advocate peaceful means of struggle. They are refusing to return his and his family’s passports and not giving any justification for doing so.
Hyrbyar tells our sources that he was so frustrated and humiliated by the attitude of the authorities that he decided to apply for asylum citing fears for his life by the Pakistani security agencies and the killing of his elder brother Balach Marri in a suspected missile attack.
Unlike many other politicians, Hyrbyar has made it a point not to receive the state benefits and has paid for his family’s living costs, education, housing and medical but has never claimed anything in benefits but the Home Office rejection letters has addressed him as an “economic migrant” looking for better opportunities in Britain.
Human rights campaigners believed that Hyrbyar had a good chance of being granted the refugee status straight away as hundreds of Balochs, who have claimed harassment and persecution at the hands of security services have been granted refuge in Britain and many other European countries.
Mir Suleman Dawood, the current Khan of Kalat, in Britain and advocate Kachkol Ali Baloch in Norway were recently granted the refugee status on more or less the same ground of fear of torture by the security forces.
Hyrbyar remains highly critical of the role of Britain and suspects that it’s security services still believe the “wrong information” provided to them by their Pakistani counterparts and continuing to chase him at various levels.
Speaking to our sources he said that he would love to spend his life amongst his own people back in Balochiistan but that was made almos impossible by the on-going military operation in Balochistan.
“Our people are being cut down by the security forces like vegetables. My brother Balach was killed by the ISI in a missile attack and we are being hounded even in countries abroad. During an address to a rally of British Pakistanis in Manchester on 9th of September, Pervez Musharraf, without naming Hyrbyar Marri, made a reference to his presence in Britain and called him “anti-Pakistan”.
Musharraf, who is disliked by Balochs for launching military operation in the province for ordering the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, was talking about “crushing the anti-Pakistan elements” with brutal force, especially the likes of Brahamdagh Bugti and all others who have adopted the path of armed struggle for the acceptance of their demands. Our sources asked a close Musharraf advisor after Musharraf finished his Manchester speech that who did the former president mean by the “anti-Pakistan” residing in Britain, thee Musharraf loyalist said that the former general meant Hyrbyar Marri.
Renowned human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in a statement condemned the Home Office for refusing the asylum application of Hyrbyar Marri. “The Home Office is clearly out of touch if it believes that Hyrbyar Marri can live a safe life in Pakistan.”
Pakistan News Service - PakTribune