Baloch activist raises doubts over CPEC, writes to French senator
ANI | Updated: Feb 07, 2018 15:59IST
Vancouver [Canada], Feb 7 (ANI): Head of the World Baloch Women Forum (WBWF), Professor Naela Quadri Baloch, has written a letter to French Senator Pascal Allizard raising doubts over the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
According to the reports, a French delegation recently visited Pakistan to "analyse if this (CPEC) initiative is Chinese regional hegemonic agenda or a step towards greater regional connectivity."
The compiled report of this delegation would be submitted to the French Senate in April.
The CPEC project comprises a network of railways, roads, and pipelines that would connect Pakistan's port city of Gwadar in the Balochistan province, with the Chinese city of Kashgar in landlocked Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
The human rights activists have, time and again, spoken about and highlighted the growing atrocities of Pakistan on the indigenous people of Balochistan and deteriorating human rights situation as a result of the CPEC.
February 06, 2018
Respected Senator M. Pascal Allizard,
The Senate of France
Balochistan and CPEC
Greetings from the Balochs!
Balochistan existed as a sovereign country for 700 years with its internationally recognized boundaries, political stability and pluralistic Sufi culture until colonization, that destroyed its geography, social fabric, defense and economic system, but central part of it remained independent under Baloch rule except its foreign policy. On March 27, 1948 Pakistan with the silent support of its creators invaded and occupied Balochistan. The Baloch people never accepted the second colonization just as they rejected the first one and rebelled right from the beginning, but the Cold War politics insured Pakistan’s genocidal state from international censure. Pakistan killed our leaders, violated our women, abducted and tortured our children, defiled our sacred shrines, looted our natural resources, and decimated our educated class.
The misplaced priorities and perverted logic of the Pakistani state defies the understanding of the civilized world. Pakistan Army shields proscribed terrorist groups, which have killed hundreds of people from different countries including Pakistan. The world needs to understand that abduction, rape, torture, murder, and exploitation is the only mode of interaction between the Pakistani state and people. Pakistan, which is in every way an artificial geographical construct as was Yugoslavia, is using draconian measures to control three of its four provinces that want to leave the union.
Balochistan realizes barely one or two per cent of the value of the resources being extracted from its territory and the use of its ports. Balochistan, which accounts for 44 per cent of Pakistan’s overall area, five of the six major ports, two-thirds of its coast, and a large part of Pakistan’s mineral wealth, is the least developed part of Pakistan. The following table summarizes what Balochistan gives to Pakistan and what it gets in return
What Balochistan Gives to Pakistan
✔44 per cent of Pakistan’s area
✔Two-thirds of Pakistan’s coastline
✔Massive, gold and copper and gas reserves
✔Four of the five major naval ports of Pakistan
✔One of the largest ship breaking centers of the world
✔Nuclear and missile test sites
Monopoly over US access to Afghanistan
✔Ability to keep an eye on the world’s most important energy trade route
✔And, the USD 60+ Billion CPEC project would not have been conceived without the Baloch coastline
What Balochs Get from Pakistan (and China)
✔Demographic marginalization of the Baloch people in their motherland
✔Religious radicalization of the tolerant and liberal Baloch society and attack on their places of worship
✔The Taliban and the Islamic state
✔Abduction, rape, torture, and killings in thousands
✔Targeted killing of leaders
✔Conversion of Balochistan into a garrison
✔Highest illiteracy, unemployment, and maternal mortality rates in Pakistan
✔Rampant loot of natural resources
✔And, 0.5 per cent share in CPEC funds
Our exploitation is not only limited to the political-economic sphere. Pakistan is destroying our soul, our culture, and our future. Ours is a tolerant society located at the middle of Iran, Central Asia, and the Indian sub-continent and we can add West Asia if we consider maritime boundaries. Our history goes back to the pre-Indus Valley period. Mehrgarh 9000 BC a Baloch civilization is the first urban civilization on earth, a society of love and peace. Over the past centuries we have absorbed influence from these various regions. Our society is a repository of these diverse influences. We with a strong Sufi orientation, are governed by our tribal code of conduct. Pakistan is using the Wahhabi-Deobandis to weaken our society as well as the Baloch nationalist forces. This has taken many forms including physical targeting of Baloch nationalists by Jihadi groups, neglecting mainstream education and imposing madrasas on our children, throwing acid on our girls while going to school, destroying their future, and bombing our shrines. We are a tribal people and warfare was part and parcel of our political economy. But never in our entire history has anyone attacked a place of worship. We have lived together with Shia Balochs, Hindu, Sikh and Christian Balochs for centuries. We are even protecting graves of our Jews who had to flee after Pakistan's occupation on Balochistan. But then why are we suddenly hearing of attacks on Sufi shrines and churches in Balochistan? The international community takes note of such attacks as facts without understanding the larger context. Pakistan is not only using Balochistan as a place to safely park and train the jihadi wing of its army, but it is also using them to terrorize the Baloch people, destroy our syncretic faith and society, erase our symbols of tolerant and pluralistic faith, and lure Baloch youth to the jihadi camp to weaken our resolve to fight for Balochistan's independence. Most importantly, they want to degrade and destroy our human capital. They realized that decades of kill and dump has not broken our resolve. Now they have decided to complement the kill and dump policy with denial of mainstream education to our children and use of the opium of jihad to destroy our youth.
Systematic discrimination, dehumanization, persecution, demographic marginalization, and neglect of basic development needs is all that Balochistan, the largest and most resource rich province, has seen in Pakistan since 1948. The Baloch people have been left with no other option than to resist Pakistan’s vicious state policy with all available means and resources. Despite Pakistan’s attempts to destroy the middle ground for the civil society through curbs on peaceful assembly, clampdowns on NGOs, curbs on independent media, attacks on Human Rights defenders, state censorship, draconian anti-terror laws, state-sponsored vilification, surveillance, arbitrary detention, and torture and enforced disappearances we have been waging our principled resistance and struggle for self-determination.
It is painful to repeat all this, but for the first time we see that the international community is showing interest in our plight. We hope this interest goes beyond geo-politics and is inspired the lofty democratic principles scrupulously followed within your own country. It is this trust with which has encouraged us to repeat some of the things we have been saying for decades. But let us come to the present, which is much worse than the past. Indeed, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
The so called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was to begin with effectively the China-Punjab Economic Corridor. The Punjabi dominated Pakistan Army that now serves as a lapdog of China has ensured that there is no public scrutiny and debate. It has ceded its “own” country’s interests to China in return for undisclosed strategic gains. No other nation in modern times has so shamelessly pawned its national interests. In any case, within a few years of the launch of the CPEC, the misplaced priorities of the mercenary Pakistan Army have ensured that the CPEC is effectively reduced to China Corridor, with Pakistan being pushed into colonial subservience. The story does not end here though. Pakistan Army is, in fact, pawning the future of occupied areas, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan to buy a better future for its core. Without Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan the CPEC is sheer fantasy. Our resistance will ensure that the CPEC will just a fantasy.
The plight of the Baloch people has worsened ever since the launch of the CPEC as Pakistan assured of Chinese support and stocked with Chinese arms now believes that it has a license to kill. The indigenous Baloch people had already suffered growing marginalization due to the influx of Afghans and Punjabis. Now due to the growing Chinese interest the problem has assumed much larger proportions. A country that tramples over the rights of its own citizens cannot be expected to respect the right of doubly colonized people such as the Balochs.
In short, the CPEC has emerged as the “corridor of misery” for us as our people are being displaced by this corridor, whose purpose includes the loot of our mineral wealth and providing China a naval foothold next to the strategically important Persian Gulf. A summarize of our key concerns vis-à-vis the CPEC is in order.
1. Widespread environmental damage in ecologically fragile and water scarce Balochistan: Massive projects are being launched without proper and transparent environmental impact assessment.
2. Displacement of locals due to projects: Projects are displacing people firstly by taking away their land and secondly through influx of outsiders.
3. Lack of consultation with locals on the plan of the project: Those who stand to lose everything that they have are not being consulted. In fact, there is no transparency about any aspect of the project and there is an acute lack of legal remedies too.
4. Lack of compensation for land and mines taken away from Balochistan: The scarce resources that belong to us and our future generations are being snatched away without compensation or compensation at rates far below market prices. This is a continuation of the longstanding policy of Pakistan. They have been taking gas from our land and supplying to Punjab while we do not get to use our resource or get suitable compensation.
5. Destruction of livelihoods of farmers, fisher folk, etc.: Due to displacement from native lands, denial of access to traditional sources of drinking water and fishing areas people are being deprived of their livelihoods, which in turn affects their incomes and hence education and health of their children.
6. Heritage endangerment: Unplanned infrastructural and mining projects is endangering sites of cultural and historical importance to the Baloch people stretching back to the pre- Mesopotamia and pre-Indus Valley Civilizations period. This is going to irreparably damage our heritage, which we would like to preserve for the whole humankind. In Gwadar, Quadri Bethak an ancient Sufi place and 7 Wonder Caves of Mir Hammal Jiyand are in serious danger and needs immediate protection and preservation.
7. Neglect of indigenous people’s interests: Demographic engineering is marginalizing Baloch people in their own homelands and their genuine interests are being disregarded.
8. Neglect of the interests of linguistic minorities: The Baloch community is also a linguistic minority speaking Balochi, Brahui, Lasi and Seraiki languages. Brahui, in fact, is historically and linguistically speaking a rare language. By displacing people from their ancestral villages and towns Pakistan is destroying these languages as when the displaced people settle elsewhere they are a minority and cannot speak their languages with others around them.
9. Violation of human rights: Baloch people are opposed to the imposition of projects and foreign rule and are being targeted by the lawless Pakistan Army and its jihadi mercenaries.
It should be obvious by now that China's involvement has magnified our problems because it wants to gain a strategic foothold near the Persian Gulf at any cost to the Baloch people. Pakistan’s longstanding policy has been to exterminate the Baloch community and now the CPEC project compounds our existential crisis.
We appeal to recognize our plight and support our cause. Since our voice is suppressed within Pakistan we expect the following remedies through your intervention:
1. Pakistan must be held accountable for using the full force in suppressing our struggle which it ironically calls a law and order problem. Countries that have supplied military hardware should hold Pakistan accountable for deploying the same against innocent people. A “no-fly” zone has to be imposed in Balochistan to curb the aerial bombardment of civilians. Targeted sanctions should be imposed to degrade Pakistan’s ability to acquire arms from the international markets.
2. All Baloch enforced disappeared persons must be freed immediately. Thousands of unidentifiable mutilated bodies recovered yet from mass graves and wilderness and/or chemical weapons used on them, should be analyzed for DNA identification.
3. There must be an urgent intervention to stop Pakistan army’s ruthless attacks on Baloch population, burn our homes, kill, torture, abductions and rape.
4. An independent international committee should be constituted to investigate and monitor human rights violations targeting the Baloch people in Pakistan.
5. Especial efforts by UNESCO and EU should be focused to protect 11000 years old first urban civilization on earth The Mehrgarh, discovered by the French archeological team in 70s, 7 Wonder Caves of Hammal Jiyand Gwadar, Quadri Bethak Gwadar, Hinglaj Mata temple Lasbela and many other historical sites in Balochistan.
6. Members of the Pakistan army and intelligence agencies involved in human rights violations should be sanctioned. Their international travel of the concerned individuals should be restricted and the assets of the concerned individuals and organizations should be frozen. If Pakistan refuses to correct its course, the international community needs to downgrade diplomatic relations with the Government of Pakistan and impose a trade embargo and restrict Pakistan’s ability to access then international financial system.
7. There is an urgent need to provide aid to address the serious humanitarian crisis on the ground. The international community should help deliver essential services, such as centers for rehabilitation from torture and trauma, education and healthcare, and build necessary civic infrastructure
8. The international community should help build the capacity of the Baloch civil society. The international media should help build the capacity of the existing Baloch media and include Balochi language programs in their broadcast. The international media, human rights organizations, advocacy groups, and think tanks should advocate the cause of the Baloch people.
9. The international community should equip the Baloch people for self-defense, especially against aerial bombardment.
10. The international community should stop CPEC and all such projects that are against the will and interest of Baloch people, and Balochs should be enabled and allowed to plan, initiate and materialize development projects according to our needs and for mutual interest of our international allies.
To conclude, the very survival of Baloch people is at stake and we have the right to fight back. Even if the world does not act, we will act on our own because it is the question of our survival. The world has to decide on which side it is. At least in Balochistan the world has so far been on the side of the unjust, oppressive Pakistani state, which also happens to be one of the epicenters of global terrorism, narcotics trade, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This has to change, now. The world has to act before it is too late. We are clear that we do not want to remain within Pakistan that is controlled by jihadi mercenaries and the genocidal army.
Thank you with great regards.
Professor Naela Quadri Baloch
Head of Baloch Public Diplomacy
President of The World Baloch Women’s Forum