Balochistan violence dates back to "brutal, repressive policies" of Musharraf: Italian journalist in new book
Rome [Italy], November 27 (ANI): The violence in Balochistan dates back to the "brutal, repressive policies and strategies" of former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, says journalist Francesco Marino in her new book "Balochistan: Bruised, Battered and Bloodied".
The book will be released on November 28. Its forward has been written by former Pakistan ambassador to the US, Hussian Haqqani.
The book begins with an insurrection in Balochistan that began in 2006 after the murder of Nawab Mohammad Akbar Shahbaz Khan Bugti.
"The killing of Bugti was a turning point in the shaping of regional dynamics, creating an irreparable fracture in relations between the Baloch people and the state. The flames of an independence movement had almost died out as a more restrained quest for autonomy took shape. But now they raged once more, fed further by the policies of the two democratic governments that followed Musharraf," she says.
Noting that the revolt was already way beyond the control of people, including its leaders, the Italian journalist said, "Once respected categories, customs, norms and values are no longer valid. The older groups led by tribal leaders have been joined by new ones that acknowledge no authority, whether tribal or local. A new generation of educated youth from established families has appeared; they are social activists who are concerned with human rights, enraged at the systematic exploitation of local resources and the ferocious repression to which the region has been subjected."
She also said that the number of missing persons in Balochistan is numerous and several are continuing to disappear. The mass graves filled with unnamed corpses have also been found, she added.
In her book, Marino has noted CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) has worsened an already difficult situation in Balochistan.
"The people of Balochistan still suffer the effects of nuclear tests carried out in the past in their land, amidst widespread indifference at home and abroad," she said.
She added, "This new revolt is now directed not only at the military but has also focused for a while now on the so-called settlers from other regions in Balochistan. It is also a revolt against the Chinese presence, considered a colonial invasion carried out in the name of the CPEC... No one can predict with certainty what will happen in the coming years or even the coming months."
Balochistan is of strategic and geopolitical importance to Pakistan, to the Chinese CPEC project and also to the other players in the region that act as avatars of the powers in the long-running "Great Game".
For years now, the world, to its shame, has silently ignored the "ethnic and cultural genocide carried out in the region."
Amid this tug of war, Baloch people have been trying to draw the attention of the international community to their plight.
Highlighting that the book is the work of a journalist who enjoys storytelling, Marino said, "It is an attempt to give a voice to those who lack one. As far as possible, I have let the Balochs speak for themselves. It is based on long and detailed conversations with the leading actors in the events I describe."
In the book, the author has also touched upon the censorship of media in Balochistan.
The journalist said that foreign journalists for years now have been unable to get near the region, and those who have pointed this out have been expelled from the country, sometimes violently.
"The Pakistani press has been subjected to censorship, often self-imposed, and either declines to cover events or does so incompletely; unless something so significant happens that it cannot be covered up or shrugged off."
The photographs in the book are by Roshaan Khattak. It is being published by Bloomsbury India and has 19 thematic chapters, including Forced annexation to Pakistan and Jinnah's betrayal, Nuclear tests, A return to arms, Of old and new militancy, 'Kill and dump' and other atrocities, Missing persons and the Long March, Mass graves and torture, The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and 'Free Balochistan campaigns and China's hand - Mehran Marri's case. (ANI)