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Are the Baloch coming together on a common platform in Europe to highlight Pak atrocities?

Dr Naela Qadri with Italian human rights activists and Ambassador G. Papadatos of the European Public Law Organization

Recently, Canadian Baloch leader and head of Baloch People’s Congress (BPC) Dr Naela Quadri Baloch was in Europe recently to highlight the brutalities committed by the Pakistani Army against the common Baloch people. She met with former Dutch MP and activist, Harry Van Bommel and requested him to highlight the Baloch issue in the Netherlands and also in the European Parliament.

Qadri also requested the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to send a fact-finding mission to Pakistan and appoint a special rapporteur for Balochistan.

Dr Quadri, who met with the Baloch diaspora, claimed that the Baloch People Congress (BPC) has opened seven new chapters in Europe. She also rallied Baloch and Sindhi organisations – Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), Baloch Voice Association (BVA), Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) and discussed ways to improve coordination among like-minded organizations regarding the human rights violations in Pakistan.

The presence of the UNHRC in Geneva has led to a surge of Baloch and Sindhi nationalists spreading themselves across Europe to highlight the gross abuse of State power in Pakistan.

The surge in transnational diaspora movements started in the 20th century when imperialism and colonialism were declining and native people were fighting for independence. Countries got independence from colonialization but also found their people and societies fragmentated.

The British had not only divided India to create Pakistan but to make Pakistan a strategic base in the post-colonial world, they sided with the newly-created nation to invade Balochistan in 1948. As Baloch nationalists continue to fight Pakistani militarily on their soil, their political movements have found breathing space in Western countries where they are actively engaging with the lawmakers to keep them updated on the conflict in Balochistan.

Three major Baloch political organizations operating in Europe – Free Baloch Movement (FBM), Baloch Republican Party (BRP) and Baloch National Movement (BNM) have found that their political workers are being targeted in Western countries and several journalists have been killed in mysterious ways by the Pakistani deep state.

However, the Baloch organizations continue to hold public rallies as well as engage with European parliamentarians to end human rights violations like enforced disappearances, extra-judicial murders and the existence of Death Squads managed by the Pakistani agencies. Baloch advocacy professionals have also given memorandums to law-makers including 10 Downing Street.

After the collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban, FBM has become active in bringing Baloch organizations together to safeguard the Baloch community in Afghanistan. In a similar move the BNM has released a common-point agenda for other Baloch groups to join hands to give a push to the Baloch cause.

The Canada-based Qadri’s visit to Europe to meet with global influencers in various countries was to not only generate sympathy for the Baloch cause but to also unify the Baloch movement and speak in one voice.

The Baloch community which is insignificant in numbers and influence in Europe constantly jostles to make ends and also compete with the huge and influential Pakistani diaspora. Islamabad has been able to sideline Baloch leaders like Brahmdagh Bugti and Mehran Marri from speaking at the UN.

With efforts among the Baloch diaspora to unite and speak in a common voice in Europe, and with support from European activists, the Baloch issue is on its way to becoming a millstone around Pakistan’s neck. With the Baloch inherently following secular politics in Pakistan as well as in Europe, they are in a better position to influence European policies and make Europe look critically at the Pakistani violations in Balochistan.