indianarrative

Pakistan fears Baloch women and students who are now driving the struggle for independence: Mansur Baloch

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Mansur Baloch, Baloch Republican Party activist speaks about Pakistan's brutal Death Squads with India Narrative in an exclusive interview (Photo: Rahul Kumar)

Mansur Baloch is the Chairman of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) UK and Europe. Based in London, he has been lobbying with British parliamentarians, international NGOs and journalists about the need for a separate Baloch nation and identity. He has also been meeting members of the Commonwealth to amplify the marginalised Baloch voice.

India Narrative catches up with Mansur under the iconic London Eye tourist spot to discuss the plight of the Baloch people who face an intense crackdown in the form of abductions and random killings by the Pakistani military almost on a daily basis. He gives an exclusive video insight into the notorious Death Squads operated by the Pakistani government.


 

Mansur Baloch protests with the Baloch diaspora in London (Photo: Rahul Kumar)

Excerpts from the interview.

IN: It has been over 70 years since March 1948 when the Pakistani army occupied Balochistan by force, yet most countries do not support an independent Balochistan. Why is this so?

Mansur:
The Baloch movement is not getting adequate international support even though we have been making petitions in the UN regularly. There are two main reasons for this—the UN says that the people in Balochistan can ask for self-determination, not complete independence so that has reduced our global impact.

The second reason is that many countries have good relations with Pakistan. Because their national interests lie with Pakistan, they do not support us. If countries like the UK and US support us with weapons, we will get independence very soon.

But I feel things are changing now. We are beginning to get support. Dana Rohrabacher of the US Congress used to visit the UK and we pleaded our case with him. He has raised our concerns in the US and even introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives asking Pakistan to recognise the right to self-determination.

So, I think very slowly, we are beginning to get support from the international community.

IN: The Baloch freedom struggle has seen many ups and downs. The attack on Akbar Bugti was unprecedented. How did it change the direction of the freedom struggle?

Mansur:
It was Pakistan's big attack in 2005 on Nawab Akbar Bugti's fort which also killed dozens of Hindus. After this there was a visible change in the mood of the people. It was at this time that Nawab Bugti made the announcement that the Baloch should fight for complete independence. Nawab Bugti also gave a call to Baloch people to become sarmachars. He said that merely asking for more rights from Pakistan will not help the Baloch people.

One year later in 2006 when Nawab Bugti was killed in the hills by the Pakistani forces in a helicopter gunship attack, an inquilab (revolution) broke out in Balochistan. The region saw processions and protests on a large scale. This was the time that the battle for an independent nation intensified. This was also the time that the common people began to talk about exploitation of natural resources.

Before this the Baloch women had little participation in the movement. The Baloch people, and women, realised that they were expected to fight for their rights and for the independence of Balochistan.

IN: How do the common people in Balochistan view the Baloch armed struggle?

Mansur:
The common man in Balochistan cannot ask directly for independence. They fear the intelligence services and the military. At the same time no Baloch wants to live with Pakistan. For us Balochistan is a country, not a province of Pakistan.

Every single Baloch individual wants independence from Pakistan despite a difficult existence. But people are under stress from the intelligence services as Pakistan's ISI is trying to buy out people. The Baloch are very poor people. They can be given jobs and lured easily. Pakistan does make some of them informers and that harms our cause.

IN: Why has there been a special focus on women in Balochistan lately?

Mansur:
The Pakistani police and military have been abducting and torturing strong Baloch women--most of who are good speakers and brave underground workers. Our women are at the forefront of the struggle--they have played an important role in persuading others to become sarmachars (freedom fighters).

Look at the support the Baloch movement has on ground--it is because Baloch women are protesting at the Quetta Press Club, the Karachi Press Club and are blocking main roads. A lot of mobilisation is happening on ground--all of which has to be done discreetly. Our underground women workers are very active.

Despite the crackdown, we have a big network of people about whom even the Pakistani intelligence is not aware.

IN: Why is it that Pakistan is harassing Baloch students?

Mansur:
The reason why Pakistan is openly abducting Baloch students is because they are educated and well-informed. They read Che Guevara and are mature and intelligent. Many of these students start their political activism from Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) and then join nationalist organisations like the BNM or the BRP.

The new generation thinks that women played an important role in revolutions around the world. The Baloch students are developing a global view which they are gaining through education. This is unsettling for Pakistan, which does not want our people to study. The Pakistani government fears that young and educated Baloch students will lead to a bigger struggle.

IN: How will an independent Balochistan be different from Pakistan? Will it be different or better?

Mansur:
Once we form our own government, we will be different from Pakistan. The first thing to be done is to restore human rights in Balochistan.

Another development I can foresee is that once we get independence, the world community will begin to support us.

IN: Why are you not attending the UN human rights sessions in Geneva?

Mansur:
I had been going to Geneva to raise our cause for human rights but was arrested three years back outside the Broken Chair monument. I was confined for about 12 days and my entry was banned in Switzerland. I was deported to the UK where I was questioned on arrival and released after eight hours.

At that time I used to mobilise people from Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and the UK to Geneva. Now I am focussing on raising support for our cause in the UK and other countries in the UK.

Over the years the Baloch Republican Party has managed to get asylum for our people in Europe and even Australia. It happened after I noticed a few years back that some Baloch people had been arrested in South Korea over expired visas. I lobbied with that country's authorities and got the people asylum. Since then more countries have started to give asylum to the Baloch people.

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(India Narrative spot report from Hyde Park London)