Baloch groups present their Case To US Policy Advisors
Baloch groups present their Case To US Policy Advisors
By: Khalid Hashmani
The Balochistan Society of North America (BSO-NA) organized a conference titled Balochistan International Conference 2011 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Saturday, April 30, 2011.
The conference focused on key issues faced by Baluch people including "Balochistan's Case and Prospects", "Human Rights Violations in Balochistan", "Baloch Target Killings and Genocide", and "Geostrategic Importance of Balochistan for Peace and Security in South Asia"
According to the organizers of the conference, Pakistan did not take the news about the conference well as Pakistan's Ambassador Mr. Haqqani wrote to the President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to not rent the meeting hall for conference as the BSO-NA was an adjunct of a terrorist organization, BLA that is banned in Pakistan. Dr. Wahid Baloch denied any link with BLA and rejected the Chareges.
In an e-mail sent to yahoo groups, Dr. Wahid Baloch said," We explicitly reject and denounce these charges and clarify that we DO NOT Support BLA or any other militant and/or terrorist organization. BSO-NA believe only in legal and peaceful means of struggle and is against terrorism and violence in its all form."
Several Baloch presenters presented an account of cruelties and committed by Pakistani and Iranian governments and appealed to the US and other international governments to help save lives of Baluch people. Their case was that the lives of people living in historic areas of Balochistan are in danger and that Baluch had a valid case for seeking the end of the illegal occupation by the Pakistani and Iranian governments.
The conference was attended by many people, some of whom came as far as UK and Canada. The President of BSO-NA, Dr. Wahid Baloch, in his opening remarks thanked participants. He said "We are having this conference in a time when Baloch people are collecting the bullet riddled tortured dead bodies of their love ones every day".
He said that while the USA and other countries are rushing to help people of Libya, they are ignoring the plights of Baluchs. He added that the silence over Pakistani and Iranian crimes and human rights violations in Balochistan is equal to complicity.
Mir Suleman Daud Khan, Khan Of Kalat, was the invited to be the Chief Guest at the conference as he could get the US visa on a timely basis. Instead, he addressed the conference via skype. He condemned the mistreatment of Baluch people in their homelands. He said ""Balochistan is an occupied territory and it must be treated as such by the international community. In the 1948 Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan against the will of its people. Pakistan is an occupying force, I therefore call upon USA, European Union and UN to recognize Pakistan as an occupying force". He continued that the weapons that Pakistan receives from the US and other countries are being used on Baloch people and said this must stop immediately. He said that the vision of an independent Baluchistan is that it will a true democracy of one man one vote and each person living in Balochistan will be counted as equal.
Dr. Jumma Marri, a prominent Baloch political leader and son of legendary Baloch leader, Mir Hazar Khan Marri, who led a Baloch uprising in the 1970s and 1980s, travelled from Moscow, also spoke at the conference. He appealed to the American people and the rest of the world community to support the secular Baloch Movement for independence. Addressing to Americans directly, he said, "Baloch people have their dreams as you had, we love freedom of choice, as you do and we will fight for our freedom as you did, and we ask your help as you promised it to free world, we request you to do not stand beside oil wells only and defend the freedom around the oil wells, but look around you have so many genuine friends ready to walk with you and fight all the mayhem of terrorism and extremism to help create a peaceful and prosperous world where we could all live in peace friendship and dignity". In concluding he remarked that allowing Pakistan and Iran to continue to occupy their lands carries an inherent danger to world peace.
Mr. T. Kumar ,the Advocacy Direct of Amnesty International in the USA, expressed grave concerns on the worsening situation in Balochistan. He called the current situation in Balochistan as dire with numerous target killings. He added that Amnesty International has received several reports of people disappearing and their bodies dumped after few days. He remarked that he is concerned that US officials are not criticizing Pakistan for its abuses in Balochistan due to fear that that it might adversely impact relations with Pakistan. He assured that Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International are vigilant and will multiply their efforts to secure attention of US Congress to these violations.
Mr. Michael Hughes, a journalist with The Huffington Post and Examiner.com addressed the participants. Mr. Hughes is also a foreign policy analyst with the New World Strategies Coalition (NWSC), a think tank founded by native Afghans. He said what needs to be analyzed as to why peaceful people of Afghanistan fell victim to religious extremists and how the old sufi traditions of Afghanistan can be revived. He said that he finds a lot of similarities between what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan - both have and/or going domination by Pakistan. He said that he was quite impressed when he read on a Baloch Web site that Baloch people should continue their struggle as they have nothing to loose except a chance to secure their freedom. He also said that Sindhis and Baluch have many things in common and they should cooperate vigorously with each to fight for their rights. He criticized US media and said that "US media has done a horrible job of reporting on the struggle of the Baloch people.
Mr. Andrew Eiva, an analyst of the struggle by small nations such as Lithuania. Afghanistan, and Somalia spoke on the topic of "US Interests in Balochistan". He said that world pays only lip service to the need "Liberate the Oppressed". This need has to made more popular. He added that his analysis shows that there are only 23 political leaders in the USA that champion the cause of oppressed. He added that in part this is a mistake of the representative organizations of the oppressed people as they have failed to properly articulate their cause and established a clear link between their interests and the US interests. He told the audience that traditionally the local representatives of oppressed nations have only approached the mainstream political leaders. He cautioned that a change is coming to the the USA political scene where smaller organizations such as Tea-Party are becoming more and more favorite of general public. Mr. Eiva added that Baloch must approach such groups and new rising leaders such as Sarah Palin and win their support. He cited the example of Indian-American community has made remarkable political gains and this model needs to be followed by the people who originate from the oppressed nations.
Several other speakers including Tariq Baloch, Malik Siraj Akbar, Ms. Wendy Baloch, Mr. Mehrab Sarjov Baloch, Reza Hossienborr, Ali Arjemandi and Mr. Munir Mengal also made presentations. In addition, several resolutions that echoed various demands highlighted at the moot were passed.
Mr. Khalid Hashmani is a Washington DC-based human rights activist and participates in advocacy activities on behalf of rural Sindhis.