Stationed inside a poster-clad Pavilion outside the UN buildings in Geneva, Switzerland, the Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC) has incessantly petitioned International bodies to acknowledge the grave human rights abuses committed against the people of Balochistan by the Pakistani state.
Converted to a marginalised minority on their own lands, the people of Balochistan lack the most basic human rights. Baloch people do not have access to fresh water, education, or health care. Civil liberties are completely denied. Out of all provinces in Pakistan, Balochistan is one of the poorest and most underprivileged. Infant and maternal mortality rates are soaring. The poverty rate is also high; education for children is restricted, which contributes to a tragically low literacy rate. Approximately 90% of girls in the rural parts of Balochistan are not in school.
A panel moderated by President of the BHRC Dr. Habibullah Malik, General Secretary of the World Sindhi Congress Dr Lakhu Luhana, Founding Editor of New Age Islam online media platform Sultan Shahin, Secretary General of the BHRC Samad Baloch, rights activist Peter Tatchell, and esteemed Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Ryzard Czarnecki spoke about the need for the UN to put pressure on Pakistan and its proxies to immediately end their terror and killing campaign against the people of Balochistan.
Dr Luhana highlighted the fact that Pakistan uses religious terrorism as a political tool both internally and externally. “Pakistan,” he said, “uses proxy forces to pillage, plunder, and invade sovereign Baloch lands.” In the process, Pakistani forces have murdered some 3 million people and raped thousands of women. “The only solution to this problem,” he asserted, “is to dismantle the root cause and intervene.”
MEP Czarnecki remarked that he hoped the UN and other international institutions would no longer be “deaf and blind” toward the blatant human rights violations in Balochistan. “Pakistan wants their targeted genocide of the Baloch people to continue,” he stated, “and it will do so at the expense of the people of Balochistan.”
Peter Tatchell emphasised Pakistan’s systematic subversion of the secular and democratic traditions of the Baloch. “Right now,” declared Tatchell, “Pakistan is in a state of impunity, where it remains unchallenged even in forums like the UN and the UN Human Rights Council.” As possible solutions for going forward, Tatchell stressed the importance of listening first and foremost to the people of Balochistan. “Western governments should halt arms sales to Pakistan immediately,” he declared, as the Pakistani state is using those weapons to bomb Baloch villages and destroy their crops.
The rights activist also maintained that the UN should not only appoint a special rapporteur on Balochistan, but that a UN fact-finding mission in the region is absolutely critical. Additionally, Tatchell suggested that Pakistan should lift entry restrictions for aid agencies and human rights defenders, allow free media reporting and journalist entry, and provide a right of return and due compensation for displaced refugees, who currently number close to one million.
As a unified body fighting to restore the most fundamental civil freedoms to the people of Balochistan, the BHRC event in Geneva today communicated a clear message to the UN, Islamabad’s leadership, and the wider global community as a whole: the people of Balochistan have languished for far too long. In Mr Tatchell’s words, “The freedom of Balochistan cannot, must not, and will not be denied.”