Seventeen years later Baloch protest continues. The Baloch International Anti-nuclear Campaign, which started with a rally on 19 April in Dusseldorf, Germany, held a protest in front of 10 Downing Street in London May 17. Similar events were held in Boros, Sweden, and Barnaby, Canada. Simultaneous protests are also planned on May 28 in different districts of Balochistan and in London.

The protesters are demanding removal of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from Balochistan and an end to human rights violations there.  “People are suffering from mysterious diseases which we believe are caused by nuclear radioactivity,” Dr Shahzavar Karimzadi, senior lecturer at the London Metropolitan University, told the 10 Downing Street gathering. Media reports cite doctors in the Chagai area as saying there have been a large number of cancer cases. Locals complain their fruits and vegetables no longer taste good as suspicions run high radiation has affected the underground water reservoirs.

At the 10 Downing Street protest, veteran activist Abdullah Baloch said,  "At present Pakistan has 120 nuclear warheads but this number could double or even triple in coming years.” According to the New York Times, Pakistan has thousands of experts today who know how to assemble a nuclear device. Washington DC-based Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who is a scholar at the Brookings Institution, says Pakistan has more terrorists per square mile than any other place on earth and it has a nuclear weapons program that is growing faster than anyplace on earth.

The Chagai tests violated all norms of international laws as they came half century after Pakistan forcibly annexed Kalat State against the wishes of Baloch people on March 28, 1948. Pakistan army occupied a huge chunk of land in Chagai while the Baloch elected leaders of the National Awami Party were already behind bars for treason, 1973-77 immediately after India tested its first nuclear device in Pokhran-1 on May 18, 1974.

One big big travesty of justice according to Nawab Mehran Marri, chief of the Marri tribe, is that Dr Samar Mubarakmand, who along with A.Q. Khan was main brain behind Pakistan’s nuclear tests, was subsequently rewarded with plumb jobs in the gold mining sector in Balochistan.
“The Baluch resent the fact that the nuclear test site – now radioactive and out of bounds – is located on Balochistan’s soil. Many have taken up arms and demand Punjab’s army get off their backs,” Pakistan’s most well-known nuclear physicist Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy wrote in an article in Dawn newspaper, founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Radioactivity after Chagai  is just one of the bleeding wounds of Balochistan as the entire landscape presents the look of a killing field. On May 18, member of the national assembly, Sardar Kamal Khan Bangulzai, who belongs to the ruling coalition in Balochistan, accused Pakistan security forces of extrajudicial killings in Kalat and Mastung. “From one home three brothers were abducted and within two hours their bodies were found,” Bangulzai told the national assembly.

Such killings are taking place all over Balochistan. Countless families have lost all male members. The unspeakable and unimaginable crimes include rape of daughters in front of the eyes of the father, killing sons in front of the eyes of the aged mother, forced feeding feces to young men, inflicting cuts in sensitive areas of victims and even castration. Sodomy has been also used as a weapon against Baloch leaders in a honor-based society where such actions invite public shame even for the victims. Bodies of victims of enforced disappearances are being dumped after being desecrated. Slogans such as “Pakistan zindabad” have been inscribed into victim flesh, according to human rights defender Mohammed Ali Talpur, son of Pakistan defense minister, the late Ali Ahmad Talpur. Not a single military officer has ever been court martialed by Pakistan, proof that these racist and barbaric crimes have full blessings of the state.

But what can India do to mitigate Baloch sufferings? Notwithstanding the wrongs of the white man in the subcontinent –including the 1947 Partition Holocaust -- it is true the Balochistan’s loss of statehood is partly a Nehruvian blunder. It is pertinent to note that inMarch 1948  All India Radio Radio (AIR) broadcast a report in which VP Menon, the secretary of states, said that the Ruler of Kalat Mir Ahmadyar Khan was pressing India to accept Kalat's accession, but “India would have nothing to do with it." As a matter of fact All India Congress president Maulana Abul Kalam turned down a request for help from a delegation of main Baloch political party at time, the Kalat State National Party. Azad’s assessment was an independent Balochistan would become a base for Western powers; Pakistan on the whole played that very role as 60 years later, the US continues to reward Pakistan with arms and aid, totaling USD 30 billion in the last 13 years alone.

Baloch are asking India for open help. Canadian intellectual Tarek Fatah told Jaipur Counter-Terror Conference hosted by India Foundation in March India should not wait for a second Mumbai to begin supporting the Baloch freedom movement; national security adviser Ajit Doval has warned Pakistan “you do one more Mumbai, you will lose Balochistan.”  A glimmer of hope appeared May 18 when the hashtag #IndiaWithBalochistan was trending in India on twitter. “We appreciate twitter trend #IndiaWithBalochistan by Indian friends. We hope India (will) formally highlight Pakistani atrocities in #Balochistan,” said Geneva-based Sher Mohammed Bugti, spokesman for the Baloch Republican Party.

(Ahmar Mustikhan is a senior Balochistan journalist who now lives in self-exile in Washington DC . He can be reached at @mustikhan)

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