Balochistan - 60 years of Pakistani occupation

1 April 1948 - Balochistan invaded, annexed and occupied.

Baloch people demand the end of Pakistani military operations, the release of Baloch political prisoners and the restoration of self-government

London - 31 March 2008

"Tuesday 1 April is the 60th anniversary of the day in 1948 when Pakistan invaded, annexed and occupied the independent state of Balochistan. Ever since, the country has been under military rule from Islamabad.

"The Baloch people were never asked if they wanted to be part of Pakistan. They never voted to join Pakistan. The Baloch parliament voted unanimously against incorporation into the new Pakistani state," said Peter Tatchell, Green Party human rights spokesperson and the Green's parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

"Thousands of Baloch people have been massacred, hundreds of thousands made refugees, and thousands more have disappeared or been tortured and jailed, often without trial. The country's natural resources have been stolen by Pakistan's political, military and big business elite, while most Baloch people live in abject poverty.

"The latest Pakistani military offensives in Balochistan, which were launched in December 2007 and February 2008, have involved the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas and the mass slaughter of livestock, in order to starve people in Baloch nationalist towns and villages.

"Baloch leader Akbar Khan Bugti was killed by Pakistani security services in 2006. Akhtar Mengal, a former Chief Minister of Balochistan, has been jailed without trial since December 2006. Another nationalist leader, Balaach Marri, was murdered by the Pakistani security services in November last year.

"The Baloch people are demanding an end to Pakistani military operations, the release of Baloch political prisoners and the restoration of self-government," he said.

Mr Tatchell was speaking at a protest outside Downing Street on Sunday 30 March 2008, attended by Baloch, Sindhi and British human rights campaigners.

A letter (key excerpts below) was handed to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP, at 10 Downing Street. The letter was signed and delivered by His Highness Suleman Ahmadzai, The Khan of Kalat, Mohammad Akbar Baluch of the Balochistan Action Committee UK, Dr. Haleem Bhatti and Lakhumal Luhana of the World Sindhi Congress, and British human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell.

Photos of the protest can be viewed and downloaded here:
These photos are free, with no charge for their use.

"The Pakistani army and air force are being assisted by the British and US governments, which have given military equipment to the Musharraf regime. US-supplied F-16 fighter aircraft and Cobra attack helicopters are being used to bomb and strafe Balochistan," added Mr Tatchell.

"Britain has not only reneged on its pledge to protect the people of Balochistan, it has supplied weapons to the murderous Pakistani army and colluded with the dictator Pervez Musharraf.

"Two leading exiled Baloch human rights activists in the UK have been charged with preparing acts of terrorism. Their arrest in London is almost certainly at the request of the military and intelligences services in Pakistan. Many Baloch people and British supporters believe these two defendants have been framed. One of the arrested men is Hyrbyair Marri, a former Balochistan MP and government minister. The Pakistani army assassinated his brother Balaach Marri last November.

"Balochistan was never part of the British Indian Empire. From 1876, it was a self-governing British Protectorate, with Britain pledging to guarantee its security against external aggression.

"In August 1947, Britain granted Balochistan independence, separately from India and Pakistan, as it did with Nepal. This independence was short-lived. On 1 April 1948, Pakistan sent troops to conquer the Baloch people. They have remained there ever since, blanketing the country with hundreds of military garrison posts to suppress the people.

"Pakistan was once a victim of colonialism. Now it has turned colonial master and is subjecting Balochistan to colonial-style subjugation. The Baloch people have a right to self-determination, democracy, human rights and social justice," said Mr Tatchell.

Details about Pakistan's human rights abuses in Balochistan:

International Crisis Group

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Asian Human Rights Commission

Watch this TV interview by Peter Tatchell with Mehran Baluch, the Baloch representative to the UN Human Rights Council:

Further information:

Excerpts from the letter handed to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP, on Sunday 30 March by a delegation of Baloch, Sindhi and British human rights campaigners:

"We are here to request for urgent moral and diplomatic intervention on behalf of Her Majesty's government to end the 60 years illegal rule of Pakistan over Balochistan..

"In accordance to clauses of the 1876 treaty between the Kalat State (Balochistan) and the British Empire, the independence of Kalat was announced by the then ruler of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, in 1947, prior to the creation of Pakistan. After the partition of India and the creation of the religious state of Pakistan, the newly-independent Baloch state came under tremendous pressure both from Pakistan and the colonial authorities in India for a merger of the Kalat with Pakistan. However, both the Houses of Parliament of Kalat (House of Commons and House of Lords) unanimously voted not to join Pakistan and resolved to retain its independence. Ultimately, when the Pakistani government could not bend the Baloch will to remain independent by sabre rattling, the Pakistan army invaded the Kalat State to get the merger statement from the Khan of Kalat at gun point..

"The people of Balochistan have never accepted the illegal occupation of their country by the religious state of Pakistan which is dominated by the Punjabi nationality, and they have waged a genuine democratic national resistance. Since its annexation, except for a few brief periods, Balochistan has been under military occupation and siege. The natural resources of the Baloch people have been looted criminally.The Balochi language and culture have been suppressed in colonial style.

"Pakistan's military-dominated establishment.have committed gross atrocities and serious war crimes against the Baloch population. A ruthless military operation has been going on in Balochistan since last five years.. (which) has resulted in the loss of life for thousands of the Baloch people, including children, women and elderly, and has resulted in displacement of hundreds and thousands of civilian Baloch population. The national leaders of Balochistan have been in prison without trial, humiliated and target killed by Pakistani civil and military authorities. Thousands of political activists have been kidnapped, tortured and killed....

"We genuinely believe that it is the moral duty of Great Britain to assist the Baloch people in ending the illegal occupation of their country, as per the treaty of 1876 between the Great Britain and the State of Kalat (Balochistan).

We also would like to take this opportunity to request you to look into the matter of Balochs arrested and persecuted in the UK due to misinformation provided by Musharraf regime.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

His Highness Suleman Ahmadzai
The Khan of Kalat

Mohammad Akbar Baluch
Balochistan Action Committee UK

Dr. Haleem Bhatti
World Sindhi Congress
Published: 31/03/2008