By Qudsia Farhat
The discovery of the mass graves in Tootak area of Khuzdar on 25 Jan 2014 has created a furor. Consequently, Baloch Sub Nationalists have unleashed a barrage of allegations against Pakistan by bloating the number of bodies found and declaring them to be those of “Missing Persons”. The discovery has provided the Baloch sub nationalists a whip to wallop Pakistan and use the news as propaganda to portray Balochistan problem as a human rights issue at international forums and seek support.
In the same chain of events, on 29th January 2014 Hyrbiar Marri, Mir Suleman Khan Daud and Mehrab Sarjov (Suleman Khan’s Assistant) met US Congressmen Louie Gohmert, Steve King and Dana Rohrabacher at London to propagate against Pakistan for alleged human rights violations in Balochistan.
US Congressman Louie Gohmert found it opportune to deliver a highly venomous speech on 30 Jan 2014 at US House of Representatives on Balochistan situation, citing his meeting with the Baloch sub nationalists’ leadership. His colleague Senator Gohmert read out an article of Tarek Fateh (Canada based Baloch sub nationalists’ sympathizer), published by the Toronto Sun on 28 January 2014, criticizing US for ignoring the mass graves issue during US Senator John Kerry’s meeting with Pakistan’s National & Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz on 27 January 2014. Senator Gohmert criticized Pakistan over the alleged human rights violations and strongly endorsed Baloch sub nationalists’ separatist agenda of Independent Balochistan.
This scribe has written earlier on the subject, narrating details of the Baloch sub nationalists’ anti Pakistan propaganda in collaboration with US Congressmen to gain credibility, increase pressure against the Government of Pakistan and internationalize the Baloch issue. Petitions are also being sent to UN Secretary General for UN intervention in Balochistan to stop and investigate the alleged genocide in the province. On 27 January 2014 Mir Suleman Khan submitted a petition to US State Department as US Senator John Kerry met with Pakistan’s National and Foreign Affairs Advisor Mr. Sartaj Aziz. In addition to launching propaganda campaigns through social media, the Baloch sub nationalists are organizing protest rallies at important world capitals in front of iconic buildings to propagate their stance.
Upsurge in Baloch sub nationalists’ propaganda activities is aimed at exploiting the mass graves issue to accuse the intelligence agencies, Law Enforcing Agencies and Frontier Constabulary, discrediting Government of Pakistan and gaining moral ascendency for the Baloch sub nationalists.
It is essential to obtain a neutral view of the discovery. Deputy Commissioner Khuzdar submitted before the Supreme Court that total number of discovered bodies was 13 and that their identity was being established through forensic evidence. Asma Jahangir an independent and outspoken legal and social activist has also confirmed that total 13 bodies were discovered.
The Supreme Court, in turn, appointed Balochistan High Court judge Noor Mohammad Maskanzai to head a judicial tribunal earlier this month. Accompanied by Khuzdar Deputy Commissioner Abdul Waheed Shah, the members of the tribunal were given a tour of the area. They were flown to the site from Quetta and examined around 10 graves; each one appearing to be different from the other; some had been dug 10 feet deep, and others around seven. Thirteen bodies were recovered from Tutak; the identity of the corpses remains a mystery but other supplementary evidence sheds some light on the gory episode of the mass murder and attempts to bury the remains.
The judicial tribunal appointed by the Supreme Court discovered only a feet away from the graves, the remains of a training camp, apparently used by miscreants. The tribunal also found about 400 spent bullets from the area and a from under the surrounding stones. The bullet casings matched the weapons classified as 9mm pistols and submachine guns. Casings of a 7mm sniper rifle were also collected from the location. More ominously, a number of cardboard shooting targets were also recovered. The heinous message of ‘Shia Kafir’ was inscribed on a piece of cardboard with a black marker; while the name of a militant organisation was scribbled on top of another. Besides visiting the site, the tribunal recorded the statements of witnesses. It will submit its report to the Supreme Court within a month.
Baloch sub nationalists are using the discovery of the graves to draw attention to their plight but in the bargain, they are blowing the issue out of proportions. Their baseless propaganda is aimed at creating misperceptions among domestic masses through emotional appeal. This can be used as a tool to exert pressure on Pakistan and embarrass it in international forums. The shenanigans of the Baloch sub nationalists is directly in line with their agenda but this scribe finds faults with the US Congressmen, who have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the Baloch sub nationalists. The US Government and US State Department must not be endorsing the activities of its parliamentarians but it should look into the matter. Pakistan is a sovereign state and if the members of parliament of another state, sponsor separatists, encourage insurgents and start interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign independent state, their acts must be condemned. The support of the US Congressmen, even if they are rogues, is tantamount to anti-Pakistan activity and appears to be aimed at destabilizing Pakistan. It must be denounced and the propaganda campaign should be condemned by all Pakistanis, including the peace loving citizens of Balochistan.
So far the United States government itself has not condemned the pro Baloch sub nationalists’ activities of some of its Congressmen. Interestingly, twenty states along with the states of Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee, have filed petitions demanding independence. The last time some US states demanded secession, it resulted in the US Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865 and led to over 618,000 casualties. It remains an internal affair of the US; similarly US Congressmen should stop supporting Baloch sub nationalists’ propaganda and respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.