We the Baloch people turn to India to tell our stories of pain, deprivation and death. Like a child would turn to its mother. Recently, an 80-year-old Baloch folkloric and patriotic poet were among those killed in Balochistan as the Pakistan army continues with its scorched earth policy there to crush any opposition to the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Poet Misk Ali Bugti was killed in the Suhridarbar area of Dera Bugti on Wednesday, the pro-indepedence Baloch Republican Party announced. When you kill bards and poets, artists and intellectuals, you kill a peopleâ€™s language, their very cultural and political identity.
Dera Bugti has been one of the main pockets of Balochistanâ€™s resistance against Pakistani oppression for over a decade now after Baloch tribal supremo Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, former governor and chief minister of Balochistan, threw the gauntlet against Pakistan military injustices under Lucknow-born Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Bugtiâ€™s grandson and political successor Nawab Brahamdagh Bugti, 35, who is now based in Geneva, in a tweet, described the killing of the patriotic poet as part of Pakistanâ€™s systemic genocide in Balochistan. â€śIn Dera Bugti operation, this poor aged man was killed merely because he said poetry in love of his people & land. It's systematic genocide,â€ť the young freedom leader who is president of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) tweeted.
Majority of central committee members of the BRP have been either killed or forcibly disappeared by the Pakistan security and intelligence services. Baloch Republican Party spokesperson Mir Sher Mohammad Bugti said that hundreds of Pakistani Army soldiers, backed by gunship helicopters, continued operations in Sori, Pasheni and some parts of Kohistan Marri region.
According to Shahnawaz Bugti, who works for the BRP's media cell, the aged poet was killed, execution style, by Pakistani soldiers and his body dumped inside a cave. "Misk Ali Bugti used to lampoon those who would collaborate with Pakistan," he said on phone from Geneva.
The BRP spokesperson said at least four people were killed while ten have been injured during the intensive army raids. Six motorbikes and a number of cattle belonging to the locals were also taken away by the thuggish Pakistani soldiers as they plundered Baloch land.
The offensive coincided with the anniversary of the January 31, 2012 killing of Zamur Domki, 31, a sister of Brahumdagh Bugti, and his niece Jana Domki. The mother and daughter along with their driver were killed mercilessly by Pakistani intelligence while returning from a family wedding in Pakistanâ€™s largest city of Karachi. Slain Zamur Domki was spouse of Mir Bakhtiar Domki, who was then a member of the Balochistan provincial assembly but now lives in exile in UK.
On his sisterâ€™s anniversary Brahumdagh Bugti tweeted, You can kill us & our family members. You can force us out of our land but you'll never be able to defeat us, Defeat is ur destiny.â€ť He further said, â€śI am very proud of my sister and niece. She followed the footsteps of my grandfather and all Baloch Martyrs.â€ť
Pakistanâ€™s ongoing military operations in Balochistan are connected with defeating resistance to the so-called CPEC. Baloch locals oppose the multi-billion dollar Chinese project at the port city of Gwadar, fearing they will be converted into a minority as their homeland will be flooded by the dominant Punjabis, mohajirs and Chinese in the near future.
Pakistan has been denying reports that Gwadar had any military significance for China but came out in recent months to admit China will have a naval base there. According to Baloch nationalists, Pakistan occupied their homeland at gunpoint on March 27, 1948, eight months after the British left the Indian subcontinent and divided it into India and Pakistan on August 15, 1947.
According to the Baloch Human Rights Organization (BHRO), as many as 455 people were abducted in Balochistan by the Pakistan security and intelligence services in the first month of this year, including 250 people from the Bugti stronghold of Dera Bugti and Naseerabad. The BHRO said as many as 38 people were killed, including a woman and an infant.
We turn to India for succour. We know no other mother.
(Note: The views expressed by the author are personal.)
Ahmar Mustikhan is a senior Balochistan journalist and founder of the American friends of Balochistan.