Bangladesh to declare policy on Balochistan

(Daily Sangar)Bangladesh will make a policy declaration on Pakistan’s human rights abuses in the Balochistan region soon, the information minister has said

Speaking to the Indian daily The Hindu on Wednesday, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu, who is in New Delhi, said Balochistan was suffering in the hands of Pakistan’s military establishment, which targeted Bangalis in Bangladesh in 1971.

“Pakistan has a very bad track record as far as addressing the aspiration of nationalities is concerned. They have learned nothing from the defeat of 1971 and continued to practise the same policy of repression and are now targeting Baloch nationalists,” Inu said.

Bangladesh is constitutionally bound to support liberation struggles, he said.

Inu said Pakistan’s inability to learn from its historic mistakes could be explained by the fact that it failed to evolve into a working democracy due to the domination of the Pakistan military in vital affairs of the state.

“Islamabad needs to explain what it wishes to achieve by promoting cross-border terrorism in South Asia and by repressing democratic nationalities like the Baloch in its territory,” Inu said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting last Saturday called for Pakistan to be held accountable for the “atrocities being committed on people in Balochistan.”

Two days later he also mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day speech.

Pakistan has reacted angrily to the comments, saying Modi was referring to Balochistan to cover up India’s human rights violations in Kashmir and alleging that his statement proved that India was backing “terrorism” in Balochistan.

The next day, Indian State Minister for External Affairs MJ Akbar compared Bangladesh of 1971 with “simmering Balochistan.”

“Nations created in the name of faith supremacy are coming apart. That is why Bangladesh happened in 1971 and Balochistan is simmering now,” he wrote on Twitter.

Balochistan, a region comprising of about half of Pakistan’s area and only about 3.4% of its population, is rich in natural resources and yet extremely poverty-ridden. The region was not part of Pakistan during its independence and was annexed through military invasion in April 1948.

Conflicts between ethnic Baloch separatist groups, such as the Balochistan Liberation Army, and the Pakistani army have been escalating since 2005. The Pakistan army and intelligence have been accused of torture and murder of civilians and activists in the region.

A similar movement exists in the neighbouring region of Iran. There are about 7 million Balochs in Pakistan and 2 million in Iran.

Inu told The Hindu that Bangladesh was worried about the fallout of Pakistan’s official policies regarding nationalities and the promotion of cross-border violence.

“Pakistan exports terror and needs to be confronted about the futility of its policies that it has refused to change till now,” he said.

He warned that Pakistan’s tactics could impact the spirit of regional cooperation in South Asia.