Baloch activists Munir Mengal and Karima raises Balochistan issue at UN Conference

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GENEVA: Baloch political activists have accused Islamabad of violating human rights, inequality and rise of religious fundamentalists in Balochistan, which is responsible for the destruction of cultural identity of the Baloch people.

Addressing the 39th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Munir Mengal, President of the Baloch Voice Association, said: “During the last seventy years of the Islamic state existence, and particularly its security forces, have treated the Baloch people as occupants. Their xenophobia about the Baloch people is most evident in their crude behaviour and disproportionate response to the most genuine and fundamental demands of the Baloch people to honour their dignity, identity and culture, and respect their sovereignty on their land.”

“The “Islamic” state is intolerant of the spirit of toleration and liberalism displayed by the Baloch people. It has tried systematically to transplant religious fanatical groups from outside Balochistan to change their culture. Pakistan, as a state, pledged to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it should have recognised the cultural specificity of the Baloch people. It has, instead, tried to use private militias of terrorist religious groups to unleash a reign of terror to the secular, nationalist and peace-loving people,” he added.

Baloch woman activist, Karima Baloch, also accused Islamabad of racial discrimination against the Baloch people.

He claimed; “Because the Baloch people are culturally different from mainstream Pakistan, they are treated with prejudice in every sphere of life. They are considered different and their way of life is regarded as uncivilised and obsolete. When Balochistan was asked to merge with Pakistan in 1947, Baloch leaders had rightfully argued that the Baloch people had never been part of the sub-continent and their language, culture, history and geography differed from that of the sub-continent. Therefore, the Baloch voted against acceding with Pakistan. However, their land was taken over by the Pakistan military with force in March, 1948,” she added.

Karima continued, “In the following years, the mainstream Pakistan has found it difficult to understand the Baloch lifestyle. Other Pakistanis consider the Baloch as inferior and uncivilised because the Baloch cannot learn to pronounce the lingua franca of the country that is Urdu. Urdu is an Indian language while Balochi is an Iranian language. Because of differences in the sound system and grammar of the two languages, the Baloch find it next to impossible to learn Urdu properly, which is essential if you want to climb the ladder of success in Pakistan. For this reason, the Baloch get left behind and are treated with bias”.

They said that Balochistan, which is the largest province of Pakistan, is rich in natural resources like gold, gas and other reserves. However, it remains the poorest province of the country.

Recent findings of the United National Development Programme (UNDP) have shown distressing conditions of human development in Balochistan, since most of its districts fall under the very low category.

The Human Development Index (HDI) of Balochistan can be compared with countries like Chad, Niger and other countries of Central Africa, whose HDI is declining significantly. (ANI)