GENEVA: Exiled Balochs have stepped up their movement at the international level with a highly visible and vocal presence this year at the 19th Session of UN Human Rights Council.
Pakistani lobbyists, Kashmiri and Gilgiti groups – both for and against Pakistan – are also active organising briefings and meetings, including interventions at the main UN debate on human rights issues, but the Baloch delegates are receiving the most attention from NGOs and delegates from various parts of the world.
This year’s session comes soon after the US Congressional hearing which led to the tabling of resolution in the US Congress by congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Lousie Gohmert and Steve King calling for the right of self-determination of Balochistan.
The US government has distanced itself from the steps taken by these Congressmen but the move has buoyed Baloch diaspora groups who are now actively lobbying the lawmakers at the European institutional level for a similar move.
Bharmadagh Bugti, who has sought asylum in Switzerland and lives a short distance from the UN Human Rights Council building, is regularly holding meetings here with delegates from different countries but many of these meetings are being kept a secret on the request of the visitors. His asylum case is still under consideration but he is involved in active lobbying for his cause.
At a well-attended briefing in Palais des Nations here hosted by Balochistan’s representative at the United Nations Mehran Baloch and attended by international observes, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) delegation, a European Parliament member Richard Czarnecki MEP announced that he will table a similar resolution at the EU parliament soon calling for support of the Baloch nationalists. He told The News that he had the support of more than a dozen MEPs and his group will ask their respective law-making bodies to follow suit too.
The session was attended by many parliamentarians who didn’t contribute in the general discussion on Balochistan but their presence was important for the reason that it’s only now that a great deal of interest is being shown at the United Nations forum.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue “arrest warrants against Pakistani military and political leaders” who are involved in “crimes” in Balochistan.
He called on Pakistan’s civil society to join hands with Baloch groups working to highlight the issue at the local and international level.Mehran Baloch called on the UN Human Rights Commissioner to send a fact-finding mission to Balochistan to investigate human rights abuses there.
He said the discovery of dead bodies was a “daily occurrence” and accused that the state agencies were involved in the “genocide” of the Baloch people. He said Rehman Malik’s claim that foreign hand was involved in Balochistan was discredited and called on the interior minister to present the evidence. He said the issue of disappeared people needed international attention and called on the UN member states to help the rights activists produce those who may still be alive.
MQM’s central Coordination Committee member Muhammad Anwar said that no international player was willing or intent on interfering in Balochistan issue and largely considered it Pakistan’s internal issue. He called on Baloch leaders to step down from the position of brinkmanship and consider options and ways of solving the issues through engagement and dialogue. He said everyone sympathised with the genuine Baloch grievances but shutting door of dialogue will not help anyone.
Pakistani NGOs representatives on this occasion called on equal rights for women in Balochistan and said that women were victims of both the military operation as well as the tribal traditions which held them back from the mainstream discourse.