Activists, lawmakers condemn repression in Balochistan
Brussels: Legislators and activists from across the world condemned Pakistan`s "kill-and-dump policy" in Balochistan and called for democracy and the rule of law in the restive province during a meeting at the European Parliament here this week.
The event "Baluchistan: Destiny Denied" was hosted by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament and Baluchistan House.
Paulo Casaca, executive director of South Asia Democratic Forum, highlighted the continuing oppression of the Baloch people and the systematic denial of their rights by the Pakistan government, said a statement from Baluchistan House.
Opening the session, Casaca said: "The most important issue is probably the one of the absence of a state of law. It is vital to defend minorities and stop the kill and dump policy. There is a genocide of the people of Baluchistan."
Ryzsard Czarnecki, an MEP (Member of European Parliament) from Poland, spoke about Balochistan`s natural resources and lamented the fact that the Pakistan government`s policy makes the province one of the least developed regions in the world with alarmingly high rates of infant mortality and illiteracy.
Canadian MP Russ Hiebert, British MP Andrew Percy, Baloch activist Mehran Baluch and Canadian commentator Tarek Fatah condemned Pakistan`s "merciless crushing of Baloch identity and the army`s murderous campaign to wipe out dissent".
Mehran Baluch alleged Pakistan was guilty of brutal colonialism, saying: "The situation in Balochistan can only be defined as genocide and the silence regarding this issue is deafening.
"Pakistan`s creation was an unusual historical incident and the best option for regional peace is to support Baluchistan`s nationalist movement."
The event, attended by MEPs, activists, officials and diplomats, came days after the European Parliament delivered a stinging rebuke to Pakistan in a resolution denouncing the killing of over 80 people, most of them Christians, in a Taliban suicide attack in Peshawar.
Czarnecki, speaking about the recent earthquake and the Pakistani government`s decision to prevent access to international NGOs, said: "The Pakistani position regarding the NGOs not being allowed to go to Balochistan to provide assistance is definitely a problem motivated by the broader situation in Balochistan that the Pakistan government wishes to hide.
"Pakistan has also failed when it comes to following on missing people and, most importantly, there has been a kill-and-dump policy from Pakistani officials that is unacceptable."
Russ Hiebert, a Canadian parliamentarian, focused on the role that the international community could play for positive change in Balochistan.
"The solution lies in justice for the people, and the international community must play a role in this. Justice must be restored otherwise there will be no end in sight to the violence. Fear is a reality on the ground, even among judges which makes the judicial system unreliable," he said.
Andrew Percy, a British MP, drew attention to schooling, saying: "The issue of education is very important to the United Kingdom as one of the biggest providers of foreign aid to Pakistan, especially regarding education.
"There have been discussions in the UK about how much has been spent but not how that amount has been spent, which is the most important issue. Education is an important tool to fight extremism, sectarianism and any sort of promotion of hate."
Tarek Fatah, executive director of Baluchistan House, drew attention to the Pakistan-China relationship and in particular the Chinese military`s takeover of Gwadar port in Balochistan.
"Today, Balochistan`s position at the Strait of Hormuz is crucial, a fact which is reflected by agreements between China and Pakistan to allow China to take over the port of Gawdar," he said.
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