Washington DC: August 18, 2009. (PCP report) Symbolism marked the Baluch mourning day on Pakistan's independence in Washington DC as candles were lit for tens of thousands of Baluch killed, missing and being tortured in Pakistan military dungeons since Baluchistan was forcibly annexed on March 27, 1948.
Former speaker of the Baluchistan assembly, Waheed Baloch, was the chief guest at a meeting organized by the pro-liberation American Friends of Baluchistan and its allies to protest Pakistan's military occupation of Baluchistan. Laurie Deamer, presiding council member of the AFB, presided over the meeting.
One by one, Baluch and Americans lit candles to end the darkness and pall of gloom that Pakistan's creation had inflicted on the people of Baluchistan. The green flag of Pakistan was cut in half at the historic St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church –- the main venue of protests against social and environmental injustices in Washington DC -- as a mark of solidarity with the liberation struggle of the Baluch people.
In the backdrop of a stage bedecked by banners that showed pictures of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Bala'ach Marri, Ghulam Mohammed Baluch, Lala Munir Baluch and Sher Mohammed Baluch, "Down With Pakistan" and "Free Baluchistan -- Stop Barrick," Speaker Waheed Baloch narrated the history of betrayal of Baluchistan by Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
He said whilst August 14th marks the 62nd anniversary of Pakistan's creation and was being celebrated by the state of Pakistan, the people of Balochistan, the largest province which forms 43 percent of the entire Pakistani territory, are mourning and marking this day as a black day in the history of Balochistan, as they were deprived of their independence and liberty and statehood by force, military actions, conspiracy, political deception and downright betrayal by the state of Pakistan.
He said, "Sixtyone years have passed since the occupation of Balochistan but there is no realization by the Pakistani government authorities, intellectuals, parliamentarians, historians alike to concede that Mr. Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan as claimed by state of Pakistan, had betrayed the Baloch."
Malik Rehmani Baloch, AFB member and former Baloch Student Organization activist from Karachi, said the people of Baluchistan had suffered for quite too long a period and hoped that the candles that were being lit in Washington DC would soon help the Baluch realize their cherished dream of independence from the neo-colonial yoke of Pakistan.
Waheed Baloch pointed out that Jinnah was a lawyer for the Baluch ruler Khan of Kalat to negotiate Baluchistan' s independence from the British and questioned how could Jinnah become the father of the Baloch nation. Jinnah had initially agreed to the independent and sovereign status of Baluchistan, but then deceptively annexed Baluchistan at the point of gun.
"The division of Indian subcontinent in 1947, not only created hatred, religious and sectarian division, it also deprived Baloch of their independent state of Balochistan and threw them into the darkness of suppression, occupation, slavery and plundering of their natural resources by the newly created country, Pakistan," the former speaker of the Baluchistan assembly and right-hand man of "Baluch Nelson Mandela" Sardar Akhtar Mengal said.
An AFB leader expressed concern that American senators had always treated Pakistan like a sacred cow whether it was military dictators, Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf or corrupt civilian leaders like Asif Ali Zardari
More than any politician, Pakistani army chiefs including the present chief General Asfaq Pervez Kayani, enjoys celebrity status in Washington DC, while US supplied weapons have been used against the liberation strugle of Baluchistan.
"This is because the interests of the military industrial complex reign supreme," an AFB member pointed out.
MUSLIM LAKHANI & BARRICK GOLD
Sakura Saunders, an international activist against Barrick Gold Corporation' s operations against indigenous people warned that Baluch will have little to gain from the Barrick Gold at the $100 billlion Gold and Copper mines in Reko Diq as gold companies have a history of promoting corruption and militarization and targeting politically marginalized people.
"Since Barrick has taken over Reko Diq project from the other mining giant, BHP, they have fired the few Baluch people who formerly occupied managerial and security posts," Saunders said. "This move, in addition to the moving of their head office to Islamabad have heightened the fear amongst the Baluch that this mine will not contribute to their development. An examination of other Barrick mines around the world supports this fear, revealing tensions with local people."
Of the 42 people now on the administrative positions of Barrick subsidiary Tethyan Copper Company of Pakistan not a single employee is a Baluch or from Baluchistan, locals at Reko Diq complain.
The name of DC-based Pakistani businessman Muslim Lakhani, who played a key role in bringing Barrick Gold to Baluchistan because of his links in the Musharraf regime repeatedly resonated at the meeting.
BOYCOTT ANTI-LIBERATION LEADERS
Waja Ghafoor Baluch, an AFB member from Miami, Florida, and formerly of Baloch Ittehad, called upon the Baluch people to stay focused on the liberation agenda and not to get distracted by Pakistan's electoral politics as it promises precious little to the Baluch masses and prolongs their slavery.
He said when leaders who believe in parliamentary politics visit the US, the Baluch should not entertain them as they are part of the Pakistani establishment and their politics of compromise with Islamabad helps maintain the status quo of slavery in Baluchistan.
Malik Rehmani Baluch read out a petition made by the American Friends of Baluchistan to different nations, including the US, India and the European Union.
The AFB petition reads:
"This meeting organized by the American Friends of Baluchistan and its allies calls upon the US government, State Department and all related agencies to put the independence of Baluchistan on its agenda and work accordingly;
"This meeting is of the considered opinion that Baluchistan is an occupied territory of Pakistan, has been so for more than 61 years now. and that the Pakistani occupation has resulted in killings, disappearances, torture, loot and plunder of their natural resources and collective misery of the Baluch people;
"This meeting calls upon Islamabad and Tehran to respect the national rights of the Baluch people, including their right to form their own state and calls upon the two Islamic republics of Pakistan and Iran not to stand in the way of a secular and democratic independent Baluchistan;
"This meeting calls upon the government of India to play its role as the world's largest democracy and a neighbor of Baluchistan to ensure the safety and well-being of the Baluch people by calling upon Islamabad to withdraw its armed forces and paramilitary Frontier Corp and all institutions that further the enslavement of the Baluch people so that the human rights of the Baluch people as underlined in the charter of human rights are respected;
"This meeting is of the considered opinion that the solution to the Af-Pak crisis and end of terrorism lies in part in the creation of an independent Baluchistan and calls upon the US and NATO member countries to open direct talks with the Baluch leaders;
"This meeting condemns the rogue state of Pakistan for its abduction and torture of the freedom-loving Baluch people and asks the European Union to step into Baluchistan to ensure that Pakistan's Military Intelligence and infamous Inter Services Intelligence must exit Baluchistan. This meeting expresses its serious concern about the fate of Baluch-Norwegian dual national Ehsan Arjemandi and will hold Pakistan responsible for any harm to Mr. Arjemandi;
"This meeting expresses its genuine concern over the activities of international corporations in Baluchistan, notably Barrick Gold Corporation, and urges international auditors to investigate the handing of the gold and copper mines to Barrick and Antofagasta in from Tethyan Copper of Mr. Muslim Lakhani;
"This meeting condemns the government of Pakistan for failing to provide security to the life and well-being of the Christian minority;
"This meeting urges an end to all nuclear testing activities in Baluchistan."
2000 YEARS OLD COIN
As a mark of respect to the history of Baluchistan, Sakura Saunders presented a 2,000 years old coin from the Scintian period to Speaker Waheed Baluch.
In her concluding remarks, Laurie Deamer expressed the hope the Baluch struggle for international justice will lead to creation of an independent state on the world map.
The AFB protest meeting in DC was endorsed by the premier Washington DC peace group CODEPINK.
AFB members from Dallas, Houston, Miami and Philadelphia flew into Washington for the event.
Meanwhile, reports from Quetta, capital of Occupied Baluchistan, said many cities and towns were rocked by series of bomb blasts. Quetta presented the look of a ghost town on Pakistan's independence day. Television channels were off the air presumably out of fear Baluch freedom fighters will take over them.