A Baloch political activist has accused Pakistan of taking away the resources and eliminating the people of Balochistan, the province with immense geo-strategic importance and huge untapped natural resource reserves. Karima Baloch, former chairperson of Baloch Students Organisation - Azad said in a recent interview, "Pakistan always talks about acquiring the land. They don't want the Baloch people but want the resources there. It has been its policy of exploiting the resources and make use of its geo-strategic importance since a pro-freedom struggle is ongoing in Balochistan."
Balochistan, which is Pakistan's largest province, is rich in natural reserves including gold, copper, oil, valuable stones, chromite and natural gas. It has an oceanic coastline that stretches along with one of the world's most important shipping routes i.e., the Straits of Hormuz. Despite being rich in natural resources, the people in Balochistan are deprived of employment, quality education and clean drinking water.
The people of Balochistan are fighting a decades-long war over their rights with Pakistan, but are being labelled as traitors and extremists. Karima Baloch said, "If raising a voice for our rights is extremism then we are extremists. They have occupied our province by using force. Pakistan always talks about the freedom of Kashmiris at various international forums. Why Pakistan did not criticize the Kashmiris then? If speaking about freedom and preserving our culture, language and territory is extremism, then we are extremists. They can call us anything, but we will not stop our struggle."
A large number of political activists, intellectuals and students have gone missing from Balochistan in the past few years. These people have been allegedly abducted by the Frontier Corps (FC) and other intelligence agencies including ISI, and are languishing in detention centres. Family members of the missing persons have alleged that they are being brutally tortured without any crime.
"In Pakistan, no one listens about the missing persons. The Frontier Corps, intelligence agencies and the Army kidnap innocent civilians in broad daylight. They are not answerable to the court. It's a country where the judiciary is weak and the Army and intelligence agencies are powerful." The difficulties of Baloch people have multiplied since the launch of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as the Pakistan Army has intensified its operations to ensure safe passage to China in Balochistan.
China is investing huge money in building infrastructure at the deep-sea port in Gwadar, which it says, will be used as the hub of transit goods to rest of Asia and Europe.
(With inputs from agencies.)