Fri, Mar 31, 2017 | updated 12:05 AM IST

Hold Pakistan accountable for misdirected policies in Balochistan, says EU parliamentarian

Updated: Aug 13, 2016 08:13 IST

Brussels, Aug. 13 (ANI): Expressing concern over the August 8 suicide bombing at the Civil Hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, European Parliament member Alberto Cirio has said it is time Islamabad is held accountable for its misdirected policies, perpetuated over the years, and is pressured into allowing international scrutiny of the pathetic plight of the indigenous population in Balochistan.

In article that he has written for, Cirio states that the suicide bombing in Quetta should be seen as another wakeup call for the international community to take notice of a situation created due to years of concerted government use of extremist groups as proxies against political activists, journalists and intellectuals.

"The stark choice now before the Pakistan government is either to move against all jihadi groups active on its soil, or be willing to face a blow back from those protected from such action, like that witnessed in Quetta," he writes.

The European Parliament member warns that the situation in Balochistan is bound to worsen and the establishment will continue to look for scapegoats to explain its own misdeeds, usually pegging all blame on imaginary external conspiracies.

"The local population is already facing the brunt of terrorism, the brutal violation of human rights, the lengthing shadow of extremist Islamic groups enjoying state patronage, and poverty despite being a resource rich province," he adds.

Cirio also threw light on the fact that the Pakistani Army, which has a sizeable presence in Balochistan, was quick to state that the attack was an attempt to undermine the security of the province and target the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-faceted project allowing China access to Gwadar Port in Baluchistan from its western province of Xinjiang.

"The CPEC has generated major resentment in Balochistan, and the Gwadar Port project is perceived as merely facilitating further exploitation of the area," he said.

Underscoring that incidents of violence have become a way of life in Balochistan, Cirio said there were 306 incidents last year of violence, which included what were categorised as terrorist attacks, operational attacks by the security forces and armed clashes between security forces and sectarian groups.

"More than 550 people died in these incidents, a majority of which took place in Quetta, Dera Bugti, Kech and Gwadar," he added.

The European Parliament member said Balochistan, a natural resource- rich province, has posed challenges for the Pakistani Government since 1947, with the Baloch nationalist movement demanding independence from Pakistan.

"Successive Pakistani establishments have preferred to counter secular Baloch nationalist movements by using extremist Sunni groups with roots in Punjab. Years of myopic and ultimately self-destructive policies have resulted in a lethal mix of militant groups operating in Balochistan, predominantly at the behest of the establishment," he said.

"Global terrorist networks have found natural allies among Sunni sectarian militant networks. The Afghan Taliban has also found sanctuary here since 2002. This has given rise to a complex security situation, often beyond the control of the very establishment that created it. The National Action Plan, formulated to counter militancy and religious extremism, has been implemented selectively to target the Baloch nationalists and their sympathisers, even while allowing terrorist and sectarian groups, many of them officially banned, to expand," he added.

He maintained that the Pakistan government continues to promote extremist groups in Balochistan, and after the massive earthquake in the Awaran region in September 2013, it denied access to international humanitarian organisations and journalists, but allowed extremist charity groups like the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (a front of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa) and the Al Khair (a front of the Jaish-e-Mohammad) to take charge of the resettlement work. These organisations, that are merely proxies of these terrorist groups, continue to have a strong-hold in the province.

Cirio said that the links between security agencies and extremist groups have also resulted in the rise of criminal syndicates, thereby further exacerbating the security situation.

He said that the Frontier Corps (FC), the lead security agency in Balochistan, has been regularly accused of involvement in smuggling and corruption. This year six senior officers, including a Lt. General who headed the FC from 2010 to 2013, were dismissed from service for corruption in Balochistan, signalling the deep roots of this nexus.

Meanwhile the systematic hard hitting policy of the Pak government against the Baloch nationalist groups has resulted in the targeting of not only genuine political activists, but also the ordinary Baloch. The number of cases of enforced disappearances, torture, and targeted killings continue to increase by leaps and bounds.

The province has become virtually a no-go area for journalists, and killing of rights activists who raise uncomfortable questions, is common.

The near total information black-out by the Pak government of the situation in Balochistan, amounts to a systematic abuse of human rights and reflects total contempt for all international human rights laws. (ANI)

New Haven (Connecticut) [United States], Mar.30 (ANI): Raheel Khursheed, head of news partnerships for Twitter India and South East Asia, has been named a 2017 World Fellow.

Full Story >>

Lahore [Pakistan], Mar.30 (ANI): A prominent local leader of the Ahmadi community and a relative of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam was gunned down in Nankana Sahib on Thursday morning.

Full Story >>

Newly appointed Indian envoy calls on Nepal PM

Updated: Mar 30, 2017 13:01 IST

By Binod Prasad Adhikari

Full Story >>

Peshawar (Pakistan), Mar. 30 (ANI): The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Cabinet has allowed state-owned companies to conduct business under the Public-Private Partnership Act of 2014 for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Full Story >>

Dhaka [Bangladesh], Mar. 30 (ANI): As Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to pay a four-day state visit to India from April 7, her political advisor, Hossain Toufique Imam on Thursday while commenting on the possible defence agreement said the priority of both the countries is first to get rid of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) bases, adding that it will be a landmark visit.

Full Story >>

Honulolu (Hawaii), Mar. 30 (ANI): A federal judge in Hawaii has extended the order of the revised travel ban executive order.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. (U.S), Mar. 29 (ANI): America has honoured its heroes on the first-ever National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Full Story >>

55-carat Indian gem to be auctioned in London

Updated: Mar 30, 2017 07:16 IST

London [UK], Mar. 30 (ANI): A 55-carat Indian gem, a ruby-red spinel , will be auctioned at Sotheby's Arts of the Islamic World sale in London on April 26 .

Full Story >>

Ankara [Turkey], Mar. 30 (ANI): Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced the end of Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in August last year to eliminate the Daesh presence in northern Syria.

Full Story >>

New York [USA], Mar. 30 (ANI): A top U.S. general has said it's "fair to assume" that Russia is providing support to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Full Story >>

Washington D. C. [USA], Mar. 30 (ANI): The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked 20 people to be questioned in its investigation of Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

Full Story >>

12 killed, 3 injured in Texas church bus crash

Updated: Mar 30, 2017 05:13 IST

New York [USA], Mar. 30 (ANI): At least 12 people were killed and three others injured in a head-on crash Wednesday between a church bus and pick-up truck in southwest Texas.

Full Story >>

Islamabad [Pakistan], Mar. 30 (ANI): Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said the Dawn leaks' inquiry report will be published, unlike findings of other commissions in the past.

Full Story >>

Washington D. C [USA], Mar. 30 (ANI): U.S. President Donald Trump's elder daughter Ivanka Trump will become an official government employee, joining her husband Jared Kushner in serving as an unpaid advisor to her father in the White House.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 30 (ANI): Hours after the Britain invoked Article 50 to start the formal process of Brexit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dealt an instant blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan of holding trade talks at the same time as Article 50 secession negotiations.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 30 (ANI): Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of threatening to use the safety of British and European citizens as a bargaining chip in Brexit talks.

Full Story >>

Dubai [UAE], Mar. 29 (ANI): The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet today approved a decision to grant Indian passport holders 'visa on arrival' provided they have a valid US visa or a green card holder.

Full Story >>

Indian Army gifts seven horses to Nepal Army

Updated: Mar 29, 2017 21:20 IST

Kathmandu [Nepal], Mar. 29 (ANI): Organising a special function, the visiting Chief of Army Staff of India, General Bipin Rawat, handed over a stallion light breed, two brood mares, two gelds and two donkey stallions to his Nepali Counterpart General Rajendra Chhetri today.

Full Story >>

Kathmandu [Nepal], Mar. 29 (ANI): Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was conferred with the title of 'Honorary General of the Nepal Army' by Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari in a grand ceremony on Wednesday.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 29 (ANI): The UK government has kick started the Brexit process for Britain to formally leave the European Union (EU) in two years time by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Full Story >>