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Pakistan army running 'reign of terror' in Baluchistan

February 10, 2012 10:06 IST

In view of the seriousness of the law and order situation in Baluchistan, prominent human rights activists have told United States lawmakers that it is the Pakistan Army and its spy agency that is running a "reign of terror" inside the restive province.

"The problem goes back to Pakistan's abuse of human rights served our interests, and so we are kind of coming to this late in the game, that we are trying to ask the Pakistanis to clean up their act after we have given them literally a blank check for about a decade," Christine Fair, assistant professor at Georgetown University, told US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

The first ever hearing on human rights violation in Baluchistan was organised by Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Ralph Peters, military analyst and author, said that Baluchistan is an occupied territory, whose people did not want to be part of Pakistan in 1947.

While expressing admiration for the sacrifices the province people are making against enormous odds in Pakistan, Peters charged the latter of actively supporting terrorists and insurgent movements in Afghanistan.

"What is happening to Baluch people, it is the kill-and-dump operation, it is a terror mechanism that the Pakistani military and the intelligence officers use to terrorise the local population," said T Kumar of Amnesty International.

"It may be for a political reason, because some people, or maybe a majority of Baluch may be asking for independence," he said, and clarified that Amnesty International, as a human rights organisation, does not take a position on whether a country is independent or not.

Kumar said that the Pakistan army brutalised the population in the region with the aid of US weapons and asked the lawmakers to ensure that no weapon is used against them.

"Baluchistan presents a hydra-headed conflict situation. There are multiple actors perpetrating violence in there. But the engine of human rights abuse no doubt is the Pakistani military, paramilitaries and intelligence agencies," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director of Asia division of Human Rights.

He said that the country's armed forces have run a campaign of enforced disappearances where hundreds of Baluch nationalists have disappeared.

"In the last year and a half, we have seen targeted killings increase and something between 200 and 300 Baluch opponents of the Pakistani state have been found killed. Of course, torture and illegal detention by the military and paramilitaries and intelligence agencies are commonplace," Hasan said.

"This is an absolutely appalling situation, even by Pakistani standards, and certainly when you are operating in Baluchistan you do see that the military in many ways behaves like a brutal occupying military -- that is its behaviour," Hasan alleged.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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