Several Protests at UN Human Rights Conference, Geneva were organized by Pashtun, Baloch, Sindhis, POK, Gilgitis against atrocities and Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Army. While Pakistan continued its ranting on Indian Kashmir diverting the attention of International Community from its Gross Human Rights abuses in Balochistan, Pashtunistan, Sindh, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit Baltistan.
While Pakistan is investing all it’s energies on the Indian provinces of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, in an ironic turn of events, entities inside Pakistan started using this opportunity to show Pakistan a mirror of its own self vis-a-vis its projection of Kashmir and made full use of the global coverage to present their own case. Though there were delegations and representations, their protests started becoming visible only after Pakistan picked the Kashmir issue.
One of the first such things was the Baloch banners over Pakistani brutalities in Balochistan, which they displayed during the Cricket World Cup in England. It was the start with frequent protests happening every now and then.
But the impact made on Geneva by these groups when UNHRC is in session only establishes that more and more people are coming in open to protest against the brutalities of the Pakistani state.
While protests by Baloch and representations by the Baltis are very common, it’s not that common to see the Sindhis and Pashtuns protesting in force in such public, a location. But we have seen all of it at a single place in Pakistan – in effect, everyone except Punjabis protested in Geneva that day – either street protests and public speeches or topical conferences.
In spite of all this happening and with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mohammed Qureshi available in person, Pakistan didn’t show interest in addressing these issues. Qureshi and Pakistani delegation spoke only about Kashmir
In a comedy of errors, Pakistani Prime Minister claimed Pakistan had the support of the 58 members of UNHRC while the truth is that UNHRC only had 47 members, further eroding the credibility of the country.
It should be noted here that Pakistan has hired two US based PR firms BLJ Worldwide for a monthly retainer fee of US $50,000 and Holland & Knight LLP for US $55,500 to push out propaganda to build a battered image. It needs to be seen if Pakistan will be able to quite the voices of all oppressed nations with its PR firms? Will the tax payers money that could be spent on providing food and basic amenities to poor will be spent on PR firms give any returns?
On the other side, India highlighted the atrocities against everyone in Pakistan, as a reflection of the ground realities outside the offices of UNHRC by highlighting the plight of different ethnic groups in Pakistan and over it’s formal support to Jihad in India.
In his Reply, India rejected false narrative peddled by Pakistan in all its statements. Pakistan’s gory record speaks for itself. A Kashmiri Indian Diplomat from Kishtwar, Vimarsh Aryan, 1st Secretary at the Permanent Mission of India to UN, Geneva, speaking on behalf of India said:-
“4. We are not surprised at Pakistan’s hysterical statements with false, fabricated narratives aimed to politicize and polarize this forum. Pakistan realises that our recent decision cuts the very ground from under its feet by creating obstacles in its continuing sponsorship of cross border terrorism against India. In this desperate mind-frame, some Pakistan leaders have even gone as far as to call for ‘Jihad’ and to encourage violence both inside Jammu and Kashmir and in third countries, in order to paint a picture of ‘genocide’ which even they know is far from reality.”
“5. Pakistan has today pretended to speak as the voice of the global community on human rights. But the world cannot be fooled. Pakistan’s gory record speaks for itself. This rhetoric will not distract international attention from Pakistan’s persecution and elimination of religious and ethnic minorities – be it the Christians, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hindus. This is the reason that Pakistan no longer publishes official statistics about its minorities as India does. Blatant abuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan to persecute minorities is well documented. Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman was incarcerated for years. So was Abdul Shakoor, the 82 year old Ahmadiya, under Anti-Terrorism Act for selling books. The recent case of abduction, forced conversion and marriage of a minor Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur, exemplifies the state of women, especially from the minority communities in Pakistan. And today, in this Council Pakistan has the audacity to tell others about human rights that it so egregiously violates again and again.”
The formal statement clearly mentioned there is no issue in Jammu and Kashmir and instead, blamed Pakistan over it’s track record.
On the other side, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mohammed Qureshi said, in an interview, “India has given an impression to the world that life has returned to normalcy (in Jammu and Kashmir). If the life has returned to normalcy, then I say why don’t they allow you, international media, why don’t they allow international organizations, the NGOs, civil society organizations to go into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and see for themselves what the reality is” unexpectedly betraying the pressure he is in and involuntarily accepting the ground position.
As a true reflection of the ground realities in Pakistan, besides the well known Baloch, Pashtun and Balti issues, the Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan), as what Pakistanis fondly call the current regime as (a disconcerting parallel for use of such a term is Nazi Third Reich), has extended the troubles into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Sindh as well.
While Imran Khan’s government is trying to create a rift in Sindh Government and capture the last province of Pakistan under its rule, it is attempting to do a similar thing in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh the nerve center or Pakistani economy.
In Karachi, the slugfest started after the severe rains and garbage mismanagement which we covered in detail before. This is in fact not a two-day issue but the abrupt collapse of Karachi in the face of decades of apathy. We covered it in details in our previous article, “Flies Infestation In Karachi – Waiting To Beg Money From Donors In The Event Of Epidemic?” One major reason for this is, while Federal Government and Sindh Government are from different parties, Sindh Government and Karachi Mayoralty are from different parties – this picture is almost always seen from the days of Bangladesh War of 1971. This has created a situation where everyone is interested in the money Karachi gives and no one is interested in managing the city properly. That Karachi being ranked as the worst city with population more than 15 million is a stark proof of that. Now, the fight has come in open again.
Now, the Federal Govt is planning to go for a kill – Article 149(4) to make Karachi a Federally Administered Territory a.k.a. a dictatorship in a democracy. This will ensure Sind Govt will lose out direct revenue from Karachi and will be at the mercy of Federal Govt and on the other side, will aid in destruction of Sindhi and Mohajir interests in Karachi.
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an interesting case. Because it’s the poster boy of Pakistani international agenda, one wouldn’t expect Kashmiris protesting against Pakistan outside Pakistan. But the picture is not that clean inside Pakistan. The pressure of Indian high alert on the border is telling – with army and the terrorists moving in one direction and battered units moving in the other – both exacting their share of resources from Kashmir. Also, the Slowly, the anger is telling – there are reports of multiple people protesting against Pakistani excesses and this is only escalating by the minute.
It is now understood that Pakistan has blocked internet when the protests peaked.
All of this raises a single question – what is Pakistan up to? Why is it focusing on Kashmir when everyone in its country want to secede? A representative video shows every major community in Pakistan protesting against Pakistan for independence. How long can a country suppress such protests and survive? How should the world address this, if the protests attain a critical mass?
Gilgit – Baltistan
United Nations Office of Geneva (UNOG), Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), experts on South Asia, and social and political activists held a meet on the Pakistani state’s ongoing human rights violations against the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. The Panel was unanimous in saying legally, Gilgit-Baltistan is part of India—no matter what Pakistan would like to think.
Senge H Sering, President of Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, Washington DC, asked India to step up it’s efforts to develop links with Gilgit-Baltistan. He further said, Article 370 is India’s internal issue and if there is anyone who is a stumbling block to Kashmir Problem, it’s Pakistan since it hasn’t vacated PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) in 70 years even if it is supposed to vacate in 90 days according to UN resolution 47. He also said People of Gilgit-Baltistan are saying that Pakistan is a hypocrite, has double standards and that they have no business talking about Jammu and Kashmir, as it is a criminal country and an occupier. He further pointed out the hypocrisy of Pakistan by pointing out Pakistan’s reorganization of Gilgit Baltistan and surrender of territory to China.
Colonel (Retd) Wajahat Hasan from Gilgit-Baltistan said “Pakistan says that the whole J&K is a disputed territory so there should be rights of self-determination. I must say that how Pakistan can claim that it is a disputed territory?”
Brian Toll, ex-Director of European Commission, in Geneva said, “Article 370, for India, is about actually giving economic opportunities to the people in Kashmir, according to the govt & let’s hope that it works. As far as it affects Gilgit-Baltistan, it is technically a part of India.” He further spoke over the lack of education facilities for girls in Gilgit Baltistan and said “Attacks on girls schools are carried out by the Pakistanis and the Taliban especially, who do not want girls to be educated.” He asked for Gilgit-Baltistan having it’s share in the say over CPEC.
In a conference over Human Rights Violations in Sindh, Hidayat Bhutto of World Sindhi Congress said that Sindhi people are facing one of the worst episodes of violence in their entire history in the hands of Pakistani Government, highlighting on the forced disappearances of political and human rights activists and at the cultural genocide perpetrated upon them. He said, “Qureshi should talk about the atrocities happening in Balochistan, Sindh and other areas, than about Kashmir, which is none of his business”
Ralph Bunche, General Secretary of Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization said,
“Today, I was speaking about religious freedom in Pakistan, especially Sindh. I highlighted that there has been very significant and long going issue of freedom of religion in Pakistan” He further said, “UNPO hopes that European Union will follow the lead of the US and recognize Pakistan as a huge violator of international religious freedom standards and take action to make sure that it no longer get a good pat on the back that it’s getting from the general system of preference program,”
Qambar Malik of BHRC said that the plight of Sindhis is same as that of Baloch and highlighted the government’s support to Islamist militants to counter Sindhi Nationalism.
Lakhu Lohana, of World Sindhi Conference said that Pakistan is interested only in Sindhi resources and not Sindhi people and highlights the level of mineral wealth in Sindh. He further said “It is really shameful that a representative of ‘Pakistan’ has come to Geneva to talk about human rights. These are people who have literally curbed every voice that did not align with them, they have abducted every person who wanted to raise his voice and created a hell for the religious minorities” He further demanded UNHRC to suspend Pakistan’s membership till it stops atrocities against it’s minorities.
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)
One would expect PoK lobbies to come strongly in support of Pakistan going by the fact that being the poster boy of Pakistani diplomacy, Pakistan will stifle every dissenting voice from PoK to present it’s version. But, still, they were dissenting voices with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) activists also joining the protests.
In the conference by leaders of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), though they have questioned the supposed atrocities in Indian Kashmir and demanded UN intervention, it is understood not one word was spoken in support of Pakistan and rather, there were demands for independence of Kashmir. Also the people disassociated themselves from Pakistani Political parties like PTI, PPP, Muslim League.
Arif Aajakia with Twitter handle @arifaajakia tweeted, “These are Kashmiris, who come since many years to @UNGeneva on dictation & funds of Islamabad. Today, in a conference in Geneva, their tone is changed. They are talking about independent Kashmir, & not accession to Pakistan. They are talking about independence of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir from Pakistan Army”
Jamil Maqsood from PoK came in support of Baloch and against the atrocities and abductions carried out by Pakistani Army and other institutions of Pakistan. He further spoke over cultural genocide and demanded using Baloch natural resources for development of Balochistan and said, the same is applicable to every suffering community of Pakistan – Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, Sindh, PoK and others.
Aditya Raj Kaul, an Indian Journalist tweeted a video, “When a Kashmiri from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) speaks for the rights and freedom struggle of Baloch against illegal occupation of Pakistan. Brave Jamil Maqsood at a protest outside UN HRC in Geneva speaks for rights and struggle of people from Balochistan, PoK & Sindh.”
Jamil Maqsood at a protest outside UN Human Rights Conference in Geneva said, “Intelligence community of Pakistan, Rangers, Military and other state institutions has marginalized Baloch Human Rights activists, Political leaders and every sane voice in Balochistan who has been consciously advocating for the rights of their people, they have been killed, abducted and put in solitary confinement. World community should condemn this policy of killing peaceful innocent people in Balochistan.”
He further said, “Dear Friends, this is high time when Human Rights Counsel session is going on. …protection of your most precious natural resources which must be utilized for the development of your nation. Those subsoil resources belong to people of Balochistan, whatever is in Sindh is the wealth of Sindhi People, whatever is in Gilgit-Baltistan is the wealth of people of Gilgit-Baltistan, whatever is in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) that belongs to those regions where they live where those resources are. This is not only our demand, this is according to the International law. Resources belong to people and those resources must be utilized for the well being of those people.”
On the other side, Senge Sering of Baltistan said “I think Pakistani PM is abusing emotions of people in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Pakistan is playing deaf, they are not trying to realize that their role in J&K has been exposed. International community & people now want Pakistan to withdraw from Gilgit-Baltistan & Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)”
A Baloch exposing Pakistan Hypocrisy on Balochistan at UN Geneva.
He said, “This is a height of Hypocrisy because they want to hide whatever they are doing in Balochistan. They make hue and Cry of Kashmir. They must be ashamed of asking this kind of question. They don’t allow anyone to enter in Balochistan. Look at the media in Kashmir. Where is media in Balochistan? Do you allow the Media and UN delegation to see what they did to my country (Balochistan)? This is artificial country. You have to correct yourself. Please get out of my land. You are not superior to me.”
Dr Naseem Baloch Organizer BNM Diaspora Committee and Hatim Baloch spoke with Times of Geneva about ongoing Human Rights abuses and Baloch Genocide during a protest at Broken Chair in front of UN office in Geneva during UN Human Rights Conference.
Pashtun & Baloch activists organised a protest Demonstration in front of Broken Chair, Geneva, highlighted the atrocities meted out on Pashtuns by Pakistan Army. In the Pashtun protest, they raised the slogans against Pakistani Military –
Yeh jo dehshatgardi hai, uske peeche vardi hai
(Behind this terrorism, there is Pakistani Army)
Yeh jo maara maari hai, uske peeche vardi hai
(Behind this Killings and terrorism, there is Pakistani Army)
Multiple Banners have come up all over Geneva to showcase Pashtun Genocide in Pakistan
Though there is a history of Mohajir representation against Pakistan in UNHRC, there is no protest this time because of the medical and administrative emergency in Karachi. Mohajir leaders, though, have expressed support to the protests by others in Geneva.
MQM Human Rights Activist speaks at UN Geneva convention on 17-9-2018 on Enforced Disappearances.
He said, “MQM Human Rights Activist presenting case of Mohajir’s and Other Oppressed nations of Pakistan in United Nations, Geneva 17-09-2018 said, “Pakistan has failed to uphold any legal protection to those disappearance by the state. Since 2013 a state led military operation was launched to silence voice of Altaaf Hussain the founder and leader of MQM, representing Mohajirs throughout Pakistan and globally. Over 450 Mohajirs are still unaccounted for, when abducted by deep state forces of Pakistan. Majority of these disappearances have been documented by UN working group.”
He further said, “Those who have been disappeared have not produced before any competent authority. On 30-August- 2018 senate committee of human rights of Pakistan condemned these acts of disappearances and urged the govt to ensure those are criminalized. Despite all the efforts, families are suffering. They are deprived of a father, a brother, a son, a husband and in some cases the only bread winner. No financial aid is provided to the families despite providing evidences to the judicial authorities.”
He continues, “Mr. Altaaf Hussain, founder and leader of MQM, who is the Father of the Mohajir Nation, is the only voice that speaks out for these injustices. He speaks globally to highlight the ongoing persecution of the Mohajirs have been facing and will not stop until those responsible for these heinous crimes are held accountable. Crimes which amount to war crimes cannot be ignored. I request the Council members to ensure adequate pressure is placed on the government of Pakistan to ratify the international convention of protection of all persons against enforced Disappearances.”
Arif Aajakia posted a few tweets on Twitter regarding UN Human Rights Conference Geneva protests.