India has ethical obligation to speak out on human rights crisis: Bugti

Exiled Baloch leader Brahumdagh Bugti has called on India to back the secessionist struggle in Pakistan's largest province, saying international pressure is necessary to prevent what he described as a “massacre of an entire people.”

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu — his first to an Indian newspaper — Mr. Bugti said New Delhi had an “ethical obligation, as a democracy and a regional power, to join the world in condemning the ongoing massacre of the Baloch people.” “The Baloch do not need guns,” he added, “but we need political support, so Pakistan's military knows the world will hold it to account.”

Pakistani troops are reported to have resumed operations targeting tribal insurgents around gas-rich Balochistan's Kohlu and Dera Bugti areas, against the backdrop of mounting concern over events in the troubled province.

Earlier this month, Mr. Bugti's sister, Zamur Domki, and her 12-year-old daughter, Jaana Domki, were murdered in Karachi — the latest, Baloch activists say, in a series of assassinations intended to terrorise opponents of the government.

Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, recently voiced “grave alarm that 107 new cases of enforced disappearance have been reported in Balochistan in 2011.” The missing, she said, “are increasingly turning up dead.”

Human Rights Watch said “human rights activists and academics critical of the military have also been killed in the province.”

United States State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said earlier this month her government was “deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Balochistan, especially targeted killings, disappearances and other human rights abuses.”

Pakistan reacted angrily to congressional hearings on the violence, saying the U.S. was interfering in its internal affairs.

Mr. Bugti is the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a veteran politician and traditional clan leader who was killed in the course of a military assault on insurgent positions around Dera Bugti in 2006. He escaped to Afghanistan, and has now sought political asylum in Switzerland.

Pakistan alleges that Mr. Bugti commands Indian-backed insurgent networks which have carried out multiple terrorist attacks. New Delhi denies the allegations.

“I do not understand why India is so reluctant to speak about this issue,” Mr. Bugti said “when Pakistan not only backs separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir but even funds terrorists.”

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