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A Kashmiri leader who has been struggling to expose Pakistan’s wrongs since his days as a student leader, four decades back, has called upon Baloch leaders to encourage women’s participation in the Baloch struggle for freedom and justice.
“It’s a very good sign that Baloch women are struggling for independence of Balochistan,” Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, president of the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP), said on Thursday. “Women’s participation, like that of Prof Naela Quadri, is good for your independence movement,” he added.
Kashmiri, who was abducted by the Pakistan secret services and brutally tortured in the mid-1990s, now lives in exile in Switzerland.
Prof Quadri, like Kashmiri, has years of experience behind her. Pakistani secret services badly tortured her husband for two long years for her association with the freedom movement. She had to flee Pakistan, quitting her professor’s job and leaving two homes behind, and now lives in exile in Vancouver.
“Do not discourage a single worker of the movement if you are a true leader and statesman of Baloch nation,” said Kashmiri without taking any name.
A lot of positive energy was generated when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi expressed solidarity with the people of Balochistan from the historic Red Fort last year. There were indications that even a government-in-exile would be formed in New Delhi.
Prof Quadri was working on that idea and was warmly received in India when she arrived there from Afghanistan two months after Modi’s speech. However, some Baloch feudal lords were reluctant to give her a helping hand even though a woman’s face would have helped raise the international profile of Balochistan.
“Naela Quadri is not representing Baloch People, rather than supporting they are damaging Baloch cause by their insane actions(sic),” Brahumdagh Bugti, 33, said in a series of tweets the Indian Express reported, no sooner than Prof Quadri landed in India.
This scribe had tried to counsel to the Bugti team not to oppose Prof Quadri, without success. Prof Quadri made attempts to contact Bugti, but he and his team refused to talk to her, questioning her “status” even though she was once a central committee member of Bugti’s Baloch Republican Party (BRP) when they were in Afghanistan.
Bugti’s tweet punctured the idea of a government-in-exile, but he shot himself in the feet as well as Indian columnists began questioning his political wisdom and background and India stopped looking at his asylum request seriously. Bugti was denied asylum by India four months back, though he claims he never formally asked for asylum.
“You have a great cause and you are struggling for your country’s independence,” Kashmiri urged. “Please encourage people to claim the Baloch moment, do not isolate them.”
Despite being a third rate failing state, Pakistan does have lots of allies. “Your occupier is more powerful and have allies like Turkey and other Muslim countries,” Kashmiri warned the Baloch leaders.
“We should respect even those who are not struggling (for freedom) but (in their hearts) hate the enemy of Baloch people,” he urged.
The UKPNP president said as a sympathizer of Baloch independence movement, he would like to request stakeholders of the Baloch case to respect each other, create space for every Baloch to contribute and to avoid the blame game.
Kashmiri requested Sardar Brahumdagh Bugti, Nawabzada Mehran Marri, Hyrbyair Marri, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Daud and all other leaders and workers, who live abroad and fall in the category of Baloch Diaspora, to call an international conference and move towards unity.
The leaders Kashmiri named are feudal lords and are not on talking terms with one another– Bugti and Daud are not on talking terms; Mehran Marri is not on talking terms with his brother Hyrbyair Marri and Daud. Highly arrogant, these members of the Baloch blue blood families don’t consider the commoners as their equals.
Kashmiri and his university comrade Mumtaz Khan, who now lives in Toronto, have been in the forefront to expose ISI’s crimes against the people of Azad Kashmir, which is actually Pakistan occupied Kashmir. As they are born Muslim, the two leaders can help counter the jihadi narrative in Jammu and Kashmir but have not been allowed to visit there for reasons best known to New Delhi babus.
Kashmiri’s call for encouraging women leadership in the Balochistan movement was much needed. Balochistan has one of the highest rates of honor killings of women, called siahkari, in the world. Women, blacks and gays are highly discriminated in Baloch society.
Besides Prof Quadri, other well-known women active in Baloch diaspora politics are Banuk Karima Baloch (Toronto), Farzana Majeed (USA), and Bibi Mahdem and Mahnaz Baloch in London, UK