Judge refuses request of Indian IT tech, who works for DMI, to censor US writer

BELOW: Court record of Krishna Gudipati who plays host to Hindu icons such as Dr Subramanian Swamy and Sadhguru.


Tuesday, a second judge in Montgomery county district court in Maryland threw out a request  by Indian nationals to censor the writings of an American journalist.

Krishna Gudipati, mobile solutions architect at the DC-based Digitial Management Inc., requested Judge Aileen E. Oliver to ask this correspondent to take down the articles he wrote about Gudipati’s wife beatings recently. Judge Oliver bluntly refused to censor after the writer explained that it was not the responsibility of the state to curtail free speech.

Differences between Gudipati and his associate Soumya S. Chowdhury, also an Indian citizen who works for Monument Construction LLC, with this writer first surfaced when this writer wrote an article to condemn the dastardly killing by a Hindu fanatic Shambulal Regar in Rajasthan in December.

On December 6, the 25th anniversary of the Ayodhya Mosque turmoil that saw the killing of 2,000 people, mostly Muslims in India, Regar hacked to death Afrazul, 50, from West Bengal accusing him of being involved in “love jihad,” that is enticing non-Muslim women into sex with a goal of their conversion to Islam. Regar’s video tape of the killing and burning of Afrazul’s body went viral on the social media.

Other points of differences were this writer’s regular expose of the wrong acts of some Balochistan militant groups of targeting noncombatant civilians. Gudipati and Chowdhury met with representatives of the Baloch National Movement, who are believed to be front offices of the deadly Balochistan Liberation Front.

Gudipati’s associate Chowdhury also abused the pregnant wife of Bronze star winning Capt (RTD) Dipesh Chatterjee and when this scribe asked him to apologize he became even more abusive.

The reports have been widely published in mainstream Pakistan media both in English and Urdu.






Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018

A wave of joy Monday swept over a huge territory that includes India, Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Balochistan over President Donald Trumps first tweet of the New Year but Pakistanis were calling the US president a “man-child” as Islamabad summoned an emergency meeting of the National Security Council Wednesday  to review the situation.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump said in his first tweet of 2018, signifying his frustration over Pakistan’s sponsoring of terrorism against Afghanistan.

Elder Afghan statesman, who is a good friend of Balochistan and India, former president Hamid Karzai, in his two tweets welcomed President Trump’s position. “President tweet on Pakistan’s duplicitous position over the past 15 years is vindication that the war on terror is not in bombing Afghan villages and homes but in the sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

“I welcome today’s clarity in President Trump’s remarks and propose a joint US – regional coalition to pressurize the Pakistan military establishment to bring peace to not just Afghanistan but the entire region.”

Likewise the Afghan ambassador to the USA, the youthful Dr Hamdullah Mohib, tweeted, “President ’s first tweet of 2018. A promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long.”

Pakistan supports its proxies to carry out attacks in Afghanistan is an open secret. On Sunday a Facebook page called “Unofficial: Pakistan Defence Command,linked to Pakistan army and ISI, hailed a terrorist attack that killed 17 Afghans attending a funeral in Jalalabad, eastern Nangahar province. The site also abused Ambassador Mohib for betrayal for backing Trump’s tweet.

Joy over deaths-- Picture courtesy Facebook
A site supportive of Pakistan army and ISI hails the suicide bombing Sunday that killed 17 in Jalalabad.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US and author of the “Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding” rejected the arguments of Islamabad that the US was not doing any favor to Pakistan by giving $33 billion as it was fighting the US war.

“For everyone trying to claim that Coalition Support Funds are reimbursement, not assistance: How is ‘I will pay you the costs of keeping your backyard clean so that snakes being reared there don’t bite me and others’ not assistance?” Ambassador Haqqani, who is the ISI’s most hated man and was almost killed by the dreaded agency when he was called to Pakistan after the US raid on bin Laden to get sacked from his job.

Magnificent Delusions-- Picture courtesy audio bookstore
Cover of book Magnificent Delusions, written by former Pakistan ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani. The book examines how Islamabad hoodwinked the US as if it was an ally.

Islamabad had often argued that Pakistan itself had lost 70,000 lives against Islamic radicals but that is only half truth as the Pakistan Taliban were the snakes that Islamabad had itself raised against India but later turned against the state. Haqqani  re-tweeted a tweet that reads, “US does not depict (convey) the right message to Pak masses. That Pak did not lose 70K lives fighting against Afghan taliban/haqqanis.Pak actually supported them. Pak lost 70K against Pakistan taliban,which were created by Pak in 90s with different names to fight in Kashmir as Pak proxies.”

Both Haqqani and his wife Farahnaz Ispahani, also an intellectual and author of “Purifying Land of Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities” are unwanted persons in Pakistan as they oppose the soldiers meddling in politics. Ispahani re-tweeted a tweet that reads Pakistan renter army got $251,000 per hour for the last 15 years.

Minhaz Merchant, leading Indian intellectual, publisher and author of “The New Clash of Civilizations” welcoming Trump’s tweet, said, “A New Years “gift” to Pak from America. Thoroughly deserved.” But Merchant regretted India’s docility, “President Trump in all but name calls Pak a state sponsor of terrorism. And India, the principal victim of Pak terrorism, still can’t bring itself to designate Pak a terror state.”

India’s softness towards Pakistan has portrayed India’s image on the world stage as a weak elephant. Last week Islamabad thoroughly humiliated wife and mother of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav and there is much angst among Indian masses but no real action.

Baloch activists were overjoyed. Bhawal Mengal, spokesperson for the World Baloch Organization, welcomed Trump’s statement. “Finally the US recognizes for what it is, a friend to no one but terrorists, this is not only in the interest of the US but the entire world. We also hope becomes the first world leader to hold Pakistan accountable for its crimes in .

Mengal’s father, former senator Javed Mengal, who lives in exile in London, paid out of pocket for one of the most expensive #FreeBalochistan ads campaign in Balochistan history at the Times Square  in New York.

Dr Allah Nazar,  chief of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), also welcomed Trump’s statement. “Finally United States realizes that Pakistan is a hypocritic and deceptive state. It is a headache for the world and its existence is a malignancy. I appreciate President Trump’s stand. He is the first president to recognize these thugs to humanity,” Dr Nazar tweeted.

Sher Mohammed Bugti, spokesperson for the Baloch Republican Party thanked President Trump “for realizing the monopoly, hypocrisy and double standards of Pakistan as we were screaming and shouting for a long time.”

Pakistan has killed 35,000 Baloch patriots since a bloody insurgency began in Balochistan in 2005, burying 6,000 victims in mass graves, while another 21,000 are missing according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons.

Islamabad stuck to its guns even if the defense establishment views Trump’s tweet as the most serious “you are with us or against us” threat since President G.W. Bush. According to Omar R. Quraishi, Editor Digital Properties Samaa, Pakistan summoned US Ambassador David Hale to lodge a very strong protest with him regarding the tweet — tomorrow a cabinet meeting will be held on this issue

Pakistan defense minister Khurram dastgir-Khan, who retweeted a tweet in which Trump was described as “man-child.” tweeted, “Pak (Pakistan)as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.”

Americans who could not stand Trump for a single moment but know how deceptive Pakistan is were agreeing with their president for the first time.

Prof C. Christine Fair,  who is Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, one of the fiercest critics of President Trump among DC scholars, said, “….Don’t get too excited. Wait for the grown ups to walk this back. This is one of those rare occasions when Trump is correct.”

Likewise human rights defender Jane Eastwood Weisner of Amherst, Massachusetts, who has been very vocal against Trump’s policies, said, “This is the first time I’ve agreed with Trump, but he is right on this one.” She was of the view the president should now back independence for Balochistan and cut off Pakistan’s access to natural resources and the deep seaport at Gwadar.

Weisner counseled friends of Balochistan in US, who are aware of Pakistan’s secret, dirty war there, to ponder “how to get our foot in the White House door to keep pushing an independent Balochistan as the answer to curtailing Pakistan’s support of terrorists.”

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Monday evening in support of his dad. “Great start. Why give millions to countries who would harbor our enemies?” as he tagged a Fox news story that said Trump was withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan.


Exiled Kashmiri leader urges Baloch to encourage women, respect all activists

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



Swiss deny Bugti asylum but will PM Modi hug him as India’s son?

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is said to be the best thing that happened to India in seven decades. Modi is also known to be great hugger, even hugging germaphobe President Donald Trump, who considers shaking hand as barbaric. But the question today is will he hug Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Baloch Republican Party, as India’s own son as the Swiss government has rejected his asylum petition?

According to a news report in Geo TV, “A source in the Swiss government confirmed that Brahumdagh Bugti’s asylum application was turned down because of his links with “incidents of terrorism, violence and militant activities” and the rejection letter clearly sets out these allegations. Bugti confirmed to this correspondent that his asylum application has been rejected by the Swiss government on the basis of allegations that he has links with the banned Baloch Republican Army (BRA).”

First let me go back eight years. It was November 2009 when I first spoke with Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Balochistan Republican Party. I got a call as I was organizing the first international conference on Balochistan in the nation’s capital on behalf of the American Friends of Balochistan. I thought it was the Khan of Kalat, with whom I had spoken a couple of times and the voice sounded quite familiar. But it was not the Khan from Cardiff, but Brahumdagh Bugti from Kabul.

Bugti said he wanted to seek asylum in the US and my first question was why doesn’t he go to India. “That was my first choice too. They are ready to provide us all assistance, but not asylum.”

At the time a Congress government was in power in New Delhi. India was being led by the dehati aurat or village woman — a term reportedly used by ousted premier Nawaz Sharif for his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Just four months earlier, mid-July, 2009 at the Sharm el-Sheikh, Cairo, the dehati aurat made the historical blunder of indirectly admitting India was inciting violence in Balochistan in his summit with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani. India Today described the summit outcome as Manmohan Singh’s Balochistan blunder. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir made a fool of Shiv Shankar Menon and so did Yusuf Raza Gilani make a chump of Dr Manmohan Singh, who prime minister Modi mockingly says, “knows how to shower in bathroom wearing a rain coat.” Let alone giving asylum to Bugti, it is widely reported that Congress pacifists at times even side with the jihadis in Kashmir– just to please Pakistan.

A year later Brahumdagh Bugti arrived in Switzerland along with family, afterwards joined by about a dozen members of his Bugti tribe. He had obtained special permit for the air travel from rulers of a Gulf nation who were friends of his assassinated grandfather, former governor and chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Brahumdagh Bugti may have been in France instead of Switzerland had it not been for the massive attack on Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’s home by the army on March 17. “The military forces started shelling the town of Dera Bugti, the headquarter of Bugti tribe and the ancestral home of the Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Rockets and mortars also targeted his house where he was attending a meeting with his tribesmen, but luckily he survived,” according to the web site of his party, the Baloch Republican Party. In that attack, Brahumdagh Bugti’s passport with French visa affixed on it got destroyed.


But why should India care about Balochistan?

Here are the reasons. As I consider the Baloch sons and daughters of Hinglaj Mata sakhtipeet (Hindu pilgrim site), I have always believed it is a religious and national duty of India to help the Baloch, the whole nine yards. More important than my subjective belief are historical facts that show the Baloch yearned to get freedom from the British as part of a united India but when they saw the British were bent upon dividing India, they demanded a free Balochistan.

From day one, the Baloch rejected the Two-Nation Theory of Pakistan’s tuberculosis ridden founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Just look at these words; they seem as if they are words printed today in a newspaper or magazine: “From whatever angle we look at the present government of Pakistan, we will see nothing but Punjabi fascism. The people have no say in it. It is the Army and arms that rule.” But this statement was made 69 years ago by the first hero of the Baloch uprising against Pakistan, Prince Abdul Karim, while he was in exile in Afghanistan. Prince Abdul Karim had used these words in a letter to his elder brother – the “King” or Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmadyar Khan – cited in The Politics of Ethnicity in Pakistan, by Farhan Hanif Siddiqi.

Historians wonder if India lost Balochistan and much of India territory to Pakistan because of Lady Edwina Mountbatten-crazed Nehru’s haste in becoming the prime minister? And they may be right in raising the question. Pawan Durani, a journalist and blogger from Srinagar, who now lives in Delhi, tweeted on October 26, 2012: “In 1947, the King of Kalat [ #Balochistan ] acceded 2 #India. Unfortunately Nehru rejected that. Rest is history. Baloch cont 2 suffer.”

London-based think-tank The Foreign Policy Center, FPC, concurs that the Baloch were let down not only by the British but also by the founding fathers of India. The story goes thus. The Baloch sovereign Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmadyar Khan, whose most tragic blunder was to have Muhammad Ali Jinnah as his lawyer in his legal dealings with the British Raj, was said to be very fond of listening to the All India Radio (AIR) broadcasts in the evenings. On March 27, 1948, what he had heard on an AIR broadcast left the Khan of Kalat shell-shocked. The FPC cites an AIR broadcast from that day, which reported a press conference by VP Menon, the secretary in the Ministry of States: “Menon revealed that the Khan of Kalat was pressing India to accept Kalat’s accession, but added that India would have nothing to do with it.”

Hakim Baloch, a former chief secretary of Balochistan, author and historian, who has written several books on Balochistan, agrees that AIR did indeed broadcast Menon’s statement – the very next day, Sardar Patel issued a contradiction that no such request from the Khan of Kalat was ever received by India. Again on March 30, 1948, Nehru went to great lengths to deny what VP Menon had said. The Khan of Kalat too denied the report, but by this time, the Pakistani guns were pointing at the Khan’s head.

As India’s founding fathers closed their eyes on Balochistan, Pakistan was already working overtime to occupy Balochistan. For example, on March 22, 1948 Pakistan prime minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan presided over a meeting of the three services chief to oversee the military invasion of Kalat and Mekran. “He was briefed by the army, air force and navy chiefs about the steps these armed services have taken in a number of Balochistan cities, such as Turbat, Pasni,” says Quetta-based Baloch scholar Surat Khan Marri.

While Indian leaders were busy issuing contradictory statements, Pakistan acted swiftly. According to human rights defender Waseem Altaf in Viewpoint: “On orders emanating from Mr Jinnah, Balochistan was forcibly annexed to Pakistan on 28th March 1948 when on 27th March 1948, Lt Colonel Gulzar of the 7th Baluch Regiment under GOC Major General Mohammad Akbar Khan invaded the Khanate of Kalat. General Akbar dragged the Khan of Kalat to Karachi and forced him to sign on the instruments of accession while Pakistan Navy’s destroyers reached Pasni and Jiwani.”

The Khan of Kalat tried his best to retain the independent status of his state, knocking every neighbor’s door. “The Khan of Kalat had tried for an arrangement with both Iran and Afghanistan as well,” said Hakim Baloch. “He had also pondered over a deal with London on the lines that the UK had with Oman,” he added. That deal envisaged Balochistan to remain a British protectorate for 25 years– to emerge on the world map by 1972.

In March 1946, Baloch nationalist leaders went to India to meet with Congress leaders to seek support for a free Balochistan. The team was led by Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo,  president of the Kalat State National Party. They met Congress president Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

Bizenjo, who later became the governor of Balochistan confirmed to me four decades later in 1988– a year before his death– that Azad refused to support a free Balochistan on the grounds that raising the issue would give the British colonialists a pretext to delay their departure from India. I had asked Bizenjo, who used to stay at my uncle’s Mustikhan Lodge in Karachi, why he had changed his stance from being an advocate for a free Balochistan in 1946 to demanding provincial autonomy in his political career, later. Bizenjo said after India’s refusal to stand with the idea of a free Balochistan, he calculated that the Baloch were not in a position to fight Pakistan’s military might on their own, so he toned down his demand to provincial autonomy. According to scholar Hakim Baloch, “Maulana Azad believed that Balochistan would not be a stable state.” Azad ruled out any help to Balochistan as he believed an independent Balochistan will serve as a British base and would undermine the independence of the subcontinent.”

In hindsight, Maulana Azad’s stance was proven to be flawed: Pakistan became the renter state of the US-West, Saudi Arabia and now China continuously causing grief to India. Vikram Sood, former Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) chief, points out to the visits of Baloch leaders to India, including the Khan of Kalat. “They wanted to draw attention to the fact that their state was different and wanted to be treated on par with Nepal,” Sood wrote in an article in February 2006, when Baloch statesman Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was still alive. The former RAW official regrets that the founding fathers of modern India were too engrossed with Kashmir and Hyderabad to see the strategic significance of a sovereign Balochistan.

While the Pakistan Army occupied Balochistan, according to another Indian scholar Deepak Basu, “India stood by silently. Lord Mountbatten, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru or Maulana Azad, then the president of India’s Congress Party, said nothing about the rape of Balochistan.”

On August 15, 1947 Jinnah recognized Kalat State (a huge chunk of Balochistan) as a free state. The state had a foreign minister named Douglas Yates Fell, while my late uncle A. Sattar Mustikhan became Kalat state’s ambassador to Pakistan. The national flag of Kalat state flew over our family home in Karachi’s Gandhi Garden district from August 15, 1947 to March 28, 1948.

Balochistan has a rich Hindu heritage. In addition to Hinglaj Mata sakhti peet and one of the world’s oldest Hindu civilization sites Mehergarh, it is a fact Kalat, the center of Baloch tribal confederacy, was once called Kalat-e-Sewa (Sewa’s Fort), after Sewa, a legendary Hindu hero of the Brahui-speaking Baloch people.

Some Indians believe that had the Baloch leaders in 1946 met with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel instead of meeting Maulana Azad, the results  may have been different. These same nationalists also believe prime minister Modi wants justice for Balochistan, not merely use Baloch as proxies in tit-for-tat war games over Kashmir. We hope they are right and Shri Narendra Modi Ji will welcome Brahumdagh Bugti to India so everyone in the world, including Balochistan, knows Mother India does care for her Baloch sons.

The main reason why the Swiss have not taken into account the brutalities that Bugti has faced at the hands of Pakistan army and ISI– killing of more than 7,000 of his tribesmen including his grandfather, sister Zamur Domki and niece Jaana Domki– is that Switzerland is a highly racist society. A recent Universal Periodic Review by the UN just 12 days ago asked Switzerland to do more to fight against racism.

Modi hugs Trump-- Courtesy Hindustan Times


Strange case of Zeenat Shahzadi, who is still in ISI custody

Pakistan may soon have a new name internationally– Ghaibistan, or the land of the disappeared. Here is why.

She was as patriotic a Pakistani as any Punjabi in Lahore, capital of Punjab– stronghold of Pakistan army– can possibly be. On August 15, 2015 she posted on Facebook: “Military Courts starts working actively. Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif approved the death sentences of seven hardcore terrorists Well done.”

But this did not prevent Pakistan’s CIA called the ISI to think that she is anti-Pakistan. According to the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Zeenat Shahzadi was kidnapped off the streets of Lahore on 19 August 2015, and had no contact with the outside world until her release on 18 October 2017. “The brazen, daylight kidnapping of a young female journalist was the first of its kind in Pakistan,” said the CJFE Thursday.

A global coalition of press freedom organizations are calling upon Pakistan to immediately allow freedom of movement to journalist Zeenat Shahzadi, who was recently released after two years in captivity, said the CFJE. “The 26 year old Pakistani journalist was recovered from her kidnappers last month after having vanished from the streets of Lahore, yet she has not yet been released from government custody. There is no justification for this delay. For the sake of her safety, Shahzadi must be immediately released to her family and allowed to seek counsel and treatment from qualified professionals,” said the CJFE.

The teenage brother of Shahzadi, Saddam Hussain, who was distraught over her disappearance, committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree on March 24 last year.

Journalist bodies in Pakistan, afraid that they may themselves become the next target if they speak out, kept mum over Shahzady disappearance.

Houston based Tanvir Arain, a Pakistani journalist who repeatedly faced gun attacks by the ISI, had petitioned against Pakistan spooks to former premier Nawaz Sharif in May last year for the release of the young journalist.

“I feel sorry to about the state of rule of law in Pakistan that on 19 August 2015, Ms. Zeenat Shahzadi, a journalist working for the Daily Nai Khabarand the Metro News television channel in Lahore, Punjab, disappeared while on her way to work in an auto-rickshaw. She was to appear before the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances on August 24, but before that she was disappeared by plain-clothed persons. Police registered an abduction case against “unknown men”.

Arain said Shahzadi was pursuing the safe recovery of a young Indian engineer Hamid Ansari , resident of Andheri West in Mumbai, who was forcibly disappeared by Pakistani intelligence agencies in November 2012.

The story can be made into a hit Bollywood movie. Arain said Hamid Ansari fell in love with a Pakistani girl in the Khyber Pashtunkhwa province whom he met on Facebook. The parents of the girl wanted to get her married against her wish.

“As Ansari was denied a Pakistan visa, he came to Afghanistan and then crossed in Khyber Pashtunkhwa to meet the love of his life but was abducted by the ISI,” Arain said. He said though he never met Shahzadi, he became interested in her case as she was a fellow journalist.

Shahzadi had moved applications with the Supreme Court’s human rights cell and the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances after securing special power of attorney from Fauzia Ansari, mother of Ansari and a college lecturer in Mumbai. (Ansari’s father Nihal Ansari is a retired bank official). She also filed a habeas corpus plea before the Peshawar High Court.
“The ISI boys asked her to back off, but she refused,” said Arain.  According to Latif, a brother of Shahzadi, she had received threats from unknown people who asked her not to pursue the case. “We too asked her not to put her life at risk, but she said she wanted to help Ansari out of humanity.”

In his letter to Sharif, Arain wrote that in February 2016 a military court is said to have jailed Ansari for three years on the charges of illegally entering Pakistan and spying.

Arain had urge the authorities to prosecute those military officials who abducted Hamid Ansari and kept him in illegal detention for more than three and a half years without producing him before the court. “The young Indian must be compensated,” Arain demanded.

People like Arain are sitting ducks in Pakistan. He is now filing for asylum in the United States.

Najeeb Khan, who lives in Albany and is director of the American Friends of Balochistan, had interacted with Shahzadi on Facebook. Khan too received ISI bullets in his body in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, for siding with the Baloch struggle. He recalls that though she used to be super patriotic when they come into contact, there seemed to have been a change in her ideas about Pakistan some months before her abduction.

The CJFE said 1,300 out of a total 3,000 missing people’s cases remain pending before the Commission on Enforced Disappearances. It said in addition to the missing persons’ crisis, Pakistan ranks sixth in the list of the 20 Deadliest Countries for journalists in the world, and as the ninth worst country in the world for impunity for crimes against journalists.

“It is unconscionable that Shahzadi’s family be delayed from reuniting with their daughter and sister any longer. The Pakistani government must immediately release Shahzadi to her family,” the CJFE demanded.

Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, on a query by this writer said, “As far as I know she is under treatment at a private hospital in Pindi. We have not been able to meet her.”

Quetta using silver bullet to kill Baloch owned newspapers

Corrupt and dishonest officials in the Balochistan capital of Quetta are bent upon to strangulate the credible local newspapers economically for political reasons, according to reports.

The newspapers under attack include Balochistan Express, Daily Azadi and Intikhab, owned by Baloch publishers. Balochistan Express and Daily Azadi are owned by veteran journalist Siddiq Baloch, who once used to work for Dawn newspaper. Intekhab is owned by Anwar Sajidi.

An appeal by the newspaper managements said political parties, human rights activists and all right minded people should condemn arbitrary action against genuine and credible newspapers known for their professionalism and independence in reporting.

These newspapers do not openly defy the existing systems but try to work within the constitutional frameworks, but corrupt officials in the administration are still trying to spell their death.

On the other hand, Khadim Lehri, Baloch editor of the pro-freedom daily Tawar newspaper was hounded by the intelligence sleuths and has been forced to go into hiding.

Quite a few journalists and contributors of the Daily Tawar were abducted, tortured, killed and their bodies dumped since 2010.

Lala Hameed Baloch, a senior journalist of Tawar was on October 25 2010,  abducted by Pakistani military and its notorious agencies at Karwat while he was going to attend marriage of a closed relative in Dasht Kunchiti. He was tortured to death and his body was dumped on November 18, 2010 alongside the body of Hamid Ismail at Hiroonk, a village 55 kilometer away from Turbat city. A paper was found in his pocket, on which it was written “An Eid Gift for Baloch Nation”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported Javed Naseer Rind, an editor and columnist with the Urdu-language Daily Tawar, Rind was kidnapped in his hometown of Hub in southern Baluchistan province on September 11, 2011. “Rind’s body was found in Khuzdar on November 5, nearly two months after he was abducted, according to news reports. The journalist had been shot multiple times in the head and chest, and his body showed numerous signs of torture, local news media reported.

According to BBC English, the mutilated body of Daily Tawar journalist Haji Abdul Razzak has been identified by his family, a day after it was found in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi August 21, 2013. The Balochistan-based journalist was abducted since 24 March and was tortured to death. The BBC report said, “only his arms and legs were sufficiently intact to enable identification.”

Several other Baloch journalists who used to write for Daily Tawar were also abducted and later killed under custody included Ahmed Dad Baloch, Nawaz Ahmed Marri, Rahmatullah Shaheen, Munir Shakir and advocate Ali Sher Kurd.

Gwadar: Chinese show interest in talking to Baloch

“No matter how hard they try to turn Gwadar into Dubai, it won’t work. There will be resistance. The pipelines going to China will not be safe. They will have to cross through Baluch territory, and if our rights are violated, nothing will be secure,” citing a Baloch activist, US scholar Robert Kaplan wrote an article in the influential The Atlantic. As resistance mounts to the CPEC in Balochistan, the Chinese are realizing that they can’t have Gwadar on millions of dead bodies of the Baloch and appear to be keen to talk. I was myself pleasantly surprised to see Lijian Zhao, the deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad– the Chinese point man on Gwadar–, who had previously blocked me on twitter, has now unblocked me.

This year, the Chinese officials also began routinely attending the Baloch events at the Palace of Nations in Geneva and even speak out at the events to convince the Baloch that the CPEC, which is a nearly 1900-mile network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, is in the best interests of the Baloch people.

The Chinese are throwing dollars like crazy to win over the Baloch. “The Chinese have purchased many Balochistan journalists,” warns Inayatullah Baloch of Iowa. “The Chinese are directly giving guidelines to these journalists not to write a single thing against the CPEC,” Baloch says. He says his sources have told him that the Chinese are being stationed alongside Pakistan troops all over Balochistan.

The CPEC which is a component of President Xi Jinping One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative for global dominance will shrink “China’s routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of miles, making Gwadar Port a potentially vital link in China’s supply chain,” according to Global Security.

But the Baloch don’t want Chinese presence, under the bayonets of Pakistan army. It is a matter of life and death for the hapless Baloch because if China succeeds in taking over Gwadar port’s under the watch of Pakistan army, there will be no Balochistan—land of the Baloch—as they will become outnumbered and marginalized in their ancestral homeland. It will be best for Beijing to stall the project instead of drowning its $62 billion in the waters of the Baloch Gulf—the name Baloch nationalists give to the Persian or Arabian Gulf—until the key issue of Balochistan right to self determination is resolved.

As Pakistan’s leaders are brown-nosing China, the Baloch who actually own the port are raising their voice of dissent. “If the tiny Diaoyu Islands are a matter of pride and principle for China and Japan, Gwadar is also a matter of life and death for the Baloch. Any unilateral decision by Islamabad concerning the fate of Gwadar will be opposed by the Baloch at all levels,” former senator Sanaullah Baloch, wrote in The Express Tribune. He said, “There is grave concern that a large-scale Chinese presence will further militarise the Balochistan coast and the Makran region, where a non-Baloch security apparatus, that is, the FC (Frontier Corps) and the Coast Guards, has massive presence, causing immense unrest.”

Lijian Zhao, the Chinese diplomat referred to earlier, personally protested on twitter, “Diaoyu Islands are disputed territory between China and Japan. Is Gwadar disputed? Chinese are here to help Gwadar. Please be reasonable.”

The Baloch dont see any benefit of the CPEC as long as the Chinese work with the Pakistan generals. “So far as CPEC is concerned, the Baloch are resolved to sabotage China’s work and have succeeded in their efforts to some extent,” says Kachkol Ali Advocate, a former opposition leader and fisheries minister from Balochistan, who lives in Oslo, Norway. Ali  believes a maritime great game is being played out in Gwadar. “The Baloch are doing what they can, according to their resistance capacity. But actually there are big powers involved with Gwadar particularly India, Dubai, Singapore, Iran and the USA.”

China’s greedy looks on Baloch waters are not new, however. Six centuries ago, during the Ming Dynasty the Chinese were present in the warm waters of the Gulf. The most famous Chinese maritime explorer and castrated Admiral Zheng He commandeered his 63 ships and over 28,000 men to Hormuz. “His giant ‘treasure ships’, packed with the finest goods and most sophisticated weaponry of the time, went to 37 countries over 28 years, exacting tribute for the Dragon Throne and extending China’s influence across much of the globe,” according to the BBC.

The CPEC has united the Baloch and the Hindus, both locally and globally, like never before. Scholar Robert D Kaplan wrote, “Indeed, as the (Pakistan) government builds roads and military bases, Baloch and minority Hindus are being forcibly displaced. Both groups are thought to harbor sympathy for India, and they do: in Baloch and Hindu eyes, India acts as a counterweight to an oppressive Pakistani state.”