The Killing of Karima Baloch
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Dec , 2020

The recent killing of 37-year old Karima Baloch in Canada, whom BBC had named one of the world’s 100 most “inspirational and influential” women in 2016, was without doubt the handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI. The Canadian government did grant her asylum in 2016 because her work as a human rights activist in Balochistan had led her to be followed and threatened by Pakistani authorities with her house raided twice and her uncle butchered. But it would not be surprising that the same Justin Trudeau administration that had granted her asylum in 2016 has now connived with Pakistan’s ISI to have Karima assassinated. One just needs to join the dots: Sikh separatists in Trudeau coterie; Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) office in Karachi and its consolidation in Pakistan; ISI providing SFJ link to Beijing, and; China-backed Pakistani genocide in Balochistan amid increasing Balochi freedom struggle. 

Karima is the second Baloch activist who has been assassinated in a country that provided the activist asylum. On April 23, 2020, the Sweden police found the body of Sajid Hussain, Pakistani dissident from Balochistan in similar circumstances. Hussain’s autopsy did not confirm exact cause of death and the family was not convinced by the investigation. Reporters without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based journalists’ organization, alleged that Hussain’s mysterious disappearance and subsequent death could have been organized by the Pakistani intelligence agencies – ISI and MI – due to his work as a journalist.

Commenting on Karima’s killing, Amnesty International has said, “The death of activist Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada is deeply shocking and must be immediately and effectively investigated. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty.” However, nothing much is likely to come out from the investigation. Granting asylum does not mean police protection and when the axis of evil is China-Pakistan with China doling out the money and ISI executing the kills, the victims stand little chance. China ruthlessly kills dissent within the country and Baloch activists are anathema to Beijing because of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Canada may be having a diplomatic row with China but its connections with Pakistan are too strong. 

Karima had been a harsh critic of ex-Pakistan Army officers settling down in Canada and was one of the most vocal proponents of Balochistan’s independence from the Pakistani occupation. The fallout of this large number of  former Pakistani officers in Canada has never been examined in detail. It may be recalled that it was the Atlantic Council of Ottawa that had hosted the infamous Indo-Pak Track II dialogue to orchestrate India’s withdrawal from the Saltoro Range in Siachen Glacier with not one of the several meetings held in India. It was never revealed as to how were the names of the Indian veteran military participants in the Track II arrived at with not one of them having served in Siachen.

It is well known that Shuja Nawaz (whose brother was a former Pakistani army chief) then serving with Atlantic Council of USA was in synch with Atlantic Council of Ottawa, but from whom did Atlantic Council of Ottawa receive the names about who the Indian participants should be?

As the Pakistani army continues to sell Pakistan’s territory and sovereignty to China, both China and Pakistan are facing the wrath of independence movements in regions of Balochistan, Pashtunistan and Sindh. Balochistan comprises 42 percent of total territory of Pakistan. Of the  2,700 km long CPEC from Kashgar to Gwadar, over 870 km runs through Balochistan.

The independence movement in Balochistan is not only because of Pakistan forcibly occupying the region in 1947-48 and ongoing exploitation of the natural resources of the region, but also continuing genocide against the Balochi population for which China even gifted four attack helicopters to Pakistan. Aside from daily abductions, torture, rapes and killings of Balochis, Pakistan is running multiple concentration camps in Balochistan. Two of these are in Nushkri district in western Balochistan,  one in Dera Bugti in eastern Balochistan and one in Awaran in southern Balochistan which also serves as a training camp for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Since mid 2020, the Baloch and Sindhi resistance has become better organized with the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Republican Guards (BRG) and Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) deciding to come together under the umbrella organization of Baloch Raj Ajoi Sangar (BRAS). This was bound to happen in response to Pakistan’s continuing efforts to entrench the PLA along with the Pakistani military along the coasts of Balochistan and Sindh. In North Waziristan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is extracting revenge from the Pakistani army for having killed thousands of Pashtuns including women and children and displacing millions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Waziristan in aerial and artillery bombings  through military exercises like Operation Zarb-e-Azb and continuing army operations.

During 2020, the TTP has been able to kill around 400 Pakistani military personnel cumulatively in actions that have become an almost daily affair. Same is the case in Balochistan where BRAS has killed some 350 plus Pakistani military personnel in addition to some Chinese engineers and officials. China has been smart in deflecting military casualties on Pakistani army though PLA in civil attire and using civil vehicles has been guarding part of the CPEC and related projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and a brigade worth of PLA is located in proximity of Skardu.

Now there is news that Pakistan has commenced erecting a wall/fence around Gwadar City on obvious instructions from Beijing. To be completed in one month, this wall/fence will seal off the heart of Gwadar city, leaving only one entry point and one exit point for the city’s residents. A number of villages too will get encircled inside the fence. Veteran Pakistani army officer Agha Amin had prophesied in 2012 that “Pakistan will be a semi autonomous Chinese province by 2030 or so… Pakistani Baluchistan by 2030 would be a completely Chinese run show” but it appears that Beijing is likely to advance that schedule. Gwadar is coming up as a PLAN base with Chinese marines already positioned there. With the abovementioned fencing, Gwadar Port itself will likely be built as a ‘fortress’ on the same lines as the Chinese military base in Djibouti. In Djibouti, PLA has been targeting US pilots flying in the area with lasers. The same should be expected in Gwadar.

The killings of Karima Baloch and Sajid Hussain are part of the China-Pakistani larger strategy to throttle the Baloch liberation movement. The strategy includes changing the demography of Balochistan through Chinese settlements along the CPEC including in Gwadar – on lines of China’s demographic invasion in Tibet and what Pakistan did to Gilgit-Balltistan which is Indian Territory in illegal occupation of Pakistan. TTP of course is much better organized and equipped to respond to the Pakistani military but global powers need to think whether China (in conjunction Pakistani army) is to be given a free hand in subsuming Pakistan and control the Persian Gulf in conjunction Iran, and whether something can be done to the serpent (CPEC) and the serpent’s head at Kashgar.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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