Guest column by Kachkol Ali*
The 21st century has marked the dawn of a new era of enlightenment and has led to new norms of international humanitarian laws . Rather it is an age of politics of cultural recognition.
The concept is particularly relevant to the stateless nations, where as Amartya Sen writes in his book, The Idea of Justice, justice is like “justice in the world of fish, where a big fish can freely devour a small fish.” The initiation of this topic actually provides a golden opportunity to the people and nations without states to raise their voice in the European Parliament, which has always been playing a pivotal role in favor of oppressed nations and to strengthen democracy and human rights.
Therefore, the commitment of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) with the nations states is really a beacon of hope for them.
As far as redefining of self-determination is concerned, it is now established that the most familiar part of cultural recognition is the claims of nationalist movements to be constitutionally recognized as independent nation states.
We have seen the revolutions in Eastern Europe overthrow the old imperial constitutions after 1989; the peoples who demanded recognition re-described their culture as nations (the most prestigious form of cultural recognition). They then inferred that the only form of constitutional recognition of a nation must be an independent nation state. Under the logic of this inference, they tended to pass rapidly through multinational constitutional federations and to disintegrate into nationally defined states. These revolutions thus continued one of the oldest conventions of modern constitutionalism: every culture worthy of recognition is a nation, and every nation should be recognized as an independent nation state, according to James Tully, author of Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity.
To me it is the politics of cultural recognition by virtue of which the meaning of an obscure political and international legal term is being changed and new norms are being evolved. Today there is no other option left for scholars but to re-define self-determination, the reasons and logic behind that are that the 21st century is an age of intercultural identity rather than multicultural definition.
Cultural minorities are demanding recognition and protection. Kosovo and East Timor are conventionally offered not only as textbook example of the new era of humanitarian intervention but also established new norms in international law. Noam Chomsky called it “new ruling ideology.”
Subjugated and underprivileged nations such as Baloch desire the same modus operandi and norms of new era humanitarian law which were applied in Kosovo and East Timor.
It would be pertinent to mention here that there are four types of international substantive crimes which are mentioned in the preamble of Rome Statute namely genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, Pakistan has been committing all the four afore-mentioned international crimes against the Baloch nation.
Pakistan committed the crime of aggression by invading Balochistan on 27th March 1948, from that day onwards there has been a Baloch nationalist resistance movement against Pakistan illegal occupation. As far as substantive law of international crime against humanity and war crimes are concerned there are a bulk of International Amnesty and international Human Rights Watch reports which established the crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as the unimaginable practice called “kill and dump” in Balochistan.
The discovery of mass graves in Tootak Khuzdar further proved the shocking atrocity and genocide Pakistan security forces are committing in Balochistan. More than 100 bodies were discovered from the mass graves in Tootak, Khuzdar, which shook the conscience of the international community.
The Baloch understand that the bodies recovered from the mass graves in Tootak, Khuzdar, were some of the 18,000 innocent Baloch political workers. who were made victims of enforced disappearances and illegally detained in torture cells of the Pakistan security forces. Another 2200 mutilated dead bodies of Baloch victims have also been recovered in recent years.
My son Nabeel Ahmed was abducted by the Pakistan Security forces on 30th August, 2014 after I asked him to release a statement on the human rights situation in Balochistan, including the killings of eight Baloch people from Zikri minority group and the murder of two journalists. He had also filed a constitution petition for the recovery of two of my houses in Turbat, which have been forcibly occupied by the Pakistani security forces.
Pakistan is committing state terrorism as can be seen in the consistent pattern of gross and reliably confirmed violation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in Balochistan by the Pakistan security forces. The UNPO in March organized and convened a fruitful and successful conference in Geneva. Niccolo Rinaldi who is a Member of Parliamentary delegation to South Asia, expressed his concerns on the ongoing gross human rights violations in Balochistan.
The Baloch National Movement (BNM) is thankful to UNPO and Mr. Rinaldi’s personal commitment for justice in Balochistan.
It would not be out of place to state here that the relatives of victims of enforced disappearances, who were in illegal custody of Pakistan security forces, had embarked on one of the longest marches, a distance of 3,000 kilometers, from Quetta to Karachi and then from Karachi to Islamabad, beginning on October 27, 2013 and ending on February 28, 2014 under the leadership of Mama Qadeer Baloch and Banuk Farzana Majid. The long march was meant to invite the attention of the international civilized community and world media.
In Islamabad, they met with the officials of United Nations and Ambassadors of European Union countries, who showed support to the participants of the long march. In reaction, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson named Tasneem Aslam criticized EU diplomats and alleged that they have violated diplomatic norms and later called on EU Ambassador Professor Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.
Prof. Wigemark, in return, in a statement asked Pakistan to fulfill its pledge to fully implement the 27 international conventions it had signed and ratified.
While the stand taken by Prof. Wigemark is admirable, questions arise in prudent minds why the civilized community does not fulfill its entrusted responsibilities, as it did in the case of East Timor, to end the impunity of Pakistan security forces, atrocities and consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Balochistan.
Keeping in view the afore-mentioned facts and circumstances, it is requested of the UNPO to bring the conscience-shaking situation of Balochistan into the notice of the European Parliament, so that it may fulfill its entrusted obligations, in accordance with new norms of humanitarian international law and the new ruling ideology.
* Lawyer Kachkol Ali, who is a former fisheries minister from Balochistan, now lives in exile in Oslo, Norway. He is a senior leader of the BNM and the party’s representative in Europe.