Economic exploitation and state oppression in Balochistan echoes in Geneva

ANI | Updated: Sep 18, 2017 22:17 IST

Geneva [Switzerland] Sept 18 (ANI): Baloch activists and human rights defenders raised their voice against the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and termed it as a project of looting and plundering of natural wealth of Balochistan.

The event titled "Scaling the Abyss: CPEC, Economic Exploitation and State Oppression in Balochistan" was organised by World Baloch Organization (WBO) and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization (UNPO) on the sidelines of 36thSession of Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Opposing the CPEC project, the speakers said despite living in resource-rich region, the people face extreme poverty, conflict, hunger and instability due to the systematic looting of natural wealth of the province.

Balochistan, a region that spans across parts of Iran, Afghanistan and is currently Pakistan's largest and most resource rich yet least developed region.

For centuries, Pakistan's Punjabi and Chinese businessmen have been exploiting Balochistan's plentiful minerals such as copper, uranium, gold, coal, silver and platinum.

The projects have systematically excluded the Baloch indigenous people, not only depriving them of the employment and development prospects but also forcefully clearing them to make way for the construction sites.

The 1995 multi-billion dollar copper gold Saindak project, the 2002 Gwadar Port project and many other projects, which the Pakistani administration have been pushing through, with substantial financial aid from Chinese businessmen, have been displacing and marginalising Baloch people.

Balochistan is responsible for about 23 per cent of Pakistan's total gas production and astonishingly, only 6 per cent of the gas produced is actually consumed in the region itself, which the rest is consumed in other parts of Pakistan.

The speakers said alongside this wide ranging economic exploitation of the region, the Baloch suffer at the hands of the Pakistani authorities, incessantly subjected to enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and extra judicial killings.

Shah Jahan Baloch of World Baloch Organization (WBO) said, "The so called Chinese development is destroying not just the population but economy, livelihood, ecology of Balochistan."

He said that there has not been Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the CPEC that is mandatory as per the United Nations rules.

He demanded Pakistan to carry out the EIA of the CPEC and Gwadar Port.

He said that Pakistan has killed more than 8000 Balochs without any trial.

By killing innocent people how development project can be successful, he questioned.

Fernando Burges, Representative, UNPO, said that there could not be CPEC without Balochistan.

"Balochistan is the main geo-political area and the Gwadar Port is the key. When you think and look at CPEC, it goes through disputed territory so it is against the international law," Burges said.

Burges further added that, "as the CPEC ends in Gwadar, what you have there is Chinese military and Pak security agencies protecting the workers who are not Baloch. The question is that who will pay the cost. Until now, it has been Balochistan".

Gwadar Port is a deep-sea port situated on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan. The port features prominently in the CPEC plan, and is considered to be a link between the ambitious One Belt, One Road and Maritime Silk Road projects.

Talking about the human rights violations by Pakistan in Balochistan, Burges said human rights violations are taking place indiscriminately.

China is not a champion of human rights, so it is a worst combination of States when it comes to human rights. (ANI)