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KARACHI, June 29: When there is extreme oppression, discrimination and human rights violations, the reaction to that also becomes extreme, said the self-exiled central leader of the Balochistan National Party Sanaullah Baloch via a video-conferencing system from Geneva, Switzerland, while explaining the causes of insurgent movements in Balochistan to an audience at The Second Floor (T2F).

Mr Baloch and Mir Sohaib Mengal, the London-based Baloch Students Organisation-Azad central executive committee member who is studying accountancy there, joined the informal talk, which was a second session of the Balochistan discussion series, on Thursday evening.

Author and journalist Mohammad Hanif moderated the session.

Giving a short overview of the Balochistan issue, including the problem of lack of representation of ethnic Baloch in the politics of that province, Sanaullah Baloch compared the policies of the Pakistani establishment to those of the British.

He said: “This new colonialism is not going to work. You are no better than us. Let us solve the problems of our own people.”

When Mr Hanif asked what separated the current insurgency from the previous ones, Mr Mengal responded: “Armed struggle by the Baloch started in 2000 when the military dictatorship took over.

“Now communication technology and the media have made it possible for people to communicate news and create awareness. The movement has shifted from the villages to the cities.”

Then the moderator sought their opinion on the fact that there seemed to be two schools of thoughts regarding the Baloch insurgency — one fighting for fair representation in the government and the other wanting absolute independence from Pakistan.

The BNP leader said: “Even when the nationalists are non-violent and moderate, the establishment isn’t willing to accept them. And their strategy is to eliminate them. The ground for the Baloch is being squeezed and has become narrow. There isn’t a lot of space for them to express themselves politically.

“These two movements will eventually merge and become one,” he opined.

Asked what in their opinion the establishment hoped to achieve through a policy of kidnap and murder, Mr Baloch said: “I really don’t think anybody in the establishment is really bothered or loves Balochistan. They are after the economic resources of Balochistan.

“Establishing ‘Strategic Depth’ by force in Balochistan is of no use,” he added.Mr Baloch said that things would have been different if the establishment had changed their policy and brought about educational, political and economic empowerment in Balochistan.

Over the past 20 years, according to him, Balochistan has developed an aware and educated class that doesn’t base its ideologies on emotions alone. “They are aware of what they have and what they are being denied and how they are being mistreated,” he said.

“Political revolt is our right. They take our resources and establish army bases and cantonments… there are no proper schools, colleges or hospitals. There are more madressahs in Balochistan than there are schools though historically and culturally, Balochistan has never been religious.”

When Mr Hanif asked if they believed their movement would be able to bear fruit without foreign funding or support from other nation states, Mr Mengal responded: “If there had been foreign funding, this movement would have been on a very large scale.”

Mr Baloch added: “We’ve lost what we had to lose. We don’t want any more bloodshed. If the Pakistani establishment wants, it can present peaceful solutions, but it must adopt a proactive approach to do that before it’s too late.”