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Notes on the Awaran Operation in Balochistan

While most of the Muslim world rejoiced and celebrated Eid al-Fitr those in Awaran, Balochistan were treated to a barge of bombs and bullets. In the early hours of June 18th, 2015 ( First day of Eid al-Fitr), Pakistani security forces cordoned off Malaar area of Kolwaah in district Awaran. All exit and entry points were blocked. Landline and cellphone services were suspended. By 7:00 a.m, four fighter jets and nine gunship helicopters indiscriminately pounded the besieged area. Mariyam, a local resident noted, ‘Poisonous gases showered from sky by Pakistani army when the operation started. As if it was a yellow rain’.

After the aerial bombing came the ground offensive involving hundreds of personal and military vehicles. Jamil Ahmad, another local, noted, ‘I have never seen so many army vehicles in my entire 50 years of life’.

The following day, the bombardment targetted Bazdad village.

Two days indiscriminate bombardment had turned four villages ( Wahli, Rahimo Bazaar,Zirak, Mulla Haji Ziyarat ) into ashes and killed scores of people. A Zikir-Khana (a place of worship for the Zikri sect ) in Mulla Haji Ziyarat village was also attacked and destroyed by Pakistan Air Force bombardment, while people were gathering there to practice Eid rituals.

The exact number of the casualties is not known yet as the affected villages are still under siege and the mobile networks are suspended. I spoke to a few villagers who escaped scene and they informed me that hundreds of people are likely dead. Piral, a local shepherd, who managed to escape from the cordoned area noted, ‘there bodies laying around the village, the whole village is nothing but ashes now’.

The villagers have not been allowed to bury the dead with rituals. However, in the village of Wahli, at night, after the first day of operations, the villagers were able to bury six locals. Among the six dead, there are two women and two children. There names are:

  1. Hayat S/o Mawla Baksh ( Male )
  2. Nazir S/o Shahbaik ( Male )
  3. Muhammad Noor S/o Eshq ( Child )
  4. Saboor S\o Rahmat ( Child )
  5. Gawhar D/o Muhammad ( Female )
  6. Noor Malik D\o Eshq ( Female )

The spokesperson of Home Department of Balochistan, while speaking to the media outlets, said that scores of Balochistan Liberation Front’s, an organization fighting for an independent Balochistan, members including several commanders were killed during the operation. However, the Baloch Liberation Front has said that just two of its members were killed and the rest were non-combatants civilians.

Meanwhile, Baloch National Movement ( BNM ), a local political organisation, has published a list of 391 missing people. Who they claim have been either killed or abducted during the operation.

The heaviest bombardment occurred in the first two days of the operation. However, operations continue in the Malaar and other areas of Awaran. Below is a summary of other military operations being carried out against the Baloch of Awaran.

On 30th July, Pakistani forces raised to the ground Ganda kour, Gishtiri, and Bandami villages to ashes.
On 5th August, Pakistani forces attacked Ziyarat-e-Dan village and burned down several houses.
On 8th August, two shepherds were killed when PAF gunship helicopters attacked Gishkour.
On 11th August, the forces attacked Gand chahi, Karki villages and burned down several houses.

Meanwhile,Baloch political parties and activists have carried out series of peaceful protests against the military operation in Awaran and continuous siege. Below is a summary of the protests:

20 July and 21, shutter down and wheel-jam strike observed in major cities of Balochistan.
22 July, Baloch Human Rights Organization staged a protest rally in front of Karachi press club.
24 July, Baloch National Front staged a sit-in protest in front of Quetta press club.
25 July, Baloch National Front staged a protest rally in front of Karachi press club
9 August, Baloch National Movement staged a demonstration in Hamburg, Germany.
17 August, Baloch Students Organization – Azad staged a protest rally in Dasht area of Kech.

The operation in Awaran began unannounced and in civilian areas. It is targeting the civilian population and therefore constitutes a war crime. The operation again demonstrate to the Baloch people that they have no future with the current structures of the region. The operation also provides further evidence of the on-going Baloch genocide. Given that the locals are not allowed out of the operation area, the media or human rights organizations are not allowed in the area, the continued abuse of power by the Pakistani military against the civilian population of Awaran is likely. This writers appeals to activists of the region and beyond to take the news of the operation seriously and stand in solidarity with the Baloch of Awaran.

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