Nuclear Tests in Baluchistan: Political and Environmental
Photo: American Friends of Baluchistan presiding council
member Mohammed Ali Baloch [extreme right] with Fauzia
Deeba, Sharif Behruzand Dr. Karim Abdian.
By Ahmar Mustikhan
A DC-based Baluch group, supported by Americans and
oppressed nationalities from Iran and Pakistan, has urged
the International Atomic Energy Association and the United
Nations to take steps to denuclearize Pakistan and stop
it from conducting further nuclear tests in Baluchistan.
The demand was made at an event "Nuclear Tests in Baluchistan:
Political and Environmental Impacts" organized by the
premier Baluch advocacy and educational group, American
Friends of Baluchistan, to mark the 11th anniversary
of Pakistan's testing of nuclear weapons.
An A.F.B. board member Rasheed Baluch of Texas in his
opening statement described May 28 as a day of mourning
for nearly 20 million Baluch people all over the world.
"The three tests conducted in Chagai and two tests in
Kharan are the worst harm Pakistan occupation inflicted
on Baluchistan," Rasheed Baluch said. "[But] I take pride
in informing the world that the Baluch people have unitedly
as one nation come out openly against testing of nuclear
weapons. It is a shame many Pakistanis observed the day
as Yom-Takbeer, or the day of Allah's greatness. This
was like rubbing salt on Baluch wounds."
Two Iran-based leaders Dr. Karim Abdian, executive director
of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, and Karim Behruz,
a representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of
Iran expressed solidarity with the hapless Baluch people
in Pakistan and Iran and urged the world, particularly
the U.S., not to take the Iranian nuclear ambitions lightly.
Development expert Fauzia Deeba, in a detailed presentation,
deplored the pitiable social conditions in Baluchistan
and said the lack of clean potable water has created
a havoc with the lives of the people.
"Barely point zero zero one percent of the population
has access to medicare," she said.
According to eminent Pakistan nuclear physicist, Dr.
Pervez Hoodbhoy, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission
did not allow any environmental impact assessment of
the tests in Baluchistan.
In a recent article in Dawn newspaper, Hoodbhoy wrote:
"As for the Baloch, they deeply resent that the two
nuclear test sites — now radioactive and out of bounds — are
on their soil. Angry at being governed from Islamabad,
many have taken up arms and demand that Punjab's army
their backs. Many schools in Balochistan refuse to fly the Pakistani flag,
the national anthem is not sung, and black flags celebrate Pakistan's independence
day. Balochistan University teems with the icons of Baloch separatism: posters
of Akbar Bugti, Balaach Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti, and ‘General Sheroff' are
everywhere. The bomb was no glue."
Abdian called the testing of nuclear weapons on the
lands of the indigenous people a worst form of human
rights violation, while decrying the silence of the new
Obama administration over human rights violations in
different parts of the world, including Iran and China.
Behruz expressed concerns over the safety of the Iranian
and Pakistani nuclear program and condemned Islamabad for
its atrocities against the Baluch people, including the
nuclear tests 11 years ago. Abdian and Behruz both said
Teheran's stance that its nuclear program was meant for
peaceful purposes was a big, white lie. In
his speech in fluent Baluchi --translated by a Baluch English
poet --, A.F.B. presiding council member Mohammed Ali Baloch
narrated the historic facts about the annexation of Baluchistan
and said his country was granted independence prior to
the independence of Pakistan. "Pakistan failed to honor
even the Instruments of Accession that was signed by Baluch
ruler Mir Ahmedyar Khan under duress," he added.
He narrated the history of the military operations against the Baluch people. "As
I speak, a military operation continues in the tribal lands of the Marris and
Bugtis," he said.
Mohammed Ali Baloch deplored that at the time of the Chagai tests people of
Baluchistan were neither informed nor taken into confidence, playing a havoc
with the life and well-being of fauna and flora in the region, including the
nomads and their livestock.
He said he agrees with the views of veteran Baluch nationalist leader Nawab
Khair Bakhsh Marri; "Nawab Marri said a satisfactory resolution to Baluch grievances
is impossible to find within the framework of Pakistan."
A.F.B. presiding council member Laurie Deamer, who came with her parents Ray
and Wendy Deamer from Pennsylvania, to attend the meeting paid tributes to
the Baluch people for their national sentiments against nuclear weapons.
The meeting was informed that protest meetings and rallies were organized
by the Baluch inside Pakistan under the bayonets of the Frontier Corp and police.
Walt Landry, executive director of the Think-tank for National Self-determination
deplored the tests in Baluchistan, later told a reporter he had suffered a
grave personal loss because of nuclear tests.
"My brother was once posted at a testing site somewhere near Arizona
and New Mexico. He died of leukemia some years later," he said.
Rasheed Baluch cited Banuk Ria Baluch who told a rally in Quetta a day earlier
on Thursday that the uranium used in the testing came from the Baluch territories
in the Punjab called Dera Ghazi Khan. "No civilized nation can conduct such
tests on its own lands," he quoted her as saying.
Ria Baluch had also equated the Pakistani tests on Baluchistan to the U.S.
dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Rasheed Baluch said the nuclear tests have given rise to an alarming ratio
of cancer cases with at least one in every three nomads suffering from cancer
and also resulted in severe drought in the area.
Rasheed Baluch also cited Professor Sabah Dashtyari, who at the rally in Quetta
had urged Baluch mothers to teach their children from an early age what harm
Pakistan had done to their country so that each and everyone of them may grow
up hating nuclear tests and foreign occupation.
A.F.B. presiding council member Waja Karim Bakhsh of Atlantic City recalled
that last year when the Baluch observed the day of mourning Waja Ghulam Mohammed
Baloch of the Baluchistan National Movement led a protest rally in Karachi
and along with Wahab Baloch was picked up by the Pakistani intelligence services
and freed after being tortured.
He said on April 3 this year Ghulam Mohammed Baluch, 45, and two other political
activists Munir Baloch, 50, and Sher Moahmmed Baloch, 35, were abducted by
the Inter Services Intelligence shot in the head and their bodies dropped from
a military helicopter outside the town of Turbat.
Ghulam Mohammed Baloch was against the testing of nuclear weapons. "He wanted
a world without nuclear weapons. His "crime" was he wanted pace, justice and
freedom for the Baluch people. Those who killed him should know there are many
Ghulam Mohammed Balochs in North America and Europe."
For the first time in history both the United States and the United Nations
condemned the killing of the three Baluch activists.
Rasheed Baluch expressed optimism every American who wants an end to nuclear
arms will support the mission of the American Friends of Baluchistan and help
us realize the dream of Ghulam Mohammed Baloch for an independent Baluchistan,
free of nuclear weapons.
"Many a time in world history, dreams are realized long after the dreamers
are gone," Rasheed Baloch said.
Sher Mohammed Baloch, originally a seaman who now a naturalized American and
lives in Atlantic City, said the Baluch in North America can play a valuable
role in informing the world about the dangers of nuclear arms as they themselves
have fallen victims to nuclear radiation.
In his concluding remarks, Robert Selle, one of the founders and presiding
council member of the American Friends of Baluchistan expressed concern over
the situation in Pakistan and demanded the right of nations to self determination
for the people of Baluchistan.
He asked U.S. lawmakers to ensure that Baluchistan should get its share from
the U.S. funds being provided to Pakistan if Washington D.C. was sincere in
peace in the region.
Meanwhile, the American Friends of Baluchistan is seeking to work closely
with U.S. environmental groups, including the premier Alliance Against Nuclear
Arms, and is in touch with the organization's executive director Nicholas Roth.
The A.F.B. shares Roth's passion for a nuclear-free world.
Founded in fall 2006, two of the 10-point agenda of the A.F.B. pertains to
The A.F.B believes in end the nuclear programs of both Pakistan and Iran. "Nuclear
testing on the soil of Balochistan as practiced by Pakistan is against the
wishes of its people and must stop," the non-profit group's mission statement
The A.F.B. further demands, "At the least, the Chagai nuclear test range should
be opened for international inspections. But inspections should not diminish
the goal of making the entire region a nuclear free area.
Also A.F.B. presiding council member Rasheed Baluch will establish contacts
with other Baluch individuals and groups for the formation of a Baluch Action
Committee to work on an issue to issue basis with them, including winding up
Pakistan's nuclear test ranges in Chagai and Kharan.
Rasheed Baluch will also be in touch with Ahwazis, Azeris, Kurds, and Turkmens
from Iran, and Pashtuns, Sindhis and Seraikis from Pakistan to form alliances
with them and to take collective action on environmental and political issues
as and when needed.
[Picture caption: American Friends of Baluchistan presiding council member Mohammed
Ali Baloch [extreme right] with Fauzia Deeba, Sharif Behruzand Dr. Karim Abdian.