An interview with journalist
“The indifference of
the international community towards the Baloch issue
By Sara Etxart
As a freelance journalist, Karlos Zurutuza has spent
several years covering the so called “frozen conflicts” around
the Caucasus, the Middle East and the Central Asian regions.
Yesterday he gave a talk in San Sebastian called “Balochistan,
a land off limits”, which helped to unveil the
dire situation of the Baluch people. Zurutuza visited
both Iran- and Pakistan-controlled Baloch areas and last
year his journalistic work was recognised with the Nawab
Akbar Khan Bugti Reporting Award.
What is the current geopolitical situation of
The Baluch people are today divided by three countries:
Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a nation with its
own language, Balochi, its own culture and traditions
and a common history to each of the three parts divided
today by the borders the British drew back in the nineteenth
Which are the reasons behind this division?
On the one hand we have the imperialist policies of the
main actors in the region: the Persians in Iran, the
Punjabis in Pakistan and the Pashtuns in Afghanistan.
On the other hand, we cannot forget the complex international
agenda for the region. Balochistan happens to lay at
the very confluence of future oil and gas pipelines
projected for the Central Asian region. In addition,
it has a long coastline coast is just at the entrance
to the Persian Gulf. We may still know too little about
Balochistan in Europe but be sure that we’re
talking about one of the most important geo-strategic
regions in the world. And we cannot forget that this
land is rich in energy resources like coal, gas, oil,
uranium; minerals like gold and copper… Countries
such as Australia, Canada, China or Chile, are exploiting
Baluchistan's immense treasures and the local
population gets no revenues out of it. Beneath this
barren part the world hide some of Asia's biggest
Why is the conflict being silenced?
Blame it on the international agenda mentioned above.
When talking geopolitics, Baluchistan may hold the
key for the future of the region in the short term.
How many Baloch are there?
Unfortunately, there is no official census as the dominating
governments practically deny the existence of the Baloch,
but figures may be somewhere in between 10 and 15 million
people. The Diaspora is also very strong because of
the huge numbers of Baloch being forced to leave throughout
history due to the harsh situation.
How was your experience in Baluchistan?
I had the feeling that I was travelling to an area from
which I knew too little due to the lack of information.
I'm used to gathering much more information before
going on assignment to a conflict area, but this time
I realised that it was a region poorly explored which
needed, and still needs, a lot of reporting.
What captured your attention most?
The imbalance between the drama the Baloch are suffering
and the indifference they get from the so called “first
world”. The indifference of the international
community towards the Baloch issue is outrageous. It
was appalling to check their living conditions on the
field and realise at the same time that no one seems
to care about it. It seems to me that a stateless nation
is always considered to be a second class one. People
just close their eyes to stateless nations' problems.
Can you give us any examples of this neglect?
For example, the illiteracy rate in Pakistan controlled
Balochistan reaches 80%. Thousands of people
are reported missing, humble villagers are bombed,
families displaced and dissidents hanged in public
places like in Iran-controlled Balochistan, or thrown
out of a helicopter like in East Balochistan…Survival
is a real challenge for most of the Baloch in the three
Did you ever feel in danger during your visit
to the area?
I was so well protected by my Baloch friends that I never
felt at risk. In fact, I was, and still am, more worried
about the personal security of those who helped me as
they may be victims of reprisals. Baloch hospitality
was overwhelming everywhere I was in Balochistan.
You were awarded with the Nawab Akbar Khan
Bugti Reporting Award for your journalistic
job. How did you find this recognition?
Needless to say that I felt very proud and honoured but,
at the same time, I couldn't forget about the high
number of fellow Baloch journalists who are reporting
daily and at high risk of being arrested, or even losing
their lives. During the award ceremony in London I dedicated
the recognition to them.
Any story you'd like to share with us?
During my visit last year I had the chance to visit an
area where an enormous amount of gas was discovered
in the 1950's. Just a few years later after the
discovery, a lot of kitchens in Punjab and Sindh regions
benefited from that gas supply. Today, the local Baloch
families living near the gas wells are still cooking
with camel's dung and firewood they had to buy
from neighbouring regions. I think this short story
speaks volumes about the injustice the Baloch have
Karlos Zurutuza is a freelance correspondent from the Basque Country. He's been awarded with the Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Reporting Award 2009 for highlighting the Baloch struggle in various newspapers and magazines.
of the international community towards the Baloch
issue is outrageous.”
ayer, antes de la entrevista.
(Ruben Plaza, San Sebastian)
Other articles related to Balochistan by Karlos Zurutuza:
From the Baloch nightmare to the British "Guantanamo", as told to Karlos Zurutuza and Wendy Johnson, Sep 1, 2010
Marri, Baluch liberation leader, by Karlos Zurutuza.
Reposted from the Spanish
original at gara.net
in West Balochistan, a predicted disaster, by Karlos
Zurutuza, Jul 17, 2010 (original
Spanish version published by Gara.net)
testing in Balochistan: a local physician´s
testimony, Interview by Karlos Zurutuza,
2009, first published in English, Apr 3, 2010
interview with journalist Karlos Zurutuza,
by Sara Etxart, NoticiasdeGipuzkoa, May 14, 2010: "The
indifference of the international community towards
the Baloch issue is outrageous." (Spanish
Vice Magazine has published several language editions of the article titled 'A
meeting with Lashkar-e-Balochistan,' by Karlos Zurutuza: German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, English;
For other editions of this story: gara.net (download
pdf in Spanish), The
Diplomat, and at thebaluch: A
meeting with Lashkar-e-Balochistan, by Karlos Zurutuza, Nov 17, 2009
have attacked the Taliban in Pakistan a long time ago (trans. Daisann McLane)
East Baluchistan: The forgotten,
endless war (trans. by Daisann McLane)
The 62nd Anniversary
of Balochistan's unsuccessful bid for independence (Part I): Pakistan's Baloch:
Life on the margins of Punjab, by Karlos Zurutuza, gara.net, August 11, 2009.
(English translation by Daisann McLane, Spanish
Joint Military Offensive Against East Baluchistan, by Karlos Zurutuza, translated
from the Spanish by
Elena Arengo (orig. publ. gara.net, Aug 30, 2009
Balochs in Iran, the “enemies
of God,” story and photos by Karlos Zurutuza, originally published
in Spanish by gara.net
with Ismail Amiri, by Karlos Zurutuza, Nov 4, 2009
with historian Taj Mohammad Breseeg, by Karlos
Zurutuza, Nov 2, 2009
operación unirá a la resistencia baluche
a ambos lados de la frontera, Interview with Akhtar
Mengal, by Karlos Zurutuza, gara.net, Aug 30, 2009
Articles in Spanish:
una guerra olvidada que no cesa; Otra
jornada de lucha en Quetta, capital de Baluchistán; Islamabad
tenía que haber atacado a los talibán en Pakistán hace
mucho tiempo; La
alargada sombra de los minaretes dorados de Zahedán, Gara.net, Jun
62nd Anniversary of Balochistan's unsuccessful bid
for independence (Part II): Baluch of Iran: the "enemies
of God", by Karlos Zurutuza, gara.net, Aug. 12,
62nd Anniversary of Balochistan's unsuccessful bid
for independence (Part III): "The Baluchis have only
two choices: death or slavery", by Karlos Zurutuza,
gara.net, August 13, 2009