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Dispatches from Quetta:

(I am posting some jottings I received from a young friend in Quetta. When I first read them I was reminded of Riverbend, the blogger who documented life in Baghdad during the Iraqi war. I will update this note as I receive texts. For those unfamiliar with Baloch current history, see Daisann McLane's article at Corrente: http://www.correntewire.com/disappeared_balochistan).


August 12
there was a blast in the evening. many ambulances rushed to the site. it was on sariab road. they haven't disclosed any casualties, but on my way back home there were just too many miliatry trucks and personnel near my place. havent seen anything like that--and they seemed tense. and there were demonstrations against Barrick Gold, for not hiring locals.

photos to illustrate dispatch below provided by Faiz Baluch

demonstration Canada

demonstration London (Hairbyar Marri interview)

demonstration Quetta

The Baluch observed their independence day, despite strict measures by the Pakistani Occupation Forces [POF] to quell the celebrations. The Independence Day celebrations were kicked off by hoisting the Baluch flag at eleven in the morning, followed by singing of the national anthem, setting free birds as a symbol of freedom, and by releasing balloons in the the national colors. The national flag was also posted at Mount Chiltan's highest peak. The forces did take down the national flag raised at New Kahan Town and raised the Pakistani flag, but the Baluch youth were quick to lower the Pakistani flag and raised the national flag again. Events became interesting when POF members surrounded the Marri Tribal Council to take down the national flag posted there. The children of the Marri tribe pelted POF members with stones, forcing them to retreat. By dusk the POF had abducted eight Baluch men, two from Hazar Ganji and six from New Kahan. POF forces used tear gas and other tactics like a special twelve-man motorcycle patrol at the city's Northern Bypass, flagged motorcades driving through the city, distributing free Pakistani flags and baton charging to stop the celebrations.

In Kalat Independence Day celebrations were observed at midnight, by aerial firing and distribution of sweets. In Khuzdar the students at the Engineering University hoisted the national flag and celebrated by performing the traditional “Chaap”, the tribal dance performed on joyous occasions. At Mand the celebrations started with aerial firing through the early morning hours. The flag was raised later on and the national anthem sung. The Baluch assembled and rallied through the town. One man was abducted by the POF Police.

In Naushkei the celebrations were observed by the flag hoisting ceremony, followed by a rally. Similar celebrations took place in Dalbandin, Hub, Sibi, Kohlu, Mach, Karachi and Interior Sindh. According to Pakistani media fifty five people were abducted on August 11th, 2009. Meanwhile in Dera Bugti, there were fierce clashes between the Resistance and the POF, at Marwar Ilyasi and Gaudi. The Resistance reported that it inflicted heavy casualties on the POF, including shooting down one POF Helicopter. The helicopter crash landed in Sibi. In Mashkei, a POF truck fell prey to an IED and 15 POF members were reported dead. His Highness the Khan, Khan Suleiman Daud, has announced the establishment of the Council for Independent Baluchistan. The Khan said that they are in contact with friendly states and they've been assured all possible help. Resistance Commander Brahmdagh Bugti, in a message to the Baluch, said that there will be no compromise on the Baluch Nation and he praised the courage and determination of the Baluch m en and women. Ms. Karima of the BSO appealed to women to join the Freedom movement. (sources: www.dailyasaap.com, printed from Quetta and Turbat)

August 11
The gist of today's news:

25 activists from the student party BSO-Azad have been arrested. Last night the Resistance targeted two Pakistani Occupation Forces [POF] policemen at Brewery Road Quetta, and three more this morning at Sariab Road Quetta, the policemen were injured as a result of the grenade attacks.

In Dera-Bugti, the POF have started an offensive. The operation is classified as 'big' by the Resistance. The POF are backed by helicopter gunships and are indiscriminate in their offensive. POF gunships have targeted Baluch civilians in this fresh offensive. There are reports of the POF having imposed an unannounced curfew of sorts on all main roads, following the announcement that Baloch would observe Independence Day on August 11th, 2009. The POF tried to lower a Baluch flag in New Kahan Town, Quetta, but the local population resisted by throwing stones at the officers. The POF have installed at least 126 machine gun posts with APCs on standby in Quetta. Several Baluch political parties have asked the Baluch to raise the Baluch flag over their homes. Meanwhile the POF have posted Pakistani flags on power posts and Pakistani government buildings. (sources: www.dailyasaap.com, printed from Quetta and Turbat)

August 9

the jailer of the notorious mach jail has been shot dead. he was loathed by the baloch. 2 cops injured in a grenade attack with 9 collateral.

August 7
listen, I told u about the abducted ATFs and gov employees. they [the BRP] let go of 2 because their family members were walking around with the Holy Quran, pleading for their release and it's part of Baluch culture to forgive when someone does that. And today they released another 7. All the detainees were fine and they weren't abused in any manner. the police refused to go after the BRA and requested the FC to conduct a release operation. the FC forwarded the request to the army. the army announced that they would conduct the recovery op in 12 hours. it's been over two days now and still no news.

August 7
I decided to stay back, university's starting on the 10th. I'll leave on the 15th or 13th. I want to see what's next and God knows what's in it for me. we took some more photos today. made some film and some of the previous film was lost. People are resisting. Baluch guys are riding their bikes in traditional garb. there are stories...like this one guy whom the paki forces stopped, grabbed his pants and pulled out a scissor to cut the drawstring...the guy pulled the soldier's rifle barrel and placed it against his chest--challenged him to shoot him in chest. the soldier didn't do it. another cousin of mine said they stopped a guy on a bike. he had his wife with him and they told him to do that murgha. They were hitting his back with a baton when passersby got there and the pakis had to let him go. what i find really funny is that their flags are just rippin off by themselves :) they're givin away flags, but no one's hoisting them. The paki patrols are good at recognizing Baluch. I roamed around in a pair of jeans and a shirt, but even then whenever they saw me they would keep an eye on me. the funnier part is that Baluch guys take me for a paki and would gaze angrily at me. There are reports of one Baluch guy, one Pashtoon guy gettin killed by mistake and 2 others beaten badly for moving around in pants. our neighbors are from Kalat. they say that their relatives, one man and a few women, were killed at Gai Khan Sariab when paki forces told them to stop and they couldn't because of weak brakes. And there's this story about a single "gun slinging" biker rebel who shot 3 or 4 paki soldiers. And I've met this teenage guy who was brainwashed into gettin suicide attacks. he says that they were training next to isi.

Aug 5, 2009: there was a comms blackout. lasted for at least 2 hrs. the media reported as a fault with a link cable outside karachi, but I believe it was sabotaged at Hub, that's happened previously as well. the BRA let go of two hostages to send a message that they aren't interested in killing, but the gov has planned an offensive. they have disclosed the participation of the FC, ATF and Army, backed by 2 gunships. the FC has also warned of it being capable of tackling any situation in Quetta. the US has massed 10k troops along the Chaman border, Afghan border, for sure. I remember the news reading Chaman. I did take some pics but the troops were either moving fast or scanning hard. I bought a laptop. it's used. can't find the drivers after installing it. it's a fujitsu fmV7220nu5/b. cost me around $200, i bought it to be able to do more. and they arrested two guys from karachi yesterday. it was something about servers and the i/n. i hope it wasn't because they were using proxy servers.

Aug 4, 2009: i went out on a bicycle trip, had my cousin with me. he's 13. pretty obsessed with an independent Baluchistan. I asked him to try to take some photos. the kid captured some film. it wasn't much. we caught 2 military pickups--the soldiers were carrying H&K G3s and a LMG mounted on the pickup. they weren't proper military vehicles. saw three makeshift compounds/battle stations--all heavily armed. Met an eyewitness who told me about the way they humiliate the guys caught. they "cut" their locks and beards. the ones with the baggy pants are forced to take off their pants. That's too humiliating. God forbid, it's a run, fight or die situation. dad saw 3 bikers and one motorist being taken away.They're raising paki flags over their check posts--not just one, 4 and so on. and there's this one place--it seems like a mini garrison or something. it's near my place--a boundary with paki flags on all 4 corners and a machine gun post at the front.

Aug 3, 2009:
Couldnt go out on the rcon ;) , mom was not feelin well, took her to the doc. just too many security personnel outside. saw a convoy of army vehicles with the soldiers in battle gear and faces covered. saw two FC trucks full of Baluch men, heading north, most probably to the cantonment. they have also deployed Sindh Rangers. fighter jets are buzzing over, quite high...they're circling around. the FC has come up with a new plan--sealing the city entrances. I'll try to get pictures.

Aug 3, 2009:
They're taking people away, dad saw them taking away a guy--his hands were tied really hard and they threw him in an old truck. I'll be goin out today, I'l try to get sum pics, the problem with my bro's cell is that its camera is a bit slow, it's 3.2 but it does all that autofocus n stuff. if i get caught i'll be hitting the cells too. the military's actions remind me of those chinese films based around worldwar 2, the imperial japanese would beat up civilians and then the there would be this kungfu vs karate fight. In other parts of Bn they're even searching women, and the people here seem to be pretty fed up. the BRP has also said that on August 14th it's goin to be our flag or theirs and KK has dismissed any reconciliation and asked the Baluch to observe August 11 as our independence day. one thing that's noteworthy is the this surge in Baluch media--more newspapers, very bold, and we have a TV channel. it's not really picin on the gov, but it's still doin a gud job...

Aug 2, 2009: I'm in Qta, I dont think its the FC, the guys are army, they're in khaki cameos, body armor, holed in makeshift gunny compounds [don't know the exact word for it], surrounded by barbed wire, with APCs stationed, the compounds have heavy machine guns, sticking out and not just a LMGs. the guys humiliating the people, they're checking everyone, they'll beat up anyone who questions them, and would order them to do a "murgha", that's urdu for Rooster, it's a punishment in which the "punishee" has to bend down and hold his ears. they're particularly tough on the motorcyclists, and so far they have abducted over a 100, suspected for the killing of Army Personnel over the passed 2 days. today also is the deadline for the hostages taken by the resistance, it includes 6 policemen of the anti terrorist force and 11 or so govt. labors etc. the resistance is demanding the release of abducted Baloch...i also walked in the Shadow of the Baluch Flag and Saluted Balach's portrait posted outside his father's home.