Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province rich with natural gas, gold and copper. Located on the borders of Iran and Afghanistan, land of the Balochs, where the first Baloch confederacy was founded in 1666, has had a bitter history of exploitation and suppression by a strictly centralized federal government heavily influenced by the country’s military. While the central government and the province confronted each other four times since the forceful annexation of the Baloch land into Pakistan in 1948, the ongoing movement entails more systematic and radical dimensions. Malik Siraj Akbar, editor of the The Baloch Hal, the first online English newspaper of Balochistan, takes a look at the last one decade how the dimensions of the Baloch movement changed. A Hubert Humphrey Fellow at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Malik reveals the “enforced disappearance” of hundreds of Baloch political workers and their brutal murder by the Pakistani security services under a “kill and dump” policy during detention in a phenomenon similar to Argentina’s Dirty War. The book analyzes growing state-sponsored radicalization in secular Balochistan. Malik is the most widely quoted journalist on Balochistan. He insists that the killing of former governor Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, by Pervez Musharraf’s regime proved as the 9/11 of Pakistan’s relations with the resourceful province. The Balochistan question merits attention of the international community not only for a stable Pakistan but also to provide the world alternative options for a secular buffer state between Iran and Afghanistan if Pakistan falls in the hands of Islamists.
Malik Siraj Akbar is the editor of The Baloch Hal, Balochistan’s first online English language newspaper. He was a 2010-11 Hubert Humphrey Fellow at the Arizona State University and a former bureau chief of Pakistan´s leading English language newspaper Daily Times and its sister publication in Urdu, Daily Aajkal.He writes for Huffington Post, Foreign Policy Blogs, Dawn and Express Tribune.