Pakistan: HRCP raps government for the increase in violence in Balochistan
A team from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has criticized the Pakistani central government and the provincial authorities for the worsening of security situation in Balochistan.
The team said that violence against the ethnic and religious minorities living in the province, especially those residing in the Baloch-majority areas have increased significantly for the past three years. An official from the HRCP claimed that tens of thousands of Punjabi and Urdu speaking residents have left the province, and the situation is showing no signs of improvement.
Two years ago, a government report had claimed that more than 100,000 people, mostly Punjabis and Sindhis have fled Balochistan due to worsening of the security situation. HRCP officials said that the exodus has increased in intensity since then, and between 5,000 and 15,000 people have fled to other parts of Pakistan during the 2011-12 period alone. According to the sources, the exodus is most noticeable in major cities, such as Quetta.
Khawar Jhandro, an ethnic Sindhi refugee was quoted by the HRCP as saying that it is increasingly getting insecure for any non-Baloch to live in the Baloch dominated areas. He claimed that his children were asked about their ethnicity even at the school in which they were studying.
Although Balochistan is the largest Pakistani province in terms of surface area, it is also one of the most sparsely populated regions in the country. The population is estimated at less than 8 million, with the Baloch, Brahui and Pashtuns making up close to 90% of the population. Baloch nationalists claim that ethnic Baloch comprises for more than 50% of the population of the province, a claim which is rejected by the non-Baloch in the region.
The 1998 Pakistani Census is also inconclusive as it groups the Brahui along with the Baloch. This is despite the fact that according to the linguists and anthropologists, the Brahui are an ethnic entity completely different from the Baloch. As per the 1998 figures, the speakers of Baloch (including Brahui) account for some 54.76% of the provincial population, closely followed by Pashtuns at 29.64% (boosted by Afghan refugees). Speakers of Punjabi (including Saraiki) account for 4.94% of the population, with another 0.97% speaking Urdu. The remainder of the population is composed of people who speak languages like Sindhi (5.58%), Dari-Hazaragi, Dehwari, and Vaghri.