Pakistan: Jiand Baloch is free – the Baloch people are not!

14 August 2019

Statement – International Secretariat, League for the Fifth International

On August 2, many rejoiced when the Baloch Students’ Organisation, BSO, announced the release of the student leader Jiand Baloch on social media.

Jiand had “gone missing” on November 30, 2018. A few days later, three more comrades of the BSO, Zareef Rind, Changez Baloch and Aurangzaib Baloch also “went missing”. While the latter were released on January 5, all those close to Jiand, and the ideals he stands for, had to fear for his life for another 7 months.

The abduction or “disappearance” of Baloch people like Jiand is a common practice against political activists and members of oppressed nations in Pakistan. It hits the population of Balochistan, Pakistan’s South-Western province, particularly hard. An estimated 20,000 people have gone missing since the 1990s. Many were never see again, all too often, if they were, it was only as tortured corpses, dumped on the side of a road.

The Pakistani central state and the capitalist class, which is mainly based in Punjab and Karachi, have been following an agenda of inner colonisation of the three other provinces and of other regions like Gilgit Baltistan. The Baloch people have been hit hardest because their province is rich in resources and is important geostrategically, but few of its people are in a position to resist the predatory extraction of its wealth by domestic and foreign capital.

The brutal suppression of any resistance has led to the formation of guerilla forces time and again. In response to a resurgence of the guerilla movement in 2018, the state clamped down not only on them but on all opposition forces.

The League for the Fifth International and REVOLUTION stood on the side of the Baloch student activists and campaigned internationally for their immediate and safe release. We did so because we believe that only through the recognition of the right of self-determination of oppressed peoples can a common struggle against capitalism be born.

Only through solidarity with the oppressed “peripheries”, be it in Kashmir, Palestine or Balochistan, can the workers in the centres of oppression join hands with their brothers and sisters against their common exploitation.

We thank all those individuals, activists and organisations who raised their voice in solidarity with Jiand Baloch and the BSO. It was your effort which saved a comrade’s life.

Thus, instead of destroying the BSO, state repression has only managed to popularise it. New layers of society were made aware of the democratic demands and socialist goals of the young Baloch student activists.

This, we believe, is exactly how international solidarity and the building of a socialist workers’ and youth movement has to go forward. It will not be created just by a passive hope for a better future and a strong movement into which socialists can then intervene. It will only be built through the courageous and conscious intervention of socialists in struggles such as those of the Baloch people for freedom from oppression.

In this light, as well as expressing our gratitude to all those who raised their voices for Jiand, we have to emphasise that thousands of Baloch people are still missing. The province is still under de facto military rule and, if democratic rights exist at all, it is only on paper. We therefore ask you to raise your voices in the future and to win left and labour organisations internationally, and in Pakistan, to give both political and material support to the building of a socialist youth and workers’ movement in Balochistan.

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