KARACHI: At the first Karachi Baloch Peace Conference, it was not only the problems of the community that surfaced but also their fear of being sidelined in politics.
Speakers from different political parties attended the conference organised by the National Party on Sunday, presided by the party’s Dr Abdul Malik Baloch.
It is important to move the youth so that they can be educated and work towards the community’s development, said the participants.
“People in this city are being targeted according to which community they belong to, not political party,” said senior vice president of the party, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo. “Karachi belongs to the Baloch – but they are not fighting for its ownership or economy, only for survival.”
Asad Iqbal Butt of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that the Baloch’s issues should not be separated from the turmoil Balochistan is going through.
Dr Yaseen, Zain Bux Azad, Prof. Akhtar Jan Baloch, Hayat Baloch, Saadia Baloch, Iqbal Baloch and others said that the Baloch of Lyari were considered as diehard supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party but were yet to receive their rights.
“Outsiders are now claiming that this city belongs to them,” said senior politician, Usman Baloch. “We made this city – we need to involve ourselves in politics now.”
Habib Hasan of the Lyari Resource Centre highlighted unemployment, lack of education and political alienation as the main problems.
“They tried to turn us into Red Indians and we are considered ‘Dalits’,” said Hasan. “Our children will fight for their rights because our ancestors were denied theirs. Give them their due share and the country will see how much potential the Baloch have.”
In Sindh Minister Rafiq Engineer’s opinion, Baloch were the indigenous people of Karachi but were lacking in education. “Our children and youth need to concentrate on peace and education so that they can enter mainstream politics,” stressed Engineer. “Everyone has the right to live without threats to their identity.”
Noor Muhammad, Sardar Bashir, Latif Baloch, Akram Baloch, Allah Bux Bozdar, Sardar Kamal Khan, Amin Dost and others urged the government and political parties to deal with these issues before ‘it’s too late’.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.