Baloch nationalist activists have started a social media campaign on social media to highlight the military operation in the Dasht area of Balochistan’s Makran region.
Although no confirmed reports have been received yet because of a media blockade in the region, the Baloch Human Rights Organization claimed over 90 locals had been picked up by the paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel in the operation since the latest operation started on November 1.
According to a report compiled by the group, which has named the victims, 16 of them were released later while the rest are still missing.
Dasht, a vast piece of land, is an umbrella name for dozens of backward, small villages stretching up to almost Balochistan’s coastal belt. It’s informally divided between the lower and upper Dasht.
The operation is mainly being conducted in the lower parts, which is home to the impenetrable Saheeji mountainous range where Baloch militants are seeking refuge.
Pakistan’s security forces have been conducting ground and aerial operations in the area since 2005 to flush out the militants from their hideouts.
A high-level operation was carried out in May this year with gunship helicopters and hundreds of ground forces, but the separatist militants managed to flee, without any major casualty, from Saheeji, which forms part of Makran’s coastal mountainous range extending thousands of miles and rising to around 1,500 meters.
However, a six-year-old girl died in alleged gunship shelling.
The military has stepped up operations against Baloch militants since the government has signed the deal with China on the CPEC under which china will invest over 40 billion dollars in the next 15 years on energy and road infrastructure. Pakistan considers the deal instrumental for the survival of its flagging economy.
China has allegedly been demanding assurances of a peaceful implementation of the deal, especially in Balochistan, where Gwadar’s deep sea port is located. Therefore, it has become a top priority for the security forces to flush out militants from the Saheeji mountains because of its close proximity with the coast belt.
On the other hand, Baloch nationalists fear they will be converted into a minority. They claim the military operations are meant to vacate the whole coastal belt and its surrounding to make room for the bursting population of Karachi and Punjab.
Balochistan Times has received visual images of military burning villages in different towns of Dasht, apparently to weaken the local support for the militants.
Hundreds of locals have fled the area to safer locations in Turbat, Gwadar or Karachi due to continual military raids and raging battles between security forces and militants.
“It’s like hell. I am dumb from days of firing and shelling,” a local woman told BT in a voice text message.
Multiple local sources have confirmed that most villages in the lower Dasht area have been abandoned by the locals. Zarren Bug, Janmahmad Bazar, Kumbel, Hour Shouleeg, Shehani Negwar now resemble like ghost towns.
A few villages in the upper Dasht area like Kapkapar have also been affected.