Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Dark Christmas in Balochistan

As the joy of Christmas dawned worldwide from Manila in the east to Managua in the west, and places in between, the spirit celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace bypassed Pakistan. Most of the country was distracted by the frenzy of a cricket match against rival India, while its tiny Christian population was observing one of theirdarkest years everBut the condition of Pakistan's Christians on this, their "dark Christmas," paled when compared to what was unfolding in the country's southwest region at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. In fact, on Christmas Eve, the Pakistan Army launched a military operation in Balochistan that resulted in a massacre in the city of Mashkay.  Balochistan is home to a 60-year-old, on-again, off-again armed insurrection fought by three generations of guerrillas seeking independence from Islamabad's clutches. Deccan Walsh of theGuardian describes the conflict as "Pakistan's secret dirty war." While the world observed Christmas and Pakistanis were glued to their TV sets watching cricket, Pakistan troops in armoured personal carriers backed by helicopter gunships circled the town and claimed the FC (Frontier Corps) had "killed many BLF [Baloch Liberation Front] men." Baloch politicians, bloggers and exiles, however, claimed the army action resulted in the death of 32 civilians.

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