Pakistani army’s slave colony

Over a million farmers brutalised in Okara

Spending a lot of effort alleging humans-rights violations in India’s troubled Jammu and Kashmir state does not prevent the Pakistani army from indulging in a brutal repression of farmers in Okara on a much grander, more systematic scale. The objective is purely commercial – control over the Okara military farms. Over a million farmers – slaves of the army in all but name – risk losing whatever claims they have to the land and becoming ‘rent-paying’ tenants of the military. Even children are tortured.

Roadblocks are everywhere, manned by soldiers with automatic weapons as well the lighter-armed police. Four-wheelers with mounted machine-guns prowl menacingly upon the dirt roads next to the irrigation canals, raising huge clouds of dust as they move between villages. For all practical purposes, the nearly one million people of Okara are under military occupation but Pakistan’s political parties have yet to take note. The poor, after all, don’t matter much.

Why are they doing this, I asked one villager from the crowd that was now swarming around me. “They want to put us on contract, pay rent to them, take away our rights to the land, and then throw us out”, he replied, “but this land is ours because our forefathers have tilled it and we have nowhere else to go”. And then, as if the floodgates had broken, villagers came to show us wounds upon their bodies, some now turning septic. Broken limbs, hollow faces, sunken eyes, and marks of beatings were in abundant evidence there too.[Pervez Hoodbhoy]

Okara is just a microcosm of the parasitic nature of the Pakistani army. As for its portion of Kashmir, Pakistan’s own human rights commission reports that its residents live in a general atmosphere of fear and apprehension where Pakistan’s intelligence agencies dominate and control their government.

Related Links: Human Rights Watch report: Soiled Hands – Pakistan Army’s Repression of the Punjab Farmers’ Movement, ‘What I saw in Okara‘, an interview with Pervez Hoodbhoy that did’nt make it to print, and an op-ed by Ardeshir Cowasjee that did.

4 thoughts on “Pakistani army’s slave colony”

  1. It must be duly noted that most of these farmers are Hindus, who, it seems, are not only being shabily treated by the military, but wealthy landowners as well.

  2. Pakistan Zindabad! Are Sale Kuttey! Hamari Fauj is kaynat mein sab se takatwar fauj hai, voh hindustani kafiron ko to kargil mein hamein macharon ki taran mara tha ab sale tum gadharon ki bari hai!

  3. Oh surely Bashir Ahmed portrays the knowledge level and civic attitude of the common Pakistanis.

    They don’t get the picture don’t they? In 1971 when Pakistani army was carrying out genocide against Bengalis of Bangladesh, the Pakistanis still believed in the “takat” of their rapist/drunk Army officers. And even now they try to ignore the death of 3 million bengalis, thousands of rapes and annihilation of villages as if it never happened.

    A friendly advice to Mr. Bashir Ahmed: “oppression do not continue for long. There has to be an uprising against that. So don’t ignore them if you claim to be a civic human being. Otherwise Pakistan will be divided more.”

  4. The Pakistani Army, not only towards the minority hindus, but towards the common muslims as well, have always behaved in atrocious and inhumane manners, they are mostly comprised of West Punjabis who hoist nearly all of the social, economical and political power within Pakistan aside from Karachi. They have no regard for humanity and simply believe in their own ultimate supremacy above all, it is clearly evident that Pakistani army has not learned its lessons from the last four wars fought with India and still display arrogant, egotistical and abnoxious behaviour. Rather than create peace with their neighbours, they concoct an atmosphere of fear, hostility and hatred from which steps towards a permanent peace accord are hard to come by. This is not to say that Pakistanis are bad for the common Pakistani wants peace just as much as the average Indian, it is the powers that be that prevent this from occuring, whether it was Vajpayee or Mussharaf, both had personal interests that they wanted to protect rather than looking after the safety, prosperity and wellbeing of their people which was their primary responsibility, hopefully Manmohan Singh will prove different and we will see steps towards peace being achieved in the near future.

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