Burning the Pakistan Flag in Canada to draw attention to the Genocide in Balochistan

“If my actions have angered some Pakistani Canadians, may I suggest they examine their own consciences. They are defending a flag that symbolizes the 1971 genocide in East Pakistan and in part, the creation of the Taliban, terrorist attacks on India, the hosting of Osama Bin Laden and the subjugation of their land’s indigenous cultures and language.”


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

Last Saturday, I woke up to a phone call from a refugee who recently escaped death in Pakistan and now lives in Toronto.

Skipping the usual pleasantries, his voice quivering with anger, Lateef Johar told me:

“They’ve killed Dr. Manan and his son.”

“They”, being the Pakistan army that has occupied Balochistan since it invaded the independent state of Kalat in March, 1948.

Mannan Baloch

Dr. Mannan Baloch, killed in cold blood by the Pakistan Military

Dr. Manan Baloch was a physician politician who was the secretary general of the outlawed Baloch National Movement (BNM), a political party that calls for a free homeland for the Baloch people and the end of the Pakistani occupation. He was widely known for his work in helping war refugees in Balochistan.

Pakistan’s government, however, described Baloch and his associates as terrorists, called their deaths a “major breakthrough” in its war against terrorism in Balochistan and said all five men were killed in a gunfight with security forces.

But this is nothing new. Extra-judicial killings are common in Balochistan.

So are “enforced disappearances”, as the human rights organization Human Rights Watch has reported, where people are scooped up by security forces, held and often tortured in secret, charged with crimes after the fact, and sometimes found dead months later.

Journalists like Declan Walsh of the Guardian, who have tried to report the truth of what is happening in Balochistan, have been expelled, Walsh after writing his definitive account of human rights abuses by the army titled “Pakistan’s dirty, secret war” in 2011.

I am not claiming there have never been unjustified killings and human rights abuse by the rebels. This is a civil war, with all its horrors.

Further, in all of my 45 years as a left-wing political activist and writer, I have followed the non-violent path of Gandhi and the Pashtun nationalist Bacha Khan, never retaliating with force, even when I was beaten by Islamist goons on campus in Karachi or occasionally on the streets of Toronto.

I continue to believe in non-violent protest.

But to me, this latest tragedy in Balochistan called for more than spoken words or chanting slogans.

Flag burning pictureHow about burning the Pakistan flag, I thought?

After all in 1948, when the Pakistan army invaded and captured the capital of Kalat state, their first act was to install the Pakistan flag over the parliament house of Balochistan.

I recalled the words of George Carlin: “A flag is supposed to represent everything that a country does. It doesn’t only represent the good things. If you burn the flag, you’re burning the flag for what you perceive to be the bad things the country has done. It’s only a symbol. It’s only a piece of cloth.”

Since many Baloch newcomers to Canada were unsure whether burning a flag might jeopardize their legal status in Canada, I volunteered to hold the flag as they set it on fire at a demonstration last Sunday in Toronto.

If my actions have angered some Pakistani Canadians, may I suggest they examine their own consciences.

They are defending a flag that symbolizes the 1971 genocide in East Pakistan and in part, the creation of the Taliban, terrorist attacks on India, the hosting of Osama Bin Laden and the subjugation of their land’s indigenous cultures and language.


29 comments for “Burning the Pakistan Flag in Canada to draw attention to the Genocide in Balochistan

  1. Cheng
    February 11, 2016 at 4:14 PM

    With due respect to you,as well Pakistanis or even the Pak intellgentsia – What the actions of Pak since its creations, wars, genocide, terrorism and total administrative failures and uses religion as pretext for excuses it has brought only a curse for the people of indian sub continent. Does this people of all walk of life any moral or social or religious conscience?

  2. Kashif
    February 14, 2016 at 10:40 PM

    I just want to ask the author a simple question, did he ever visit Baluchistan? If yes, when was it last time, does he know how many innocent pro-Pakistan balouch were murdered by this death merchant, a so-called Dr. Manan. The ground reality is only known by Pakistani and more specifically residents of Baluchistan, a multi-ethnic province with complex sociopolitical dynamics.

    • Mir Kasim
      July 24, 2016 at 7:19 AM

      He is inmate of Balochistan.

    • Jamil Minhas
      August 20, 2016 at 8:03 AM

      During last few months I happen to watch Tarek Fateh’s interviews on Indian National TV Channels; inciting India to intervene in Balochistan to cut it off from Pakistan and even he provoked India that unless they do not occupy SIND province of Pakistan the India is not comple and so on but I am astonished to know that why Mr. Tarek Fateh have such intentions.

      What grievances he have had with Pakistan or Pakistan Army. Mr. Tariq Fateh was born in Karachi, got education there. Worked as PTV producer and thrown out of Pakistan by General Zia-ul-Haq.

      We are living in Pakistan and know that there are some problems in Balochistan with the Nationalist parties freedom movements but these are so isolated movements that it cannot be claimed as large and huge wave of freedom demand.

      On the other hand you Mr. Tariq Fateh watching what India is doing in Kashmir and how Kashmir people are demanding freedom and as of today the 20th August, 2016 curfew is imposed in Srinagar and you have never talked about this situation in Kashmir on any Indian TV Channels.

      If you have “SO CALLED” liberal opinion of human rights why you are silent…………….

      Tell us are not you are trying to fix your feet on Indian soil to come into Indian politics or all you are doing this to earn money. You are a person who born in Pakistan and you are not son of your own soil then how you can be patriotic with India.

      • Tarek Fatah
        August 20, 2016 at 10:31 AM

        Hi Jamil,

        I am doing what I am doing to make tonnes of money. A truckload of Indian rupees comes to my garage every Saturday and on Sunday’s the Israelis send bag loads of Shekels.

        If you want part of the action, let me know. It should be easy for you since you are a Pakistani, a country that is concubine that cheats on her master China as it sleeps around the neighborhood exchanging sexual favours for Saudi Riyals or Iranian cash while begging the Americans like hookers hungry for a quick joint.

        Now go fuck yourself.

  3. tausif
    February 15, 2016 at 9:52 PM

    india and pakistan should unite, balochistan was also a part of india since ancient time.

  4. Ahmed
    February 16, 2016 at 12:29 PM

    So should I also burn the US flag because it represents 100 years of slavery/racism, the mass murder of thousands of Japanese through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the creation of the mujahideen which led to the creation of the Taliban (ironically being mentioned in this article) and most importantly the genocide of of Native Americans/Red Indians whom I read about in storybooks just like how the author of this article came to know about Balochistan?
    The answer is I won’t. Because unlike the author of this heavily biased article I believe that no country is perfect and they should be given the chance to redeem themselves rather than being despised through the burning of their flag.

    • Tarek Fatah
      February 16, 2016 at 12:57 PM

      Don’t you Pakistanis already burn the American flag at every possible occasion? That’s quite rich of you, wouldn’t you say?

      And sure I would burn the American flag as do many Americans as its their constitutional right to do so. Had the Americans not acknowledged the crimes of the past and made restitution, I would have brint the U.S. flag as well, but as far as Pakistan is concerned, there is not an iota of regret or shame as to what you do to others in the name of Islam.

      Even in your comment that is no remorse. On the contrary, you choose to lie and claim the article is biased. You guys don’t evne know who you are and act as if you do. Go and look into the mirror and ask for it to show the truth.

      • Jana Krish
        March 22, 2016 at 1:21 PM

        Sir, i hope you get to read this. Why did you not seek an Indian citizenship… it would have been a great moral support to the moderate Indian Muslim, who voice is drowned by the bigots… it would be nice to see you along with us inthe Indian soil fight the fanatics of islam

      • Al-Bakistani
        March 30, 2016 at 3:05 PM

        Tariq Fateh is bloody RAW AGENT AND TERRORIST

        • Tariq Khan
          April 10, 2016 at 6:33 AM

          ROFL – Al-Bakistani sounds like a dumb errand boy for a Saudi master. Yalla Hindi drive me to the shops. 🙂 Does it remind you of your Muslim brothers?

      • Shoaib Siddiqui
        April 15, 2016 at 4:13 AM

        Go to hell….

      • Malik
        September 30, 2016 at 5:31 PM

        u r totally idiot. Do you know how many Indian flags being burned every day even in india. bull shit , ignorant RAW dog

  5. zaki
    February 24, 2016 at 3:10 AM

    Mr fatah …. I m a pakistani as well …. I have lived in balochistan ……and if u want out honest opinion …. u r right. To say we are the biggest assholes … we treated our country like not even north Korea does and that’s saying something

    But also u r wrong to say that balochistan wants out …. we don’t ….. it’s rruling class that wants out …. it’s the same thing as after mughals weakened …. so many independent states with their own rules , we all know how it ended… and our province is probably not that great in terms of being modern ….. the ruling class after bugti don’t care for it’s inhabitants …. u r. Right in saying that our army is not all it’s cracked up to be … far from it …..

    But sir the only reason that liberation party wants out of pakistan is to become rulers … they don’t respect the democratic process , they are land lords living in modern times …. the people don’t want separation they want schools , colleges hospitals …. CITIES which if I may tell u that our ruling party BLA doesn’t care for ….

    And Dr mannan baloch was no saint sir let me tell u that much …. he was like aurangzeb …. u think he is good but he is a terrorist ….

    U r right to condemn us for our support for Islamist , that what got us into this mess we are now

    I hate zia ul haq and our many army chiefs who helped these military factions and now our brothers and sisters are dying just cs someone thinks they are not following islam…. But plz sir don’t be prejudiced bcuz of hate for pakistan …

    I wish that u were our president ….. though I m sad at u burning our flag …. I don’t blame u ….

    As Ali said

    Be like the flower that go rd fragrance even to the hand that crushes it .


    • Tarek Fatah
      February 24, 2016 at 12:49 PM

      Think about it Zaki. You are parting with a greeting that has absolutely nothing to with any part of comprises Pakistan.

      What does it say when you use an Arab greeting of ‘Wasalaam’ instead of ‘Khuda Hafiz’ or ‘Fi Amanallah’ or ‘Ran Rakha’.

      May I suggest you ponder over this and thenbask yourself why would the Baloch not want freedom from a people who have no sense of identity, history, or heritage.

      No one.

      • zaki
        February 24, 2016 at 3:21 PM

        Oh sir I thought you never reply …..

        I replied wassalam not bcuz of arabic…. u m a syed myself ….. though we are no superior to other muslims ….. your views and my views are almost the same …. I despised bin qasim and aurangzeb as well …. I despise BLA the same way …. they are not progressive…. they are tribal ppl … stuck in ancient ages …..we need hospitals , CITIES , schools investments but these rulers mna mpa even bugtis are not progressive at all …. when I left for Punjab …. my world changed I m an admirer of art , history , heritage , but I also admire democracy , free thinking, science , progressive ideology ….. sir I do …..

        It’s sad that our ppl don’t and gems like u , abdus salaam , malala and so many have left us …. now we are stuck with only politicians and their families

        Seriously it’s like hazrat usman ( Allah knows why I still use this word for him ) way of caliphate ….

        If u were a politician in pakistan I would have voted for you in a jiffy ….. still hope is eternal

        Lastly only one question dear sir
        U do despise the 4 caliphs ?

        Do u despise Ali as well

        I know it’s kind of personAl but it’s a question I really wanted to ask u after your column on muharram matam

        Really hope you answer

        Khuda hafiz
        And au revoir

      • Salahudding
        August 20, 2016 at 8:09 AM

        If Baloch get freedom, then what next ? If you think they are slave of Pakistan, then which other nation will make them slave, either India or any super-power. Do you think that Balochistan have the capacity of survive as Independent country, while there is a huge barren area.

        • Tarek Fatah
          August 20, 2016 at 10:26 AM

          Unfortunately, you seem to believe one has to live as a slave as one’s destiny.
          Fortunately the people of Balochistan do not share your dismal attitude and wish to live as free women and men.

  6. duja
    March 14, 2016 at 10:27 AM

    my Fateh ,why dont u condem the continous killings of Kashmiris in India?
    thy hve been suffering from the past 70 yrs by IndIan Govt

    • Natesh
      April 4, 2016 at 3:43 PM


      Please let me know any single NON-PAKISTANI channel which shows kashmiri killings in India.
      This is just a propaganda populated by Pakistani Military regime to convince world about their conquering of POK.

      Moreover, you even dont know what kind of benefits does Indian Govt give to Kashmiris.
      Being a non-Kashmiri, sometimes we people feels that govt is biased and spending a big share of revenues on just one state.

      You ask any Kashmiri and the answer would be that he support India. “Just in case” anyone wants to support Pakistan, he will “STILL NOT” go and live there, because of the terrorism and poverty led hunger in Pakistan.

      So better improve your country rather than abusing other. If ur country was good enough, then the whole world would not abuse you on your face.

    • Akbar Hussain
      April 19, 2016 at 6:50 PM

      where do u porkistanis get these kind of news from ? the truth is that pok kashmiris want to join INDIA

  7. ARWatekar
    March 19, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    Sir it is very serious human right violation in Balochistan perticularly when you persons are raising voice against injustice in a peaceful manner..In fact it is the against the exploitattion of human being and precious earth belongings. The world must unite and prayer for your success. If you Govern yourself in Balochistan then only exploitation stops .

  8. Dogra
    April 7, 2016 at 4:21 PM

    Good article – justice for all genociders regardless of who eg Sikh genociders inindia 84 , three days mobs let loose , Bangla 71 – 3 million death order by gen yaha Khan , Kashmir 90 ethnic cleansing of Hindus from their ancestral home . Kashmir is named after rishi kashyap not Arab and not part of Arabia

  9. Manoj
    May 24, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    First i salute to Tarek fateh bcoz he did a lot of study about terrorist and isalm. But i did not like to burn of flag of any country. Respect to flag of all countries.

  10. Haroon
    August 12, 2016 at 10:23 PM

    TAREK FATE i Want To Joine Really

    August 14, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    Dear sir,

    i started following you for the last couple of years, i used mesmerize about your vision and unique approach with the existing issues like, terrorism , extremisum etc, if any speech or opinion you post in social media or visual media i never missed .your the most influenced person in my life, i am considering you as my ‘MANASIK GURU’ , so please accept my plea

  12. Long live pakistan
    August 15, 2016 at 10:28 AM

    Mr. Tarek you talk about balochistan , what about kashmir , hyderabad estates who were independent before partition and Indian forces forcefully invaded and brought them in India.
    Secondly you portraying false picture of balochistan infront of world , future of pakistan lies in balochistan , and specially after cpec with China. For You and your jealous allies; Independent balochistan is just day dreaming.

  13. paatchu
    August 24, 2016 at 9:58 PM


    Sometimes i feel, your thoughts are bit extreme end. But, a left revolutionary MUST be in that extreme end anyway.
    I do feel INDiA could have done much more in early days itself, so that PAKiSTAN’s venom teeth could have contained.
    I really hope Mr.MODI will take up Baluchistan to its logical end…not just to balance or put pressure on PAKiSTAN for its flawed KASHMiR policy.
    But, sir what is your suggestion to INDIA on their KASHMiR policy?.. I certainly do see a clear pattern when i saw the stone pelting youths there.. It feels bad. How these young guys could have been brain washed by PakiSTAN.

  14. SuchindranathAiyerS
    August 28, 2016 at 12:08 PM

    Pakistan’s 18th Amendment seeks to reverse the centralization brought about in Pakistan by Parvez Musharaf and his predecessor Military Dictators. But this will not reverse the impact of the all powerful Punjabi Sunni Army. Pakistan’s disintegration is predicated by the inevitable centrifugal forces set in motion by the inherent Islamic Caste* system.
    There is a strict and implicit sense of racial superiority inherent in Islam and a caste system as we have seen time and again. Arabs are top dogs, but inter se, various tribes are superior to others.
    Turkey carried out Islam everywhere, but, most notoriously in Armenia. Saudi Arabia in Qatif. Daesh (ISIL to Obama, ISIS to you and Islam to the friendly neighbourhood Mulla) is doing so on the Yazidi.

    Pakistan is a perfect test tube. The Punjabi is the top dog there by virtue of dominating the Army. “The Sultan” (or soldier). Sindhis purchase second position with “Jaziya” the rest are used as serfs. Pakistan performed Islam in Bangla Desh (1970-71) and is presently carrying out Islam in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan Chital, Hindus, Parsis, Christians, Kalat and lesser Moslems such as Women, Shias and Ahmadiyas. . The Turkey and CIA backed Daesh(ISIL to Obama, ISIS to some and Islam to most Moslems) is carrying out Islam on the Yazidi.
    Essentially, the same inequality under law and exceptions to the rule of law enshrined in the Indian Constitution as a Nouveau Caste system will disinetegrate Pakistan. But much faster than India, because the Sultan, by definition, is the most extreme Moslem.

    The 18th Amendment is almost irrelevant now as Pakistan’s disintegration is predicated by its Punjabi Sunni Moslem Army, just as India’s proceeds in slower motion under a Constitution that steals from some for the benefit of other and enshrines inequality under law and exceptions to the rule of law.

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