Balochistan complexities

Balochistan complexities

News & Views

Mohammad Jamil

Balochistan is mineral rich and strategically located province, and it needs peace for creating climate conducive to investment and development, which would help improve the living conditions of the people of Balochistan. However, militants are actively involved in worsening the security situation in Balochistan, and insurgency has hampered the growth and development of the province. Owing to public sentiments involved in the missing persons issue, it is being rightly highlighted in both print and electronic media but various militant groups under this garb are hell-bent in advancing their agenda. According to credible reports, telephonic conversation of some obstreperous sardars including Brahamdagh Bugti group and other groups, who are maintaining private jails and torture camps for their defectees and rivals.

It is obvious from half a dozen calls intercepted by intelligence agencies that they are also involved in abduction, kidnapping of local civilians for ransom and also security personnel for acceptance of their illegitimate demands including release of their ‘comrade in arms’. During January and February 2010, Brahamdagh discussed with Mlahar about release of kidnapped security officials. His local commander had kidnapped a person Jamalo and demanded Rs 11 million. There could be some persons arrested by the government departments or intelligence agencies, but a number of missing persons could be in Afghanistan and India on the behest of Brahamdagh Bugti and other groups. According to a news report carried by national English daily, more than 100 Pakistani Baloch dissidents have been sent to India by the Indian consulate located in Kandahar (Afghanistan) for six-month training. “We have credible reports that the Indian consulate in Kandahar dispatched more than 100 Pakistani Baloch dissidents during the second week of December 2009 for six-month training in India,” an intelligence source told the English daily on condition of anonymity.

In fact, rivaling international eyes, including world powers and regional countries are eyeing Balochistan avariciously to push it into their own orbits of influence and domination. According to political and defence analysts, the US, Russia, India and even Iran are either directly or indirectly widening the ethnic and sectarian schisms in Balochistan and FATA. Iran has a large Baloch population on its side of border with Pakistan and the Indian desire of weakening Pakistan by creating independent Balochistan will cost heavily to Iran also because greater Balochistan plan includes Sistan province of Iran. For quite some time, Balochistan is in the throes of ethnic, sectarian and tribal schisms. There have been targeted killings of Punjabi settlers in Balochistan.

Ethnic and Shia-Sunni fracas has shaken the erstwhile ethnic and sectarian harmony, as criminal gangs are stoking ethnic and sectarian divisions. Last year three principals of Balochistan Residential College at Khuzdar, Government Commerce College Quetta and Government Pilot Secondary School Mastung (all Punjabis) were killed. A teacher belonging to Dera Ghazi Khan was also reported to have been killed and many sought transfers to other provinces failing which they had decided to leave Balochistan in any case. Pashtun political parties have vocally opposed the target killings in Quetta and demanded of the Baloch nationalists to openly condemn these killings and disassociate themselves with the elements responsible for such heinous crimes, otherwise they would demand that Pushtun areas be amalgamated with Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP). A senior professor of Balochistan University had reportedly said: “If Punjabi professors and professionals are not protected and are compelled to leave Balochistan, many key institutions in the province will remain shut or at least dysfunctional.”

In July 2009, addressing a public meeting at Ayub Stadium, Balochistan National Party-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal said there would be no compromise on the national rights of Baloch people who were determined to defeat the elements who had usurped the coast and resources of the province. The public meeting adopted a resolution urging the United Nations to intervene to stop the killing of Baloch people in military operations, detaining of political activists and plunder of Balochistan’s resources. In another resolution, the BNP vowed to effectively use whatever means it deemed fit to achieve the right to self-determination, including creation of ‘a national state for the Baloch people’. Another resolution rejected the Gwadar project, as it will destroy the traditional economy of native fishermen and displace the Baloch population. It said the oil terminal and oil city would pollute the Gulf of Baloch. One would not understand the psyche of such leaders who do not wish to see development of their province for the simple reason that engineers, technicians and other skilled manpower from other provinces will swarm to make Balochis a minority in their province.

If they had cooperated with the government in establishing educational institutions in 1970s, the new generation would have today assumed important positions and there was no need to have manpower from other provinces. It is worth mentioning that hundreds of thousands of Baloch are settled in Sindh and Punjab, and in some districts they have made the local people a minority but no one in Sindh and Punjab has ever protested against it. It is true that Balochistan was neglected during British Raj and no serious effort was made for five decades to bring Balochistan at par with other provinces. But previous provincial governments including sardars were responsible in equal measure for the present dismal situation in Balochistan, as they always opted for the confrontation. Sardar Ataullah Mengal rarely appeared in television interviews. We remember his reply to a question when he said that “America does not pay any attention adding that he would welcome if any country would help us to get freedom”. Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Zain Bugti and Marri sardars also openly talk about disintegration of Pakistan, and that Balochistan was never a willing federating unit.

The present government has taken steps to address the concerns of Balochistan leadership. Through National Finance Award, efforts have been made to allocate additional funds for the development of the province because it was neglected in the past. Sindh and Punjab provinces willingly accepted cut in their allocations to compensate Balochistan for the past neglect. Government also announced Balochistan Package to expedite development of Balochistan. But centrifugal forces rejected Balochistan Package even without reading it, which in fact would guarantee development of the province. As regards missing persons, there should be high-powered judicial enquiry, which should not only locate missing persons held on various charges but also try to trace them from Ferrari Camps/Detention Centres being run by Baloch Sardars and insurgents. PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif had more than once promised Shahzain Bugti and Talal Bugti that he would accompany them in a long march to Dera Bugti. He should stop issuing such statements because insurgents feel emboldened by such gestures. The Baloch sardars should negotiate with the government and save Balochistan from bloodshed.

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