Is Baloch nationalism assuming dangerous proportions?
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
In connivance with KGB and KHAD, RAW with the willing cooperation of Sardar Khair Baksh Marri and Sardar Attallullah Mengal succeeded in establishing Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) in Balochistan in 1964, which raised the bogey of Greater Balochistan. Consequent to abolishment of Sardari system in Balochistan and sacking of Mengal led government in Quetta by Bhutto in 1974; insurgency broke out in Balochistan in 1974. Both Afghanistan under King Zahir Shah and former Soviet Union provided arms and ammunition and moral support to the insurgents and also gave shelter to Sardars of Marris and Mengals. ZA Bhutto employed the army to quell insurgency which remained confined to areas dominated by Marris and Mengals only since Nawab Akbar Bugti had refused to join hands with the insurgents. Insurgency continued till as late as 1978 and was finally extinguished by Gen Zia through dialogue. Governor Balochistan Lt Gen Rahimuddin had played a constructive role in winning over dissident Baloch leaders and appeasing them by providing material benefits to neglected Balochistan. Democratic era from 1988 till 1999 did little to remove extreme poverty and backwardness of the province or to free the people from the perverse stranglehold of exploitative Sardars.
As a consequence to 2002 elections held by gen Musharraf, Zafarullah Jamali was made the PM. Backed by the centre, MMA-PML-Q coalition government in Balochistan made genuine efforts to remove socio-politico-economic inequities of Balochistan. Several mega projects were launched to usher in prosperity in the neglected province. Displaced Kalpars and Masuris from Dera Bugti were rehabilitated. However, efforts to build Balochistan were thwarted by the Sardars of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes who have been traditionally anti-development. Nawab Akbar Bugti, Nawab Khair Bux Marri and Akhtar Mengal got easily swayed by USA, India and UK and at their behest initiated an armed insurgency in 2005. It received a fillip after the death of Akbar Bugti in August 2006 and subsequently it got converted into a separatist movement when democratic government led by PPP took over and a corrupt and inefficient government in Balochistan was formed.
Insurgency led by radical Baloch nationalists mostly belonging to Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes in Balochistan has spread to most parts of Baloch inhabited areas and even Mekran coast has become restive. Quetta which has always been under the sway of Pathans, settlers and Hazaras, has become violent because of frequent terrorist attacks and target killings. Entire Pashtun belt strung along Afghan border is so far peaceful and it has not lent support to Baloch separatists or even to Afghan Taliban and has also managed to keep TTP at bay.
Turbat is the capital of Mekran and is the second largest city in Balochistan after Quetta and is inhibited by Baloch. People of this area are moderate and have shunned repressive Sardari system. National Party and BNP of Akhtar Mengal are to some extent seen as moderate political parties who have their set of grievances but want to settle them while remaining within framework of federation of Pakistan. Baloch separatists however want independence through armed struggle and any one talking of Pakistan is targeted. Harbyar Marri son of Nawab Khair Bux Marri residing in London heads banned BLA and vociferously espouses independence of Balochistan. Previously elder son Balaach Marri used to run BLA. Balaach had been killed by Habib Jalib’s Qaimkhawani tribe.
Banned BRA is run by Brahamdagh Bugti grandson of Akbar Bugti. He shifted from Kandahar to Geneva last year. Besides these two outfits, Dr Allah Nazar from Avaran district has emerged as the fiercest among Baloch rebel leaders and wields sway over Baloch militants in Mekran, Khuzdar and Avaran. He has remained member of BSO during his medical college student days. He is waging insurgency from the mountains. Reportedly he was involved in killings of moderate Baloch leaders like Turbat’s Nazim Maula Bux Dasti, Liaquat Mengal, Rehmatullah, Khalil Tufail, and possibly BNP leader Habib Jalib. Like other outfits, Nazar is also on the payroll of RAW. Heads of all the separatist groups are receiving heavy funds from RAW, which is ensuring regular flow of weapons and equipment to Baloch fighters who number 2-2500. Regular supply from India is keeping the rebellious groups active.
Besides destroying national assets including gas pipelines and targeting security forces deployed in interior Balochistan, the rebels also resort to hideous practice of target killing the non-Baloch settlers and the Hazaras. Most of the victims of terrorist groups BLA and BRA were teachers, professors, doctors, policemen and businessmen. All murderous attacks are promptly and proudly claimed by these two groups. Retaliatory acts by security forces are censured by western media and termed as state terrorism or violation of human rights. Even our own media energetically debates Balochistan issue and gives lot of space to dissident Baloch leaders. Instead of highlighting the sorry plight of affected settlers and Hazaras, and also lamenting the impotence of courts who let off hardened terrorists because of inefficiency of police and prosecution, the focus is on missing persons and mutilated bodies.
In 2009 a deadline was given to non-locals to leave Balochistan or else face the consequences. After expiry of the deadline, hired terrorist were unleashed to ruthlessly gun down settlers especially from Punjab. Artisans, skilled persons, doctors, engineers, policemen, teachers and professors were systematically killed forcing them to runaway. Tens of thousands of non-locals have migrated from Balochistan where they had lived for centuries and had played a predominant role in uplifting the province. Government officials, pro-government or pro-Pakistan Baloch and Hazara community are also being viciously targeted. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is involved in killing Shias in Balochistan. So far, none of the victim communities have retaliated by picking up arms against Baloch terrorists.
Balochi students studying in schools and colleges particularly within Baloch inhabited regions are being brainwashed through literature prepared in Afghanistan and in India to make them hate Pakistan, Pak Army and Punjab. They are being led up the garden path that Balochistan would attain prosperity it had never seen before if detached from Pakistan owing to presence of abundant gas and mineral resources. Pattern of former East Pakistan is being pursued.
Rebellious Baloch Sardars in exile are encouraged by foreign powers to keep up with their diatribes against federation of Pakistan, Pak Army and intelligence agencies. They keep holding heavily attended seminars, conferences and meetings in Washington, various capitals of western countries and India to project the Baloch as victims of aggression and to promote independence of Balochistan. Dr Wahid Baloch is among the most active anti-Pakistan Baloch leader in USA. He and others sing the Indian tutored themes that Balochistan is an occupied territory and Pak Army and FC are occupying forces involved in brutal persecution of the Baloch.
The US, western world, India, international NGOs and HRW working in Pakistan have never condemned violence of radical Baloch nationalists or restrained exiled Baloch Sardars from unleashing propaganda campaign against Pakistan to influence the policy makers of USA and western countries. The US court however punished Kashmiri leader Dr Fai on charges of trying to influence US officials to support the genuine cause of Kashmir declared as disputed by UN resolutions. The US has also announced head money for Pakistani nationals Hafiz Saeed and Makki who are not in hiding and are engaged in charity work and religious education.
The US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a meeting on February 8, 2012 to discuss the situation in Balochistan. Self-exiled Baloch leaders espousing independence of Balochistan, American scholars and human rights activists were invited. Congressman Dana Rohrabachar chaired the meeting. He said Balochistan needed urgent attention since it was marred by human rights violations. He advocated right of self-determination for the Baloch and championed the cause of independent Balochistan. He pleaded the case of the Baloch saying that they were natural allies of USA who would gladly share the mineral resources of Balochistan and would let the US run Gwadar Port. Several members of Congress lent their support since Pak-US relations had dipped low after Salala incident and Pakistan was surprisingly acting tough. Mst Christine Fair was the lone woman who out rightly shunned the notion of independent Balochistan asserting that it was unsustainable because of ethnic diversity and geographic constraints.
Nobody questions the rebellious Sardars that if the Baloch are under the sword, what they are doing abroad? Fascist Sardars shedding crocodile tears are not asked as to why they failed to develop their respective regions upon which they enjoyed total sway and as to why they were against development and education? They don’t quiz them as to who was funding the six year old insurgency and that if Balochistan was an occupied state, what was the status of Indian held Kashmir? None ask them whether the Baloch represented the whole of Balochistan, and what was their following. They need to be educated that the Pashtuns, Brahvis and Hazaras in Balochistan comprise 60% of the province and are averse to the idea of independence and fully support the federation. They forget that majority of Baloch are patriots and loyal to the federation.
The self-exiled Sardars and their patrons need to be asked if Balochistan is an occupied state, how USA will define its role in Afghanistan which is in its occupation since 2001. One wonders why the US never declared Kashmir as an occupied territory which is disputed as per the UN resolutions and is under forceful occupation of 700,000 Indian security forces involved in massive human rights violations. What about Palestine which is in illegal occupation of Israel since 1948? The US and western countries never comment about Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Maghalaya and dozens of other states where separatist movements are raging since 1950s and 1960s and where Indian forces are employing excessive force to quell the movements? The US has the cheek to become the champion of human rights after its bloody invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and running infamous Gitmo, Abu Garib and Bagram airbase prisons. It doesn’t talk of the private militias and private jails of the Baloch Sardars who put all the dissidents in dungeons, torture them ruthlessly and then kill them if they refuse to tow their line.
Baloch nationalism is assuming dangerous proportions because of heavy involvement of foreign agencies and deleterious role of dissident Baloch Sardars who are prepared to go to any extent to save their Sardari system. The dissidents on payroll of foreign agencies are not more than 0.2% of Baloch population while the rest are pro-Pakistan. This small segment wants to impose its will over the great majority with the help of foreign powers who they rate as their well-wishers. Failing to make any headway, they keep demanding ouster of Army and Frontier Corps from Balochistan so as to pave the way for foreign troops to barge in unopposed; thus giving the Sardars opportunity to garland them as liberators. Exiled Baloch leaders living in fancy world are advised to avail the lucrative offer of the government of amnesty and waiving off their umpteen criminal cases and rush back home before it changes its mind and they are left high and dry.