By Brigadier Nadir Mir
The enemy in Baluchistan is neither the Baloch nor the Pakistan Army, but foreign hostile forces and their allies. The problem in Baluchistan is local sense of deprivation, alienation, grievances; cycle of violence, under development of a sparse demography spread over vast spaces and of course Geopolitics. Many Baloch claim to be fighting for their rights, a mini minority is either backed by foreign powers or seek their intervention.
The six points enunciated by Sardar Akhtar Mengal, need not be compared with Sheikh Mujeeb’s infamous six points. The environment in Baluchistan is pragmatically different from the tragedy of East Pakistan. Pakistan has come to stay much to the chagrin of its enemies. In fact, Pakistan will rise as a great nation. Those predicting Pakistan’s balkanization must be rebutted vigorously. By the same token, irate and aggrieved Baloch must be welcomed back into national mainstream. The COAS has aptly and timely supported the political process (within constitution) for achieving peace in Baluchistan. The Pakistan Army and ISI while bravely defending Pakistan are keen to stabilize Baluchistan. The Army has launched and supported numerous economic developmental and educational programmes for Baluchistan which are creating a positive environment. Still the Baluchistan solution will involve other political forces as well.
Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Nawab Talal Bugti and other Baloch leaders have toured the country to muster support for their cause. Nawab Talal Bugti has repeatedly stressed on the loyalty of Baloch to Pakistan. Major political parties PML (N), PTI, JI and others have wisely embraced the Baloch Brothers. These are happy tidings and can help creating an environment leading to a remedy for the malaise in beautiful Baluchistan. The Supreme Court has to an extent accepted the Baloch petitions as an aggrieved party. Baloch grievances should be heard and resolved in Pakistan rather than in foreign courts and hostile lands.
The time has come to end the blame game and usher in tranquility in turbulent Baluchistan. Nawab Talal Bugti, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Sardar Akhtar Mengal and other veteran Baloch leaders must be supported in a national reconciliation effort.
Sinister forces appeared at work to sever Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan (called Seistan). This balkanization agenda is part of a larger Geopolitical design. An appropriate West Asian Strategy is being chiseled by hegemonic powers. Reportedly Nurudin Mengal from Pakistan and Naseer Balodi from Iran in a three day session recently briefed the EU Parliament. Both launched a tirade against Pakistan and Iran, plus pleaded for foreign intervention, (A La Libya, NATO style intervention?) Before that US Congress had introduced a bill to sever Baluchistan from Pakistan. Coming on its heels a UN mission on Baluchistan had even suggested disciplinary action against military officers for alleged excesses. These may be the contours of a foreign intervention case.
A part of the so called liberal media (foreign funded) in Pakistan and liberal puppets living on foreign dole are already blaming the Pakistani State. These Trojan Horse tactics in the information age smack of shaping the battle field. They aim to demonize Army, ISI, divide the people of Pakistan, create political confusion, galvanize terrorists so that mayhem abounds leading to a paralysis of state. After defaming and psychologically isolating the Army, ISI; the stage would be set for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence by a few foreign sponsored Baloch. Foreign forces could then be employed in intervention of Baluchistan.
The Pakistan Army supported by all patriotic citizens must become pro-active for resolution of Baluchistan’s predicament.
A holistic solution for Baluchistan must include the following:
· National Unity. The need of the hour is national unity and pragmatic solution for Baluchistan. Baloch leaders, major political parties, Supreme Court, Armed Forces, political government, media and civil society have to combine their efforts for a peaceful and prosperous Baluchistan. Pakistan and Baluchistan belong to all Pakistanis. All are responsible and accountable.
· Reconciliation. Pakistan Army must take initiative along with Government efforts to accommodate the livid and afflict among the Baloch. PML (N) under the leadership of Mian Nawaz Shrif is most well placed to placate Baloch leaders. This scribe had suggested the same to Mian Nawaz Sharif in Gwadar Conference 2012.
· Baloch Aspirations. The Baloch sense of injustice needs to be removed. All Baloch leaders and others in Pakistan seek justice for Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing. The perception of injustice must be eradicated. The Baloch youth needs a special national package of free education and employment.
· Economic Cycle. Baluchistan has numerous treasures which should benefit first the people of Baluchistan and then the rest of Pakistan. The greatest potential is in Gwadar concept amply highlighted in my book ‘Gwadar on the Global Chessboard’. This can bring prosperity and can change the destiny of the Baloch and all Pakistanis.
· Security. The first act is to freeze the cycle of violence. An understanding based on reconciliation is the basis of security. While the army remains in its garrisons, the FC should be more biased towards the Western Borders. A new internal security force for Baluchistan may be considered with the bulk from Baloch areas.
· Information Warfare. Pakistani media can help positively resolve Baluchistan by encouraging reconciliation with Baloch and discouraging foreign interference. The Pakistan Army can also further augment its information warfare capabilities. The ISPR has recently become more effective in projecting the army view point. It should concentrate more on Baluchistan solution with army’s positive contribution. The ISI while brilliantly guarding Pakistan needs to expose the foreign agendas and hostile agencies fishing in Baluchistan’s troubled waters. A serious effort to retrieve missing persons in Baluchistan must be well projected and presented.
· Blocking Foreign Interference. The Pakistan Army and the Foreign Office under the Government of Pakistan must present a unified case for blocking foreign interference in Baluchistan. All forms of foreign interference in Baluchistan to include propaganda, funding, training, arming of insurgents or succor for their leaders abroad etc must be dealt with firmly.
Even while blocking foreign interference in Baluchistan through all elements of national power, the key to peace in Baluchistan lies in national unity and reconciliation. All the Baloch have to be on board for prosperity and stability in the province. Baluchistan is as much part of Pakistan as Punjab or any other province. The Pakistan Army supported by the entire Pakistani Nation will defend Baluchistan like the rest of Pakistan.