What Motivations were behind Akhtar Mengal’s Visit
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Balochistan continues to simmer and has reached a boiling point because of breakdown of law and order and absence of governance by the provincial government and has the portent of turning catastrophic. Spree of target killings continues; in Khuzdar from where Akhtar Mengal hails, such incidents are taking place almost daily. In Quetta region, the Hazaras are constantly attacked. Cruel practice of Wani (a custom to give girls in marriage to settle disputes) is continuing. Recently in district Dera Bugti, 13 girls were made Wani. Issue of missing persons and mutilated bodies continues to be overplayed. Attacks on security forces are continuing. Neither Pakistan flags are being hoisted nor national anthem sung in schools/colleges in Baloch dominated districts. The politicized police have become ineffective while the Levies operate on orders of Sardars. The chief minister spends most of his time in Islamabad and is more interested in acquiring modern jet aircraft worth Rs 1.7 billion for his personal use. The situation has become so deplorable because of the dismal performance of Raisani led government that in exasperation the chief justice stated that Balochistan government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province. He sounded a note of stern warning that if the worsening security situation is not rectified the court would be left with no choice but to issue such orders that would pave the way for the fall of the central and provincial government.
After his three years of self-imposed exile in Dubai, Akhtar Mengal decided to return to Pakistan and make his submissions in the Supreme Court hearing missing person’s case. Some of the reasons which in all probability motivated him to make a brief sojourn to Pakistan were the worsening state of affairs in his home province where the government is almost non-existent and has lost its writ; agenda of separation actively pursued by the two dissident Baloch Sardars in exile and backup support given to them by foreign powers; burning issue of missing persons in Balochistan, attracting the attention of the international community particularly after the visit of UN group; the supreme court taking cognizance of the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan and putting the FC and intelligence agencies on the mat on the issue of enforced disappearances; and most importantly Nawaz Sharif led PML-N and Imran Khan led PTI volunteering to cover his flanks and endorsing his six points, and chief justice led Supreme Court providing the judicial cover.
Apart from these undercurrents, he must have realized that the Baloch insurgency and separatist agenda despite foreign backing were not making any headway and 2-3000 fighters operating from the Farari camps in the hills were getting restless and unruly. The reason for their despair is the horrendous fate of some of their colleagues who desired to return home. Used as gun fodder, their numbers are decreasing and reinforcements have reduced to a trickle. One reason of this change in mindset is the spurt of educational and development activities and opening of avenues for the youth in Balochistan. They have learnt that thousands of Baloch youth are getting admissions in schools and colleges in Sui and Kohlu and receiving free education in high standard educational institutes in Quetta and other towns. They also gathered that large numbers have got jobs in armed force and government departments.
There are credible reports that the rebels leading a hard life have got tired, exhausted and disheartened. Staying away from families and living in wilderness for seven years has demoralized them and it has become extremely difficult for their leaders, mostly leading a posh life elsewhere, trainers and patrons to keep them under their leash. They have found out that all those who were getting desperate to call off militancy and return to their homes were abducted, brutally tortured to death, their bodies disfigured and dumped at public places. This policy is aimed at killing two birds with one stone; blame the security agencies and put them on the defensive, and at the same time terrify the mutinous militants and keep them disciplined. They have gathered that the death squads within BLA, BRA and BLF, commandeered by RAW, CIA, RAAM and Mosad are behind such dastardly acts. Hindi-Jewish-American joint terrorist unit has abducted and murdered large numbers of Baloch youngsters.
Akhtar Mengal became conscious that the separatist Baloch leaders had very limited support base in Baluchistan and lacked unity. Bugti-Marri-Mengal alignment, forcibly grafted by USA being artificial has now cracked up. The BLA, BRA and BLF funded, trained and equipped with sophisticated weapons and communication sets cannot even tackle the FC what to talk of confronting and defeating the Army. Mengal grasped the price the Baloch nationalists had to pay for boycotting the 2008 elections since the political vacuum was filled by opportunists and rootless political parties from other provinces. Sensing that next elections were round the corner, he appreciated that Baloch nationalist parties could ill-afford to let go this opportunity since it would amount to political death for times to come. He knew that until and unless the Baloch movement got converted into high intensity insurgency and that too all over the province duly supported by the people, the chance of which was slim, no foreign power would risk intervention.
Other than these rambling assumptions, the thing which is intriguing is his six points. These are: A. All covert and overt military operations against the Baloch should immediately be suspended. B. All missing persons to be presented before a court of law. C. All proxy death squads operating under the supervision of ISI and MI should be disbanded. D. Unbridled freedom to Baloch political parties to function and resume their political activities without interference from intelligence agencies. E. Persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of dead bodies of the Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice. F. Rehabilitation of thousands of displaced persons living in appalling condition.
His six points are not aimed at removing the sense of deprivation or the rights of the people of Balochistan or for political empowerment. In fact, not a single point pertains to socio-politico-economic grievances which the Baloch leaders have been consistently airing. The entire thrust in the package is on reining in the Army, the FC, ISI and MI. There is no lament on the deplorable performance of the provincial government which has utterly failed to provide security to the people, and alleviate their sufferings. Although amongst his six-points, no point is against the constitution; however he tensed the atmosphere by hurling an ultimatum to accept his six points and keep Pakistan united or reject them and lose Balochistan. By saying so, he rekindled the stubborn stance of late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his six points, which were a secession plan in abridged form.
We must not forget that Akhtar Mengal had left Pakistan at his own accord as a highly angry man and his views were no different than other dissident exiled Sardars. During his self-imposed exile, very little effort had been made by the government or any political leader to woo and placate him and bring him back home. An embittered man never goes into hibernation. Rather he becomes more resentful and gives vent to his rage by sharing his views and contriving how to settle scores with his adversaries. Likewise, those already seized with an agenda would never let go such opportunities. RAW, Mosad, CIA and MI-6 are notorious for exploiting the runaways to achieve their sinister objectives. Well-knowing, how deeply Brahamdagh Bugti, Harbyar Marri, Dr. Wahid Baloch and Suleiman Daood have been cultivated by these agencies, there is no reason why they would have spared Akhtar Mengal. To what extent he has been brainwashed is anyone’s guesswork. In case he is in the stranglehold, he should be wooed, given respect and won over.