By propagating prehistoric policies of governance in Balochistan the ruling elite are not only responsible for the prevalent chaotic state of the province, but must also be held responsible for the alienation of the people therein. Prior to launching a conflict resolution programme, either minor or massive, the root cause ought to be unearthed so that a clear roadmap may be outlined.
POOR HANDLING OF A RICH BALOCHISTAN
by Fateh Ullah Khan Kundi
Pakistan since its inception has faced many separatist movements with demands of Pakhtunistan, Bangladesh, Greater Balochistan and Sindhudesh.
Balochistan issue is a hot debate these days, particularly after the controversial bill presented in the American House of Representatives by a US Congressman from California Dana Rohrabacher calling for the right of self determination to oppressed people of Balochistan. On one side this bill spoiled all the efforts taken by the US for the resumption of once cordial relations that existed between Pakistan and the US, but on the other hand it also accentuated the graveness of Balochistan issue in the eyes of many especially television anchor persons.
The Balochistan conflict first surfaced soon after the inception of Pakistan in 1947 when Pak army troops were deployed to subdue insurgents based in Kalat who rejected the Khan of Kalat’s decision to accede to Pakistan.
A subsequent Baloch separatist movement gained momentum during the 1960s, and amid consistent political disorder and instability at the federal level, the government ordered a military operation into the region in 1973, assisted by Iran, and inflicted heavy casualties on the separatists. Insurgency, however, again gained strength in the 1990s and 2000s.
The issue got imperiled further in 2005 when Baloch political leaders Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri demanded greater autonomy and presented a 15-point agenda to the Pakistan government. Their stated demands included greater control of the province’s resources and a moratorium on the construction of military bases. This led to a military operation in August 2005 where 79 year old Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed during fighting with the Pakistan Army. He was charged by Pakistan’s government of a series of bomb blasts, killings of the people he professed to protect and the rocket attack on President Pervez Musharraf.
On August 12, 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood declared himself ruler of Balochistan and formally announced a Council for Independent Balochistan. The council’s claimed domain includes “Baloch of Iran”, as well as Pakistani Balochistan, but does not include Afghan Baloch regions, and the council contains “all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti.” He claimed that “the UK had a moral responsibility to raise the issue of Balochistan’s illegal occupation at international level.
Where many intellectuals while talking about the Balochistan issue are highlighting the human right abuses, more autonomy or economic dimensions (more royalties) to the conflict, the nature of the conflict is somewhat nationalist and self determination-thirst and will of Baloch feudal lords to secede from Pakistan.
There is no doubt Balochistan was considered a neglected province where a majority of population lacks amenities, its ruling elite enjoyed glamorous lifestyles that provided a different perspective of the issue. Members of Balochistan’s elite society, including provincial government ministers and officials, owned pieces of land greater in size than some small towns of the country, and had luxury vehicles, properties, investments and businesses valued at millions of Rupees.
Covert presence of foreign intelligences is also jeopardizing Baloch conflict. Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik has reiterated it many times that Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti was operating terrorist training camps in Afghanistan that are responsible for training up to 5,000 insurgents who were causing unrest in Balochistan. He also noted that the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, had accepted that militants based in Afghanistan were fuelling terrorism in Balochistan.
Similarly Brahamdagh Bugti in an interview stated he would accept aid from India, Afghanistan and Iran which would help in the defense of Balochistan. Pakistan has also repeatedly accused India, and occasionally the US, of supporting the Baloch rebels in order to destabilize the country that India has categorically denied. However, according to wiki leaks, British intelligence is said to believe that India was backing the insurgency in Balochistan as a result of suspected Pakistani support for Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
The Americans do not want Chinese in Balochistan. The Chinese are interested in Gawadar port facilities for export of their goods and of gas. Iranians see Gawadar as a threat to their economy in the region.
Human rights violations including torture, enforced disappearances of those suspected of either terrorism or opposing the military, ill treatment of those suspected of criminal activity and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan are a major cause of concern to this very conflict. This has caused an economic brain drain in the province and if continued with the same rate will push the Baloch nation at least one century back because it has compelled large number of skilled manpower to leave the province for fear of attacks.
The Baloch conflict is too volatile, composite and the perplexed one and is worsening with each passing day. We will have to perceive the issue from multitude of directions to discern the origin and causing root of the conflict. The real issue of Balochistan is political one and cannot be resolved through use of force. It’s not what it looks to be.
Federal government and its bureaucracy it seems, are not mindful of the seriousness of the Balochistan issue. It won’t work to annunciate “Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan” on one side but be imprudent regarding interference of foreign countries in Balochistan. This incautious attitude of government is encouraging anti Pakistan elements misguide jobless Baloch youths and use them for the accomplishment of their nefarious designs.
Baloch are our brothers through any angle if observed whether creed wise, geographically, country wise, culturally or even if considered the physiognomy. We need to pay serious heed to Balochistan issue and take concrete and result oriented actions like arresting the killers of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti to win back the confidence of the Baloch people. We will have to address the issue on three main directions.
First to kick out the foreign presence either by hook or by crook.
Second to address the economic dimension of Baloch people by obviously paying more royalties for their precious minerals being used by rest of Pakistan and third
to replenish the educational scarcity of Baloch people through the bestowment of more educational scholarships to the Baloch students. The other provinces will have to relinquish in this regard as they are benefitting from Baloch resources.
If these steps were taken practically no Baloch Sardar would be able to misuse the educated and employed Baloch youth for his ill intentions.
Throughout the solution process, time will play the most important and pivotal factor, otherwise if the issue approaches a point of no return and if as a result the separatists disapprove to sit for talks with the government, it would lead to a civil war which would be the biggest disaster for the province as also for the country.
Fateh Ullah Khan Kundi is an undergraduate level student of Civil engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. He is a freelance journalist.
1. A new social contract in Pakistan between Federation and its components 2. Concepts and their Meanings 3. New Social Contract between Federation of Pakistan and Balochistan 4. Genesis of the Baloch-Islamabad conflict
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