The Pakistan of today is like a house of cards which will collapse sooner than later. A country remains cohesive and united when its people have similar cultural practices, ethos and belief system. Whereas, in Pakistan all its provinces are pulling and pushing in different directions with its Army, mainly officered by Punjabi Muslims, being in the saddle whipping whoever they please. Democracy and democratic rights, as seen and felt in other democracies of the world, are pure sham and bogus to say the least in Pakistan.
It is a state which tries to keep its people glued together with hate-India campaign and the brute force of bullets. How long will they succeed? The turmoil of wanting to amputate from mainland of Pakistan is palpably felt in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan out of four provinces that Pakistan has. The province of Balochistan comprises 44% of Pakistan’s area. It is an arid desert and mountainous. Its coastline includes Makran coast, Arabian Sea and Gulf Ocean. The Baluch speak Baluchi, Brahal, Hazaragai, Pushto and only a few speak Urdu while no one speaks Punjabi.
<strong>Onset of insurgency since 1948</strong>
The ongoing insurgency for a separate Balochistan nation in Pakistan is fully supported by Baluch’s who are present in substantial number in Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran and Nimruz province of Afghanistan. The insurgency by Baluch is thus supported by Afghanistan and Iran too. Besides Afghanistan and Iran many sectarian groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Siph-e-Sahaba and Al-Qaeda have also stepped in to support Balochistan Independence. The Baluchi from time immemorial have had a separate Identity of their own. They never felt closer to people of other provinces of Pakistan, culturally or traditionally. During partition days, pro-Congress parties were active in Balochistan. The main party being Anjuman-a- Watan which favoured united India and did not want partition or merging with Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat (Kalat is located in centre of Balochistan) too did not want to merge Kalat in Pakistan when the option was given to 565 states to either merge with India or Pakistan or remain Independent. Later on, he ceded to Pakistan under duress. Therefore, the grounds for insurgency in Balochistan were ripe during the partition days of India itself.
<img class="size-medium wp-image-3038 alignleft" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/baloch4-300×161.jpg" alt="" /> Thus, immediately after partition, insurgency began for the independence of Balochistan and is still going on. Insurgency in Balochistan, in the days to come, will get intensified as the young and dynamic generation is now leading the struggle against Pakistan. The Bal0chistan Liberation Army has been carrying out deadly attack on Pakistan Army, police and government officials. Baluchi insurgents have attacked Chinese engineers and consultants to deter Chinese investments in Balochistan and development of Gwadar Port. The Baluchi fear that thy are losing their identity by remaining in Pakistan. The National Party and Jamhoori Watan Party, an alliance of eight parties, is demanding independence for Balochistan.
Early in 2012 a group of US Congress had said that instead of normalising relations with the corrupt Pakistani government, US must support the creation of independent Balochistan. The Baluch people staged a protest against the Pakistan Army in Berlin on 19 July 2020, highlighting suppression of human rights of Baluchi people by Pakistan. The protest was started by Baluch National Revolution Party. Those who took part included Baluch Republic Party (German Chapter) and Pakhtoon Tahfuj Chapter. As per these protesters, Balochistan was forcefully merged with Pakistan and they wanted independence from Pakistan to live a dignified life. Anti-Pak protests were held in London too by the Baluch community. They raised slogans against enforced disappearances in Balochistan. Speaking to the media, Abdullah Baloch, leader of Balochistan Raj Zrumbesh, said Pakistan wants to instil fear in the people of Balochistan through bullets.
<strong>Economic exploitation of Balochistan</strong>
Balochistan has natural gas resources sufficient to supply the entire country of Pakistan for long. A major part of gas produced in Sui (Balochistan) is distributed to other provinces of Pakistan whereas only six per cent of the gas is distributed in Balochistan province. Same is the case with copper. Pakistan’s biggest copper mine is in Sainadak in Balochistan and the biggest gold mine is in Changi, also in Balochistan. The local population have had no benefit from copper and gold mining so far. All profit accruing from copper and gold mining is siphoned off to other provinces of Pakistan leaving Balochistan high and dry. Balochistan is rich in sulphur and fluoride deposits too. Despite being rich in natural resources, Balochistan remains a neglected province. The GDP share of Balochistan is a meagre 3.7% of the Pakistan economy with the highest poverty rate, lowest literacy and highest infant mortality rate in Pakistan. Ninety per cent of people in Balochistan do not have clean drinking water.
The Gwadar port financed and developed by China will be used by China for its strategic use and exploitation of natural resources of Balochistan. The US is unhappy about development of Gwadar Port by China as Gwadar port will provide the Chinese access to Gulf uncomfortably close to the US Naval Base Force Central Command at Bahrain. The Balochi feel that it will become a flash point for future wars as China harbours aggressive expansionist ideology. In such an eventuality the Baluchis will suffer. The Baluchi also think that all the benefit that Gwadar Port can lead to will be reaped by others and not them. With independence coming to them it will be they who will see their economic standard rising because of resource rich Balochistan and not permitting Chinese the use of Gwadar port. The Balochi insurgents have attacked Chinese engineers building the Gwadar Port on many occasions. The hate for Pakistan government is such that the insurgents keep gunning down labourers working on Pakistani projects in Balochistan.
<strong>Abduction and killings of Baluchi by Pakistani Army</strong>
Baloch nationalism is giving sleepless nights to the Government of Pakistan and in their frustration, they have resorted to wanton human rights violations. Large number of Baluch activists are abducted, killed and their bodies are thrown in wilderness. People are being exposed to ethnic, sectarian, discriminatory attitude of the Pakistan government. The conflict between security forces and tribals intensified when tribal leader Akbar Bugti, head of the Bugti tribe, was killed by security forces in 2000. He had been the Chief Minister of Balochistan, federal minister and Governor too. Bugti was killed in his hideout along with sixty people in Bambore mountains. Body was buried in sealed coffin and no family member was allowed to see it.
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It created furore and further fuelled insurgency in Balochistan. The insurgents took to bombing government buildings and infrastructure. Pakistan Army’s repressive action resulted in displacing two lakh people of Balochistan internally and more than 30,000 people of Balochistan took refuge in Afghanistan. After the killing of Bugti, the demand of nationalists has morphed from political autonomy to full Independence for Balochistan. The State’s repressive response has radicalised people in Balochistan and a new cycle of bombing, abduction and murder have began in Balochistan.
The military Intelligence of Pakistan, its Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau, Frontier Corps of Army—which is permanently located in Balochistan, the police and also the death squads of Pakistan have been brutally attempting to crush the insurgency. They resort to abduction and detention in torture camps in Balochistan and resort to extra-judicial executions. Secret detention camps are set up in cantonments, with a policy to, ‘Kill and Dump’.
Most disappearances are happening in Quetta, Dera Bugti, Gwadar and Karachi and also in northern Sindh and Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab. Extremely tragic extra judicial killings include those of Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Chairman of Baluch National Movement, and Lala Munir Baloch of the same party. Sher Mohammad of Baloch Republic Party too was killed in the same manner. They were abducted from the court room at Turbat and killed. (Turbat was the historical capital of the state of Makran). Their bullet ridden bodies were found after several days. A large number of Baluch activists too were abducted, and their bodies found in the mountains of Balochistan. Pakistan military is promoting religious groups to counter the insurgency in Balochistan. A tactic applied by Pakistan in supporting militants from Pakistan operating in Kashmir.
Amnesty International has been criticising Pakistan for human rights violation in Balochistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan on hearing the case regarding a large number of youth and political activists being abducted and killed, set-up a commission to enquire about this bizarre happening. The Chairman of this commission Fayyaz Ahmed observed that the Govt of Pak seems to be helpless in front of its spy agencies. The ISI and Army’s Frontier Corps, based in Balochistan, are running parallel Govt in Balochistan and are one who call the shots.
The Government of Afghanistan, Iran and USA are sympathetic and supportive of granting independence to Balochistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan are at loggerhead on the Durand Line. This line was delineated as the frontier boundary between Afghanistan and British India. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Mortimer Durand of British India and Afghan Amir Abdul Rahman Khan in 1897. Afghanistan does not accept the Durand Line and claims Balochistan as their territory. Afghanistan trains Baluchi insurgents. Bugti and Marri refugees from Balochistan have been seeking refuge in Afghanistan from time to time. As India, Iran and Afghanistan have cordial relations, Pak has been accusing them of supporting insurgency in Balochistan.
Pakistan has accused the US and the UK too for being actively involved in supporting the insurgency in Balochistan. Pak said that the weapons used by Balochistan are of NATO make. Also, the UK has granted asylum to leaders from Balochistan and the US is providing financial aid to Balochi insurgents. Pakistan also thinks that the US plans to break Muslim countries and hence they are supporting insurgency in Balochistan. The Baloch are spread in Afghanistan, Iran, Oman and Turkmenistan. Omni Baloch and others in Gulf countries are source of finance to Baloch fighting for their freedom from Pak. It is learnt that Balochi insurgents have assured the US that if independent Balochistan is carved out of Pakistan, they will permit US the complete use of Gwadar Port, which is an attractive bait for the US!
The days are not far when Balochistan will sever itself from Pakistan like East Pakistan severing itself from West Pakistan and becoming Bangladesh in 1971.The case of Bangladesh was also of cultural divide and identity crises. The citizens of then East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) were illtreated like slaves by the Punjabi Muslims of Pakistan. They were tortured, their women raped, people abducted and killed. The similarity between Bangladesh and Balochistan is too transparent to be missed.
<em>Col. Ranbir Singh Jakher (Rtd), AEC</em>.