Archive for the 'Balochistan' Category


The Military, PPP and Pakistan

published at the Express Tribune

The demands by the Hazara community in Quetta for the military to take control have baffled the nation’s top analysts who insist that the Protest-Sit-in-Quetta5-Jan12military, ISI and the Frontier Corps are committing genocide in Baluchistan. Strictly sticking to the facts, Pakistan’s military is garrisoned in Quetta, it is not deployed hence it is not out there abducting and slaying people as claimed. It is only the FC that is deployed in Baluchistan and terrorists captured by the FC are usually released by the courts. Only after regressive steps were taken to strip the FC of its powers in Baluchistan did terrorist attacks increased multifold. The massacre of Hazaras on Jan 11th has led the government to reinstate the FC with authority and furnish them with police powers for 2 months.

I recently had an opportunity to interview the DG-ISI, Lt General Zaheerul Islam, where he mentioned that there is an insurgency in Baluchistan and for any insurgency to succeed the law enforcement agencies have to be made ineffective. During the British colonial rule, Baluchistan was divided in A and B areas, the former were directly controlled by the British and the latter through Balochi Sardars. This continued after Pakistan’s independence until General Pervez Musharraf converted the B areas (almost 95 percent of Balochistan) into A. Hence, maintenance of law and order of the majority of the province was handed over to the police instead of the levies who mostly served the interests _51449589_pakistan_baloch_quetta_0810of the Sardars. However, in 2010 the now sacked Chief Minister of Baluchistan converted A areas back into B and the police was withdrawn from 240 plus stations. This move made the first responders, the police ineffective and led to the militant outfits including the Taliban to reorganize in the area. These groups did not face much of a challenge from the levies, who neither had the training or the resolve for such a situation. The second response consists of the FC who have been put on the defensive since the issue of the missing people was raised. After the enforcement agencies in Baluchistan were successfully hindered, violence raged on in the province uncontrolled.

Flag_of_Pakistan_Peoples_PartyMuch as our analysts assert that the military is scheming to take over the country and derail the democratic process rest assured that the military is content on the sidelines observing the political circus. The PPP government has managed to destroy public institutions like the PIA, Railways, Steel mills and the energy sector. Average GDP growth rate during the past four years has been the lowest in the history of Pakistan’s economy and per the IMF, the country’s debt is not sustainable without foreign help.

The 2013 elections will not unleash any substantial political tsunamis because the PPP will likely win the “democratic” election simply due to its ability to secure large numbers of seats in the National Parliament. A democracy should empower the people rather than elect corrupt illiterate politicians and their brood over and over again. Thus, till a radical shift takes place, Pakistan is doomed to nose dive into oblivion. Militancy has opened the door to non state actors that have eroded the writ of the government in external and internal affairs. Furthermore, it has led to b1sectarian cleansing as was witnessed in Baluchistan. The clerics, with their hold on the rural areas have not used their authority to contain violence and have instead been instrumental in preaching hatred. If the cleric is not contained, sectarian divides will keep the country in a near state of civil war. The Judiciary, on the other hand, has yet to punish a single terrorist. Without addressing cases through some oversight office such as an independent supreme judicial commission, the judiciary will remain heavily influenced and corrupt forcing the people to seek justice through other means. Likewise, the police have to be depoliticized and granted an independent protocol in order to make it effective.

Constitutional amendments to expunge the ‘Objectives Resolution’ should be considered since it goes against the unifying concept promoted by Jinnah. Any political party that has a manifesto promoting intolerance of other groups shows direct contempt for the Pakistan flag whose vertical white stripe symbolizes inclusion of minorities in the government. Seminaries must be state owned and staffed thus not allowing individuals to hijack ideology. Education is key to achieving these goals; education of the public as well as enforcing a minimum level of education to get elected into public office.


Human Rights?

Published at The Express Tribune

Why the sudden publicity surrounding human rights issues in Baluchistan? The US committee on Foreign Affairs has not recently held any hearings on human rights violations in Kashmir and Palestine. How did these Congressmen vote on a recently passed US security bill that allows the military to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial? Strangely enough they all voted in favor of detaining their own constituents without due process. What about the human rights of innocent civilians killed by drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan? Needless to say the grievances of the Baluch are urgent and need to be addressed but the timing of this interest by three Republican politicians about the plight of Baluchistan is suspicious.

Although this bill has little chance of going anywhere in Congress, it effectively riled up politicians within Pakistan. With any hope it will result in a grand bargain with the Baluch to provide them their fair share of political representation and economic development. That would be the most positive possible outcome from this unwelcome intrusion. Politicians who are foreign to Pakistan such as the Texas Republican Louie Gohmert should refrain from meddling in affairs of which they cannot even begin to fathom the end result. His reasoning for creating Baluchistan as a separate country because “They love us…they’ll stop the IEDs and all the weaponry coming into Afghanistan”. That line of reasoning did not work out that well for Dick Cheney in 2003, who said “The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.”

Ironically, Louie Gohmert’s own State of Texas has its fair share of secessionists. The annexation of Texas by the US is considered illegal by some groups in Texas and they continue to believe that the State remains an independent nation under occupation. Gohmert the liberator does not appear intent on helping fellow Texans secede from their own authoritarian rule.

Dana’s unfamiliarity with the region was on clear display as he consistently transitioned between the correct pronunciation and “Biloke-istanwhile reading from prepared notes. The Representative also left out some important facts in his opening remarks. Painting Baluchistan as a single united entity seeking independence is misleading since Pashtuns and Hazaras also inhabit the province. Baluchistan’s troubles are not black and white but severely complex and certainly not suitable for intervention by such politicians on the other side of the world. The fact is that this man is only 1 of 435 elected members of the House and represents one fifth of one percent of US citizens. To clarify further, he is one of 53 representatives of California, which is only one of 50 states. His views do not represent those of the USA and should hold just about zero weight among the international community.

As far as the third co signatory of the Baluchistan bill is concerned, Steve King, he stated in 2008 that if Obama becomes the president of the US then al-Qaeda and its supporters will be dancing in the streets after declaring a victory on the war on terror. He also inferred that Obama’s middle name, Hussain is troublesome. His intolerant views above are a good indication of his intellect level. If Rohrabacher, Gohmert and King are truly sincere about human rights then they should begin by giving up obstructionist antics at home and promote greater human rights for their fellow citizens in the US; simply lead by example. These Tea Party lawmakers have systematically voted against universal healthcare, women’s rights, gay rights and minority rights while demanding harsher immigration laws.

In the end it is clear that addressing human rights violations was never the intention of the hearing. This was just perceived as a good opportunity to kick the hornet’s nest for political gain and to antagonize Pakistan further in its current fragile state. All three signatories of the bill belong to Obama’s opposition party and are motivated to damage the administration’s efforts to mend relations with Pakistan, even at the detriment of their own nation. Rohrabacher and his pals may be “sticking it to the Pakistanis” but calling for a separate Baluchistan at a time when Israel is threatening to attack Iran and the coalition forces are preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan does not show much geopolitical judiciousness. As public servants these lawmakers should put more thought into the consequences of their actions. The US State Department is now busy with damage control and has made it very clear that they continue to view Baluchistan as part of the Pakistani state. However, the issue has been brought to light. Pakistan would be wise to step up and earnestly make an effort to appease regional concerns if it intends on securing Baluchistan as an integral part of the Country.

Further Reading:

Balochistan Pakistan’s other war, Al Jazeera documentary

Pakistan’s Fatal Shore, The Atlantic

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