The following thread is intentioned for discussion of the social, political and economic situation in Pakistan's Baluchestan province with respect to the Baluch struggle for independence, as also the nationalist insurgency being waged therein- and to a lesser extent in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province- since the 1940's, attaining its zenith between 1973 and 1977, and ensuing from a long-dormant crisis of ethnic based nationalism. The thread will also discuss India's purported role in the conflict, the brutal Pakistani reppression and politico-economic isolation of the Baluch people and the movement for independence gradually gathering steam among Baluch expats abroad.
A brief history of the conflict in Baluchestan excerpted from 'Balochistan's history of insurgency' by the Green Left, Australia online:
Balochistan's history of insurgency
Balochistan’s history of struggle
The Baloch have a long history of struggle against impositions by the Pakistani state. Their history, however, pre-dates the formation of Pakistan. The Baloch lay claim to a history reaching back 2000 years. In the 12th century, Mir Jalal Khan united 44 Baloch tribes; in the 15th century the Confederation of Rind Laskhari was established and the Khanate of Balochistan in the 17th.
During the British Raj, Britain annexed a strip of land adjoining Afghanistan (“British Balochistan”) but beyond that did not interfere in the affairs of Balochistan so long as the Baloch allowed the British Army access to Afghanistan. The Baloch campaigned for independence during the final decades of the British Raj but were compelled to join Pakistan in 1947.
The government in Islamabad sought to subsume Baloch identity into a larger Pakistani identity. Part of its strategy was an attempt to destroy the power of the tribal chiefs and concentrate all authority in the central government. This strategy continues to this day. Even the first two constitutions of Pakistan did not recognise the Baloch as a distinct group.
Since independence, Islamabad has come into open conflict with the Baloch on four occasions — 1948, 1958, 1962, and, most bloodily, from 1973 to 1977, when a growing guerrilla movement led to an armed insurrection that ravaged the province.
Within 24 hours of the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Khan of Kalat (the largest “princely state” in Balochistan) declared independence. On April 1, 1948, the Pakistani army invaded and the Khan capitulated. His brother, Karim, continued to resist with around 700 guerrillas but was soon crushed.
Islamabad merged the four provinces of West Pakistan into “One Unit” in 1954. This was a bid to counter the strength of East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh) and the possibility of the minority provinces (Balochistan, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh) uniting with the east against the Punjab. A large anti-One Unit movement emerged in Balochistan.
To crush this movement the Pakistan army again invaded. The Khan of Kalat was arrested and large-scale arrests were carried out. Nauroz Khan led a resistance of 1000 militia that fought the army in pitched battles for over a year. In May 1959 Nauroz Khan was arrested at a parley with the army and died in prison in 1964, becoming a symbol of Baloch resistance. Five of his relatives, including his son, were hanged.
Following a 1973 visit of President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Iran, where the Shah warned him against allowing nationalist movements on Iran’s border, the elected government of Balochistan was dismissed. The provincial government, led by Sardar Ataulah Mengal, had been seeking greater control in areas of development and industrialisation. The pretext used for dismissal was that a cache of 350 Soviet submachine guns and 100,000 rounds of ammunition had supposedly been discovered in the Iraqi attache’s house and were destined for Balochistan.
The Pakistani army invaded Balochistan with 78,000 troops supported by Iranian Cobra helicopters and were resisted by some 50,000 tribespeople. The conflict took the lives of 3300 Pakistani troops, 5300 tribespeople and thousands of civilians. In 1977 the military staged a coup and overthrew Bhutto, declared “victory” in Balochistan and withdrew.
There are distinct similarities between the period immediately prior to the 1973 insurrection and the current situation. After the 1962 conflict Baloch nationalists began planning a movement capable of defending their national interests.
Under the leadership of Sher Mohammed Marri what would later become the basic structure of the 1973 insurrection was created. In July 1963, 22 rebel camps were set up covering large areas of Balochistan, ranging from lands in the south belonging to the Mengal tribes to those of the Marris in the north. This structure later became the Baloch People’s Liberation Front (BPLF) and initiated the 1973 insurrection.
The current insurgency
The groupings that underpin the current Baloch national movement emerged gradually after the 1973-77 conflict.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) is a clandestine militant group that was formed in the early 1980s. It is believed to be headed by Khair Bux Marri of the Marri tribe. It has taken responsibility for most of the attacks against the Pakistan military. The BLA calls for the creation of a Greater Balochistan, including the Baloch territories in Iran and Afghanistan.
The Baloch National Party (BNP) is an amalgam of moderate forces that concentrate on winning political support for nationalism amongst the Baloch. It calls for extensive provincial autonomy, limiting the central government to control of defense, foreign affairs, currency, and communications.
The Balochistan Students Organisation (BSO) campaigns for a multinational Pakistan and for the revival of Baloch nationalism. It generally represents the aspirations of the educated but underemployed Baloch middle class. It calls for the continuation of quotas and for the recognition of the Baloch language as a medium of instruction in the province.
The Bugti tribe, formerly led by Nawab Akbar Bugti, fields a force of some 10,000 tribal fighters. The Dera Bugti district has been the site of intense operations by the Pakistan military in 2005-06.
As well as the Bugti tribe, the Mengal (the second largest tribe in Balochistan) and the Marri are in open revolt against the government. The conflict is not, however, limited to these tribal areas but spread throughout the province. There is conflict between the tribes but they are united against the Pakistani army.
Between December 2005, when the Pakistan military launched its most recent assault on Balochistan, and June 2006, more than 900 Baloch have been killed, 140,000 displaced, 450 political activists (mainly from the BNP) disappeared and 4000 activists arrested.
In late 2005-early 2006 the Pakistan military laid siege to Dera Bugti, attacking with artillery and air strikes. Many civilians were killed and 85% of the 25,000-strong population fled. The town of Kohlu also came under siege from Pakistan forces around the same time, virtually imprisoning the 12,000 inhabitants for weeks.
As well as the military attacks, the Frontier Corps (FC) has been responsible for indiscriminate rocket, artillery and helicopter gunship attacks on civilian areas. There has been widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including schools and houses, particularly in Dera Bugti and Sui districts. Military operations occur throughout the province.
The insurgents, however, strike back on a daily basis. Targeting military and FC personnel, gas and oil pipelines, communications infrastructure and police barracks, the insurgents launch rocket, grenade and mortar attacks. Some areas are heavily mined by the nationalist fighters.
On Pakistan TV on January 10, 2005, President Pervez Musharraf told the Baloch nationalists: “Don’t push us … it is not the 1970s, and this time you won’t even know what has hit you.” Unfortunately for the president, it is beginning to look exactly like 1973 as the insurgency gathers strength and ties down Pakistan army divisions in guerrilla warfare.
From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #693 6 December 2006.
On the Baluchestan insurgency during the 70's...the prelude, important events and details of the brutal put down:
Southern Pakistan's Baluchistan region is one of the most rugged and remote lands in the world. Pashtunistan and Baluchistan have long complicated Afghanistan's relations with Pakistan. Controversies involving these areas date back to the establishment of the Durand Line in 1893 dividing Pashtun and Baluch tribes living in Afghanistan from those living in what later became Pakistan. Afghanistan vigorously protested the inclusion of Pashtun and Baluch areas within Pakistan without providing the inhabitants with an opportunity for self-determination.
Since 1947, this problem has led to incidents along the border, with extensive disruption of normal trade patterns. The most serious crisis lasted from September 1961 to June 1963, when diplomatic, trade, transit, and consular relations between the countries were suspended.
Divided in the nineteenth century among Iran, Afghanistan, and British India, the Baloch found their aspirations and traditional nomadic life frustrated by the presence of national boundaries and the extension of central administration over their lands. Moreover, many of the most militant Baloch nationalists were also vaguely Marxist-Leninist and willing to risk Soviet protection for an autonomous Balochistan.
A long-dormant crisis erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including Huey-Cobra helicopter gunships, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. The deep-seated Baloch nationalism based on tribal identity had international as well as domestic aspects. As the insurgency wore on, the influence of a relatively small but disciplined liberation front seemed to increase.
Bhutto was able to mobilize domestic support for his drive against the Baloch. Punjab's support was most tangibly represented in the use of the army to put down the insurgency. One of the main Baloch grievances was the influx of Punjabi settlers, miners, and traders into their resource-rich but sparsely populated lands. Bhutto could also invoke the idea of national integration with effect in the aftermath of Bengali secession.
External assistance to Bhutto was generously given by the shah of Iran, who feared a spread of the insurrection among the Iranian Baloch. Some foreign governments feared that an independent or autonomous Balochistan might allow the Soviet Union to develop and use the port at Gwadar, and no outside power was willing to assist the Baloch openly or to sponsor the cause of Baloch autonomy.
By early 1974, an armed revolt was underway in Baluchistan, the southwestern region of Pakistan bordering on Afghanistan and Iran. In northwest Pakistan, populated mainly by ethnic Afghan-Pashtuns, insurrectionist sabotage was a common occurrence. The extent of the Daoud regime's involvement in these insurrections has been a matter of some debate, but he clearly was allowing Baluch resistance fighters to set up bases in Afghanistan, and was providing sanctuary to Pashtun dissidents who were under warrant of arrest in Pakistan.
To retaliate against Afghanistan's actions, Pakistan provided funds, material and weapons to Islamic fundamentalist organizations and other anti-Daoud Afghan extremists conducting raids and sabotage inside Afghanistan. A former member of Pakistan's government at the time has insisted that these operations were not intended to overthrow Daoud but to force him to negotiate. This could explain why Iran, at the same time it was offering economic aid to Daoud and pressing him to resolve theconflict with Pakistan, was also supplying US weapons and equipment to the insurgent groups in Afghanistan. Some of this material went through Pakistani channels and some passed directly to groups operating in western Afghanistan. Iran, because of its own sizable Baluch community, had its own motives for seeing the armed revolt in Baluchistan quelled, and provided Pakistan with US helicopters for use in this effort.
During the mid-1970s, Afghanistan was preoccupied with its own internal problems and seemingly anxious to normalize relations with Pakistan. India was fearful of further balkanization of the subcontinent after Bangladesh, and the Soviet Union did not wish to jeopardize the leverage it was gaining with Pakistan. However, during the Bhutto regime hostilities in Balochistan were protracted. The succeeding Zia ul-Haq government took a more moderate approach, relying more on economic development to placate the Baloch.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, there were about 600,000 Afghan refugees in Pakistan by the summer 1980; 500,000 (largely Pushtuns) in the Northwest Frontier Province and another 100,000 in Baluchistan. By late 1980 the number was closer to one million.
The province of Baluchistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan, remains notorious for cross-border smuggling and has more recently been infiltrated by former members of the Taliban and Al Qaida operatives. Armed battles between clans are frequent. Because the provincial police presence is limited, travelers wishing to visit the interior of Baluchistan should consult with the province’s Home Secretary. Advance permission from provincial authorities is required for travel into some areas. Local authorities have detained travelers who lack permission.
Quetta, the provincial capital, has experienced serious ethnic violence that has led to gun battles in the streets and the imposition of curfews.
The North West Frontier and Baluchistan remain feudal holdouts. President Pervez Musharraf has had to undertake delicate balancing to carry out operations against al-Qaeda in these areas. There has been talk of rising secessionist feelings in Baluchistan.
By 2004 Baluchistan was up in arms against the federal government, with the Baluchistan Liberation Army, Baluchistan Liberation Front, and People's Liberation Army conducting operations. Rocket attacks and bomb blasts have been a regular feature in the provincial capital, particularly its cantonment areas, Kohlu and Sui town, since 2000, and had claimed over 25 lives by mid-2004.
The Gwadar Port project employed close to 500 Chinese nationals by 2004. On 03 May 2004, the BLA killed three Chinese engineers working on the Port. Gwadar airport was attacked by rockets at midnight on 21 May 2004. On 09 October 2004, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in South Waziristan in the northwest of Pakistan, one of whom was killed later on October 14 in a botched rescue operation.
Pakistan blamed India and Iran for fanning insurgency in Baluchistan.
Violence reached a crescendo in March of 2005 when the Pakistani government attempting to target Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a seventy year old Sardar (tribal leader) who had fought against the government for decades, shelled the town of Dera Bugti. The fighting that erupted between the tribal militia and government soldiers resulted in the deaths of 67 people.
Although tensions remained high, there were attempts within the Pakistani government to ameliorate the situation through more peaceful means. Chaudhry Shujuat Hussain, leader of President Musharaf’s Pakistani Muslim League issued a set of 32 recommendations on how to address Baluchistan’s rebel grievances. The three main recommendations were that first, the province inhabitants be given a greater share of the gas profits (the region contains 40% of Pakistan’s natural gas reserves) and more jobs in the exploitation of gas resources. Second, pay the Baluchistan province arrears of $100 million. Third, give the province a bigger part in the construction of a new deep water port on the province’s coastline. However, as of July, 2006 none of these initiatives had been employed and the violence sparked by the bombardment of Dera Bugti had continued without abatement.
Balochistan is between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It traces its history from times immemorial. Before the birth of Christ, it had commerce and trade with ancient civilization of Babylon through Iran and into the valleys of Tigris and Euphrates. Alexander the Great also had an encounter with the Serbia tribe of Balochistan.
A Balochi war song describes the province of Balochistan thus: "the mountains are the Balochi's forts; the peaks are better than any army; the lofty heights are our comrades; the pathless gorges our friends. Our drink is from the flowing springs; our bed the thorny bush; the ground we make our pillow."
Balochistan is a land of contrast. It has places with rugged mountains like Chiltan, Takatu, Sulaiman, Sultan etc. and plains stretching hundreds of miles. It has fertile land such as in Nasirabad and the tracks which are thirsty for centuries in the Pat section of Sibi district and the Makran desert zone. It has hottest places in the country like Sibi and the cool towns like Quetta, Ziarat, Kan Mehtarzai and Kallat where temperature goes below freezing point and these areas remain under a thick cover of snow in winter.
Balochistan (or Baluchistan), also known as "Greater Balochistan" is an arid region which sits on the Iranian Plateau in Southwest Asia, presently split between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The area is named after the numerous Baloch (or Baluch, Balouch) tribes, an Iranian people, who moved in to the area from the west some time around 1000 A.D. The southern part of Balochistan is known as Makran.
Before the arrival of the Baluch, the region was populated by Pashtuns and Brahuis. The Pashtuns are now concentrated in Sibi, Bolan, Quetta, Pishin, Killa Abdullah, Killa Saifullah, Loralai, Zhob, Ziarat and Harnai. Many Brahuis live in Kalat. Languages spoken in the region include Balochi, Pashto, Persian, and Brahui.
Pakistani Balochistan was conquered by the British Empire on October 1, 1887. In 1948, it became part of Pakistan. Since then, some separatist groups in the province have engaged in armed violence, first led by "Prince Karim Khan" in 1948, and later Nawab Nowroz Khan in 1968. These tribal uprisings were limited in scope. A more serious insurgency was led by Marri and Mengal tribes in 1973-1977. They have a view of "Greater Balochistan," presently split between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan as one independent state ruled under tribal jirgas (a tribal system of government).
Accession Problem 1948
The ruler of the Khanate of Balochistan, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan,might have been coerced by Jinnah to sign the document of accession. Balochi nationals support this claim, however critics dispute such claims as unrealistic and contrary to popular support for Jinnah, as the Khan of Kalat ruled even after death of Jinnah with the support of the government. However, The Khan was not an absolute monarch; he was required to act under the provisions of the Rawaj (the Baloch constitution).
The incorporation of the Khanate resulted in a few anti-Pakistani rallies and meetings in certain areas of the Khanate. To subdue the anti-Pakistani sentiments, the Army of Pakistan was placed on alert. The Government of Pakistan decided to take complete control of the administration of Balochistan (Khanate) on 15 April 1948. The A.G.G. in Balochistan conveyed the orders of Mohammad Ali Jinnah that the status of the Khanate, "would revert back to what it was during the preceding British rule. Besides the policy of the central government of Pakistan towards the Khanate, Jinnah also refused to give Autonomy to Balochistan."
In April 1948, several political leaders from Balochistan such as Mohammad Amin Khosa and Abdul Samad Achakzai were arrested. The Anjuman-i-Watan Party (pro-congress), headed by Samad Achakzai, was declared unlawful.
First Baloch National Resistance 1948
Prince Abdul Karim Khan
The refusal to grant autonomy and the continued existence of the Sandeman system re*sulted in unrest. Thus, on the night of 16 May 1948, Prince Abdul Karim Khan, the younger brother of the Khan, decided to lead a national liberation movement.
He invited the leading members of nationalist political parties, (the Kalat State National Party, the Baloch League, and the Baloch National Workers Party) to join him in the struggle for the creation of an independent "Greater Balochistan". Apart from his political motives, the Prince was a member of the royal family and the former governor of the Makran province; the recognition of Sardar Bay Khan Gichki as a ruler of Makran by Pakistan upset him.
Beginning of Movement and Allies
He decided to migrate to Afghanistan in order to get help and to organ*ize the liberation movement. Prince Karim wrote to the Khan on 28 June 1948 ex*plaining the causes of his migration.
Some of the prominent political leaders who joined him were Mohamed Hussain Anka (the secretary of the Baloch League and the editor of Weekly Bolan Mastung) • Malik Saeed Dehwar (the secretary of the Kalat State National Party) • Qadir Bakhsh Nizamami, a member of the Baloch League and prominent members of the Communist Party, Sind-Balochistan branch, and Maulwi Mohd Afzal, a member of Jamiat-*Ulm-e-Balochistan.
Plan of Action
The Baloch Mujahideen ( Baloch Holy Warriors), as they called themselves, entered Afghanistan and encamped at Sarlath in the Province of Kandahar. During their stay, the Baloch freedom fighters adopted the following measures to achieve their goal:
Sending of messages to the Baloch chiefs of Eastern and Western Balochistan asking them to join in the armed struggle; Running of a truth revealing campaign in Balochistan, aimed at the educating the locals, teaching them to fight for their right,and fight as well as the enlistment of a national liberation force; Searching for international support, particularly from countries who are supportive of democratic process and don't support army ruling over the country.
Messages were sent to Mir Ghulam Faruq of the Rudini tribe, Sardar Mehrab Khan, Sardar Mir Jumma, Mir Wazir Khan Sanjrani of Chagai, and several other chiefs. The propaganda campaign was to be carried out on two fronts: (A) The National Cultural Front. (B) The Religious Front.
Besides the cultural and religious campaign, the Prince also organized a liberation force called the Baloch Mujahedeen, consisting of the ex-soldiers and officers Of the Khanate’s army. The Prince was chosen as the supreme commander.
The Prince issued an appeal to personages to help with the recruitment. A person re*cruiting 100 men was offered the rank of a major and a person recruiting 50 men was entitled to the rank of captain. The Baloch liberation army had a secret agency called Jannisar (devotee), whose duty was to provide information, destroy the communication system, and watch the activities of traitors. In addition to this, there was a secret unit Janbaz (darer), to kill all traitors. The Janbaz were subordinate to the Jannisar. The headquarters of the agency was known as Bab-i-Aali (secret war-office) and headed by prince Karim. The total strength of Jannisar was recorded to be 30, while nothing is known about the strength of Janbaz.
Of Soviets and Afghans
However, the Prince did not start a war of liberation because of Afghanistan’s re*fusal and the silence of the Soviet Union concerning assistance. During his stay in Sarlath, Prince Karim appointed Malik Saeed and Qadir Bakhsh Nizamani as his emis*saries to contact the Afghan Government and to approach other embassies in order to get moral and material support. According to Nizamani, the Afghan authorities refused to provide any sort of help and told them either to reside as political refugees at Kandahar or to return. The Afghan authorities also re*fused to permit the rebel group to operate from Afghan soil. Nizamami informed the Iranian Embassy of the Baloch demands as well.
Iranian diplomats showed their concern but did not offer any assistance, though they indicated their desire to provide, asylum to the rebel group in Iran. The last hope of the Prince’s re*presentative was the Soviet Embassy. The Soviet diplomats listened to Nizamami carefully. Though they did not give any assurances, they did promise to inform Moscow. The Afghans, since the rise of Ahmad Shah, had treated Balochistan as a vassal state until the Baloch-Afghan war in 1758, when an agreement of ‘non-interference’ was signed between the parties. In the 19th century, Afghan rulers like Shuja and Amir Abdur-Rehman desired to occupy Balochistan. In 1947, the Afghan Government demanded the creation of Pashtunistan. Stretching from chitral and Gilgit to the Baloch coast in the Arabian Sea.The Afghan Go*vernment called Balochistan ‘South Pashtunistan’ in statements and publications. The Afghan expansionist policy reflected the economic considerations of a landlocked state. At the same time, it was impossible for the Afghan Government to neglect its own national interests and to support the movement of an indepen*dent Greater Balochistan,which claimed the Baloch region in Afghanistan. Stalin did not pursue Lenin’s policy in the East. Moreover, government of the Soviet Union was not ready to annoy the Afghans or the British, opponents of an independent Balochistan.
Prince Karim's Legitimacy outlawed
Meanwhile the Prince and his party were regarded as a rebel group by a Farman royal order issued by the Khan on 24 May 1948, stating that no connection of any sort with the Prince and his party should be maintained nor should they be helped with rations, and that if any member of the rebel group committed an offence, he would be punished. The Government of Pakistan moved the army to the military posts of Punjab. Chaman chashme,and Rastri near the Afghan borders aiming to control the rebels’ rations, which were being sent by the pro-liberation elements, as well as to control their activities or any attempt to invade. The Pakistan au*thorities confirmed two clashes between the army and the liberation forces.
To avoid popular unrest in Balochistan, the Khan sent his maternal uncles Hajji Ibrahim Khan and Hajji Taj Mohammed at Sarlath to bring Prince Karim back to Kalat. Khan made his return conditional . The Prince and the liberation movement failed to achieve internal and external sup*port. Moreover, the Baloch nationalists were divided into two groups.Anqa and Malik Saeed favored armed struggle in the form of guerilla war, while Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo and other prominent leaders wished to resolve all issues with dialogue.
The Return of Prince Karim
The Prince was forced to return to the Khanate and negotiate for his demands peacefully. On 8 July 1948, when the news of the Prince’s arrival reached Kalat, the Prime Minister, Mr.Fell, accompanied by a Kalat State Force, went to meet the Prince at Earboi to deliver the Khan’s message.
Abdul Karim entered Balochistan with Afghan help and organized a rebellion against Pakistan in the area of Jallawan with the aid of Mir Gohar Khan Zahrri, an influential tribal leader of the Zarkzai clan. Further, it is stated that Major General Akbar Khan, who was in charge of the Seventh Regiment, was ordered to attack the insurgents and forced them to surrender. Prince Karim with his 142 followers were arrested and imprisoned in the Mach and Quetta jails. A detailed and interesting statement comes from General Akbar Khan, in his article published in the daily ‘Dawn’,dated 14 August 1960, under the title: “Early reminiscences of a soldier’. General Akbar confirms here that there was a plan to invade the Khanate and describes the clash between the Pakistan army and the liberation force headed by Prince Karim. Akbar says that Jinnah had issued instructions that this news should not be published in the press.
His Trial and Sentencing
After the arrest of the Prince and his party, the A.G.G. gave an order for an inquiry, to be conducted by Khan Sahib Abdullah Khan, the Additional District Ma*gistrate Quetta. He submitted his report on 12 September 1948. His report was based on the activities of the Prince and upon the letters and documents published by the liberation force. After the inquiry, R.K.Saker the District Magistrate at Quetta, appointed a special Jirga (official council of elders) consisting of the following persons:
1) Khan Bahador Sahibzada, M.Ayub Khan Isakhel, Pakhtoon from Pishin;
2) K.B. Baz Mohd Khan. Jogezai, Pakhtoon from Loralai;
3) Abdul Ghaffar Khan Achakzai, Pakhtoon from Pishin;
4) S.B. Wadera Noor Muhammad Khan, a Baloch Chief from Kalat;
5) Syed Aurang Shah from Kalat;
6) Sheikh Baz Gul Khan. Pakhtoon from Zhob;
7) Wahab Khan Panezai, Pakhtoon from Sibi;
8) Sardar Doda Khan Marri, Baloch from Sibi.
The Jirga was instructed to study the circumstances and events which led to the revolt and was asked to give its recommendations to the District Magistrate. On 10 November 1948, the Jirga heard the testimony of the accused and gave its recommendations to the D.M. on 17 November 1948, suggesting the delivery of the Prince in Loralai at the pleasure of the Government of Pakistan and various other penalties. The D .M., in his order dated 27 November 1948, differed with the opinion of the Jirga and sentenced the Prince to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5000 other members of his party were given various sentences and fines. Thus the Pakistan Government crushed the first armed struggle by Balochi insurgents
Pakistan: Roots of the Balochistan conflict run deep
Source : IRIN 16.02.2006
QUETTA, 16 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - For two years, Faqir Hussain, 26, has been searching for a job. He goes about the task methodically from his tiny flat in the southern Pakistani city of Quetta, cutting out notices that appear each week in the Sunday newspapers and maintaining a meticulous list of the organisations he has already written to.
But so far, this diligence has brought no dividends, and Faqir, a graduate in economics, admits he is increasingly despondent. "It is very difficult to be without work. I get extremely depressed, and sometimes I just spend days sitting at a tiny café in the bazaar, smoking cigarettes and sipping green tea.”
Along with a sense of deep disappointment, Faqir is also intensely angry. He insists that his plight, and that of thousands of others in the vast, southwestern province of Balochistan, has been created by the unjust policies of what he calls the "Punjabi-controlled government" far away in Islamabad.
He cites the security forces, deployed in Quetta, and the reports of new military cantonments cropping up at many places in Balochistan, as evidence that: "The army wishes to take control of Balochistan and suppress the rights of the Baloch people." He also maintains Balochistan's immense energy resources, mainly in the form of natural gas located at Sui, are being "stolen" from it.
Leading activists, Afrasiab Khattak, also an astute political analyst who has recently visited various parts of Balochistan, agrees. "Militarisation is creating many difficulties for local people and resentment is intense," he told IRIN.
The Baloch animosity towards the central government of Pakistan and the country's most populous province, Punjab, which is seen as controlling the military and the administration, has a long history. Divided in the nineteenth century among Iran, Afghanistan, and British India, the Baloch found their aspirations and traditional nomadic life frustrated by the presence of national boundaries and the extension of central administration over their lands.
Many Baloch believe their province was forcibly incorporated into the new state of Pakistan, as the Indian subcontinent was split at the end of British rule in 1947.
The Khan of Kalat, ruler of the Baloch coastal state of Kalat, rose up in revolt at the time, triggering off the first of a series of insurgencies in the province. New uprisings, essentially seeking greater autonomy, led to confrontations between Baloch nationalists and the Pakistan military in 1958 and 1962.
A long-dormant crisis erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistani army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including Huey-Cobra helicopter gunships, provided by Iran.
The current clampdown in Balochistan was triggered by an attempt on President Pervez Musharraf's life in December 2005.
According to a January 2006 statement by Pakistani Senator Sanaullah Baloch, at least 180 people have died in bombings, 122 children have been killed by paramilitary troops and hundreds of people have been arrested since the beginning of the campaign in early 2005. On 8 December 2005, the federal interior minister stated that some 4,000 people had been arrested in Balochistan since the beginning of 2005.
Rights groups are concerned. Amnesty International (AI), in a statement released on 10 January, demanded that “human rights abuses [in Balochistan] be stopped forthwith and that all allegations of violations of human rights, including civil, political and economic rights, be independently and impartially investigated with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice”.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently conducted a fact-finding mission to Balochistan. HRCP chairperson Asma Jehangir said that the commission had received evidence that action by armed forces had led to deaths and injuries among civilians. “The population had also been subjected to indiscriminate bombing”, she said.
Contributing to the sense of anger that runs deep beneath the sandy soil of the barren province, comprising almost entirely of desert, scrub and rock, are high levels of poverty and deprivation.
According to the Karachi-based Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), poverty levels in Balochistan are the highest in the country and nearly double those of the Punjab – the country's most prosperous province.
Every second person in Balochistan lives below the poverty line. Only 50 percent of the province's population of 7 million people have access to clean drinking water, only half the children attend primary schools and only a third of children between 12 and 23 months are immunised, the SPDC maintains.
Figures from the government's Labour Force Survey 2003-2004 show that while urban unemployment is 9.7 percent in Pakistan, it stands at 12.5 percent in Balochistan. Even during periods of economic growth, when employment levels rose elsewhere in the country, joblessness expanded in Balochistan.
So many in Balochistan blame Islamabad for their plight and point out that the benefits derived from the province's natural wealth have not been returned to it.
But others hold that the traditional way of life in the isolated region, where tribal chieftains rule by decree and are sometimes an obstacle to development, also needs to change. Many say these traditional rulers are responsible for retaining a tight grip on wealth in the province and adhering to traditional codes under which education, empowerment and political dialogue are all hampered.
Afrasiab Khattak told IRIN: "It is important that development in Balochistan addresses the needs of the people. Schools, vocational training institutions and other such projects are needed to meet needs, and not just giant infrastructure works, such as road networks or highways."
Ethnic tensions in Balochistan are being tweaked, say some observers. Large non-Baloch ethnic groups, including the Pashtuns, are settled in many parts of the vast province.
Prominent journalist and author Ahmed Rashid has warned that authorities may attempt to "play the ethnic card", as part of their strategy, to weaken the hold of tribal chiefs fiercely opposed to the state.
As has happened in the past, it is the ordinary people of the province who suffer most from the conflict. The tensions, the road blocks, the rockets fired by militants and the threat from landmines, inevitably have an adverse affect on economic activity.
The situation also makes it even harder for people like Faqir to find work. "No big companies come to Quetta. Even NGOs have been frightened away," he said, despondently.
THE murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti at the hands of
state security forces is both a human and a national
tragedy, with consequences of unimaginably perilous
scale. That such disproportionate force was used to
kill a 79-year old ailing man and that his bereaved
family has been denied the opportunity to offer their
last respects and accord him a proper burial is
There may be many questions about Akbar Bugti’s
conduct as a tribal leader. Today, however, he stands
tall as a man who forsook the comforts of his home in
Dera Bugti and took up abode in mountain caves to
fight for the rights of his people. The same cannot be
said of many of his detractors living in the comforts
of official residences and in cantonments and defence
housing schemes in Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi.
The calamity and the sordid handling of the aftermath
reflects General Musharraf’s arrogant faith in
military solutions to the patently political problems
that the country faces, including those that have been
created by the perpetuation of the current military
dictatorship since October 1999. The generals have
certainly not learnt any lessons from Pakistan’s
unfortunate history of a quarter of a century ago, nor
from the current failure of the world’s sole
superpower to enforce its writ in Iraq, or of the
mighty Israeli army’s failure to write its agenda in
In 1971, the then generals opted to lay down their
arms before the Indian army rather than negotiate and
arrive at a compromise with the leaders of the people
of the eastern wing of Pakistan. This attitude appears
to be pervasive even today. And general Musharraf’s
chest-thumping speech in Murree, hurling threats at
the people of Balochistan, as well as of Pakistan, is
likely to stoke more defiance rather than scare
The policy drift that the country has suffered under
General Musharraf’s leadership portends disaster for
the country. Questions about the general’s judgment
had arisen immediately after the inane militarily
untenable Kargil misadventure. He also made a foreign
policy U-turn, hours after the tragedy of 9/11, and
Pakistan shifted from being the most pro-Taliban
country in the world to the most ardent ‘terrorist’
busting country in the US camp. The slogan that was
then trumpeted as a rationale for the U-turn was that
Pakistan must come first.
The implications of the principle of this simplistic
justification are disturbing. Extended further, it
could imply that, under external pressure, the Kashmir
cause or the nuclear status could be abandoned on the
grounds that ‘Pakistan has to come first’. After all,
it could be perceivably argued that there can be no
struggle for the freedom of the Kashmiri people if
there was no Pakistan or of what use will the nuclear
arsenal be if there was no Pakistan?
Now General Musharraf has proclaimed that the writ of
the government will be enforced ‘at all costs’. One
hopes that ‘all costs’ does not imply that the writ of
his government — of questionable legitimacy — will be
imposed even at the cost of Pakistan. These questions
are not frivolous, given the increasingly apparent
absence of any degree of political intellect in
general Musharraf’s policy decisions. After all, the
legacy of disastrous policy decisions by the coterie
of Generals headed by Yahya Khan did not provide any
assurance of intelligent conduct. And, given the
current military regime’s paramount and almost
exclusive objective of clinging on to power, there can
be no confidence in the quality of decision-making on
national, regional or international issues.
General Musharraf has tried to present the conflict in
Balochistan as one where a mere three sardars, out of
about 75, are attempting to sabotage development. The
argument holds no water. Several facts need to be
taken into account. Balochistan is a very
heterogeneous province. The sardari system is a Baloch
institution. Out of 26 districts, one-third of them in
the north/north-east are populated by Pukhtuns and, as
such, not subject to the sardari system. The system
also does not prevail in the Mekran coast and
It appears, therefore, that the sardari system is
prevalent only in about one-third of the districts in
the eastern/central part of the province. This is the
part over which up to about 75 sardars are said to
hold sway. As such, the area controlled by the three
‘anti-development’ sardars is likely to be rather
small. The question that arises, is: why has
development not blossomed in the rest of the province?
An overview of the development scene in Balochistan is
discomforting and the extent of relative deprivation
in the province is appalling. Eighteen out of the 20
most infrastructure-deprived districts in Pakistan are
in Balochistan. The percentage of districts that are
classified as high deprivation stands as follows: 29
per cent in Punjab, 50 per cent in Sindh, 62 per cent
in the NWFP, and 92 per cent in Balochistan. If Quetta
and Ziarat are excluded, all of Balochistan falls into
the high deprivation category. And Quetta’s ranking
would fall if the cantonment is excluded from the
analysis. The percentage of population living in a
high degree of deprivation stands at 25 per cent in
Punjab, 23 per cent in urban Sindh, 49 per cent in
rural Sindh, 51 per cent in the NWFP, and 88 per cent
Measured in terms of poverty, the percentage of
population living below the poverty line stands at 26
per cent in Punjab, 38 per cent in rural Sindh, 27 per
cent in urban Sindh, 29 per cent in the NWFP, and 48
per cent in Balochistan. Yet another stark measure of
Balochistan’s relative deprivation is that while the
country boasts of a 50-per cent-plus literacy rate,
the same for rural women in Balochistan is a mere
seven per cent.
Balochistan’s relative decline is also indicated by
provincially disaggregated national accounts data.
Estimates for the period 1973-2000 show that Punjab
alone has increased its share of national GDP by two
percentage points from 52.7 per cent to 54.7 per cent.
Sindh — on account of Karachi — and the NWFP have
maintained their share. Balochistan’s share has
declined by nearly one percentage point from 4.5 per
cent to 3.7 per cent. Resultantly, the annual rate of
growth of per capita GDP has been 2.4 per cent in
Punjab and 0.2 per cent in Balochistan.
Statistics tell only a part of the story. In fact,
given the conditions in Balochistan, Pakistan’s
national statistics do not tell the full story. This
is because no enumerator of the official statistics
collecting department makes the effort to visit a
settlement that is two days walking distance away.
Conditions in such settlements are so dire that, if
half the children born in a family survive, it is
considered lucky. The absence of such data has tended
to show national statistics in a better light than it
actually is — and has tended to conceal Balochistan’s
Apart from chronic underdevelopment, the insurgency is
also a product of the exclusion of the Baloch from the
mainstream national political process. After all, in
the period since independence to date, how many of the
corps commanders or lieutenant-generals or brigadiers
have been Baloch? How many of the ambassadors or high
commissioners in Pakistan missions abroad have been
Baloch? How many of the federal secretaries or
additional secretaries have been Baloch? How many of
the heads of public organisations — a la Wapda — have
been Baloch? How many of the heads of the Federation
of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry have
been Baloch? How many of the members of Pakistan’s
national cricket or hockey teams have been Baloch? And
so on. Perhaps General Musharraf or his prime minister
or his more garrulous ministers would venture to
answer some of the above questions, at least with
respect to the current situation.
Admittedly, Balochistan’s underdevelopment is a
product of over half a century of exploitation and
neglect. Unfortunately, however, General Musharraf’s
seven years in power has merely seen an extension of
the past record. The fact is that, not unlike any
previous governments, the Musharraf regime has never
had any development agenda for Balochistan. The few
mega projects that have been undertaken, a la Gwadar,
are actually motivated by strategic considerations.
They are more likely to bypass the local population
and, worse still, turn the Baloch into a minority in
their home province.
The Baloch intelligentsia has seen through Islamabad’s
colonisation game and the general insurgency is merely
a response. The military’s operation in Balochistan is
a counter response, not to the insurgency per se, but
to the challenge posed to Islamabad’s colonisation
Resultantly, the situation is extremely precarious.
With the army possibly embroiled in Balochistan, the
defence of the eastern frontier is likely to be
compromised. There are likely to be serious impacts on
the national economy as well. Without security across
the vast province, Gwadar port’s planned position as
the third port of the country and a transshipment
point for central Asia and western China will go up in
smoke. So will the under-discussion
Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. The rest of
the country too will not remain unaffected. Unlike in
the case of East Pakistan, Balochistan is not a
thousand kilometers away.
Given Karachi’s geographical proximity to Balochistan,
the presence of large Baloch settlements in the city,
and the sympathetic Sindhi nationalist element, any
civil war-like situation in Balochistan will
inevitably envelope Karachi in the theatre of
conflict. And, given that Karachi and neighbouring
Port Qasim are the only seaports of the country and
handle the entire shipping of export and import cargo,
the situation will impact the economy in all parts of
The postponement of the National Assembly session,
scheduled for March 3, 1971, in Dhaka, finally snapped
the tenuous emotional thread that had bound the
eastern province with the rest of the country. Today,
the killing of Akbar Bugti has severely frayed the
emotional thread linking Balochistan with Pakistan.
The withdrawal of Baloch nationalist legislators from
the parliamentary process is an ominous signal that
cannot and should not be ignored. If the damage to the
federation is to be repaired, the military
establishment will need to withdraw from the
political, economic and commercial arenas and a
genuinely elected government will need to take
effective charge of the country to assuage the deep
wounds that have been inflicted on Balochistan.
Pakistan: tens of thousands displaced by army operations against insurgent groups
Army operations targeting insurgent groups in Waziristan and Balochistan are the main causes of conflict-induced displacement in Pakistan today. There is no official information on the number of people displaced and access of journalists and aid workers to the affected areas is tightly restricted. But best estimates from the media and aid agencies are that at the very least many tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in both areas, though most of these will have returned home within a matter of weeks.
In Balochistan, the fighting has been between tribal rebels and the army. Apart from longstanding demands for increased political autonomy, development projects are fuelling the current conflict in Balochistan as the local population demands increased control over and more benefits from the exploitation of natural resources. The current unrest started in 2003 and has intensified during 2005 and 2006, bringing 40,000 army troops to the region to fight local militant groups. Estimates of the number displaced at its peak are as high as 200,000.
Massive displacement reported from Balochistan
Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces. It covers 43 per cent of its land area, but is inhabited by only six per cent of Pakistan’s population, or around 8 million people. The Baloch make up 54.7 per cent of the population while 29 per cent are Pashtun. Although Balochistan is Pakistan’s richest province in terms of energy and mineral resources, it is the most under-developed province, with half of its population living below the poverty line.
Tension has been simmering for decades in Pakistan’s south-western Balochistan province. Tribal militants in the area have been demanding greater political autonomy and protesting against the fact that natural resources in the province are controlled by the federal government while the region receives only what they perceive as minor royalties or compensation. While the province accounts for 36 per cent of Pakistan’s gas production, close to half of Balochistan’s households live without electricity, for example.
While local militant groups have clashed with government forces since the 1970s, the current unrest has intensified during 2005 and 2006. The Pakistani army has launched a major offensive, particularly against the Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes, each believed to be controlling thousands of militiamen. However, the local political support for the uprising goes far beyond these three tribes (Saghal, 1 June 2006; ICG, 14 September 2006, p.10). The first reports about major displacement due to fighting appeared in April 2005 when some 300 government troops were surrounded by thousands of tribal militants in the town of Dera Bugti, located close to Pakistan’s largest gas reserves. The fighting was reported to have displaced around 6,000 people and killed scores of civilians (COE-DMHA, 29 April 2005; ICG, 14 September 2006, p.8).
Militants have continued to target gas pipelines, railway lines and electricity networks, and have launched rocket attacks on government buildings and army bases, followed by retaliation and search operations by the military (Reuters, May 2006). The security situation for the civilian population has severely worsened due to the use of landmines in parts of the Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts both by rebel forces, in particular the Balochistan Liberation Army, and by the Pakistani army. As of April 2006, more than 50 civilians had been killed by landmine explosions since the beginning of the year (IRIN, 26 April 2006).
The army has used heavy artillery and launched air strikes against insurgent bases; this has also killed and maimed civilians. By December 2005, about 90 per cent of the population in the town of Dera Bugti was reported to have fled and displacement was also reported in the district of Kohlu. During subsequent fighting, thousands of civilians were reported to have fled several areas in the neighbouring Jaffarabad and Sibi districts (AHRC, 21 July 2006).
The situation deteriorated further in the wake of the killing of Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006 which was followed by bloody riots. Several have warned that the conflict will go on escalating if the government continues its harsh military response against political opposition groups in the region (ICG, 14 September 2006).
There are no official or UN estimates of the extent of the displacement due to the fighting. One regional human rights organisation says 200,000 people were displaced as of July 2006. The displaced had at that point fled to relief camps or towns in safe areas of Jaffarabad, and the Nasirabad, Quetta and Khuzdar districts of Balochistan, as well as to the Sindh and Punjab provinces (AHRC, 21 July 2006). No other source has verified this figure. Another media report says 50,000 remained displaced due to military operations as of July 2006 (Dawn, 13 July 2006).
By early summer 2006, President General Pervez Musharraf said that life had returned to normal in Dera Bugti and that those displaced by the violence were now returning to their homes. No reports have been found on the number and conditions of return, however. In July 2006, military operations were still reported to be affecting more than 15 districts in Balochistan. Also, the government has been accused of deliberately fuelling unrest in the violence-affected area by supporting local tribes who are in conflict with the Bugtis (AHRC, 21 July 2006; IPCS, 28 June 2006).
Several reports have testified to the critical living conditions for the displaced who moved to relief camps as well as a general apathy demonstrated by the Pakistani authorities vis-à-vis the displaced civilian population. Although the media have not been allowed to move freely in the areas most affected by the violence, deplorable conditions and lack of assistance to the displaced in relief camps have been reported since the onset of the conflict. In May 2006, assistance had not yet reached the camps. The displaced were reported to be living in the open in baking hot weather without food and other facilities. Provincial opposition leaders appealed to international and national humanitarian organisations for assistance (IRIN, 26 April 2006; Dawn, 16 April 2006).
The displaced were still reported to be living in temporary settlements without provision for water, sanitation, food, schooling and health care. A local human rights group reported that the displaced had to carry water from at least one to three kilometres away. No medical help was being provided to them. Most of the displaced are children and women and they are reported to suffer from diarrhoea, dehydration and malaria. Some cases of deaths have been reported but not confirmed by any hospitals (IRIN, 31 August 2006; AHRC, 21 July 2006).
The government is accused of deliberately blocking access to the displaced populations and has stopped efforts to provide health services in the camps. Official sources said to a newspaper that the displaced were well off and not in need of assistance (Dawn, 13 July 2006).
A revealing new article on the extent of the Defence Intelligence Agency's involvement in the conflict, excerpted from Prasun K. Sengupta's March 08 article...
Too Many Secrets....
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The past week was by all accounts a momentous one, as no less a person than former Pakistani President and former Chief of the Army Staff, Gen (Ret'd) Pervez Musharraf, assertively disclosed what has been a 'no-go' area for India's mainstream media and the otherwise hyper-ventilating broadcast media thus far: that India's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) has, since 2002, waged a highly successful covert war against Pakistan by actively rendering all kinds of financial assistance to Balochistan-based separatists. But mind you, such covert warfare has not been waged by the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), but by the tri-services DIA and Afghanistan's Riyast-i-Amniyat-i-Milli, and in addition to his routine assignment as India's Defence Adviser at the Embassy in Kabul, Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta was officially dolling out huge financial assistance--as ordered by the DIA--to the Baloch separatists as and when required. For the past one year such activities being undertaken by the DIA wer, in fact, openly discussed by both serving and retired senior military officials at both the Armed Forces Gymkhana and the United Services Institution within the National Capital Region. It, therefore, did not come as a great surprise to South Block when Brig Mehta was specifically targetted for assassination by the Pakistan Army's Peshawar-based 324 Military Intelligence Battalion .
This in many ways is reminiscent of the era ranging from the mid-1980s and early 1990s during which RAW had succeeded in gaining the trust of what would later morph into the Northern Alliance. In fact, by 1986, despite India's official recognition of the then Soviet-backed Afghan regime led by Dr Najibullah, India had begun extending medical assistance to the guerrilla forces led by the legendary leader Ahmad Shah Massoud and as a consequence of this, one wing of the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) was completely cordoned off by South Block and it was there that all those Mujahideen wounded in battle while fighting the Soviets under Massoud's leadership received the urgent medical attention that they deserved. So impressed was the Northern Alliance by India's humanitarian assistance that this relationship, at first opportunity, got elevated to a higher level when, in the early 1990s after the breakup of the USSR, the Northern Alliance succeeded in securing Tajikistan's approval for an Indian Army-run field hospital to be established at Farkhor.
A very good point made by Ritesh,it is now high time to corner Pak on Baluchistan, issue however, Ritesh , Jundallah is actively targeting Iranian Security Personnel in Sistan and Baluchistan province and banned as Terrorist Group in Iran and Pakistan, Jundallah said to attack Iranian civilians and security personnel for their goal of seeking importance in majority Shia dominated Persi rule in Iran and the area is underdeveloped and reported as neglected. Can n't there be a possibility that the Baloch resentments against Iranian rule finds fuel from this support, and there fore , in the long run, we loss Iran as our friend?
LAHORE: Balochistan Republican Party President Barahamdagh Bugti has said the Baloch want independence irrespective of Pakistan’s own existence, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday. Talking to the channel over the phone, the Baloch leader denied the allegations leveled against him by the interior adviser. He said if there was any record of his stay in Afghanistan or international telephone calls related to UN official John Solecki’s abduction, it should be made public. He said he would appeal to foreign countries, including India and the US, for help in achieving Baloch objectives. He, however, denied that any foreign country, especially India, was supporting him. daily times monitor