Discussion in 'Balochistan - Freedom Struggle' started by Blackwater, Feb 6, 2012.
This interview is a must watch. What a spirit Marri has displayed...
This guy stayed calm, cool and collected through out the interview. Sethi threw lots of curves but merri stayed true to his one and only one demand that is complete freedom. The question is how this landlocked nation of 7 million people will fight of the rest of the Pakistani population without the outside help in the form of manpower(Army)? Which nation will step forward to accommodate Baluchistan request?
An excellent find!
Blaochistan is not landlocked per se.
It has it opening to the Arabian Sea through the Markarann Coastline.
The image below will indicate the history of Balochistan
For more details see;
Growing tensions in restive Baluchistan and Sindh spell trouble for Islamabad, says South Asian specialist
Pakistan gets American attention primarily because it is a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity and a staging area for the Taliban campaign to recapture Afghanistan. But the most important and least-noticed news about multiethnic Pakistan is that it is slowly falling apart as tensions grow between its Punjabi-dominated military regime and its restive ethnic minority regions of Baluchistan and Sindh.
To suppress a growing Baluch insurgency in the southwest, President Pervez Musharraf has diverted significant military forces from the Afghan frontier. Six Pakistani army brigades, paramilitary forces totaling 35,000 men, and U.S.-supplied helicopter gunships and F-16 fighter jets are currently deployed in the Kohlu mountains and surrounding areas.
The United States, which dismisses the insurgency as an "internal" Pakistani affair, should be actively promoting a political settlement between Islamabad and the Baluch for two urgent reasons: to stop the diversion of U.S.-supplied equipment from the battle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and to end the misuse of U.S.-supplied aircraft in bombing and strafing operations that have killed hundreds of women and children in Baluchistan since January of 2005. Even more important, a settlement is critical to head off a steadily developing disintegration of Pakistan that would destabilize the entire South Asian region.
In Sindh, adjacent to Baluchistan, separatists who share Baluch opposition to Gen. Musharraf's regime are reviving their long-simmering movement for a sovereign Sindhi state, or a Sindhi-Baluch federation, that would stretch along the Arabian Sea from Iran to the Indian border.
Many Sindhi leaders openly express their hope that instability in Pakistan will sooner or later tempt India to help them militarily and economically to secede from Pakistan as Bangladesh did with Indian help in 1971.
There are six million Baluch in Pakistani Baluchistan and 1.2 million in eastern Iran. The Sindhis number 23.4 million, all in Pakistan.
The Pakistani Baluch areas were forcibly incorporated into Pakistan when it was created in 1947 and have since fought three insurgencies before this one. In the most bitter one, from 1973 to 1977, some 80,000 Pakistani troops and 55,000 Baluch were involved at various stages of the fighting. Much of the anger that motivates the Baluchistan Liberation Army today is driven by memories of Pakistani "scorched earth" tactics in past battles.
Iran, like Pakistan, was a U.S. ally during the 1973-1977 conflict. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who feared that the insurgency would spread across the border to the Baluch living in eastern Iran, sent 30 Cobra gunships with Iranian pilots to help Pakistan. But, this time, Tehran is no longer an ally of Washington, and is also at odds with Islamabad. Iran has charged that U.S. Special Forces units are using bases in Pakistan for undercover operations inside Iran designed to foment Baluch opposition to the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The big difference between earlier phases of the Baluch struggle and the current one is that Islamabad has not been able to play off feuding tribes against each other. Equally important, it faces a unified nationalist movement under younger leadership drawn not only from tribal leaders but also from an emergent, literate Baluch middle class that did not exist three decades ago. Another key difference is that the Baluch have a better armed and more disciplined fighting force in the Baluchistan Liberation Army. Baluch leaders say rich compatriots and sympathizers in the Persian Gulf are providing the money needed to buy weapons in the flourishing black market along the Afghan frontier.
Gen. Musharraf has repeatedly accused India of providing weapons to the Baluch insurgents and funds to Sindhi separatist groups, but has provided no evidence to back up his charges. India denies the accusations. At the same time, New Delhi has issued periodic statements expressing "concern" at the fighting and calling for political dialogue.
India brushes aside suggestions that it might be tempted to help Sindhi and Baluch insurgents if the situation in Pakistan continues to unravel. On the contrary, Indian leaders say, India wants a stable Pakistan that will negotiate a peace settlement in Kashmir, so both sides can wind down their costly arms race. But many Indian media commentators appear happy to see Gen. Musharraf tied down in Baluchistan and hope the Baluch crisis will force him to reduce Pakistani support for Kashmir Islamic extremists.
Unlike India, Iran has its own Baluch minority and fears Baluch nationalism. Tehran recently launched a campaign of repression in which "hundreds" of Baluch were rounded up and, in many cases, executed on charges of collaborating with the United States.
Many Baluch and Sindhi leaders are not yet pushing for independence and are ready to settle for the degree of provincial autonomy envisaged in a 1973 constitution that successive military regimes have ignored. Washington should seek to promote a political settlement with the Baluch and Sindhis based on autonomy; but, realistically, a constitutional compromise is not likely unless Gen. Musharraf steps down and permits the presidential election scheduled for next year to be conducted fairly with the participation of two exiled former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
Given continued military rule, the Baluch and Sindhi insurgencies are likely to be increasingly radicalized, and the danger of a breakup of Pakistan will grow, with incalculable consequences for the United States and South Asia.
Selig S. Harrison, a former Washington Post bureau chief in New Delhi, has covered Pakistan since 1951 and is the author of five books on Asia, including In Afghanistanâ€™s Shadow, a study of Baluch nationalism. He is director of the Asia program at the Washington-based Center for International Policy and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Article originally published in â€œThe Globe and Mailâ€ the Canadian leading National Newspaper at November 1, 2006.
The Unravelling of Pakistan
"History is fiction agreed upon"
By Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti
Quetta, Balochistan, October 18, 1982
" Most of our actions and our conduct is before the people, be they good or bad; the people can decide for themselves; and then again the events presently unfolding speak for themselves about the past, the present and possibly the future."
Shaheed-e-Watan Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, former Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan. October 18, 1982
The racial origin of the Baloch is shrouded in mystery connect the Baloch to Babylon or near about, the some of our aging would be historians Endeavour to connect the Baloch to Babylon or near about; this is because their own pre-conceived ideas and prejudices. They would like us to belong to a nation or people who have left mark of glory and renown on human history, with the memory of false pride in a grand progenitor. With this end in view they try invent myths. That the Baloch are descendants from the Chaldeans, from the god BAAL (the earth into whose bosom all Babylonians returned after death) and from Nimrod-but he had no descendants, how could he? He is mythical character.
I cannot understand why they shy away from the fact that the Baloch as a national group does not find mention in and any history prior to the edvent of the Christian ear, and they never set up any empire nor made conquests of any consequence. At the most they must have been simple nomads and pastoral people who led an uncomplicated life roaming the vest steppes of Central Asia in search of substance.
All the bits and pieces of evidence available to us regarding the Baloch point to Aryan stock. Their language, culture, custom and habits: traditions of living and fighting, and other rites which are common to the Aryan. The Kurds and Medes have much in common with the Baloch, and its is said they are the same racial and linguistic group. The Kurdishi (Kurd) were a section of the people indentified in history as Medes, Aryan tribes that had entered Iran from the North, reached their zenith in the late seventh century B.C....Merged wit the great Achaemenian Empire of Kurdish (Cyrus) the great and thereafter retained something near original indemnity in the mountain of western Iran. They are an Aryan people.
The language, culture, customs and habits of the Baloch and Kurd are similar. There are many branches of Baloch clans which from parts of the Kurd nation and vice versa, for example:
Marri Dola Marri
Scores of small national groups, people like the Baloch have left no major imprint on the sands of time. The Baloch find mention for the first time in the Shahnama of the Firdausi during the period of the Sassanid Dynasty (22-651 A.D). But the Shahnama cannot claim to be history and this much is certain the nomadic Baloch did exist as an organized body in the time of Nausherawan (Aadil0), as referred to by Firdausi.
Nomadism is just as recent and just as highly developed condition as civilization. The tribe was a big family; the Nation a group of tribal families; as household often contained hundreds of people.
These people were not congregated in cities but in districts of pasturage, as clan and tribal communities. They formed loose leagues for mutual help under chosen leader; they had centers where they could come, together with their herds, in time of danger.
At their feasts, of great importance in their time and still more important to the historian, were certain poets, singers of songs and stories, the bards or rhapsodists. These bards existed among all the Aryan-speaking peoples: they were consequence of and futher human advances made in Neolithic times. They chanted or recited stories of the past, of war bravery and death, or stories of the living Chief and his people: they found and seized upon and improved the rhythms, rhythms, alliterations, and such- like possibilities latent in language: they probably did much to elaborate and fix grammatical forms. They were perhaps the first great artists of the ear, and the order and sweetness and power of language was their primary concern.
These bards mark a new step forward in the power and range of the human mind. They sustained and developed in men's minds a sense of a greater something than themselves, the tribe, about its taboos and why they had to be, about the world and the why for the world.
A tribal mind came in existence, a tradition, and of a life that extended back into the past. They not only recalled old haltered and battles, they recalled old alliances and a common inheritance. The feats of dead heroes lived again, as it does even today. The Baloch Aryan began to live in thought before they were born and after they were dead.
In their hands language became as beautiful as it is ever likely to be. These bards were living books, man histories, guardians and makers of a new more and more powerful tradition in human life. Every Aryan people had its long poetical records thus handed down; its sagas (Teutonic). It's Epics (Greek), its Vedantic narrative poems (old Sanskrit). Its Shahnama (Persians), its Heroic and nomadic ballads (classical Balochi).
The sounds pattern of Balochi poetry is exuistie and charms the lister. Few languages can boast of a vocal structure as congenial to poetry as Balochiâ€¦..
The traditional recorded history of the Baloch begins from their Chief, Mir Jalahan(12th century A.D). Who with his forty four Bolaks were spread over between Kirman, Sistan, Bandar Abbas and Bampur. Later, under Mir Shaihak, the bulk of the core moved towards Makuran, and finally under Mir Chakar in the 15th century, once again they moved by different routes, over-running and setting on the greater parts of Balochistan. Mir Chakar at th head of the Rinds enetered the plains of Kachhi and took Sevi, while Mir Gowharam with his Lasharis established himself at the Gandawah, Sevi became the Baloch capital with Mir Chakar as the head of the Baloch confederacy.
Mir Shaihak, and later Mir Chaker build their political and military power around the Rind nucleus..The chakarian age was an age of romance, literary culture, chivalry and heroic deeds: poetry and song, of conflicts and wars: and yet that age saw the end national unity greatness; but, for the time being.
"History:, said Bacon, " is the planks of shipwreck: more of the past is lost than has saved". We console ourselves with the thought that as the individual memory must forget the great part of experience in order to be sane, so the race has preserved in its heritage only the most vivid and impressive-or is it only the best recorded? of its cultural experiments.
Baalach Goregage's courage was of a sterner kind. He is the "First Baloch Guerrilla" he is the personification of all that is Baloch and Balochiat, and Baloch of all ages aspire to emulate..
Despite the fact we (Baloch) have left no great name in past history, nor have been anywhere great; our people and their leaders kept to themselves; simple folk, with their flocks migrating with the seasons from place to place (within the radius of their homeland) in search of fresh pasture; paying tribute to none; and most important, we have kept intact our own distinct identity; our own exclusiveness, to this day.
If you go to Delhi or other parts, you will not find Turks, Khiljis, Lodis, Mongols, Suris, Mughuls, ets: in any compact area they could call their own, or where they are a national group with a national identify. They have assimilated and merged completely, without a language and culture of their own, and most would not know their origin.
We (Baloch) may not be united in all our ideas, but we are united otherwise as Baloch, as a people, and this consciousness is increasing, and that is the legacy, that is the heritage left to us by Mir Jalalhan, Shaikhak, Chakar, Gowaharam, Biveragh, Jaro, Mirhan, Nozbandagh, Rayhan, Ramain, Hammal and Baalach. The Baloch heritage, which is most precious to us; which many people do not have; which many people in past history have lost completely; which we have, and that is what counts. The Baloch have not become any "-Ised" they were and they remain Baloch.
In conflict, leaders must subdue other or be subdued himself. When Genghis Khan's descendents took up permanent residence in China along with a certain number of Mongols and others, they had in fact shifted from their base and their home land; as such they could not maintain their rule nor themselves for long on foreign soil. Finally, when these great conquering people became "Ised" they lost every-thing, were subdued and became the conquered.
Nadir Shah of Persia and Ahamad Shah Abdali of Afghanistan, in the recent past took Delhi for short periods, but then were obliged to withdraw back to their own base-areas, their homelands, were they continued. Those that were left being in India were merged with the teeming masses of of the Indian populations and became" Indian-Ised"
Nadir Shah and Ahamed Shah could not maintain "nation-states" in India, where they had no base of their own, except their soldiery. Both lost Delhi and their empires, but the Iranians and Afghans continue to have their own identity and their own rule within the geographical boundaries of their respective countries, which was and is their home-base.
The British conquered and ruled over nearly one fourth of the globe, and it was said at he time: "the sun never sets over the British Empire" but eventually as nationalism took hold of the peoples' minds and there was political awakening, the British were made to withdraw and return their own base, their own country, England; which had been their home-land for centuries; where they continue to rule themselves, with their own language, culture, customs, and traditions intact and under their own laws and social conditions. Today it is said that "the sun never rises on the British Isles"
Likewise, any people who aspire to over-awe others because of their temporary weakness, and colonize or rule over them against their will; eventually after a period of time and under changed circumstances, that rule is over-thrown, and people come into its ownâ€¦â€¦ Let us before we die, gather up our heritage, and offer it to our children.
This article is from Lecturer, Aziz Mohammed Bugti, Book about the Personalities of Balochistan
"History is fiction agreed upon"
Minorities in Balochistan
By Professor Mansoor Akbar Kundi
University of Balochistan, Quetta
Balochistan contains a large number of minority population which in many anthropologists/sociologists, analysis, not only stands a significance of minority division but a symbol of minority population status quo in an ideological state. There might have appeared a threat to the religious freedom of few of them; nevertheless, the minorities in Balochistan have enjoyed more socio-cultural assimilation and political rights.
According to the census report 1981; the minorities division in Balochistan was following. The total number of Christians were 29, 00; Huindus 27,00; Ahmadis/Qadiyanis 6,000; Parsee 4,000; Sikh 1,000 and Bhahis 700. Their population, nonetheless, like the rest of population has increased during the past years. Constituency five percent of the total population and 20 percent of Quetta population, the minorities in Balochistan have shared an important socio-cultural and economic co-existence with the rest of population. They have three minority seats in 43 member provincial assembly which proportion of minority seats wise higher than any other province.
Christians' and Hindus are the two leading minority communities of Balochistan. The Christian communities, majority of who belong to the protestant church, are living in Quetta, Loralai, and Sibi. Quetta contains a big number of them. The three Churches show every Sunday hundreds of those coming to Church services.
Church in Quetta
The Christians community of Balochistan is economically not much advanced. Most of them belong to lower or lower middle class without having made any significant advancement in trade, finance, or business. Those in service belong largely to medical and education professions. "In the promotion of medical and education in Balochistan" said a sociologist, "Christian's provided enormous service." In his analysis, a larger number of nursing staff all over civil hospitals in the province are Christians".
The mission/Christian hospital Quetta is one of the leading hospitals with a nursing school for Mission hospital in Pakistan. Similarly, services rendered by the community in the field of education are distinct, particularly in schools. Three of the famous schools; Mission High school, Grammar School, and Saint Joseph High School and St Marry. There is one in Zhob: Trench Middle School. They all started functioning before partitions. A large number of civil and military servants from Balochistan studied in these schools.
According to an ex-Attorney General of Pakistan from Balochistan, " When the province was lagging behind schooling, the Christians community-run school catered for educational needs of the people, and enhanced the cause of education."
The community is active politically. The community's political interests are served by one MPA in Balochistan Assembly. The total number of Christians registered votes in Balochistan is 7,774.
The Hindu minority in Balochistan constitutes a considerable portion of the over all Hindu population in Pakistan. They being indigenous to the land have enjoyed the status of a religious minority by their assimilation in socio-cultural and economic fabric of life in an overwhelmingly ideological sate. They are settled I many of Urban and rural areas of Balochistan, particularly in Balochi/Brauhi areas. They speak the native languages, and adapted much too socio-cultural norms of the area without developing any gulf in the relationship with the local populace.
At the time of partition, when sectarian riots ravaged the sub-continent, the Hindu population of Balochistan remained unharmed, mainly due to two factors. First, the major portion of Balochistan, native Balochistan were majority of Hindus lived, was under the firm control of Sardars and Khan ofKalat who respected indigenousness of the Hindu community, has assured them of economic and religious freedom in case they decided to continue living in Balochistan. Second, reciprocity of mutual relationship between Muslim and Hindus, and prosperity in business encouraged them to abandon the idea of migrating to India. After the inclusion of Kalat state into Pakistan 1n 1848, the Hiindus population continued enjoying religious and economic freedom. They were prospering in trade.
The Hindu population live in Quetta, kalat, Sibi, Mastung, Dhadhar, Duki, Dalbandin, Chamman and Gandawa, a tiny twon and newly raised headquarter of Jhall Magsi district, the Hindus have big temple. They dwell in their own little colonies, usually not away from their temples. They belong to business class, without any major interest in education and government offices. Some of them are wealthy merchants owning large jewelry and general stores, but majority are of middle and lower middle class businessmen with their shops/stores in the bazaars of various towns. The community received a setback to their life and property interests after the Ayodhya incident, where in retaliation to Hindu fanaticism to Babri mosque in UP, many Hindus were killed; temples and houses/shops were destroyed in mob violence against them. The anti-Hindus riots created serious doubts among the Hindu community in Balochistan about there peaceful co-existence with the Muslims that they had enjoyed since 1947.
Ahmadis are the third largest minority in Balochistan. The large number of them lives in Quetta, though some of them own properties and are settles down in sibi, Khuzadar and Loralai. The Ahmadis in Balochistan are highly educated. The ratio of literacy among the community is highest than all the other minorities, however, they show less inclination towards joining offices. A fact accountable for this is that after they were declared minority not less encouragement was shown to them in government services. Before they were declared minority the community was very influential in government affairs and even politics of province, "said a civil servant, "as many of the community member carried higher ranks military/civil services and judiciary."Now their influence is minimal," agreed he. The community had undergone a change of aptitude, a senior member of the community believes, from public offices to private business. It is largely because the minority status and resistance to their religious activities by government. They, however have number in various professions, such as education, health, journalism, and judiciary. Many of them are leading advocates in Balochistan. The community members blame the government of showing religious prejudices against the community through the Prohibition of Qadiyaniat Ordinance where two wections of Pakistan Penal code were amended and they were prohibited from use of word,"masjid" and reciting Azan and building minarets .
The Parsee community in Balochistan, like Hindus, constitutes a larger portion of the Parsee population in Pakistan. Their ancestors believed to have migrated from Persia in the 19th century to India. They claim that their kith and kin live in Bombay and other cities of India. They are urban people. The bulk of them live in Quetta, some families may have settles in few other cities of Balochistan. In Quetta, they have a large colony on Jinnah Road where they live under a strong group homogeneity and they with little acceptance of establishing a relationship outside the community. "The Parsees are educated and culturally advanced, "said an anthropologist, "they may to be much inclined to government offices, however, they promote the idea of education." Many of the community members from Balochistan have held important offices, such as Mr. Poonegar, the ex-chief secretary of Balochistan, and Mr. Jamshid Marker, the Pakistani ex-ambassador to US.
The Parsee people are more inclined towards business. They own properties and shops in important localities of Quetta. Parsee community shows no interest in politics and have remained politically inactive in politics, although they could mobilize and influential role. The community's relationship with that In Iran is believed to be a source of major financial help before the Islamic revolution in 1979 as they enjoyed trade and business benefits and concessions by the shah regime. "The revolution in Iran undermined Parsees" economic interests in Iran, and so ours," said a Parsee merchant in Quetta."
Bhais constituting a smaller number are settled in Quetta. The Baha'i community in Balochistan is engaged in business without much establishment. They believed to have received major financial help from Bahi community in Iran before the revolution. They perceived the revolution a blow to their interests too as loss of business and trade preferences, the Bhais had enjoyed in Iran suffered their fellows in Balochistan. A large number of them who migrated from Iran to Balochistan after revolution have now secured asylum abroad.
Minorities in Balochistan stand a symbol of minority population as they have enjoyed more socio-political and economic assimilation and religious freedom. The religious extremism assimilation and religious freedom. The religious extremism of fundamentalist's parties might have undermined the he minority rights communities, particularly over religion as experienced during anti-Hindu riots last year or religious resistance to Ahamadis in Pakistan, nonetheless, they have experienced broader mobilization of minority status quo then other areas of Balochistan.
Originally published by Professor Mansoor Akbar Kundi, in Balochistan: A Socio-Cultural and Political Analysis.
Minorities in Balochistan
"If a book is to disintegrate a country then there is nothing that can integrate a country," Dr. Naseer Dashti
By Malik Siraj Akbar
March 25, 2008
Baluchistan's banned author, Dr. Naseer Dashti, is astonished to learn that two of his books pose 'a threat to the very integrity of the federation of Pakistan'. Citing the same reasons, the government of Balochistan last week ordered the confiscation of all copies of the two recently published books of Dr. Dashti, besides imposing a complete ban on their display at the bookstores. Holding a PhD on Baloch health-seeking behavior from the University of Greenwich, London, 50-year old Dashti, is a renowned Baloch nationalistic scholar and a medical doctor by profession.
He compiled two books, In a Baloch Perspective and The Voice of Reason, comprising of newspaper and research articles written by several prominent Baloch scholars and journalists. However, majority of the articles in these two books are penned by Dr. Dashti himself which largely revolve around theoretical discussions on Baloch nationalism. Asaap Publications of Quetta, which has equally come under the eye of storm in the past due to its anti-government publications, printed Dr. Dashti's 'controversial' books.
The government of Balochistan maintains that both the books are replete with anti-state contents. They promote national disharmony and malign the Pakistan ideology. Therefore, it is essential to prevent the readers from reading these books so that, ironically, the very ideology of Pakistan is preserved.
"Look, if a book is to disintegrate a country then there is nothing that can integrate a country," Dashti told me, who insists that his books contain nothing misleading or factiously wrong. The factors that compelled him to compile the two books are implicitly mentioned in one of the books, In a Baloch Perspective:
"The official 'academics' and 'writers' had persistently been engaged in the deliberate distortion of history of Baloch people and obnoxious act of degradation of Baloch traditional values without any qualm of consciences. As access of Baloch writers and intellectuals had been denied to the media, the biased, one-sided picture of social, cultural and political scenario was unilaterally and erroneously portrayed as actually representing the Baloch point of view."
The theme of the arguments pursued in both of the books is that the Baloch are a separate nation by every definition of the word. The rulers of the countries where the Baloch are inhibited viz Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, have deliberately destroyed their distinct Balochi identity by applying the repressive state machinery.
For instance, Jan Mohammad Dashti, one of the contributors and the brother of Dr. Naseer Dashti, writes in the same book in his essay The Baloch National Question:
"The Baloch is discontented because it had not been allowed the right to use its native language. The Baloch is disenchanted because it does not possess its resources. It is disillusioned because they are exploited economically and in the process is kept away from power structure of the state. The Baloch resent the artificial partition of their land into three different countries. The Baloch are disappointed because religion is manifestly used as a means for integration of the Baloch identity into broader majority nationalities of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
Dr. Naseer points out the 'paradox', as he bills it, that the government of Pakistan, on one hand, is using the sophisticated USA-made weapons to crush the 'innocent Baloch people' but it is, on the other hand, unwilling to let a Baloch scholar speak up freely. "I am not claming that mine is the last word. All that we need is an open discussion on historical issues. Banning a book is no solution but a lam excuse to hide pressing realities," he stated.
"Had the books been published in a regional language, the government may not have reacted so bitterly," Dashti says, "but since they are in English and they can expose the injustices of the 'anti-Baloch' forces, the government does not want the international community to know the truth from Balochistan." The practice of banning nationalistic books is not a new phenomenon. The government of Balochistan has been scores of books in the past written about the Baloch nationalistic movement. Consequently, such restrictions have intensified the demand for such books among the readers.
The authors in both the books are extremely critical of not only the government of Pakistan but also that of Iran and Afghanistan who they accuse of suppressing the Baloch on the name of religion. Writing on page 24, the writer says: "In a Baloch context, language, which is undoubtedly the main carrier of ideas, sentiments, traditions, customs and religious dogma from one generation to another, has been the prime target. In their assimilative efforts, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have not allowed Balochi to be the language of instruction in schools even at primary level. Balochi publications and institutions for academic research are never encouraged. Print and electronic media in these countries have been manipulated by people from dominant nationalities and all state institutions run by the non-Baloch are assigned the task for media management formulating policy approaches aimed at so-called 'assimilation' and 'integration'"
When I tried to reach the concerned authorities in the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, which imposed the ban the books, no one, including the Home Secretary Furqan Bhaduar, was willing to provide a justification for the ban.
Naseer Dashti believes the next five to ten years are extremely essential in the Baloch movement. "The more you ban a book, the greater its demand becomes. The government of Pakistan needs to realize that we live in the 21st century and it is not possible to burry the truth," he concluded.
Originally published at “If a book is to disintegrate a country then there is nothing that can integrate a country,” Dr. Naseer Dashti « All Things Considered
"If a book is to disintegrate a country then there is nothing that can integrate a country," Dr. Naseer Dashti
Complete text of Hayrbyar Marri's speech at the House of Lords
Following is the complete text of speech delivered by Hyarbyar Marri, at a public meeting, on May 5th, 2009, Tuesday evening held at the House of Lords. The public meeting was organized by his lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy and attended by human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce and human rights campaigner Peter Tetchell and many others.
Balochistan conflict and the international Community's response
The Baluch: invisible victims of war on terror
Is Balochistan really invisible to the international community?
I would like to thank Estella for organizing this very important meeting to address the grievances of Baluchistan and the systematic suffering of the Baluch at home and abroad.
Secondly, I would like to thank my and Faiz's legal teams who made it possible with their efforts and determination for us to be here.
Balochistan has been the site of an intense struggle for Independence against Pakistan. Despite the Baloch land being rich in natural resources, the Baloch remain economically marginalized and receive little benefit from development in Balochistan. In its efforts to counter the Baloch struggle, Pakistan has employed summary executions, disappearances, torture and indiscriminate bombing and artillery attack.
Baluchistan's history of struggle
We the Baloch have a long history of struggle against impositions by the Pakistani state. Our history, however, pre-dates the formation of Pakistan. We have a history reaching back thousands of years. In the 12th century, Mir Jalal Khan united 44 Baloch tribes; in the 15th century the Confederation of Rind Lashari was established and the Khanate of Balochistan in the 17 th century.
During the British Raj, Britain annexed a strip of land adjoining Afghanistan and named it "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 forcefully annexed by Pakistan in 1947. The struggle for Independence and the forced annexation continues till this day.
Since the occupation of Baloch land Pakistan has come into open conflict with the Baloch on four occasions -- 1948, 1958, 1962, and, the bloodiest war against Baloch Nation was carried out, from 1973 to 1977, when a growing guerrilla movement led to an armed conflict that ravaged the region.
Three days before Pakistan's secession from India Balochistan had already declared their Independence. On 11 th August 1947 the Khan of Kalat formally declared Balochistan's independence and formed the House of Commons and Houses of Lords. On 16 th December 1947 Khan of kalat called a meeting of both the houses of Balochistan to discuss the possibility of joining Pakistan. All the members from both Houses had unanimously rejected the idea of joining Pakistan. By that time Pakistan had already recognised Balochistan as an independent state.
On 27 th March, 1948, the Pakistani army invaded Baluchistan, the Khan and his family members were made hostages in his palaces. His brother, Prince Abdul Karim Khan, continued to resist with around 700 men. To crush this movement the Pakistan army expanded the invasion and The Khan of Kalat was arrested and large-scale arrests were carried out.
Nawab Nauroz Khan led a resistance of 1000 Baloch freedom fighters that fought the army in pitched battles for over a year. In May 1959 Nauroz Khan was asked to come down from the mountains so that a peaceful way can be found out but as soon as Nawab Nauroz Khan came down he was arrested along with his companions and they all were put behind bars. Nawab Nauroz Khan died in prison in 1964, becoming a symbol of Baloch resistance. Five of his relatives, including his son, were hanged. This was the first example of Pakistan's dishonesty and betrayal to Balcoh Nation. The struggle for Independent Balochistan continued even after the death of Nawab Nauroz Khan.
In 1973 President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Iran, where the Shah of Iran warned him against allowing Baloch people more political rights. The shah was worried that the Baloch people in Iranian occupied Balochistan might ask for more rights as well. He gave a package of 700 million dollar to Bhutto and assured him more support if needed. After Bhutto had returned from Iran he dismissed the elected government of Balochistan. The provincial government had been seeking greater control in areas of development and industrialisation. The pretext used for dismissal was that a cache of weapons had been discovered in the Iraqi attachÃ©'s house in Islamabad and were supposedly destined for Balochistan.
The Pakistani army started an operation in Balochistan with 78,000 troops supported by Iranian Cobra helicopters and were resisted by some 50,000 patriot Baloch. The conflict took the lives of 3400 Pakistani troops, 5300 Baloch freedom fighters and thousands of civilians.
The current insurgency
Baloch struggle against the forced annexation of their land has continued during all this period and the struggle for Independence is still going on. It however intensified after the former dictator Musharraf declared a war against the Baloch Nation since he came to power through a military coup.
In January 2000 a Marri Baloch judge was killed by Pakistan's notorious agencies (ISI) and the blame was laid on my family. I and three of my brothers were in London when the judge was killed but I was however implicated as one the alleged killers of the judge. Everybody in Balochistan knew why cases were being brought against us because we were not allowing the exploration of oil and gas in Balochistan. In the FIR it was alleged that my father was driving and all of us the brothers were sitting next to him at the time when judge was gunned down in Quetta Balochistan. My father was later arrested and imprisoned under this pretext. This case was heard in a speedy court, but after ten years that court has not given any decision.
Apart from my father's arrest around 250 -300 other Baloch were arrested, imprisoned and tortured severely under the same pretext. The ordeal of those Baloch we have explained in our trial but in brief they were humiliated, tortured, deprived of sleep and many have suffered long term psychological scars that will never heel. Some of them have later died due to severe torture they had faced in the prison and some have become completely paralysed. This was however just the beginning. The worst was yet to come.
On the night of 2 January 2005, three Pakistani army captains (one of them was named as captain Hammad) attacked and raped Dr. Shazia Khalid a lady doctor employed at PPL Company in Sui town in Balochistan; she was severely injured on resistance and left tied up with telephone cords. She was threatened with dire consequences if she raised an alarm or spoke to media about what had happened to her.
The Baloch people in Dera Bugti and in Baluchistan began a revolt after an army captain who had powerful family connections within the military, has never been tried in any court of law. Nor is he likely to ever face justice, after the then army general dictator Musharraf publicly declared he thought that the captain was innocent. The Baloch leader, Nawab Bugti insisted that the suspected rapist be tried according to Baluchistan's legal and judicial system.
In Balochistan women and guest in particular are treated with high respect (in case of Dr Khalid she was a guest in Balochistan). That is why this incident of lady doctor's rape further infuriated the Baloch people. They took to streets and protest against the shameless act of Pakistani army. The response from the army and FC was brutal; they fired upon peaceful protesters and arrested several man and women. After seeing their women being insulted, humiliated and tortured by the brutal Pakistani army many Baluch have taken up arms in self-defence to defend their children, women and the village from destructions by the Pakistani army.
On Pakistan TV on 10 th January 2005, the army general and self-proclaimed President, Pervez Musharraf told the Baloch nationalists: "Don't push us â€¦ it is not the 1970s, and this time you won't even know what has hit you."
On 17th March 2005, Pakistan's Paramilitary Forces, Started Shelling the town of Dera Bugti, more than 60 Civilians were killed in this indiscriminate Bombardment, a Hindu temple also came under attack by Pakistan fighter jets and gunship helicopter, 32 Hindu Baloch worshipers including women and children were killed inside the temple. Nawab Bugti's guesthouse was also hit where he was present at the time.
Pakistani army's controlled Electronic and print media denied this incident, which was caused by their own Army and security forces. Infect Pakistani Media have always ignored the death and destruction of Baloch Nation. We have video footage of this attack which we have shown in the United Nations for the world to see.
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.
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 Balochistan.
On 15 December 2005, Musharraf visited Kohlu (Marri agency) to inaugurate a military garrison during his visit some rockets were fired into Kohlu town. No one was hurt - but the response by musharraf was intense, catastrophic and disproportionate.
On 17th December 2005 Pakistani Army launched an army operation against innocent Baloch people throughout Kohlu District, Parts of Dera Bugti, Noshki, Makran Districts and other parts of Balochistan.
More than thirty thousand army personnel twelve Gunship helicopters, four fighter jets, several spy planes of different sizes, heavy artillery and missiles were used only in Talli, Bambore, Kahan, Jabbar, Nasau, Quat, Mundai and other parts of Marri Bugti areas.
During ten days of intensive bombing and shelling by army Jets, Gunship Helicopters and heavy artillery at least 186 confirm deaths and more than 320 serious wounded were reported. Mostly victims were women and children. Such acts continued thought out 2005, 2006 and until early 2007. There were hardly a day which passed without any bombardment and shelling. Cluster and phosphorus bombs were used against Baloch civilians.
International Crisis Group reported that since then, tens of thousands of people have been displaced. From December 2005 onwards, at least 84,000 people, mostly from the Marri and Bugti tribes, were displaced in the districts of Dera Bugti and Kohlu alone. According to a humanitarian assessment in July and August 2006, the displaced people, including 26,000 women and 33,000 children, were living in makeshift camps without adequate shelter in Jafarabad, Naseerabad, Quetta, Sibi and Bolan districts. 28 per cent of children under five were acutely malnourished, and six per cent faced severe acute malnourishment and their survival depended on immediate medical attention. Over 80 per cent of the deaths among those surveyed were of children under five.
Aid agencies were repeatedly denied access to the displaced, although supplies of food and medicines lay in warehouses in the provincial capital Quetta. Local officials helped the agencies monitor conditions, but more senior provincial and federal officials refused humanitarian requests or blocked them with bureaucratic hurdles.
In June 2007 the news line reported that "In December 2006, under pressure from foreign governments and humanitarian agencies, the government finally allowed the UN to deliver a $1 million aid package to IDPs in Balochistan. The UN was allowed to set up 57 feeding centres there on strict conditions, for example that no UN official would communicate with the press. A few days later, however, the UN's permission to assist the IDPs was revoked. The head of the local NGO Edhi Foundation was also told not to deliver any aid to the Baloch IDPs. Meanwhile, fear of army reprisals prevented locals from aiding the displaced". Thousands of Baloch still remain displaced and are living in miserable conditions. Displaced families are still living without clean drinking water or medicine. Women had died of childbirth and dozens of children had died due to malnutrition and diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis.
It was these indiscriminate, brutal and criminal attacks of Pakistan Army which forced Nawab Bugti to leave his home town Dera bugti and head toward mountains. Pakistan army did not even spare him in the mountains and followed him to the neighbouring Marri hills.
On 26 th August 2006, Nawab Bugti and around 40 of his companions were killed in a military offensive. Pakistani media reported that several companions of Nawab Bugti were captured alive in same offensive. However their corpses were never recovered neither were those who were captured alive return home since their arrest on 26 th August 2006. We appeal that these captured Baloch man should be treated in accordance with Geneva convention as prisoners of War. Even though the army buried a coffin with big padlocks attached to it, claiming that it was Nawab Bugti's coffin. No one has confirmed that it was Nawab Bugti's body in that coffin. Even his own sons and other family members were not allowed to see his body. Thus it is believed that the armies conceal his body to hide their crimes against humanity and to hide the weapons they used against the 80 year old Baloch leader. The captured Baloch will never return home alive because they are the only eye-witness as to how and in what conditions Nawab Bugti was killed and what sort of weapons were used against them.
Situations got even worse after Nawab's death. Fighting erupted everywhere in Balochistan; the army intensified and expanded genocide all over Balochistan. The Baluch were pushed over the edge they had no other options left but to fight back to defend their families from the fascist Pakistani army. In response Pakistani Army started to abduct Baloch students, teachers, poets, social workers, farmers, shepherds, tribal elders and political activists including women. By mid 2006 Baloch families reported that thousands of their loved one were missing.
Pakistan's then interior minister Mr Sherpao during his tour to district Turbat had also admitted that army had arrested 6000 Baloch political activists in Balochistan. The extra judicial abductions and killings went unnoticed as their families were threatened with dire consequences if they spoke to Media. In any event national and international media was not allowed access to Balochistan.
0n 20 th November 2007, my brother Balach Marri was murdered by Pakistan's army in Balochistan. That gave Musharraf the opportunity to put more pressure on the British government to arrest me. As he had got rid of my brother and now he was after me. Mr Brown's government succumbed to Musharraf's pressure and they arrested me to appease him.
The jury which comprised people from different walks of life have understood the gravity of our problem and recognized our struggle for Independence. I sincerely thank the jury who have acquitted me of the terrorism charges. However I was appalled to find out that I was being prosecuted only because of my political stand. I was being prosecuted only because I am opposed to the exploitation of Baloch wealth and I am against the atrocities that the Pakistani army is committing against my Nation. I was being prosecuted because I asked my Nation to stand up for what is theirs. I was being prosecuted because I am a supporter of Independent Balochistan. "Freedom is the right of every Nation and asking for freedom should not be a crime".
After the elections in 2008 the PPP's so called democratic government came to power but Baluchistan's situations almost remain same. Even though the newly elected president of Pakistan Mr Zardari talks of reconciliations but he has failed to withdraw the military from Balochistan. He has failed to stop the military operation in Balochistan and he has failed to produce the missing person in any court of law. Pakistan is run by the army and the Intelligence agencies. Every elected government has to be sub-servant to the military and the ISI. That is why zardari has no power to stop the Intelligence agencies and the military from committing atrocities in Balochistan.
Currently thousands of Baloch are missing including 141 women; some reports suggest that kidnapped Baloch female are being used as sex-slave by the Pakistani army. Pakistani agencies have started a crackdown against Baloch students and political parties and several of their activists have been arrested and detained for crimes they did not commit.
Six Bugti Baloch who had gone missing in 2008, their bodies were found in mountains of Noskhi and chaman in February 2009. According doctor's report the bodies of the victims' bare signs of tortured and their heads were ripped-off it seemed that nails were inserted into their heads.
In March 2009 two Baloch men were killed in cold blood in Mach town in Balochistan by Pakistani security forces. No inquiry took place into their murder. Their relatives have protested and try to register a case but the police refused to co-operate. Another daunting example is the burning alive of three Bugti Baloch men in barrels of hot tarmac.
On 3 rd April 2009 three Baloch political leaders namely Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Sher Mohammed Baloch and Lala Munir Baloch were abducted at gunpoint from their lawyers' office in Turbat town by the agencies. On 8 th April 2009, they were murdered in cold blood and their bodies were found some 12 miles from Turbat town in a deserted area. According the eye-witnesses their bodies bare signs of torture and they were shot in heads.
Their lawyers' are the eye-witness to their abduction. They submitted petitions to the courts. Their petitions were turned-down. Instead their lawyers' and other eye-witnesses are receiving death threats from the pakistan's intelligence agencies over the phone. They have been threatened not to discuss the matter with media and other people, else they will face the same fate as their clients.
One of the slain leaders Ghulam Mohammad Baloch was the president of Baloch National Movement (a political party in Balochistan) and a member of Baloch Qaumdost committee which was constituted by me to work for the release of UNHCR head of Balochistan chapter Mr john Solecki. Pakistan's intelligence agencies did not want Mr Solecki to go back to his country alive. They tried their best to provoke those holding john to harm him but they failed. After john was released unharmed, it did not please the agencies I believe that is why they abducted the Baloch political leaders and killed them in cold blood.
On 25 th and 26 th April 2009, Pakistani army has killed several innocent Baloch including women and children in Dera bugti's Marav area. Local sources reported that all the killed people were unarmed civilians. They were busy harvesting when they came under attack from Pakistan's army gunship helicopters.
The slow motion genocide and massacre of Baloch people is taking place right under the nose of International community but the so called champions of human rights and International law makers remained silent on the death and destruction of my nation. Musharraf and his army generals had committed war crimes in Balochistan. They should be arrested and tried in the international criminal court, as its common knowledge these Pakistani army generals come to stay in the UK and United states after their retirement. Although they have committed crime against humanity, they are protected in western democracies. It is very unfortunate that UK being one the most democratic countries have arrested and put us behind bars to silent our voice forever. Our arrest was no co-incident but it was the result of Musharraf's pressure on Mr Brown's government, it was the result of the collusion between the UK and Pakistani agencies. They arrested us only to please Musharraf and the Pakistani army.
Today my main plea is that the international community must recognise our legitimate struggle against the illegitimate occupation of our land. Our struggle is for Independence and restoration of our sovereignty only. We are not trying to break or make Pakistan. Our struggle is not a movement of separation but it is against the occupation of our Independent state which was occupied at gunpoint by Pakistan in 1948.
Our language, culture, identity and existence are at the brink of extinction and we are struggling for our survival. We need the International community's moral support. We need international intervention in Balochistan. International community must act now and help us to end the occupation of our land.
Originally published at index.html on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 12:30 pm
Complete text of Hayrbyar Marri's speech at the House of Lords
Pakistan's Fatal Shore
With its "Islamic" nuclear bomb, Taliban- and al-Qaeda-infested borderlands, dysfunctional cities, and feuding ethnic groups, Pakistan may well be the world's most dangerous country, a nuclear Yugoslavia-in-the-making. One key to its fate is the future of Gwadar, a strategic port whose development will either unlock the riches of Central Asia, or plunge Pakistan into a savage, and potentially terminal, civil war.
By Robert D. Kaplan
The word pakistan summons up the Indian subcontinent, but the subcontinent actually begins with the Hub River, a few miles west of Karachi, near the Indus River Delta. Thus, Pakistan's 400-mile-long Makran coast, which runs from the Iranian frontier eastward along the Arabian Sea, constitutes a vast transition zone that bears a heavy imprint of the Middle East and particularly of Arabia: directly across the Gulf of Oman is Muscat, the capital of Oman. This transition zone, which also includes the interior land adjacent to the coast, is known as Baluchistan. Through this alkaline wasteland, the 80,000-man army of Alexander the Great marched westward in its disastrous retreat from India in 325 B.C.
To travel the Makran coast is to experience the windy, liberating flatness of Yemen and Oman and their soaring, sawtooth ramparts the color of sandpaper, rising sheer off a desert floor pockmarked with thornbushes. Here, along a coast so empty that you can almost hear the echoing camel hooves of Alexander's army, you lose yourself in geology. An exploding sea bangs against a knife-carved apricot moonscape of high sand dunes, which, in turn, gives way to crumbly badlands. Farther inland, every sandstone and limestone escarpment is the color of bone. Winds and seismic and tectonic disruptions have left their mark in tortuous folds and uplifts, deep gashes, and conical incrustations that hark back far before the age of human folly.
Drive along this landscape for hours on end and the only sign of civilization you'll encounter is the odd teahouse: a partly charred stone hut with jute charpoys, where you can buy musty, Iranian-packaged biscuits and strongly brewed tea. Baluch tribesmen screech into these road stops driving old autos and motorcycles, wearing Arab head scarves, speaking in harsh gutturals, and playing music whose rumbling rhythms, so unlike the introspective twanging ragas of the subcontinent, reverberate with the spirit of Arabia.
But don't be deceived by the distance that separates the Makran coast from teeming Karachi and Islamabad to the east. Pakistan exists here, too. The highway from Karachi to the Iranian border area is a good one, with only a few broken patches still to be paved. The government operates checkpoints. It is developing major air and naval bases to counter India's projection of power into the Indian Ocean. And it has high hopes of using new ports on the Makran coast to unlock trade routes to the markets and energy supplies of Central Asia. The Pakistani government might not control the desert and mountain fastnesses of Baluchistan, with their rebellious and smuggling tribes and dacoits, or bandits. But it can be wherever it wants, whenever it wants: to extract minerals, to grab land, to build highways and bases. Think of the Pakistani government's relationship to its southwestern province of Baluchistan as similar to that of Washington to the American West in the mid-19th century, when the native American Indians still moved freely, though decreasingly so, and the cavalry had strategic outposts.
Indeed, as the government builds roads and military bases, Baluch and minority Hindus are being forcibly displaced. Both groups are thought to harbor sympathy for India, and they do: in Baluch and Hindu eyes, India acts as a counterweight to an oppressive Pakistani state. The hope of these minorities is that a fissiparous Pakistan, with its history of dysfunctional civilian and military governments, will give way in the fullness of time to a sprawling Greater India, thus liberating Baluchistan to pursue its destiny as a truly autonomous region.
So: Will Pakistan, beset by internal contradictions that never befell 19th-century America, gradually disintegrate before it subjugates the Baluch? The answer to that question, which will also shape the future of Pakistan's neighbors, is bound up with the future of Gwadar, a port town of 70,000 close to the border with Iran, at the far end of the Makran coast.
If we can think of great place-names of the past-Carthage, Thebes, Troy, Samarkand, Angkor Wat-and of the present-Dubai, Singapore, Tehran, Beijing, Washington-then Gwadar should qualify as a great place-name of the future.
During the military rule of Ayub Khan in the 1960s, shortly after Oman ceded the territory to Pakistan in 1958, Gwadar fired the imagination of Pakistani planners. They saw it as an alternative air-and-naval hub to Karachi that, along with the port of Pasni to the east, would make Pakistan a great Indian Ocean power athwart the whole Near East. But the Pakistani state was young, poor, and insecure, with weak infrastructure and institutions. Gwadar remained a dream.
The next people to set their sights on Gwadar were the Russians. Gwadar was the ultimate prize denied them during their decade-long occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s-the fabled warm-water outlet to the sea that formed the strategic raison d'Ãªtre for their Afghan adventure in the first place. From Gwadar, the Soviet Union could have exported the hydrocarbon wealth of Central Asia. But Afghanistan proved to be the graveyard of Soviet imperial visions. Gwadar, still just a point on the map, a huddle of fishermen's stone houses on a spit of sand, was like a poisoned chalice.
Yet the story goes on. In the 1990s, successive democratic Pakistani governments struggled to cope with intensifying social and economic turmoil. Violence was endemic to Karachi and other cities. But even as the Pakistani political elite turned inward, it remained obsessed with the related problems of Afghanistan and energy routes. Anarchy in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal was preventing Pakistan from establishing roads and pipelines to the new oil states of Central Asia-routes that would have helped Islamabad consolidate a vast Muslim rear base for the containment of India. So obsessed was Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's government with curbing the chaos in Afghanistan that she and her interior minister, the retired general Naseerullah Babar, conceived of the newly formed Taliban as a solution. But, as Unocal and other oil firms, intrigued by the idea of building energy pipelines from the Caspian Sea across Afghanistan to Indian Ocean energy hubs like Gwadar, eventually found out, the Taliban were hardly an agent of stability.
Then, in October 1999, after years of civilian misrule, General Pervez Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup. In 2000, he asked the Chinese to fund a deepwater port at Gwadar. A few weeks before 9/11, the Chinese agreed, and their commitment to the project intensified after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Thus, with little fanfare, Gwadar became an example of how the world changed in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks in ways that many Americans and the Bush administration did not anticipate. The Chinese spent $200 million on the first phase of the port project, which was completed on schedule in 2005. In 2007, Pakistan gave PSA International of Singapore a 40-year contract to run Gwadar port.
So now imagine a bustling deepwater port at the extreme southwestern tip of Pakistan, much more a part of the Middle East than of the Indian subcontinent, equipped with a highway, and oil and natural-gas pipelines, extending north all the way through some of the highest mountains in the world, the Karakorams, into China itself, where more roads and pipelines connect the flow of consumer goods and hydrocarbons to China's burgeoning middle-class markets farther east. Another branch of this road-and-pipeline network would go north from Gwadar through a stabilized Afghanistan, and on into Iran and Central Asia. Gwadar, in this way, becomes the hub of a new Silk Road, both land and maritime; a gateway to landlocked, hydrocarbon-rich Central Asia; an exotic 21st-century place-name.
But history is as much a series of accidents and ruined schemes as it is of great plans. And when I got to Gwadar, the pitfalls impressed me as much as the dreams. What was so fantastic about Gwadar was its present-day reality. It was every bit the majestic frontier town that I had imagined, occupying a sweeping, bone-dry peninsula set between long lines of ashen cliffs and a sea the color of rusty tap water. The cliffs, with their buttes and mesas and steeple-like ridges, were a study in complexity. The town at their base could have been mistaken for the sprawling, rectilinear remains of an ancient Near Eastern city: low, scabby white stone walls separating sand drifts and mounds of rubble. People sat here and there in broken-backed kitchen chairs, sipping tea under the shade of bamboo and burlap. Everyone wore traditional clothes; there were no Western polyesters. The scene evoked a 19th-century lithograph of Jaffa, in Palestine, or Tyre, in Lebanon, by David Roberts: dhows emerging out of the white, watery miasma, laden with silvery fish and manned by fishermen dressed in filthy turbans andshalwar kameezes, prayer beads dripping out of their pockets.
I watched as piles of trout, snapper, tiger prawns, perch, bass, sardines, and skates were dropped into straw baskets and put ashore via an ingenious pulley system. A big shark, followed by an equally large swordfish, was dragged by ropes into a vast, stinking market shed where still-living fish slapped on a bloody cement floor beside piles of manta rays. Until the next phase of the port-and-pipeline project is in full swing, traditional fishing is everything here.
At a nearby beach, I watched as dhows were built and repaired. Some men used their fingers to smear epoxy on the wooden seams of the hulls while others, sprawled next to scrawny dogs and cats, took long smokes in the shade. There were no generators, no electric drills-just craftsmen making holes with manual drills turned by bows, as though they were playing stringed instruments. A few men working for three months can build a 40-foot fishing boat in Gwadar. The teak comes from Burma and Indonesia. Cod-liver oil, painted on the hulls, provides waterproofing. The life of a boat is 20 years. To take advantage of the high tides, new boats are launched on the first and 15th days of the lunar cycle. This was Arabia before the modern era.
As-Salem Musa, a turbaned Baluch graybeard, told me that his father and grandfather before him built boats. He fondly remembered the days of Omani control, which were "freer" because "we were able to sail all around the gulf without restrictions." He harbored both hope for and fear of the future: change could mean even less freedom for the Baluch, as Punjabis and other urban Pakistanis sweep down to take over the city.
"They don't have a chance," a Pakistani official in Islamabad told me, referring to the fishermen in Gwadar. "Modernity will wipe out their traditional life."
In the covered bazaar, amid the most derelict of tea, spice, and dry-goods shops, their dusty jars filled with stale candy, I met more old men with beards and turbans, who spoke with nostalgia about the sultan of Oman, and how Gwadar had prospered under his rule. Many of these old men had dual Omani-Pakistani nationality. They led me through somnolent, burlap-covered streets and along crumbling mud-brick facades, past half-starved cows and goats hugging the shade of collapsed walls, to a small, round, stuccoed former palace with overhanging wooden balconies. Like everything else in Gwadar, it was in an advanced stage of disintegration. The sea peeked through at every turn, now bottle-green in the midafternoon sun.
At another beach I came upon the stunning, bizarre sight of donkeys-the smallest donkeys I had ever seen-charging out of the water and onto the sand, pulling creaky carts loaded down with fish just transferred from boats bobbing in the waves and flying a black-white-yellow-and-green local flag of Baluchistan. Miniature donkeys emerging from the sea! Gwadar was a place of wonders, slipping through an hourglass.
Originally published at Pakistanâ€™s Fatal Shore - Magazine - The Atlantic
Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, in Washington, D.C.
Pakistan's Fatal Shore
Pakistan's Fatal Shore (Balochistan, Gwader)
By Robert D. Kaplan
Nearby, the Chinese-built deepwater port, with its neat angles, spanking-new gantry cranes, and other cargo-handling equipment, appeared charged with expectation, even as the complex stood silent and empty against the horizon, waiting for decisions from Islamabad. Just a few miles away, in the desert, a new industrial zone and other development sites had been fenced off, with migrant-labor camps spread alongside, waiting for construction to begin. "Just wait for the new airport," another businessman from Karachi told me. "During the next building phase of the port complex, you will see the Dubai miracle taking shape."
But everyone who spoke to me about the port as a business hub to rival Dubai (notwithstanding its current economic troubles) neglected a key fact: the Gulf sheikhdoms, and Dubai in particular, have wise, effective, and wholly legitimate governments.
Whether Gwadar becomes a new silk-route nexus or not is tied to Pakistan's own struggle against becoming a failed state. Pakistan, with its "Islamic" nuclear bomb, Taliban- and al-Qaeda-infested northwestern borderlands, dysfunctional cities, and territorially based ethnic groups for whom Islam could never provide adequate glue, is commonly referred to as the most dangerous country in the world, a nuclear Yugoslavia-in-the-making. And so Gwadar is a litmus test, not just for roads and energy routes but for the stability of the entire Arabian Sea region. If Gwadar languishes, and remains what to a Western visitor was just a charming fishing port, it will be yet more evidence of Pakistan's failure as a nation.
After spending a few days in Gwadar, I attracted the attention of the local police, who thereafter insisted on accompanying me everywhere with a truckload of black-clad commandos armed with AK 47s. The police said they wanted to protect me. But Gwadar had no terrorism; it was one of the safest places that I had been to in nine visits to Pakistan.
Talking to people became nearly impossible; the locals clearly feared the police. "We Baluch only want to be free," I was told whenever out of earshot of my security detail. You might think that economic development would give the Baluch the freedom they craved. But that's not how they saw it. More development, I was told, meant more Chinese, Singaporeans, Punjabis, and other outsiders. Indeed, evidence indicated that the Baluch would not only fail to benefit from rising real-estate prices, but in many cases would lose their land altogether-and they knew it.
In June 2008, The Herald, a respected Karachi-based investigative magazine, published a cover story, "The Great Land Robbery," alleging that the Gwadar project had "led to one of the biggest land scams in Pakistan's history." The magazine detailed a system in which revenue clerks had been bribed by elites to register land in their names; the land was then resold at rock-bottom prices to developers from Karachi, Lahore, and other major cities for residential and industrial schemes. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land were said to have been illegally allotted to civilian and military bureaucrats living elsewhere. In this way, the poor and uneducated Baluch population had been shut out of Gwadar's future prosperity. And so, Gwadar became a lightning rod for Baluch hatred of Punjabi-ruled Pakistan. Indeed, Gwadar's very promise as an Indian Ocean-Central Asian hub threatened to sunder the country.
Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast has long been rife with separatist rebellion: both Baluchistan and Sind have rich, venerable histories as self-contained entities. In recent decades, the Baluch, who number 6 million, have mounted four insurgencies against the Pakistani military to protest economic and political discrimination. The fiercest of these wars, from 1973 to 1977, embroiled some 80,000 Pakistani troops and 55,000 Baluch warriors. Baluch memories of the time are bitter. In 1974, writes the South Asia expert Selig S. Harrison, "Pakistani forces, frustrated by their inability to find Baluch guerrilla units hiding in the mountains, bombed, strafed and burned the encampments of some 15,000 Baluch families â€¦ forcing the guerrillas to come out from their hideouts to defend their women and children."
What Harrison calls a "slow-motion genocide" has continued. In 2006, thousands of Baluch fled villages attacked by Pakistani F 16 fighter jets and Cobra helicopter gunships. Large-scale, government-organized kidnappings and disappearances followed. That year, the Pakistani army killed the Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. But as government tactics have grown more brutal, a new and better-armed generation of Baluch warriors has hardened into an authentic national movement. Emerging from a literate middle class in the capital of Quetta and elsewhere, and financed by compatriots in the Persian Gulf, these Baluch have surmounted the age-old weakness of feuding tribes, which outsiders like the Punjabis in the Pakistani military once played against each other. According to the International Crisis Group, "The insurgency now crosses regional, ethnic, tribal and class lines." Helping the Baluch, the Pakistanis say, have been the Indian intelligence services, which clearly benefit from the Pakistani armed forces' being tied down by separatist rebellions. The Pakistani military has countered by pitting radical Islamic parties against the secular Baluch. As one activist mournfully told the International Crisis Group, "Baluchistan is the only secular region between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan and has no previous record of religious extremism."
The Baluch amount to less than 4 percent of Pakistan's 173 million people, but Pakistan's natural resources, including copper, uranium, potentially rich oil reserves, and natural gas, are mostly found in Baluchistan. The province produces more than a third of the country's natural gas, yet it consumes only a tiny amount. Moreover, as Harrison explains, the central government has paid meager royalties for the gas and denied the province development aid.
Thus, the real-estate scandal in Gwadar, combined with fears of a Punjabi takeover there, taps into a bitter history of subjugation. To taste the emotions behind all of this, I met with Baluch nationalist leaders in Karachi.
The setting for the first meeting was a KFC in the Karachi neighborhood of Clifton. Inside were young people wearing Western clothes or pressed whiteshalwar kameezes, the men with freshly shaven chins or long beards. Yet despite the clash of styles, they all had a slick, suburban demeanor. Over trays of chicken and Pepsi, they were texting and talking on their cell phones. Drum music blasted from loudspeakers: Punjabi bhangra. Into this upscale tableaux strode five Baluch men in soiled and unpressed shalwar kameezes, wearing turbans and to pees, with stacks of papers under their arms, including the issue of The Herald with the cover story on Gwadar.
Nisar Baluch, the general secretary of a Baluch nationalist organization, was the group's leader. He had unruly black hair and a thick moustache. His fingertips tapped on the table as he lectured me, staring into the middle distance. "The Pakistani army is the biggest land grabber," he began. "It is giving away the coast of Baluchistan for peanuts to the Punjabis.
"The Punjabi army wears uniforms, but the soldiers are actually terrorists," he continued. "In Gwadar, the army is operating as a mafia, falsifying land records. They say we don't have papers to prove our ownership of the land, though we've been there for centuries." Baluch told me he was not against development, and supported dialogue with the Pakistani authorities. "But when we talk about our rights, they accuse us of being Taliban.
"We're an oppressed nation," he said, never raising his voice, even as his finger-tapping grew in intensity. "There is no other choice but to fight. The whole world is now talking about Gwadar. The entire political establishment in this country is involved in the crime being perpetrated there."
Then came this warning:
"No matter how hard they try to turn Gwadar into Dubai, it won't work. There will be resistance. The pipelines going to China will not be safe. They will have to cross through Baluch territory, and if our rights are violated, nothing will be secure." In 2004, in fact, a car bomb killed three Chinese engineers on their way to Gwadar. Other nationalists have said that Baluch insurgents would eventually kill more Chinese workers, bringing further uncertainty to Gwadar.
Nisar Baluch was the warm-up to Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, the chief of the Marri tribe of Baluch, a man who had been engaged in combat with government forces off and on for 50 years, and whose son had recently been killed by Pakistani troops. Marri greeted me in his Karachi villa, with massive exterior walls, giant plants, and ornate furniture. He was old and wizened, and walked with a cane. Marri spoke a precise, hesitant, whispering English that, combined with his robe and beige topee and the setting, gave him a certain charisma.
"If we keep fighting," he told me gently, "we will ignite an intifada like the Palestinians'. It is the cause of my optimism that the young generation of Baluch will sustain a guerrilla war. Pakistan is not eternal. It is not likely to last. The British Empire, Pakistan, Burma-these have all been temporary creations.
"After Bangladesh left Pakistan," Marri continued, in his mild and lecturing tone, "the only dynamic left within this country was the imperialist power of the Punjabi army. East Bengal was the most important element in Pakistan. The Bengalis were numerous enough to take on the Punjabis, but they seceded. Now the only option left for the Baluch is to fight." He liked and trusted no one in Pakistan who was not Baluch, he told me.
And what about Punjabi overtures to make amends with the Baluch?, I asked.
"We say to these Punjabis"-still in his sweet, regal voice-"'Leave us alone. Get lost. We don't need your direction, your brotherliness.' If Punjab continues to occupy us with the help of the American imperialists, then eventually our name will be nowhere in the soil."
Marri explained that Baluchistan overlaps three countries-Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan-and would eventually triumph, as the central governments of all those lands weakened. Gwadar, in his view, was just the latest Punjabi plot that would prove temporary. The Baluch would bomb the roads and pipelines leading out of the town.
Leaving his villa, I realized the development of Gwadar depended on how the government in Islamabad behaved. If it did not make a grand bargain with the Baluch, of a scope that would isolate embittered men like Marri and Nisar Baluch, then indeed the giant project near the Iranian border would become another lost city in the sand, beset by local rebellion. If the government did make such a bargain, allowing Baluchistan to emerge as a region-state under the larger rubric of a democratic and decentralized Pakistan, then the traditional fishing village that I saw could well give way to a Rotterdam of the Arabian Sea, its highways and pipelines stretching northward to Samarkand.
But nothing was destiny.
Originally published at Pakistan’s Fatal Shore - Magazine - The Atlantic
Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, in Washington, D.C.
Pakistan's Fatal Shore (Balochistan, Gwader)
Pakistan - Iran gas pipeline impossible without the consultation of the Baluch: Kachkol Ali Baloch
Gwader: A senior leader of NP and ex apposition leaders advocate Kachkol Ali Baloch said that Iran- Pakistan gas pipeline agreement implementation is impossible without the will of Baloch people. Pakistan is facing industrial crisis because of Baloch resistance. The roots of nationalism are becoming stronger because of the sacrifices of Baloch martyrs. He said that the Baluch are more aware today compared to the past as they understand that Pakistan's eyes are on Baloch natural wealth and sea shore instead of developing the people of Balochistan. Baloch nation has taken the decision already that no one will be allowed to loot/steal Baluchistan's underground, over ground and sea wealth, which is why today there is an undergoing resistance movement all over Balochistan.
After the martyrdom of Nawab Bugti, Balach Marri and the martyrs of Turbat Shaheed Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Mohammad, Baloch patriotism is rising and Baloch youth are determined to take part in practical struggle. He said because of the ongoing resistance movement in Balochistan, Pakistan is going through industrial crisis, factories that run with gas are closing down and thus Pakistan is looking for an alternative energy. To fulfill this alternative (energy needs) Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline agreement is to be signed between the two countries. (has been singed recently).
He said Pakistan is becoming a failed state because of quick spreading anarchy and terrorism. To stop the way of pashtun nationalism the government is helping religious group but now even the religious groups are leaning toward pashtun nationalism. He said that the Baloch nationalist instead of blaming each other should learn to tolerate and respect each others' views.
Originally published at Pakistan - Iran gas pipeline impossible without the consultation of the Baluch: K Ali Baloch - News - News - BALOCHWARNA
Pakistan - Iran gas pipeline impossible without the consultation of the Baluch: Kachkol Ali Baloch
Rebranding the Long War, Part 2: Balochistan is the ultimate prize
By Pepe Escobar
PART 1: Obama does his Bush impression
It's a classic case of calm before the storm. The AfPak chapter ofObama's brand new OCO ("Overseas Contingency Operations"), formerly GWOT ("global war on terror") does not imply only a surge in the Pashtun Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A surge in Balochistan as well may be virtually inevitable.
Balochistan is totally under the radar of Western corporate media. But not the Pentagon's. An immense desert comprising almost 48% of Pakistan's area, rich in uranium and copper, potentially very rich in oil, and producing more than one-third of Pakistan's natural gas, it accounts for less than 4% of Pakistan's 173 million citizens. Balochs are the majority, followed by Pashtuns. Quetta, the provincial capital, is considered Taliban Central by the Pentagon, which for all its high-tech wizardry mysteriously has not been able to locate Quetta resident "The Shadow", historic Taliban emir Mullah Omar himself.
Strategically, Balochistan is mouth-watering: east of Iran, south of Afghanistan, and boasting three Arabian sea ports, including Gwadar, practically at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz.
Gwadar - a port built by China - is the absolute key. It is the essential node in the crucial, ongoing, and still virtual Pipelineistan war between IPI and TAPI. IPI is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline", which is planned to cross from Iranian to Pakistani Balochistan - an anathema to Washington. TAPI is the perennially troubled, US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, which is planned to cross western Afghanistan via Herat and branch out to Kandahar and Gwadar.
Washington's dream scenario is Gwadar as the new Dubai - while China would need Gwadar as a port and also as a base for pumping gas via a long pipeline to China. One way or another, it will all depend on local grievances being taken very seriously. Islamabad pays a pittance in royalties for the Balochis, and development aid is negligible; Balochistan is treated as a backwater. Gwadar as the new Dubai would not necessarily mean local Balochis benefiting from the boom; in many cases they could even be stripped of their local land.
To top it all, there's the New Great Game in Eurasia fact that Pakistan is a key pivot to both NATO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Pakistan is an observer. So whoever "wins" Balochistan incorporates Pakistan as a key transit corridor to either Iranian gas from the monster South Pars field or a great deal of the Caspian wealth of "gas republic" Turkmenistan.
The cavalry to the rescue
Now imagine thousands of mobile US troops - backed by supreme air power and hardcore artillery - pouring into this desert across the immense, 800-kilometer-long, empty southern Afghanistan-Balochistan border. These are Obama's surge troops who will be in theory destroying opium crops in Helmand province in Afghanistan. They will also try to establish a meaningful presence in the ultra-remote, southwest Afghanistan, Baloch-majority province of Nimruz. It would take nothing for them to hit Pakistani Balochistan in hot pursuit of Taliban bands. And this would certainly be a prelude for a de facto US invasion of Balochistan.
What would the Balochis do? That's a very complex question.
Balochistan is of course tribal - just as the FATA. Local tribal chiefs can be as backward as Islamabad is neglectful (and they are not exactly paragons of human rights either). A parallel could be made with the Swat valley.
Most Baloch tribes bow to Islamabad's authority - except, first and foremost, the Bugti. And then there's the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) - which both Washington and London brand as a terrorist group. Its leader is Brahamdagh Bugti, operating out of Kandahar (only two hours away from Quetta). In a recent Pakistani TV interview he could not be more sectarian, stressing the BLA is getting ready to attack non-Balochis. The Balochis are inclined to consider the BLA as a resistance group. But Islamabad denies it, saying their support is not beyond 10% of the provincial population.
It does not help that Islamabad tends to be not only neglectful but heavy-handed; in August 2006, Musharraf's troops killed ultra-respected local leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, a former provincial governor.
There's ample controversy on whether the BLA is being hijacked by foreign intelligence agencies - everyone from the CIA and the British MI6 to the Israeli Mossad. In a 2006 visit to Iran, I was prevented from going to Sistan-Balochistan in southeast Iran because, according to Tehran's version, infiltrated CIA from Pakistani Balochistan were involved in covert, cross-border attacks. And it's no secret to anyone in the region that since 9/11 the US virtually controls the Baloch air bases in Dalbandin and Panjgur.
In October 2001, while I was waiting for an opening to cross to Kandahar from Quetta, and apart from tracking the whereabouts of President Hamid Karzai and his brother, I spent quite some time with a number of BLA associates and sympathizers. They described themselves as "progressive, nationalist, anti-imperialist" (and that makes them difficult to be co-opted by the US). They were heavily critical of "Punjabi chauvinism", and always insisted the region's resources belong to Balochis first; that was the rationale for attacks on gas pipelines.
Stressing an atrocious, provincial literacy rate of only 16% ("It's government policy to keep Balochistan backward"), they resented the fact that most people still lacked drinking water. They claimed support from at least 70% of the Baloch population ("Whenever the BLA fires a rocket, it's the talk of the bazaars"). They also claimed to be united, and in coordination with Iranian Balochis. And they insisted that "Pakistan had turned Balochistan into a US cantonment, which affected a lot the relationship between the Afghan and Baloch peoples".
As a whole, not only BLA sympathizers but the Balochis in general are adamant: although prepared to remain within a Pakistani confederation, they want infinitely more autonomy.
How crucial Balochistan is to Washington can be assessed by the study "Baloch Nationalism and the Politics of Energy Resources: the Changing Context of Separatism in Pakistan" by Robert Wirsing of the US Army think-tank Strategic Studies Institute. Predictably, it all revolves around Pipelineistan.
China - which built Gwadar and needs gas from Iran - must be sidelined by all means necessary. The added paranoid Pentagon component is that China could turn Gwadar into a naval base and thus "threaten" the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The only acceptable scenario for the Pentagon would be for the US to take over Gwadar. Once again, that would be a prime confluence of Pipelineistan and the US empire of bases.
Not only in terms of blocking the IPI pipeline and using Gwadar for TAPI, control of Gwadar would open the mouth-watering opportunity of a long land route across Balochistan into Helmand, Nimruz, Kandahar or, better yet, all of these three provinces in southwest Afghanistan. From a Pentagon/NATO perspective, after the "loss" of the Khyber Pass, that would be the ideal supply route for Western troops in the perennial, now rebranded, GWOT ("global war on terror").
During the Asif Ali Zardari administration in Islamabad the BLA, though still a fringe group with a political wing and a military wing, has been regrouping and rearming, while the current chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Raisani, is suspected of being a CIA asset (there's no conclusive proof). There's fear in Islamabad that the government has taken its eye off the Balochistan ball - and that the BLA may be effectively used by the US for balkanization purposes. But Islamabad still seems not to have listened to the key Baloch grievance: we want to profit from our natural wealth, and we want autonomy.
So what's gonna be the future of "Dubai" Gwadar? IPI or TAPI? The die is cast. Under the radar of the Obama/Karzai/Zardari photo-op in Washington, all's still to play in this crucial front in the New Great Game in Eurasia.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at [email protected].
Originally published at Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan
Rebranding the Long War, Part 2: Balochistan is the ultimate prize
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