BALOCHISTAN: Pakistani Army and ISI's killing field

Discussion in 'Balochistan - Freedom Struggle' started by Galaxy, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Bad times in Baluchistan

    The Pakistani province of Baluchistan hit the headlines recently when Islamabad responded to the deaths of its soldiers in a NATO attack by closing Western military supply routes running through it. However, the area has been a source of conflict for decades as ethnic Baluch have waged a campaign for greater political and economic freedom from Islamabad. Rising Taliban and sectarian attacks have added to the violence this year. In October, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani made a new offer to address the manifold problems of the resources-rich but impoverished province. However, sceptics have questioned his chances of success. Some of the government's fiercest critics have even compared Baluchistan today to East Pakistan in 1971 before it broke away as Bangladesh.

    In the past few months alone in Baluchistan, the death of a separatist leader and the discovery of the bullet-ridden corpses of many missing activists precipitated a general strike, while militants repeatedly blew up oil pipelines. Security-forces personnel and civilians were killed by landmines; and scores of ethnic Hazara Shia Muslims died in sectarian attacks. Taliban fighters also kidnapped two Swiss tourists, perpetrated a major suicide bombing in the provincial capital, Quetta, and destroyed scores of the NATO supply trucks previously carrying fuel and dry goods across Baluchistan from the port of Karachi (in Sindh) to the Afghan border crossing at Chaman.

    Meanwhile, drugs smuggling has continued through this vast, sparsely populated province – encompassing 44% of Pakistan, but home to only 5% of the population, and often referred to as the country's 'Wild West'. Baluch in Pakistan have exploited tribal links with Baluch communities in Afghanistan and Iran to ferry drugs from the major poppy-growing Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar into the Middle East. Major opium-processing hubs lie in the same Chagai Hills region as Pakistan's nuclear-testing facilities.

    Until Pakistan also stopped the US using the Shamsi airbase, southwest of Quetta, in the past week, it was the launch site for American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's tribal areas.

    Roots of separatist insurgency
    Pakistan's Baluch insurgency harks back to 1948, with the dissolution of the Baluch Khanate of Kalat and a savage military campaign to incorporate it and surrounding territory into the new nation. There were two further revolts – one in the 1950s and one in the 1960s – until the secessionist movement was ruthlessly suppressed by the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the mid-1970s. During this fourth revolt, the Shah of Iran sent planes to support the Pakistan army.

    Afterwards the insurgency receded to a low level of intensity, grouped around powerful local tribes, mainly the Marris and Bugtis, but with organisations divided also on policy grounds. While the Baluchistan Students' Organisation is estimated to have armed 20,000 militants during the 1990s, and the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), which emerged in 2000 has the stated aim of founding an independent pan-Baluch state across Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, the Baluch Nationalist Party, by contrast, has always promoted a peaceful and democratic path to greater provincial autonomy within Pakistan since the party was founded in 1996.

    However, the stage was set for a new uprising under the presidency of General Pervez Musharraf between 1999 and 2008. Decisions to build a deep-water port on the southwestern coast at Gwadar and to increase employment by establishing more army cantonments in the province, although possibly well intentioned, were made at a federal level and viewed with suspicion locally. This turned to outright hostility when widespread land grabbing ensued, and construction jobs on these projects went to new arrivals to the province.

    Serious unrest flared again in 2005, after the military tried to blame Bugti clansmen for the rape of Dr Shazia Khalid, a resident doctor at the Pakistan Petroleum Limited gas plant in Sui (even though the prime suspect was an army officer). Bugti tribesmen retaliated by attacking the plant and gas pipelines, causing scores of fatalities and disrupting national gas supplies. A military crackdown in response intensified after an attempt was made on Musharraf's life during a visit to Baluchistan in December 2005. As the crackdown continued, a Bugti sardar (tribal leader) and former chief minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, was killed in Kohlu district in August 2006.

    This in turn provoked further violence, which has only grown since. Indeed, a new militant organisation, the Baluch Republican Army (BRA), emerged in 2007. Another, the Baluch Liberation United Front, made news in 2009 when it kidnapped United Nations official John Solecki, an American citizen. Today's militant organisations are estimated to command anything between 1,000 and 10,000 fighters in total.

    Economic and other grievances
    Demands for a greater share of their region's wealth have long formed a major plank of Baluch nationalism. Baluchistan's desert and rocky hills harbour rich resources, yet ordinary Baluchis have gained little – many instead remaining subsistence farmers or emigrating to the Gulf for work. The Sui oil and gas field some 400 kilometres southeast of Quetta has created considerable resentment; providing 30% of Pakistan's supplies, its gas was first pumped to Punjab in the 1960s, 20 years before Quetta received any. Even today, Baluchistan gets less than one-fifth of both Sui's output and royalties. All of this makes gas infrastructure a symbolic target for insurgent attacks, which in turn compound Pakistan's energy insecurity and hamper much-needed further exploration.

    Likewise there has been bitterness over the construction of the port at Gwadar, on the 700km-long, warm-water Makran coast. Developed by Beijing as one of its so-called 'string of pearls' from the Arabian Sea to the East China Sea, the port project offered few employment opportunities other than to Chinese migrant workers. Since it was handed over to a Singaporean company in 2007 to manage for 40 years, most financial benefit has gone directly to Islamabad, bypassing the local population.

    Meanwhile, work to mine huge gold and copper reserves at Reko Diq, in the Chagai Hills near the Afghan border, has ended up in a Pakistani Supreme Court case. Reko Diq is estimated to be among the three largest gold and copper deposits in the world, but the provincial government has refused a mining licence, over allegations that the company concerned has deliberately understated the size of the deposits (which it denies). Other major projects in Baluchistan, such as mooted road links from Gwadar to China or two much-vaunted regional pipelines could face similar local hostility.

    But the Baluch sense of exclusion is about more than economics. Baluch account for just under half of the province's population – alongside Pashtuns, Brahui and Hazara – and many positions in government and the security forces are held by Punjabi settlers arriving from other parts of Pakistan. The closure of Baluch-language newspapers and websites, lack of Baluch-language education and the opening of Islamic schools in a hitherto largely secular society have all added to the Baluch perception that they have been 'colonised' by Islamabad. This has had deadly consequences for innocent civilians caught in the middle. Although the main target of the insurgency has been the army, against whom resentment runs deep, Baluch nationalists have sought to force out Punjabi farmers and have killed scores of Punjabi teachers and students, viewing them as symbols of the Pakistani state, and hence Pakistani repression.

    'Lost souls' and extrajudicial killings
    After Pakistan's return to civilian rule in 2008, the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani took steps towards reconciliation with the Baluch people. In November 2009, for example, it passed the 39-point 'Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Baluchistan' ('Beginning of Rights in Baluchistan') reform package, promising an inquiry into the 2006 death of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, an army withdrawal from Sui and Kohlu districts, a restriction on federal agencies' operations to anti-Taliban efforts, and a programme to trace missing citizens, among other things. In June 2010, Islamabad also raised the province's budget to Rs 152 billion (US$1.8bn) for 2010/11 (around double that for 2009/10) and released Rs 12bn (US$140 million) owed to the Baluch provincial government in respect of gas revenues. However, neither the reform package nor the payments satisfied the most radical Baluch nationalists, and little impact of the reforms has yet been seen.

    Meanwhile, the army and security services retained day-to-day control of the counter-insurgency, and with little civilian oversight their methods have remained heavy-handed. Hundreds of Baluch nationalists – some activists claim up to 5,000 – have gone missing in the past decade according to human-rights organisations, presumed abducted by the security forces.

    In November 2010, the Chief Minister of Baluchistan publicly accused the security forces of abductions and extrajudicial killings, and nearly 200 disappearances have been reported since. In July 2011, a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlighted draconian tactics used by the military, the paramilitary Frontier Corps and the intelligence services against Baluch activists and suspected insurgents. An upsurge in those disappearing (often referred to as 'lost souls') and 'kill-and-dump' operations (in which insurgents' bodies are abandoned after extrajudicial killing) was, HRW said, helping to take 'brutality in the province to an unprecedented level'. (Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani denied the security forces were guilty of human-rights abuses.)

    There is, however, a strain of opinion within Pakistan that portrays the Baluch struggle as one led by feudal sardars opposed to development (because they see it as a challenge to their tribal authority) and backed by foreign intelligence agencies such as the CIA, Mossad or India's RAW. While the most extreme versions of this theory clearly veer into conspiracy, it is true that sardars have sometimes acted out of self-interest. It is also certainly not against India's interests for Pakistan to be preoccupied with internal insurgency; Interior Minister Malik is just one politician to claim that Delhi is supporting the BLA. There has also been a dispute with Afghanistan, especially after documents released by WikiLeaks revealed that President Hamid Karzai knew more than 200 Bugtis had crossed into his country. Karzai refused to countenance the arrest or handover of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti's grandson, Brahamdagh Bugti. Although Brahamdagh is widely thought to lead today's rebebllion, Karzai denied this, while rejecting claims of Indian involvement.


    Taliban and sectarian 'distractions'
    In its first few years, Pakistan's civilian government was too preoccupied with military operations in the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Waziristan to focus much on the Baluch insurgency. It was also under pressure from Western allies to take action against the Afghan Taliban many of whose leaders based themselves in Quetta after US military operations in Afghanistan in late 2001. The presence of this so-called 'Quetta Shura' at first did little to exacerbate the Baluch nationalist insurgency, as the two groups remained largely separate, and the Quetta Shura used Pakistan mainly as a base to plan raids in Afghanistan.

    However, there have been concerns about friction between the Afghan Taliban and Baluch nationalists – who feel threatened by a growing Pashtun presence and suspect the government of not only tolerating an Afghan Taliban presence, but of exploiting it to suppress the Baluch nationalist movement. Furthermore, a surge in Pakistani Taliban violence in Baluchistan this year – including the suicide bombing in Quetta that killed 22 – has placed the security forces under greater pressure.

    At the same time, sectarian violence has flared. Militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for a recent series of deadly ambushes on Shia Hazara pilgrims – killing 14 in an attack on a minibus on 4 October, and 29 in the Mastung area of Quetta on 20 September. The group, also implicated in an attempt to assassinate Baluchistan's Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Rasiani in December 2010, have issued leaflets warning the distinctive-looking Hazara to leave Baluchistan by 2012 or face 'holy war'.

    Soon after the attacks on the Hazaras, Prime Minister Gilani publicly turned his attention back to Baluchistan, again urging reconciliation. However, talks were disrupted just weeks afterwards. The Baluch mistrust of Islamabad remains high, and differences between various separatist factions are narrowing as middle-class locals make more demands for autonomy. Meanwhile, the militants are becoming more so. As Jamil Bugti, the son of the late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, recently told Dawn newspaper: 'The next generation is all in the mountains, and they're not willing to talk to anyone.'

    International Institute for Strategic Studies Bad times in Baluchistan
     
  4. rohanvij

    rohanvij Regular Member

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    Read the true account of the activities of ISI and its role in spreading terrorism across the globe. This book will tell you on how terrorism shifted from West Asia to South and Southeast Asia and Africa, it will reveal that the so called Islamic Terrorism is traceable to Pakistan from concept to reality.

    "Inside ISI: The Story and Involvement of the ISI in Afghan Jihad, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, 26/11 and the Future of Al-Qaeda" by S K Datta, EX Cbi Chief. The book is available at Amazon India and Flipkart in Print and eBook format. A must read for everyone.
     
  5. rohanvij

    rohanvij Regular Member

    Joined:
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    True account of the activities of ISI and its role in spreading terrorism across the globe. This book will tell you on how terrorism shifted from West Asia to South and Southeast Asia and Africa, it will reveal that the so called Islamic Terrorism is traceable to Pakistan from concept to reality.

    "Inside ISI: The Story and Involvement of the ISI in Afghan Jihad, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, 26/11 and the Future of Al-Qaeda" by S K Datta, EX Cbi Chief. A must read for everyone.
     

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