Balochistan: Are the balochis ready for external support?


Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009
Senior Member
Jun 8, 2009

Ever since the joint Indo-Pak statement was announced last month, there have been numerous discussions on India’s role in Balochistan in both countries. Pakistanis have been accusing India for interfering in Balochistan for a long time; they consider the inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement as an admission of this by India. In India, many question the wisdom of this inclusion; especially the opposition parties who consider this as weakening India’s position. A section in India also believes that India should indeed support covert activities in Balochistan – a tit for tat policy in response to the terrorism sponsored by Pakistan’s ISI.

Three important questions need to be addressed in the context. First, are the Balochis really serious about waging an insurgency against Pakistan’s security forces? Are they politically united and ready to fight a long political struggle to gain their rights? Second, is India capable of helping such a Balochi struggle? Is such a help feasible and practical? Finally, will such an interference help secure India’s interests?

Unfortunately, much of the debate in Pakistan and India continues without a proper understanding of ground realities regarding the composition of the Balochi tribes. The Balochis are not a homogenous group and this has been the primary reason for the failure of Baloch insurgencies in the past. The latest insurgency was the fourth in a history of insurgency spanning five decades.

The Balochis are highly divided along tribal lines – the Bugtis, Mengals, Marris and numerous other tribes together constitute the Balochi people. Furthermore, the three major tribes mentioned above are not only clearly differentiated from each other but are also divided within themselves. For instance, the Bugtis have been fighting the Mazaris for a long time. Akbar Bugti used his connections with the federal government to outsmart the Mazaris. At the same time, Akbar Bugti also had a long running feud with two sub clans within his own tribe – Kalpars and Masuris. The federal government in Islamabad, always exploited this divide within the Bugti tribe and used the sub tribes against Akbar Bugti when it did not support his actions. The PPP-PML divide in Islamabad is also reflected in support or opposition to Akbar Bugti in Dera Bugti, the Bugti stronghold, where the Sui gas plant is also located. Akbar Bugti’s relationship with the federal government waxed and waned primarily on the issue of royalty relating to the Sui gas field.

The other tribes, especially the Marris and Mengals have always been upset with and apprehensive of Bugtis on this issue. When compared to the other two stalwarts, Khair Bux Marri and Ataullah Mengal, Akbar Bugti never really rallied around for a pan-Balochi cause.

Besides the intra and inter tribal fault lines, there exist ideological differences as well. The Marris, who have been leading the Baloch insurgency, are known for their Marxist leanings; Khair Bux Marri’s sons were educated in Moscow. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) which was leading the insurgency was primarily a Marri force. Bugtis never got involved with the BLA in a major way.

Any debate in India towards helping the Balochis or interfering in Balochistan should first take into account the basic structure and strength of Baloch nationalism. Undoubtedly, there is grave injustice in Balochistan and the Balochis are extremely upset with Islamabad and Punjabi leadership. However, the crucial question is, are they willing to rise above their tribal differences and present a unified force?

Second, any Indian support to Balochis should assess the nature of the Indian state’s support to regional movements in the neighbourhood in a historical perspective. Is India really willing to support a movement such as this to its conclusion – in this context, an independent Balochistan? If providing support is limited to identifying the issue in a joint statement or providing limited funds to some Balochi leaders settled in UK or elsewhere, it will be best for India to keep away from such an initiative. New Delhi has to make the decision to goes the whole way or not get involved at all. Given the Indian government’s failure in the recent past to take any such initiatives (despite intense provocations in the form of Kargil, the parliament attack and the Mumbai blasts), it will be useful if India forgets about meddling in Balochistan for good and makes this much clear to Islamabad.

Third, despite some international inputs on an independent Balochistan theory, no state is interested at the global level (read the US or Russia) or at regional level (read Iran) to help the Balochis achieve an independent nationhood.

Fourth, India and the international community should also understand that Islamabad will brutally suppress any movement led by the Balochis. Like the previous attempt in the 1970s, the latest insurgency was also brutally suppressed by the State in Pakistan, using fighter jets, bombing villages, with no concern for human lives or rights. Akbar Bugti, a former Governor of Balochistan and the leader of a nationalist party was hunted like a criminal and killed brutally; even the elusive brigand Veerappan was treated better by the Indian security forces, before he was finally killed. No group can hope to mount a successful insurgency, if the State that is its target is willing to use such extreme force.

Finally, New Delhi also has to make up its mind on how it sees its own security vis-à-vis Pakistan. Is a stable Pakistan in India’s interests? If it is indeed so, then New Delhi needs to work with Islamabad. India’s long term strategic interests in Pakistan should define its strategies and tactical approaches.


Regular Member
Feb 26, 2009
'India only gives moral support to Balochistan'

Dr Jumma Khan Marri is a Baloch political leader and son of the legendary Baloch leader Mir Hazar Khan Marri who led the Baloch freedom struggle in the 1970s and 1980s.

Dr Marri did his schooling in hiding in Sindh, Hyderabad and Karachi at the height of the military operation in Balochistan. His family was on top of the list of most wanted people by the Pakistani military and the Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence.

During this time many Balochs were forced to migrate to Afghanistan. Dr Marri also migrated and completed his schooling at the K V K Indian central school in Kabul. He went to Moscow [ Images ] in the then Soviet Union in 1986 along with many other Baloch students for his higher education; he acquired his MD in 1994 at the Russian State Medical University, and subsequently got his Ph D in immunology and allergies at the same university in 1998.

He returned from Russia [ Images ] in 1999 with the aim to help his divided but freedom-loving people. He had a vision to unite the Baloch people under one flag and so he formed the Baloch Unity Organisation. However after General Pervez Musharraf [ Images ] took power in a coup in October 1999 and began military operations in Balochistan, Dr Marri was forced again into exile in Moscow.

But he continues the fight and highlights the plight of his people through the media and his Web site BALOCHUNITY.ORG |.

He articulates the struggle in an e-mail interview with's Sheela Bhatt.

What is your response to the mention of Balochistan in the India-Pakistan joint statement issued in Egypt [ Images ]?

Pakistan has always used the Baloch issue as a pretext to prove to the world that it is a victim of terrorism though in fact it exports terrorism. The Indian involvement in Balochistan has never been beyond moral support.

The joint statement cuts two ways -- on one hand it is good that the Baloch issue was internationalised on the other it can be detrimental to Baloch interest as Pakistan is using it as a stick to beat the Baloch freedom struggle by presenting that it being supported by India.

What are the real threats to Balochistan?

The real threats to Balochistan in concrete terms come from the States of Pakistan and Iran because they are physically occupying Balochistan. These States are repressive, intransigent and colonialist. It is for this reason that there is armed resistance in Balochistan.

Another tangible threat is the government-sponsored Talibanisation which is being implemented to oppose the nationalists.

There is danger that powers like the US and Russia, in pursuit of their national interests, may either help to crush or if it suits them may promote the national struggle and attempt to influence it.

Balochistan also faces a credible threat from ultra-nationalists in Afghanistan who dream of a 'Greater Afghanistan' and eye a large portion of Balochistan territory on flimsy historical evidence.

The greatest threat to Balochistan is, however, internal and that is the disunity among the Baloch themselves.

Are you worried about the Talibanisation of some areas of Balochistan? How is your party engaged in thwarting it?

This is very serious matter which concerns not only Balochistan but the entire world community. Your asking this question is proof of that concern.

In that regard I quote Sanaullah Baloch who disclosed that the supporters of the Taliban [ Images ] have captured land worth Rs 2 billion in the eastern and western parts of Quetta with the covert support of the 'establishment' in order to undermine the Baloch nationalist movement and promote Talibanisation in Balochistan.

Sana Baloch believes that the Taliban and their supporters are consolidating their grip. Several parts of the Baluchistan's capital have become 'no-go areas' where the Taliban and their supporters have consolidated their position.

American officials believe that Taliban leaders are freely operating in and around Quetta and are actively involved in the unrest in southern Afghanistan.

The Baloch are secular people and do not take religion as an issue to fight for, we believe religion must be a personal matter between a believer and god. My organisation along with all other Baloch parties and organisations are doing whatever possible to counteract these jihadi fanatics.

What is your response to Pakistan's allegation that India is engaged in covert activity in Balochistan from its consulate in Kandahar?

These are old, baseless allegations. The consulate is well inside Afghan territory and far away from the hot spots in Balochistan.

To the best of my knowledge the consulate in Kandahar has nothing to do with the resentment and resistance that the Pakistani State faces in Balochistan.

Moreover, the borders are controlled by the Pakistani forces and if in fact help is coming through than it is their ineptitude which is to blame.

Don't you think any kind of support from India will also affect India's relations with Iran?

Well, first let that long-awaited support come than we can assess the negative relations. If India decides to help the Baloch freedom struggle it will certainly be resented by Iran. When you do a good deed it at times irks quite a few and that shouldn't become a reason for not doing a good deed.

What is the human development index of Baluchistan society? Please give us some figures.

To present the grim reality of economic deprivation and poverty I quote experts who have intimate knowledge of the conditions there. Economist Dr Kaiser Bengali says, 'An overview of the development scene in Balochistan is discomforting and the extent of relative deprivation in the province is appalling. Eighteen out of the 20 most infrastructure-deprived districts in Pakistan are in Balochistan.'

'The percentage of districts that are classified as high deprivation stands as follows: 29 per cent in Punjab [ Images ], 50 per cent in Sindh, 62 per cent in the NWFP, and 92 per cent in Balochistan.'

'If Quetta and Ziarat are excluded, all of Balochistan falls into the high deprivation category. And Quetta's ranking would fall if the cantonment is excluded from the analysis.'

'The percentage of population living in a high degree of deprivation stands at 25 per cent in Punjab, 23 per cent in urban Sindh, 49 per cent in rural Sindh, 51 per cent in the NWFP, and 88 per cent in Balochistan.'

'Measured in terms of poverty, the percentage of population living below the poverty line stands at 26 per cent in Punjab, 38 per cent in rural Sindh, 27 per cent in urban Sindh, 29 per cent in the NWFP, and 48 per cent in Balochistan.'

Only 20 per cent of its people have access to safe drinking water compared to 86 per cent in the rest of Pakistan. Village electrification is only 25 per cent compared to 75 per cent in the rest of the country. The situation of basic amenities and access to education is also far below the ratio of other provinces.

Over 50 per cent its population subsists below the poverty line.

A horrific picture emerges if one surveys the maternal mortality rate which is 650 per 100,000 births in Balochistan while it is 281in Karachi. This is double the national average. Infant mortality in Balochistan is 158 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Even the Democratic Republic of Congo's average of 126 is lower while Pakistan's national average of 70 is less than half.

The figures in education are equally depressing, over three-fourths of women and two-thirds of population above ten are illiterate.

The conditions in affected Marri-Bugti areas and among the Internally Displaced Persons are much worse. Take the example of Bugti area. Though gas was discovered in Sui in 1951 and meets approximately 45 per cent of the country's total gas production and is worth Rs 85 billion annually what Dera Bugti receives in return for the wealth it generates is evident from the UNDP Human Development Report 2003, which ranked Dera Bugti last among the 91 districts of the country on the Human Development Index.

This eye-opening report reveals that among the top 31 districts on the HDI only three belonged to Balochistan whereas the province shared 12 among the lowest 30 districts on the HDI.

What is the present political situation within Balochistan?

The present situation was perspicaciously summed up in an interview to a television channel, ironically by the former Balochistan inspector general Asif Nawaz Warraich. He said, 'There is political insurgency in the province'.

This widespread and protracted upheaval, political insurgency, cannot be brushed aside as 'foreign inspired'. It mirrors the intensity and scale of the resentment and desperation felt by the people at the existing state of affairs and underlines their wish for a quick radical change.

The situation in Balochistan has deteriorated rapidly since the brutal murders of Baloch National Movement chairman Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Muneer Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch of the Baloch Republican Party in Turbat.

Media reports indicate that resentment has reached an unprecedented level and on May 9 Baloch separatists ransacked an English-medium private school in Quetta for performing the national anthem and hoisting the national flag.

A teacher was beaten up and the school administration warned that they would not hesitate to kill students and teachers if this practice is not stopped.

In April, Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi lamented that, 'Although I am a representative of the centre I was never taken into confidence by Islamabad [ Images ] on the Balochistan issue'. Former Balochistan chief minister Jam Yusuf's gripe that the discretionary funds of the Punjab CM were much higher than Balochistan's development budget proves the point.

Chief Minister Nawab Raisani recently proposed that all the federating units should be given provincial autonomy on the basis of a 1940 resolution and they should have control on their natural and other resources.

Balochistan Assembly Speaker Aslam Bhootani said in an interview that 'the trust deficit between the Baloch leadership and Islamabad was a major impediment to resolving the Balochistan issue'. He also said 'there was a perception in Balochistan that the Frontier Corps was running a parallel government in the province'.

If the speaker says that there is perception that the Frontier Corps is running a parallel government then the problem is acute.

The attitudes and resolve have been hardened and strengthened by the continuous and arrogant disregard of the Balochs's right over their political future and resources.

All the coalition parties in the provincial government want a piece from the pie. They diligently rubber-stamp all directives of the centre to avoid endangering their lucrative perks and businesses.

Regrettably, the cabinets and assemblies of the past have also been equally ineffective and docile. They have neither solved the issue of 'missing persons' nor put an end to military operations; target killings of Baloch leaders as in Turbat and 'forced disappearances' continue.

Their failures have disillusioned the people entirely who are also rapidly losing faith in the political process.

How can the people of India help you when they are tackling the issue of Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ]?

India needs to solve the Kashmir issue sooner rather than later because not all those opposing India in Kashmir are Pakistani agents. There have been mistakes which need to be recognised and rectified.

Helping the Baloch people cannot and should not be hampered by the issue of Jammu and Kashmir because Indian resources are neither few nor small and the help can be moral, political and financial.

Physical involvement is not only improbable, but would not be welcomed by the Baloch people.


Regular Member
Feb 26, 2009
RAW involved in funding Baitullah: Pak editorial

An editorial in a Pakistani daily has claimed that intelligence outfits of India and Afghanistan funded late Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

It says that his death in South Waziristan has sparked off a battle among various Taliban [ Images ] warlords to control Rs 2 billion worth Taliban funds and own arms and ammunition worth another million rupees.

In an article for the Frontier Post, Shumaila Raja claims there has been a constant flow of tens of millions of dollars from foreign enemy sources that keeps the Taliban machine rolling.

According to Raja, cash pipelines for Mehsud were sustained by Indian external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing and the Afghan intelligence agency.

He further claims that Mehsud was paying Rs 600 million to his fighters every year.

According to Raja, extensive reactionary attacks to Mehsud's death are inevitable given the aura that he created around himself in the wake of the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [ Images ] in December 2007.

Raja is of the view that Baitullah Mehsud's murder by a drone strike in South Waziristan could further inflame internal developments in Pakistan.

"The battle for the control of the Rs 3 billion treasure erupted within two days of Baitullah's death," Raja says, adding that one occasion when a Taliban commander informed Baitullah about the huge monetary offers he was receiving from the Pakistan government, Baitullah said, "Money is not with the government of Pakistan, money is with me, tell me how much you want."

Officials have also conceded that Mehsud's money power was such that it was difficult to buy off his key commanders.

RAW involved in funding Baitullah: Pak editorial: news

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