Eye on Pakistan’s Baluchistan as violence mounts

January 5, 2009

While the firepower and consequently all the media attention has been focused on Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the North West Frontier Province, violence in Baluchistan province to the south has worsened.
 
The year gone by was the bloodiest in a decade for Baluchistan, the country’s largest but most impoverished province where a low key insurgency has raged for decades, the Daily Times said. Official data showed a steadily rising level of violence, up from 303 people killed in 2005 to 433 in 2008, the first time killings crossed the 400-mark.

 
There were 120 bomb blasts, 208 rocket attacks, 141 landmine blasts and 32 hand grenade attacks in the past year, and it could have been worse if the three main Baluch nationalist insurgent groups operating in the area – the BLA, the Baloch Republic Army and Baloch Liberation Front – had not declared ceasefire, the newspaper said. One of them, the BRA, has announced the end of the ceasefire from the New Year accusing the government of  of kiling tribesmen.The other two groups may well follow suit, the Daily Times said, warning of a difficult year ahead in the vast sparsely populated desert region that straddles Afghanistan and Iran.


 
According to this piece by The Jameston Foundation, the prime motivators of the insurgency remain the Baluch nationalists who live in the remote mountains of the province and believe they have been deprived of their rights and revenues from the considerable natural resources of their province. But the Islamists led by the Taliban   are also active throughout the rugged and harsh terrain, particularly in state capital Quetta and the Pashtun belt of the province bordering Afghanistan.
 
Mullah Mohammad Omar has long been rumoured to be based in Quetta  from where the one-eyed leader and his council dubbed the “Quetta shura” have directed the Taliban’s broad military and political strategies and arranged arms and other supplies for their fighters in southern Afghanistan,  according to this report by McClatchy Newspapers, citing U.S. officials. The “:Quetta shura” presides over military, intelligence, political, and religious committees, and also oversees a fund-raising operation in the Pakistani port city of Karachi that raises money across the Muslim world,  the report quoted  a Pentagon adviser on the region as saying. Baluchistan also is a major corridor through which Afghan opium, which is refined into heroin, is smuggled to the outside world, providing the Taliban with $60-$80 million a year.

But the U.S. drone campaign has focused almost entirely on the al Qaeda belt in the tribal agencies further up the Pakistani northwest and the North West Frontier Province leaving out the Taliban leadership in Baluchistan.  Is it because of military limitations in extending the theatre of conflict or is there a longer term logic to spare the Afghan Taliban while going after al Qaeda first?
 
There is another dimension to the troubles in Baluchistan. Pakistan suspects India of trying to create trouble in the region by instigating the insurgents. New Delhi denies this, but in the light of the Mumbai attacks some people are advocating India launch its version of bleeding Pakistan by a thousand cuts by waging a covert war.
 
Is Baluchistan the next battleground then?

(Reuters photo: Pakistani soldier stands guard on the Khyber Pass)

Comments

Mr. Prithiviraj

Interesting comments below…indeed.

Permit me the luxury of a few days, I will be responding.

Posted by N. Javed | Report as abusive
 

TO MR. PRITHVIRAJ (sorry about the tardy response – got busy)

Interesting comments, once again.

You know at first, I was loathe to dignify the tone of your aberrant and wayward comments with a response till I decided that some enlightenment, perhaps, was in order. No I am not about to descend down to uncivil standards of return rude, name calling, etc. – not my style, but, if you’re open minded, just some basic front and center facts – nothing too very complicated.

First of, and as an aside, I did find your utility of this lovely language especially in concert with the choice of words used to be almost amusing, sort of comical. And I leave it at that; for this is neither about jest nor a lesson in English. This is about 2 essential topics you’ve chosen to broach – Geography and History.

And before I go any further, I must compliment you on being as observant as you are, for you have correctly pointed out that my message has been seen on other postings – with the same dreaded ‘K’ word. One too many times, you indicate. Right again.

However, the fact of the matter is that after 60+ years of suppression and brutality by 500,000 plus Indian troops, it has not been said often enough. It’s a message that NEEDS to be heard and succinctly so. But, at the end of the day, the question begs asking:

WHY does India keep run away from this subject (3 wars and… counting?) Indeed it is very much a problem. It’s the ROOT of our mutual anguish and dissent. I’ll tell you WHY India keeps stonewalling and evading the subject.

Pain and simple she is scared of the OUTCOME.

1- The outcome if the world’s biggest democracy allows the Kashmiris their democratic right of freedom of choice.
2- And equally repugnant the thought of neutral middle parties ruling once the Kashmiris’ anguish is illuminated to them. India will not let others mediate, NOR is she serious about “resolving it directly with Pakistan” – save some repeat lame duck CBM’s thus loosing a rare and HISTORIC opportunity under our courageous Musharraf who put out one overture after another. How unfortunate.

Does Pakistan want Kashmir? NOOOOOOOOO…… I hope I said that loud enough. If they say they want to join India or just be independent, bravo; all power to them. We’re good with that, JUST AS LONG AS they are given a pressure free forum to choose from. I know you folks did not like the results of the past UN Plebisite either.

I could also not help noting that US President Obama is now on India’s “stay Away” list, post his invoking and correctly recognizing the regional ‘K’ conundrum.

But you see, he’s not the only one.

Here are some other ‘little known’ world leaders who feel likewise:

1- French President Nicolas SARKOZY
2- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
3- US Vice President Joseph Biden
4- British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (India’s latest “don’t return here” fella. I won’t quote him)
5- And a host of other world leaders.

SO, bottom line, you can run from the problem but you cannot hide. And as long as we ARE going to solve it sooner or later, why not today?

Then you mention Afghanistan. What you may not know is that OVER 2 million Afghans are still in Pakistan. We took them in for they are our kith and kin; you may not quite follow that bit, and that’s okay.

But what I was quite amused by was how some of you (not just you) try to trigger incitement within our family. In fact you may just wish to study the meaning of the Urdu/Arabic word FITNA for meaning. And come to think of it, a few years ago, I met a Sikh gentleman (Sikhs have so much in common with us) Seemingly ex-military he complained the burden they are left to carry alone once the real heat turns on during a battle, and the fact that “their real talents lie elsewhere” and I’ll leave it at that. Having said that, it is also my hope and prayer that there be no more wars between us. Pakistan is resolute in it’s desire for peace.

Also lets not get too excited about this temporary estrangement between our family. Islam gives us the generous and built in propensity to unite at a moments notice and be at your throat, if we must. Just because India has erected a few edifices in and around Kabul, does NOT mean that you’re home free. Some 80% of the populace will not think twice before they start re-targeting some idols/statutes they may deem repugnant (that was unfortunate, in fact such acts, Mumbai, 9/11 enjoys neither Muslim nor Pakistani support, and that said unequivocably)

And speaking of Afghanistan, let us not forget where Mahmud Ghaznavi hailed from. As well, you may remember the name Ghauri…. do you Mr. Prithviraj?

So once again, this whole thing can unravel on India in a hurry. Let’s not rest on our temporary laurels just quite yet. All the billions you’re busy pouring around Pakistan can end up in a ditch in a hurry. Keep in mind, Mr. Karzai’s government extends only to the Kabul jurisdiction and outskirts. You may just wish to find out WHO really is running Afghanistan. Once again, the solution is MUCH simpler than India’s made it to be, and much much cheaper! You’re shelling out almost 2 BILLION dollars a year in kashmir annually.

Again, what Mahmud Ghaznavi did to Somnath was a travesty. Dare someone lift a finger at our temples, gurdwara’s or churces, we’ll be at their throat faster than they can say ‘mommy’. Pakistan LOVES it’s diversified family right from the Christians to the Jains.

Having said that, let me hasten to add again that Pakistan and Muslims abhor violence. 9/11 was a anathema of the highest order, an unimaginable event, which is FAR from a prescription to Paradise. Mumbai was equally unfortunate. Fortunately 99.9% of Muslims are moderate, peace loving and law abiding. You’re not going to tell me that other cultures are free of their own kooks are you?? Heard of The Agrun Brigade, Shiv Sehna, Timmothy Mcvey, Adolph Hitler…?? The list is far too long… I think you get the picture. None of them were Muslims.

Then traversing South, you mention Baluchistan. Well, the last I heard, all’s quiet on the Eastern Pakistani domain, and neither do we have 1/2 of our army embroiled in the imbroglio there. RAW, I hate to say it, as busy as they’ve been there for some time now, have not done too good a job at creating a ‘Fitna’ there. Rather than worry about the rock solid union of Pakistan, India may just want to corral and stay cognizant of her own age old dissent in ASSAM, PUNJAB, TAMIL… and a host of smaller insurgencies, literally all over your map. Those are REAL issues and quite different than ours.

So once again, bottom line, India can dance all around the real issue and all over the landscape – OR better yet, how’s this for an idea: There is a straight road to the Kashmiri issue. Let’s meet up there and resolve it once and for all. I can assure you that the peace heard around the world will be almost deafening.

So once again, I hate to say it, but it is

INDEED THE KASHMIR PROBLEM……SILLY

PAKISTAN PAINDABAD!

Posted by N. Javed | Report as abusive
 

Baluchstan is a province of Pakistan and is recognized the world over. So keep out of Pakistan’s internal affairs.

The Indian agent Akbar Bugti was eliminated in 2006 and since then the mini-insurgency in the province has died out.

 

Mr. N javed
To your rambling here is my answer ” Ramble On” and I will answer your every point trust me when I say, I will, that means, I can, the point is that do you have the courage to face the truth? I dont think so.

Posted by Prithiraj | Report as abusive
 

Mr.Javed and Amir ali,

kashmir will never go to pakistan,what I mean,long before that there will be no pakistan..

Posted by abdul from dhaka | Report as abusive
 

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