Source: The Nation
LAHORE – With the resource-rich Balochistan province fast turning into a battlefield for international players, the country’s top leadership as well as security agencies are extremely worried over the possibility of insurgents getting Stingers from outside and repeating the history of Mujahideen who forced the world’s second greatest military power, the USSR, to flee Afghanistan in the late eighties with the help of this lethal weapon.
Defence analysts and military strategists agree on the point that it was the Stinger missiles provided by the US to Afghan fighters which turned the tables on the Soviet army which did not show any sign of receding in the first five years despite assistance from the US and Pakistan by other means. Analysts believe that keeping in view the 1,500 mile-long porous border with Afghanistan, the possibility of Stingers coming once again to Pakistan cannot be ruled out, especially in a situation when Balochistan is becoming a den of foreign forces sponsoring terrorism and promoting so-called nationalist leaders working against the framework of Pakistan.
So far, these foreign forces have been providing funds and weapons to the militants. The danger is that if these forces are not checked and their presence not eliminated the likely future events may lead to a formerly East Pakistan-like situation. It is feared that if the security forces fail, Balochistan could quite easily become a focal point in Pakistan’s destabilisation. Balochistan is in flames at the moment with military and political top brass having no clue to resolve the issue and from where to begin. Today the unfortunate province is placed at a point where kidnappings for ransom, target killings and other crimes are all-time high.
In the recent past, Baloch nationalists have been accusing security forces of committing human right abuses and seeking more autonomy and more royalties for them. Many Balochs feel they have been cheated by successive governments whom they had accused of plundering their resources, like natural gas, coal and copper. Highly-placed informed sources confided to TheNation that top PPP leadership has engaged the Baloch nationalists to bring home to them that if they don’t become part of the dialogue process to resolve the issue, Blochistan would be a battlefield for international players to destabilise the region.
However, the response from them was not encouraging. They reportedly asked for military withdrawal and evacuation of army from cantonments, a demand which cannot be met in any case.There is a strong realisation that as long as Pakistan army remains deployed in Balochistan, it would be difficult for the militants to achieve their objective of destabilising the region. This is perhaps why they (separatists) have been opposed to army deployment in the province, said a defence analyst seeking anonymity.
The involvement of foreign powers in Balochistan insurgency is no secret any more. There have also been reports of the United States, India, Israel and Afghanistan collaborating to create unrest in the province. They are reportedly offering patronage to the militants engaged in acts of terrorism and sabotage. The news of a map purportedly drawn by Americans has been making rounds in the world which showed Pakistan truncated to a smaller territory with some of its parts indicated as independent states or parts of neighbouring Afghanistan and India.
Balochistan has, no doubt, become an attractive place for foreign powers due to its huge deposits of minerals like gold, copper, coal and gas. It is alleged that the US wants to get close to Iran and China by maintaining presence in Balochistan. It would be a source of pleasure for India that is why it is collaborating with the US to fuel insurgency in the province.
There are reports of at least 17 camps situated in area from Chaman border to Khost in Afghanistan to train insurgents to fight in Balochistan. Interior Minister Rehman Malik revealed a couple of months back that Baloch Republican Party chief Brahmdagh Bugti was operating terrorist training camps inside Afghanistan which were dismantled only after Islamabad passed on the information to Kabul. In the past, President Karzai had always denied the charge that Balochs living in Afghanistan were supporting any armed struggle in Pakistan.
Pakistanis were taken aback when US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution in the US Congress calling upon Pakistan to recognise the right to self-determination of Baloch people. It was an open interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs. The resolution asserted that the people of Balochistan that are ‘currently divided between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country’. It added that Balochs should be given the opportunity to choose their own status among the comity of nations.
It is also an open secret that CIA and Pentagon have been funding and arming anti-Iran terrorist outfit Jundullah which has concentration in Kharan region, and has been accused of carrying out terrorist activities in Iran. The American disliking for construction of Gwadar Port and its opposition to establishment of a naval base there is also a known fact.Rehman Malik informed in-camera session that the government had proof of involvement of RAW, Mossad and CIA, although he never dared to make these proof public.
Despite the fact that an in-camera proceeding of the joint session passed a unanimous resolution reflecting the will to address the issue, no concrete steps have been taken so far in this direction. The implementation on on Aghaze Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, announced by the federal government, is nowhere to be seen. Different committees were also formed in the past to resolve the issue, the most prominent among these being headed by Ch Shujaat Hussain with Syed Mushahid Hussain as one of its members. This committee submitted a 12-point formula to the Senate after having consultation with all stakeholders in Blochistan and representatives of those who now talk of independence. The recommendations remained on paper only.
The so-called Baloch nationalists are openly defying the authority of Pakistan government while sitting on the foreign lands. Brahmdagh is currently in Switzerland and Harbyar Marri is residing in London. Brahmdagh Bugti, grandson of slain nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, is on record having said that he would accept any help from India, Afghanistan and Iran to defend Balochistan. ‘’Punjab and Pakistan do not have right over our gas resources,” he once said, adding, “If anyone wants to take it by force, then we will resist it’’. He also said they were fighting to defend Balochistan and had the right to accept help from any country.
Mir Suleiman Dawood and some Baloch nationalist organisations have openly called for India’s assistance to separate Balochistan from Pakistan. On August 12, 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood declared himself the ruler of Balochistan and also made announcement of a Council for Independent Balochistan representing all Baloch leaders. A glance at the history of Baloch insurgency shows that shortly after creation of Pakistan in 1947, the army had to take on insurgents in Kalat who had rejected the King of Kalat’s decision to accede to Pakistan.
A Baloch separatist movement was also witnessed during the 1960s, followed by a military operation in 1973. General Musharraf also had to use force to crush militancy which resulted in the death of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006. The insurgency in the province continues unabated.There is also the issue of ‘forced disappearances’ in Balochistan. The Supreme Court is currently hearing the ‘missing persons’ case while many have already returned to their homes. The SC has ruled that the military must act under the government’s direction and follow the well-defined parameters set by the Constitution.