Pakistan’s new Army doctrine and the Baloch freedom struggle
The people of Balochistan greeted 2013 with a bloodbath inflicted upon them by Pakistan military offensives on the eve of Christmas day 25th December. In this gory operation more 51 person were reportedly killed with several losses of livestock and properties.
Different Baloch organisations having different identities, yet with a shared ideology and purpose – mostly called pro freedom forces – have engaged the occupying Pakistani state in a defensive resistance with sheer determination get rid of Pakistan’s occupation over Balochistan.
The main expression of Baloch resistance is reflected in daily incidents occurring at the length and breadth of Balochistan whereby the state writ is totally challenged. The strength of the Baloch resistance can be measured by objective’s popularity among general public where the “Sarmachars” the freedom fighters, draw their sustenance in obscurity.
The current Mashkay siege, Balochistan operation by Pakistan army and its brutal use of heavy war machines, including three Jets, seven gunship helicopters and seventy military vehicles is a case in point to gauge the popularity of the movement where no one but Pakistan itself has located the source of support for the freedom fighters. What has gone into the heads of the panic stricken Pakistani military establishment is the very nightmarish realisation that Balochistan has virtually gone out of their immoral control. They realised the fact that without Balochistan, Pakistan would go back to ‘Stone Age’ because the immense geopolitical importance and the vast reservoir of natural resources, that Pakistan has been exploiting without any hindrance so far, has come to a halt.
Fire power is no more an only option left for Pakistan to determine the fate of Balochistan. The major credible factor that Pakistan wants to use to take in the international community is a new found doctrine. Whereby the state thinks it might find a solace by posing as a genuine partner willing to work for peace with international community on terrorism. Each and every Pakistani writer and intellectual has tried hard to excel other in performing the feat of offering a best solution to Balochistan crisis how to grapple with the gruesome situation.
The GHQ (General Head Quarters) of Pakistan army never listened to anybody for any solution to what they thought was best for Pakistan future: “Kill and dump Policy”. Army considered this inhuman tactic so far the only best policy that Pakistani generals pursued to deter Baloch insurgency until Najam Sethi doctrine of Isolationism came in picture on Feb 21, 2012. His guideline changed entire Pakistan army security doctrine and took a paradigm shift from east to west regarding Baloch insurgency.
Najam Sethi is one among most prominent Pakistani pro-establishment Journalists. He visited Balochistan as part of ‘London Group’ in 70s and is well-aware of the nature of Baloch resistance. In his famous TV program, Apas ki Baat, the solution he suggested is quell or even crush the Baloch liberation struggle was as follows:
- Isolate “the Baloch insurgents living abroad” by adopting a strategy of carrot and stick. Show them carrot or olive branch by announcing general amnesty and stack does not work unless Push factor of foreign support is in place. Put an end to national security state and stop the proxy war against India, America and Afghanistan. Sethi thinks they are the ones who are assisting Baloch insurgency. He suggests to the military establishment, when you establish good relations with them [the above name countries] and stop supporting the Taliban then the will also stop supporting “Baloch insurgents”. Unless Pakistan’s security establishment struck a peace agreement on East and West borders, there will be no peace in Pakistan and Balochistan crisis will not be resolved, Sethi believes.
The same was also conveyed to India by Pakistan’s foot in mouth interior minister Rehman Malik while talking on alleged Indian interference in Balochistan he said, “We have non-state actors, you have non-state actors, so that we find a way forward.’’ He was attempting to imply that Pakistan was ready to lend her support in peace process if only Baloch are not abetted by neighbouring India.
Then a follow up visit took place by retired Gen Talat Masood, an expert in defence studies. He was sent to convince the Indian intellectual societies against growing support for Baloch freedom movement. According to Masood, “Pakistan expects that with improvement in relations, India would cease supporting the insurgency in Baluchistan. In future, both India and Pakistan could play a constructive role in Afghanistan. They could cooperate in reconstruction activity and promote regional integration.”
It must also be put on record that Baloch people have always rejected Pakistani’s allegations of foreign support to Baloch liberation struggle. Pakistan on its part has also failed to provide a single shred of evidence to back her claims. It can easily be said that allegation against Afghanistan, India and United States are as fabricated as they are against Baloch freedom movement. In other words Pakistan is trying to blackmail the aforementioned countries to accept her hegemony over the region and continue to support her, ignoring that fact when she breeds religious extremist from its Madrisas (religious school) and sends them to blow up buildings, buses and train stations in India and Western capitals.
Exactly the same policy is being pursued by Pakistani security establishment, particularly about the Taliban issue with Afghanistan. Pakistan agreed to support a negotiated settlement of Afghan crisis. As a sign of good will gesture Pakistan started releasing the Taliban leaders from her detentions.
Pakistan recently received a $688 million tranche from US as Coalition Support Fund on December, 28 last year. This amount was given to Pakistan to support the war against Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists; and expect to receive more as reward for the support to a negotiated settlement of Afghan crisis. “Pakistan is working with the United States to facilitate an Afghan-owned and -led reconciliation process,” Dawn News quoted Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to United States.
Now in the scheme of things it seems that a concerted military and diplomatic milieu is in place to contain the freedom movement with a new doctrine of peace with neighbours – to crush the Baloch freedom struggle in isolation. I would rather call it Najam Sethi’s Doctrine.
No wonder internally Pakistani writ has melted away in Balochistan. The very fact that International media and impartial observers are not being allowed to assess the situation in Balochistan registers the case in favour of Baloch freedom loving forces’ argument. They say they have psychologically defeated the state forces employed on Baloch soil and the morally defeated Pakistan is now taking her anger at innocent civilian and non-combats of Balochistan.
The fifth phase of Baloch resistance started almost eleven years ago, and it has achieved tremendous success both at home and abroad. During the course of these eleven years struggle, Baloch have successfully navigated their ship of freedom struggle in the uncharted waters amidst compromises of interests’ of world powers in the region where Baloch homeland is situated. The Baloch national struggle for freedom has also gained a solid ground in the form of popularity in general public and in international media after offering tremendous sacrifices.
Peace is what that Pakistani state is interested in Balochistan the most at any cost, its Chief Justice ordered state officials to use every mean to bring peace in Balochistan during seventy one hearings on missing persons cases. But, it is on record; so far not a single culprit has been arrested in the cases of mutilated dead bodies of Baloch political workers, found dumped on roadsides and desolated areas in Balochistan. Even though the Chief Justice has gone on record and said that Pakistani state security apparatus are involved in human rights abuses in Balochistan.
Last but not least, an additional filthy feature of containing Baloch struggle is the sectarian violence that Pakistan has introduced in the concerted atmosphere of Baloch restraint policy to smear the secular feature of Baloch nationalism. Pakistan’s military intelligence is trying hard to characterise it into a mixture of insurgency and sectarian violence by killing innocent Shia (Hazaras) and kidnapping the Hindu merchants communities in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan and Pakistani media is also at best in supporting such policy that help Pakistan to obscure Baloch secular forces.
So far Pakistan has successfully prevented international media and human rights organisations from visiting Balochistan to assess the on ground realities. However, on Sept 10th last year, a high powered seven member’s delegation the UN Working Groups on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) made a country visit to Pakistan with a limited access to Balochistan to assess the human rights situation there.
As usual, to hoodwink the UN delegation, the state started to use its entire tools to create the impression that Balochistan crisis was an internal matter and that it could be managed by internal efforts. Given its so called judicial activism, the smokescreen of Supreme Court’s concerts in Baloch missing person’s cases was used to prevent United Nations from taking a pragmatic step against human rights violations. The impression was created that Baloch are satisfied with Pakistani federation and its judicial system for delivering justice to them.
It is not the case that Baloch did not explore the democratic or peaceful mean of struggle. Yes they did, but the opposite not only did not listen to them but always pushed them against the wall by accusing them as being foreign agents. The peace in term of security took a new meaning in the mind of Baloch leadership when they felt that their national identity and resources are unsecured within Pakistani compressed federation as they had already exhausted all their options seeking democratic solution within Pakistani federation.
In 1991 when Nawaz sharif was about to resume his second term of office in Islamabad, two full mandated leaders, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugi and Sardar Atuallah Khan Mengal did their Yatra (visit) to Islamabad with a good will gesture, their aim was to find a permanent solution to Balochistan’s chronicle conflict with Islamabad. The then political workers, now the leaders, were hoping that Punjabi leadership would recognise that gesture and a new social contract would be agreed upon within Pakistani federation. Pakistani rulers disappointed the aforementioned Baloch leaders and they came home empty handed.
Later we learned that Punjabi military Junta had no trust in Baloch leadership which has been a clear policy of Pakistan since the occupation of Balochistan. Pakistan wants to loot and plunder Balochistan’s natural resources and keep the people of Balochistan backward and enslaved. Punjabi establishment wants Baloch land minus Baloch people. The Baloch youth have harsh memories of Pakistan’s brutalities against their elders and families. They have learned bitter lessons including not trusting Pakistan at any cost.
The question is that why the Baloch should waste their time, energy and political resources in convincing and entreating the Punjabi generals and politicians. Why should they ask an undemocratic and artificial state to respect democracy and recognise the Baloch people’s right to ownership of their resources? They will prefer to go for the bigger achievement which worth every effort and struggle – which worth dying for – that is a free united and democratic Balochistan.
The new Baloch generation is not welling to abdicate their ancestral rights of being the sole sovereign rulers of their own homeland Balochistan. They want to breathe in new air of freedom as they have started to smell the fragrance of it. They want to see a new dawn as they have already started to see the light after dawn. The Baloch are adamant to continue their struggle for freedom because they have nothing to lose but the shackles of slavery and the bondage of occupation.