Long live free and united Balochistan

Long live free and united Balochistan

Search This Blog


Balochistan: Pakistan's pain in the neck

Balochistan, Pakistan's most disregarded province has been facing world's longest insurgency in the history since 1948. Balochistan is described as world's most dangerous place as abduction, torture and killings by Pakistan army and federal security agencies are regular features. Since decades, Balochis are fighting for their legitimate and licit economic and political rights. Their just fight, however, has also been ignored by influential Western and international media. Thus, this gave birth to a number of separatists groups in the province.

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan. It covers forty four per cent area of Pakistan but has only five per cent population of the country. It borders with Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north and has costal belt of about 750 km. While area of the province is 347,192 sq km, population of Balochistan was estimated to be only 13.16 million in the year 2012. Balochi, Pashtoon and Brahvi are major tribes of Baluchistan. Quetta is capital of Balochistan which is ninth largest city of Pakistan.

As compared to other three provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan remained largely underdeveloped since early days of Pakistan's coming into being. The economy of the province is largely based on production of natural gas, coal and minerals, agriculture and livestock.
Despite a natural resources rich province and located strategically, Balochistan remained least-developed with poverty stricken population and represented extremely low economic indicators as compared to other three provinces of Pakistan, mainly due to centralistic nature of country's federation.
Since resources distribution as well as elected representation in national institutions of Pakistan is based on population proportion and Balochistan has merely five per cent of country's population, the province did not get its due share of economic growth vis-a-vis its size and natural resources contribution to the country.
This led to huge economic disparities in Balochistan and people of the province justly feel being economically and politically exploited by the Punjabi dominated federal government ever since accession to Pakistan on March 27, 1948. Poor surface communication, least infrastructure, lack of basic amenities such as education and health facilities, extreme gulf between rich and poor and virtual non-existence of middle class to pressurize government and nexus between elite class of the province and federal bureaucracy and political leadership are some prime reasons of extreme discontentment and sense of alienation among people of Balochistan since. Above all, China and western multi-national companies are being allowed to virtually loot Balochistan's natural resources in collusion with federal government.
Being economically exploited province of Pakistan, coupled with state run repressive policies against people of Balochistan, several insurgent groups were bound to come into existence to fight for just causes of people of the province, which led to five uprisings in 1947-48, 58-59, 63-69, 1973-77 and 2005-to date by Balochis since 1948.
Balochis's woes were further multiplied with terrorists attacks, particularly on Shias by Sunni radicals and fundamentalists led by Tehrik-e-Talibn, Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi since 1990s, following which over three lakh Shias from the province had migrated to other places in Pakistan. It is estimated that since 2000, over three thousand Shias have also been killed in terrorist attacks in Baluchistan.
In addition, Balochis have also been subjected to forcefully 'disappearance' staged by the Pakistan army, federal and provincial security agencies and according to some human rights organizations about twenty thousand Baloch political activists and sympathizers from the province have disappeared till recently, apparently under army and para military agencies' policy of "kill and dump".
However, province's Home Ministry in its report in 2014 claimed that only 14 people were found 'missing'. Despite approaching the UN and the Supreme Court of Pakistan by human rights activists, "disappearance" being staged by Pakistan military and para military of Balochi 'nationalists' and political activities continued unabated under the nose of highest judiciary of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the ongoing fifth and longest running insurgency in Baluchistan since 2005, started after the rape of a lady doctor working in Pakistan Petroleum Limited, by an army medical officer of Captain rank, in Sui on January 2, 2005. It further got heightened with the killing of prominent Baloch nationalist leader and former Chief Minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, former Governor of Baluchistan (February 15,1973 - January 3, 1974) and Chief Minister of Baluchistan (February 4, 1989 - August 6, 1990) in a Pakistan army's operation in Chalgri area of Bhamboor hills of Dera Bugti district on August 26, 2006 during General Pervez Mushrraf's regime.
As a sequel to "fifth" uprising in Baluchistan, several insurgence groups are still active in the province, fighting for the 'just' cause of Balochi people against the Punjabi dominated Pakistan government's repressive and discriminatory policies against people of Baluchistan. Although banned by the Pakistan government, some of prominent insurgent outlawed groups, presently active are Baloch Liberation Front, Baluchistan Liberation Army, United Baloch Army, and Baloch Republican Army. These groups have considerable support amongst youth of Baluchistan and also attracting educated youth to join and fight against the decades old ongoing oppressive measures of the federal government of the country against people of Balochistan.
Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) was founded by Juma Khan Marri in Damascus, Syria in 1964 as a militant group to fight against Pakistan government for an independent Baluchistan. In its initially years of formation, BLF had support of Iraq, who even had supplied arms during its famous insurgency called Independence Movement of Baluchistan of 1973 to 1977. In 2004 BLF again came into limelight when it killed three Chinese in the province. Since 2004, BLF is being led by Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, who had earlier formed Baloch Students Organization (BSO) in 2002. BLF carried out attacks against Pakistan army and security forces and foreigners working in the province. On April 11, 2015, twenty workers of the Pakistan army's Frontier Works Organization(FWO) working on an army backed dam in Turbat were shot dead by the BLF.
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), formed in 2000 is another prominent Balochi ethnonationalist militant group, which was led by Blaach Marri, until his death in 2007. He was son of veteran Baloch nationalist late Khair Bux Marri. Now BLA is being led by his brother Hyrbyair Marri who lives in self-exile in London. Fighting for greater autonomy, BLA is targeting foreign nationals working in Balochistan, army and para military personnel and installations, natural gas-pipe lines. Pakistan has been accusing India of providing arms and funds to BLA for its fights against Pakistani establishment.
United Baloch Army (UBA) is a splinter group of BLA, which is being led by Mehran Marri, the youngest son of veteran Baloch leader late Khair Bux Marri. Mehran Marri, who has differences with his elder brother and BLA Chief Hyrbyair Marri is accused of stealing BLA's three million dollars and arms worth 800 million (Pak) rupees. UBA is also involved in militant activities for the cause of Balochis. On May 29, 2015, the group reported to have killed twenty two Pushtuns in Mustang district of the province.
Meanwhile, Lashkar-e-Balochistan (LeB), another separatist group is also an offshoot of BLA and came to prominence in 2009. Being led by Javed Mengal, son of former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sardar Attullah Khan Mengal, LeB allegedly have connections with American, British and Indian intelligence agency. In 2012, LeB had taken responsibility for bomb blasts at several places in Lahore, Karachi and Quetta.
Since middle class is virtually non-existent in Balochistan, student organizations played a significant role in uprisings. Baloch Students Organization (BSO) was formed on November 26, 1967. Outlawed in March 13, 2013, at present BSO had three offshoots viz. BSO Pajjar, BSO Mengal and BSO Azad. At present BSO Azad group is most active and its activists had been subjected to maximum brutalities by Pakistani army and security forces. BSO-Azad group has also been target of Pakistani security agencies' policies of "kill and dump". BSO-Azad's Chairman, Zahid Baloch, was abducted by the Pakistani security agencies on March 18, 2014 and his whereabouts are still unknown.
Pakistan, instead of addressing the genuine problems of people of Balochistan and taking corrective measures to mitigate them, has been accusing India of extending financial and material support to Baloch separatist groups. Even, Pakistan army chief, General Raheel Shairf joined anti-Indian chorus on the issue. While addressing a meeting (May 6, 2015-Rawaplindi) of Corps Commanders, he blamed India's external intelligence agency RAW for instigating terrorism in Balochistan.
Pakistan also raised the issue of alleged Indian involvement in Balochistan at international level. During Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif's visit to USA in October 2015, the then Adviser to Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaz Aziz had handed over (Ocotber 22, 2015) three dossiers containing alleged evidence of India's involvement in terrorism activities in the Balochistan and some other parts of Pakistan. Earlier, Pakistan's permanent representative to UN, Dr Maliha Lodhi had also handed over (New York, October 2, 2015) same dossiers to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Nevertheless, it is internationally acknowledged fact that it is only Pakistan who is responsible for decades old insurgency in Balochistan due to its oppressive and repressive policies in the province, following which Balochistan is now pain in the neck of Pakistan.
    Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.


    No comments:

    Post a Comment