By Sajjad Shaukat
A Gallup survey of the UK official body, DFID, conducted on July 20, 2012, disclosed that the vast majority of the Baloch people oppose the idea of an independent Balochistan. This proved quite true when in case of Balochsitan where like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the foreign-backed separatist groups such as the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and Baloch Republican Party (BRA) accelerated their terror-activities by targeting the leaders, offices of Balochistan National Party (BNP) and the National Party (NP) including independent candidates to sabotage the elections 2013. Leaders of these anti-Pakistan organisations and Dr. Allah Nazir propagated that Islamabad has occupied Balochistan. But, despite the boycott-call of elections by the separatist outfits, BNP and NP including several independent candidates participated in the polls, while a majority of the Baloch cast their vote in wake of threats and violent assaults on the polling stations.
It is a good sign for Balochistan that by ignoring the boycott, even those nationalist parties and the Baloch who boycotted the elections 2008, took part in the polls.
In fact, the Baloch separatists who are in minority interpreted the participation of the nationalist parties in polls as a means to strengthen Islamabad’s writ over Balochistan. This has weakened the so-called case of the separatists who were trying to make before the international community that the Baloch people wanted Balochistan’s secession from Pakistan. They knew well that once the popular Baloch nationalist parties reach the parliament and became a part of the provincial government, armed struggle for Balochistan’s independence will lose sympathies and dissipate with the passage of time. They wanted Baloch nationalist parties to boycott elections, and instead support the separatists, waging a bloody war against the security forces.
Due to a number of reasons, a majority of the Baloch and nationalist parties took part in the elections.
In this regard, credit goes to the President of Balochistan National Party (BNP), Sardar Akhtar Mengal returned to Pakistan, and decided to participate in the elections. He is a changed man who has put his past behind on a positive note. He encouraged other Baloch parties and people to participate in the elections.
It is owing to the progressive works of Pak Army in the province that a division has been created among the militant groups’ leaders in Balochistan. Besides other insurgent outfits, rift has especially been widened between the leaders of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and United Balochistan Army (UBA). In this context, UBA leader Zarman Marri was more active on media for projecting Balochistan issue and was less inclined towards militancy, while Harbiyar Marri who wanted total control over BLA and favoured militant activities rather than popular politics, strongly opposed Zarman’s stand. By rejecting Harbiyar Marri’s stand and other extremist Baloch groups in wake of threats by their death squads, Sardar Akhtar Mengal took part in the elections.
As regards the positive role of Army, on 2011, I had visited Balochistan along with other journalists. I saw a number of institutes, set up by army, and these were providing especially technical training to thousands of Balochis. Besides other developments works, Pak Army was also imparting army training to the Baloch youth. The purpose was to bring the Baloch people in the mainstream of the country. I had also a trip to far-flung areas of the province and witnessed various mega projects and mineral sites. I was greatly surprised that no military operation was going on in Balochistan, as propagated by the foreign elements. People told me that some subversive events are being arranged by the minority separatist elements so as to create chaotic situation in the province.
Now, majority of the Baloch persons have understood that Balochistan’s mineral resources and geo-strategic location with deep Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia have further annoyed the US and India because China has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. It is due to multiple strategic designs that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008 seeks to dismember both Pakistan and Iran. Notably, by rejecting US growing pressure, on March 11, 2013 Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the gas pipeline project with Iran. Meanwhile, Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China.
During the trip of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Islamabad, Pakistan and China signed several agreements‚ Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on May 22, this year to strengthen and diversify cooperation in various fields. Besides increase in trade, China would also cooperate with Pakistan in power generation on priority-basis, as Islamabad seeks to end the energy crisis. In a joint press conference, both President Asif Ali Zardari and Premier Li Keqiang supported the proposal of China-Pakistan economic corridor to improve connectivity between Pakistan and Western regions of China. Premier Li Keqiang stated that both sides have decided on a long term programme—a strategic idea, adding: “We hope by pushing forward connectivity…economic corridor will become a reality for the benefit of the two people.” He assured that Beijing was also ready to upgrade Karrakuram Highway and to sign Sino-Pak civilian nuclear deal. He recalled his visit as part of the friendship between the two countries, which was time-tested.
However, under these agreements, Gwadar Port would be connected with China via rail, road and air routes. Beijing would also provide financial aid to Islamabad to complete this project which would also provide employment opportunities to the Baloch people.
Meanwhile, a day before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad; Chinese engineers being driven through Clifton Block-1 in Karachi escaped a major bomb attack.
As a matter of fact, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities from where external secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have perennially been supporting bomb blasts, suicide attacks, abductions, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in other parts of the country—especially in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups such as BLA, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) including other insurgent groups and some Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) to fulfill the secret strategic designs of US, India and Israel at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. Besides martyring several personnel of law-enforcing agencies and security forces in Balochistan, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and massacred many Punjabis, Pushtuns, Shias, people of Hazara community and patriot Balochis including Iranian Shias. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. On a number of occasions, BLA, Jundollah and other separatist groups claimed responsibility for their subversive acts.
In this context, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had indicated, “The bloody actions being committed in Iraq, Pakistan and Iran are aimed at creating a division between the Shias and Sunnis…those who carry out these terrorist actions are directly or indirectly foreign agents.”
In this regard, Pakistan’s former Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik had revealed that he also showed proof about training camps being run in Afghanistan, and supply of arms and ammunition by the Afghan government to Baloch operators inside Balochistan.
It is mentionable that on July 23, 2008, Brahmdagh Bugti told the BBC that they had the right to accept foreign aid and arms from anywhere including India.
Particularly, on February 8, 2012, the hearing of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Dana Rohrabacher discussed target killings and human rights violations in Balochistan, blaming Pakistan’s security agencies. He also favoured an independent Balochistan. It has exposed US covert move regarding Balochistan.
Moreover, with the help of Baloch separatist leaders who have taken refuge in western countries, US-led entities are launching false campaign to distort the image of Islamabad and its security agencies.
Nonetheless, army’s positive steps will increase income of the Baloch youth and reduce their dependence on sardars. Now patriot Balochis have come to know that Pak Army is neither mercenary nor occupying force, while external-backed insurgency has hampered the growth and development of the province.
As media have played a key role in pointing out the real situation of instability in Balochistan, so Baloch people also know that the feudal lords who have been fighting for their own so-called status, prestige and influence, do not want to give up the old system of feudalism. They are now well-aware that with the assistance of US-led India and Israel, these anti-Pakistan elements are inciting them for independence of the province, while a majority of the Baloch people has rejected the separation of Balochistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs