By Sajjad Shaukat
Although some foreign elements have been maintaining unanimity among various Baloch militant groups to continue subversive acts in the province of Balochistan in order to dismember Pakistan, yet besides other insurgent outfits, rift has especially been widened between the leaders of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and United Balochistan Army (UBA) due to personal rivalries and jealousies.
Harbiyar Marri’s lust for power and desire to exercise total control over BLA so as to project himself as its absolute leader compelled Zarman Marri to establish his own militant outfit, namely, UBA which was formed with the approval of Khair Bux Marri. And formation of UBA has diluted the collective power of BLA.
It is notable that Zarman is brother-in-law of separatist leader, Brahamdagh Bugti, having close relationship with him, while the BRA-UBA nexus through Brahamdagh, has resulted into the joint militant activities such as targeted killings, suicide attacks, bomb blasts, hostage-takings and assaults on the security personnel including Hazara communities. Their militants kidnapped and massacred many innocent people—teachers, professors, lawyers etc. Besides targeting Punjabis and other ethnic minorities in the province, they also kidnapped Iranian and Chinese nationals. They arranged subversive acts in the Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. In this regard, Tehran had directly named CIA for funding of terrorist attacks.
However, these insurgent groups which are being supported by American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have claimed responsibility for many acts of sabotage. Based in Afghanistan, these secret agencies also supply arms and weapons to these separatist elements, as Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly disclosed this fact. In the recent past, Rehman Malik disclosed that during his trip to Afghanistan, he insisted upon President Hamid Karzai to close Baloch training camps. In that background, Brahmdagh Bugti and some other Baloch so-called nationalists left Afghanistan and went to some western countries. Especially, on July 23, 2008, Brahmdagh Bugti told the BBC that they had the right to accept foreign aid and arms from anywhere including India.
Nevertheless, there are various reasons of growing differences between BRA and UBA. Previously Zarman Marri was more active on media for projecting Balochistan issue and was less inclined towards militancy, while Harbiyar Marri who favours militant activities rather than popular politics, strongly opposed Zarman’s stand.
Another cause of rift between BLA and UBA is over arms and ammunition. Militants who joined UBA took along with them weapons and ammunition, while arms dumped in Kahan area were also taken by UBA. Harbiyar tried his best to retrieve these arms, but his efforts failed.
Reports indicate that there is a trust deficit between Brahamdagh and Harbiyar over Rs. 60 million, which Harbiyar reneged, while divergence exists between the leaders of BLA and UBA over foreign-funds which were provided by the US and India.
In fact, majority of Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) are struggling against each other to have lion’s share out of enormous resources of Balochistan. For this purpose, many militant groups have developed linkages with anti-Pakistan secret agencies and foreign countries which have rivaling eyes on the resources of Balochistan. Nevertheless, it is also the major cause of fracture between BLA and UBA.
Notably, foreign supporters of Baloch separatists have accelerated acts of sabotage in the province through their affiliated-militants, as recently Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China. Therefore, propaganda campaign against Islamabad has also been intensified by the external entities.
In this context, with Indian support including other foreign elements, every year, anti-state Baloch insurgent groups launch a protest demonstration in London against Pakistan, and country’s security agencies, raising false allegations of death squads and human rights violations in the province. In this respect, arrangements for the pre-planned rally in London which was executed recently, made on larger scale by anti-Pakistan forces, especially India.
Besides rallies in some western countries, in 2012, a demonstration was held outside the United Nations in Genva on the occasion of the 19th Session of UN Human Rights Council to condemn human rights violations in Balochistan. The demonstrators accused Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies of extrajudicial killings. Apparently, the demonstration was organised and led by Mehran Baloch, Balochistan’s representative at the UN and Noordin Mengal, but, in fact, it was arranged by the anti-Pakistan NGOs, human rights groups and Indo-Israeli lobbies with American covert help.
Baloch so-called leaders like Mehran Baloch and Hyrbiyar Marri, while interacting with foreign media stated that for the independence of Balochistan, they would also welcome help from India. Like Americans, they also opposed Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project. Notably, by rejecting US growing pressure and defying the threat of sanctions, on March 11, this year, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the gas pipeline project with Iran.
Particularly in February, 2012 three American Congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher, Louie Gohmert and Steve King tabled a bill before the US Congress, calling for the right of self-determination for Balochistan, while blaming Pakistan’s security institutes for extrajudicial killings. American government distanced itself from these Congressmen, but the move had covert support of some US officials.
While, speaking in tone of foreign elements and their propaganda, Baloch leader, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal who returned to Pakistan, raised similar accusations against Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), and emphasised the right of self-determination for Balochsitan.
It is mentionable that 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.
Nonetheless, tribalism is firmly rooted in Balochistan because ethnic and tribal identity is a strong element for both individuals and groups. Hence, deep polarisation among different groups exists, as they have different rules of social organisation.
Now, instead of resolving this issue with other Baloch sub-nationalist leaders including his father Khair Bux Marri and his brother Zarman Marri, Harbiyar Marri reportedly relies on the counsel of their commanders for reconciliation. But differences have so deepened among them that there is no chance of reconciliation.
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