The Blochistan Imbroglio And Balkanization Of Pakistan

By: Javed Chaudhry

The US Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs recently held a meeting showing concern on target killings and human rights violations in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan. The disappearance of the ethnic Baloch appeared to be the main concern of the committee. It is not known if any one has reminded the committee members about the disappearance of Dr. Afia Siddiqi from Karachi several years ago as part of the war on terror. Under the pretext of the war on terror, it has been alleged that Pakistan’s military administration under Gen. Musharraf has arrested hundreds of Pakistani citizens and the where about of most of them is unknown to this day. Dr. Afia Siddiqi was discovered quite accidentally by a British journalist in a CIA run prison at Bagram Airbase near Kabul, Afghanistan. Dr. Afia Siddiqi is now serving a prison term of 84 years in the USA. No one knows how and why was she kidnapped from her home in Karachi and how she ended up in a CIA prison in Afghanistan. To this day there is no word on her small children – all this happened to serve the American war on terror which was forced on Pakistan in September 2001.

After killing well over a million innocent civilians in Iraq and thousands in Libya, all of a sudden, the Americans appear to have developed a special concern for the well being of the people of Balochistan. While the Americans are showing concern for the human rights violations in Balochistan, the CIA drones continue to kill innocent people in the Pakistani tribal area of Vazirestan under the pretext of eliminating Al-Qaeda. It is worth noting here that the CIA was adamant quite recently, for deploying drones in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan. The American congressional committees appear to be quite immune to the Indian atrocities in Kashmir which has been going on for decades. Obviously, the US has no reason to take an interest in the plight of the Kashmiris because Kashmir offers no strategic or geo-political importance to the American imperial geo-political aspirations. Also, it does not suit the Americans to raise the question of human rights in Kashmir with India, their new best friend in South East Asia. Balochistan, on the other hand, being the Gateway to the Central Asia can offer several strategic benefits to the American stretegic plans in the region. The struggle to conquer and to control the route from Arabian Sea to the Caspian region, dubbed as the Great Game, has been played for over 150 years by the Russians and the British Empire, and now being played by the Americans.

In order to realize full benefit from Balochistan, it would be highly desirable for the US to carve the province out of Pakistan’s map and install a few local puppets as the leaders just as has been done in Pakistan, Afghanistan Iraq and Libya. Regarding Balochistan, the American imperial designs may be similar to what the British East India company adopted in mid 18th century in Bengal, the eastern province of India. Mir Jaffer, a local leader joined the British forces to defeat the legitimate local government in the battle of Plassy in 1757. It appears that there are several Baloch Sardars (Chieftains) willing to repeat the historical role of Mir Jaffar of Bengal. The only difference however, is that the game would be played according to the modern neo-colonial rules; whereby the battle of Plassy would be replaced by suitable resolutions by the US congress to be followed and ratified by the UN resolutions, just as it was done to invade Afghanistan and Libya.

Blochistan has about 43% of the total Pakistani land mass with a population of only 8 million, with a literacy rate of 16%. The total population of Pakistan is about 180 million. None of the Pakistani central governments since its inception in 1947 has dealt with the Bloch issues seriously and intelligently. The rebellious and radical elements have always existed in that province on the behest of various Sardars who did not wish to give up the primitive Sardari (tribal) system purely for selfish reasons.

The bad situation became worse when KGB, assisted byIndia, created BLA (Blochistan Liberation Army) in1980s during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The KGB plan was to create a political and administrative diversion for Pakistan in order to diminish its capacity to provide covert help to the Afghan freedom fighters fighting against the Soviets. The creation of BLA did not help the Soviets in any meaningful way but it has turned out to be a long term political headache in Blochistan against the federation of Pakistan. Due to the mismanagement of the successive Pakistan governments, the radical elements have only multiplied during the last 30 years.

The Balochistan issue has taken a new turn on the international political chessboard under the American cross-hair since 9/11. Politically and economically, Pakistan has become for all practical purposes, a country occupied by the US since September 2001, when General Musharraf, the president of Pakistan agreed to become the US ally in the invasion of Afghanistan. Gen. Musharraf was only too happy to accept the US demands in order to legitimize his own rule which he had acquired by staging a military coup against a democratically elected government. The Bush–Musharraf relationship would soon run into difficulties as Gen. Musharraf was reluctant to go along with the Bush administration on matters of supporting large scale army operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas and allowing uncontrolled drone attacks.

After a few years into the invasion of Afghanistan, it became obvious that the real reason for the American invasion was not what was originally stated, the US had other, unstated geo-political plans for the region. A careful study of the US military actions taken in various countries after 9/11 clearly indicates its imperial plans to control the natural resources and the strategic routes to access the energy-rich regions. The invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are open proofs for that while the attack on Iran is in the offing. The American invasion of Afghanistan took place under the false pretext of bringing justice to Osama bin Laden and to eliminate Al-Qaeda. According to a BBC [1] documentary, Al-Qaeda is an illusive and controversial entity, the existence of which is hard to apprehend, generally considered to be nothing more than an imaginary entity invented by the CIA.

The US wants to establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan and a direct unimpeded rout from Arabian Sea, through Balochistan and Afghanistan into Central Asia, an important source for oil and gas for the future. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to see an economically weak and politically destabilized Pakistan that would be willing to give up Balochistan or at least barter away the natural gas and mineral rights of Balochistan to offset IMF debts. That is exactly what the editor of Indian Defense Review [2] has wished for, a destabilized Pakistan. Pakistan, under a heavy debt load is steadily moving to that dreadful consequence. To this end, the Bush administration sponsored the regime change in Pakistan in order to replace Gen. Musharraf with a team that would be lot more compliant to the American wishes than Gen. Musharraf could ever be. A regime that would serve the American interests wholeheartedly compromising Pakistan’s national interests at all costs rendering Pakistan a hopelessly debt ridden state ready to fall apart.

The Regime Change in Pakistan

The regime change negotiations were initiated in 2007. In 2008, the new regime under the presidency of Asif Ali Zardari took over from Gen. Musharraf. The details of the regime change are described in a recently published book by Rice [3]. The US supported government under president Zardari has obediently used Pakistan’s military resources against its own people in Vaziristan and (according to WikiLeaks) has allowed the CIA to carry out drone attacks with impunity. Under the pretext of the American war on terror, the Zardari government has made the American war Pakistan’s own. This action had no strategic impact on the US-NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan but has proved to be extremely disruptive for Pakistan’s social life and has decimated its economy. Quite predictably, it has created numerous radical elements from Vaziristan to Balochistan, causing Pakistan’s destabilization leading to a breakdown of law and order and creating a state of anarchy. The conditions are rapidly moving towards supporting a civil war leading to a possible Balkanization of Pakistan with emphasis on carving Balochistan out of Pakistan’s map.

Pakistan’s debt at the beginning of the present US supported Zardari regime was just over 6000 billion rupees, now after just 4 years it has reached 12000 billion and rising steadily. While serving the American interests in the region, Pakistan has lost ten times more of its own hard earned money and assets, only to receive a chicken-feed of a financial help from the US. As a result of Pakistan’s participation in the American fraudulent war on terror, over 30 000 Pakistani’s have lost their lives due to either the CIA drone attacks or the hundreds of terror attacks that have taken place in the country ever since the US has set foot in the region and coerced Pakistan to call the American war its own.

A brief review of Balochistan history under the British Empire

The partial destabilization in the country has provided ample opportunity for foreign powers to fund and arm BLA and hoards of other mercenaries are busy in ethnic cleansing and terrorism. Balochistan’s population includes the people of various ethnic backgrounds where Baloch (including Bruhis) make about 55% while there are 30% Pashtoons and 6% Sindhis, among others.

A brief review of the history of Blochistan since the last half of the 19th century would be desirable to shed some light on the claims being made by various Bloch Sardars (tribal leaders or chieftains). The British forces in India started its aggressive military activities in the region that lies west of River Sind in order to control Afghanistan against the Russian interests – the well known political struggle popularly known as ‘The Great Game’. For these activities, British forces needed a safe and trouble free enclave in Balochistan from which to launch their offensives against Afghanistan. Blochistan was divided into several small districts under various feudal Sardars (Chieftains) and warlords constantly fighting against each other to expand their territories. The British Indian Empire made contacts with Balochistan for the first time in 1839. The district of Kalat was chosen for this purpose due to its geographical location for being close to Quetta, on route to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The ruler of Kalat, Mehrab Khan refused to accommodate the British interests. British forces invaded Kalat and killed Mehrab Khan. A permanent political agent was posted in Kalat in 1854. In 1874, the British Indian government sent Sir Robert Sandeman [4] to Balochistan and a treaty with Khudadad, Khan of Kalat took place in 1876, bringing Kalat under British sovereignty. By 1887, all territories in Balochistan were declared to be under British control. In order to settle troubles between various sradars (chieftains) and the Khan of Kalat, in 1940, the territories of Kharan, Makran and Lasbela were recognized as separate minor states under the direct control of the British Political Agent [5].

Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the preposterous claims made by some Bloch chieftains to declare the province of Blochistan a separate state, pretending to be independent of and unaffected by the 1947 charter of is the result of inapt handling of Pakistan’s successive central governments. The division (of Indian subcontinent) was on the religious basis and not on ethnic lines. The territories under the British Indian Empire were supposed to be transferred to the states of Pakistan and India, except a few princely states, such as Kashmir, Hyderabad and Gawaliar, which were given a choice to remain independent or merge with the two newly created States.

Balkanization of Pakistan

Today, the American imperial interests are no different from the British Indian Empire of 19th and 20th century. The Great Game is being rejuvenated with ever more vigor and vitality. In September 2001, the Bush administration had obtained the UN Security Counsel sanction to attack Afghanistan without providing a proof that Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda or Afghanistan had any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan was coerced to join in the so called American war on terror. Pakistan army operations in its tribal area and the CIA drone attacks have created radical elements responsible for wide spread terrorism in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden is dead and as far as the existence and operation of Al-Qaeda is concerned, this illusive organization magically appears in the news only when required by the American strategic interests. The big question now is what exactly is the US doing in Afghanistan? What can it achieve now that it could not in the last 10 years? The only logical answer is that the US is testing the Afghan Taliban’s patience and hoping they would allow the US to build and maintain several permanent military bases in Afghanistan to stay close to the Central Asia and defend the pipeline proposed by UNOCAL 12 years ago; the primary reason for the invasion of Afghanistan after the US negotiations broke down with the Taliban prior to the incident of 9/11.

Apart from controlling the Afghan territory, the US may also be interested in Pakistan’s political destabilization leading to total anarchy and pandemonium creating an atmosphere ready for dismemberment of various provinces, especially Balochistan. With the American military bases in Afghanistan, a direct American control of Balochistan would be highly desirable to advance their plans for the global hegemony. This explains the reason for covert funding to several separatist Baloch Sardars (chieftains), the existence of numerous Baloch separatists websites and propaganda centers in several western cities, including London, New York and Toronto.

Furthermore, it would be helpful for the US to make a case to remove Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, if the country becomes a weak, destabilized and bankrupt state. Under the leadership of the American sponsored Pakistan’s central government, the country and its institutions are being destroyed systematically. No positive step is being taken to control the turmoil and disorder that has been raging in Balochistan, Karachi and several other cities.

In the recent US congressional committee hearing on foreign affairs, Dr. M. Hosseinbor, a Baloch nationalist as a witness at the hearing [6] told the committee that the Baloch were natural US allies and would like to share the Gwadar Port with the United States, would not allow the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline through their lands and will fight the Taliban as well. Naturally, he parroted what the Americans would like to hear. It is these kinds of people with short term plans and myopic thinking who once lost the whole of Indian subcontinent to the British traders, the British East India Company. There is evidence [7] that the Indian intelligence agency RAW is funding and training saboteur in Balochistan from their various consulates in Afghanistan.

There are only a handful of Baloch Sardars (chieftains) who are demanding for separation. A very large percentage of Balochistan population is illiterate and traditionally follow their tribal chieftains. The Pashtoons and others who make up 45% of Balochistan’s population do not support the separation movement.

In Balochistan, the anarchy is escalating to a level that once existed in East Pakistan just before it broke away to become Bangladesh. Once again the Punjabi Army is being blamed for the troubles brewing in Balochistan. It should be interesting to note that the size of Pakistan armed forces is about 550,000 personnel. The number of Punjabis in the armed forces is 56% of the total while the population of Punjabi speaking people in Pakistan is about 65%-70%.

General Kyani, the chief of army staff has categorically denied any army operations taking place in Balochistan. There are several organized militant groups operating [8] in Balochistan creating the turmoil, such as: Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Republican Army and Balochistan Liberation Front.

Inferences and Way Forward

It is important to recognize that crisis arising from religious or ethnic disparities cannot be resolved by force. Structured dialog in good faith is a pre-requisite to negotiate through differences with honor and fairness. The rebel Baloch Sardars should be invited for negotiations or legal actions should be taken if they continue to disrupt life in Balochistan and elsewhere.

It is important to bear in mind that the Baloch make hardly 3% of the total population of Pakistan. They cannot be allowed to blackmail the 97% of the total population in their secessionist movement at gun-point in an attempt to carve out 43% of the total Pakistan land mass. It is nevertheless, important to pay attention to their grievances and reasonable demands; they should be dealt with fairness as any other segment of Pakistan’s population in any other province. There are no parallels between Balochistan and East Pakistan.

In order to create local disturbance, some Baloch Sardars are attempting to close down the Chamlang coal mines to make 75000 workers unemployed. All such efforts must be opposed strongly by the central government.

For Pakistan’s own peace and stability, it must distance itself from the American fraudulent war on terror and declare it’s neutrality in the US invasion of Afghanistan. The participation in this war has cost Pakistan much too much for its economy and has created social, ethnic and provincial strife.

Pakistan should open the American container traffic through its territory, but must charge a tariff for the use of the facility.

Pakistan must stop the CIA drone attacks in Vazeristan or anywhere on its territory. It is high time for Pakistanis to take appropriate action against the government or all those individuals who compromise Pakistan’s national interests.

Industrial projects, especially the mining of natural resources and exploration test drilling for oil must be started in Balochistan offering first priority for employment and contract work to the people of the province. Appropriate changes must be introduced in the constitution of Pakistan to recognize the federation as the owner of all the natural resources with a right to delegate the management of the resource to the province of the origin where appropriate. The overall national federation income must be distributed among all the provinces with full equity and fairness.

Pakistan must get rid of the rental power plants and immediately try to procure cheaper electricity from wherever possible. The country has got to put its people back to work which was interrupted by the American war and the related consequences.

The recently held US congressional committee hearing on Balochistan should leave no doubt for speculation that severing Balochistan from Pakistan would be a desirable step for the US imperial design in support of The Great Game.

References:

1. BBC Documentary –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-hYorNi0nA&feature=related

2. Indian Defense Review, Sept 11, 2008
http://www.indiandefencereview.com/2008/09/stable-pakistan-not-in-indias-interest.html

3. Rice, Condoleezza, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in
Washington, Crown Publishers, New York. 2011

4. Tucker, A. L. P; Sir Robert G. Sandeman – Peaceful Conqueror of Baluchistan; Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge, London. 1921

5. http://www.britishempire.co.uk/maproom/baluchistan.htm

6. Opinion Maker.Org
http://www.opinion-maker.org/2012/02/stunt-hearing-on-balochistan/
7. Pakistan Daily, Sept 20, 2009
http://www.daily.pk/proof-captured-ttp-terrorists-admit-to-being-indian-raw-agents-11015/

8. The News, August 26, 2011.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=64747&Cat=2 

*NOTE:THIS IS A CROSS POST FROM COUNTERCURRENTS.ORG

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Comments

  • K. Hussan Zia  On February 22, 2012 at 8:04 am

    By reperating something often in the media over a period of time any situation can be made to be accepted as the truth. The portrayal of Baluchis as victims of usurpation and mal-treatment by the rest of the country is a classic example. Exactly how have the Baluchis got an unfair deal is never spelt out in any detail. If it is about the distribution of resources by the federal government, with less than five per cent of Pakistan’s population the province receives nine per cent of the total federal funds allocation. How can this be a raw deal? If it is about exploitation of provincial resources, the rules for this are laid down in the Constitution and are same for all the provinces, as they should be. If Baluchistan feels it has been unfairly treated it should go to the Supreme Court with relevant proof for redress —- an option that has never been exercised perhaps because there is no basis to it.

    We need to define the problem clearly before we can discuss any solutions. It is true the situation concerning law and order, education, health and job creation in the province lags behind the rest. All of these subjects fall under the purview of the provincial govt. which has almost always been in Baluchis hands. If blame is to be assigned it should be laid mostly, if not completely, on persons that have ruled the province as representatives of the Baluchi people in all this time.
    By resorting to terrorism and collaboration with foreign powers the traitors acting in the name of Baluchi nationalism have killed or evicted most of the teachers, doctors and professional people with non-Baluchi ethnicity. No sane person is going to even think of making an investment in the province in the conditions that have been allowed to be created by them. Thousands of jobs have been lost because of schools, hospitals and business closures and prospects for the future rendered bleak. This is not the work of the centre or any of the other provinces.

    The Baluchis must realise that the people who have created the present situation are not their friends and do not have their best interest at heart. Most of them have sold their souls or, at best, are in it only for themselves. The rest are too gullible or ill-informed and have fallen prey to a false sense of nationalism which is not helping the cause of either Baluchistan or Pakistan. This is an aspect that is being consciously or unconsciously side-stepped or ignored by the media. Why this should be so is anyone’s guess.

  • panzu  On February 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Panzu.

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