Friday, December 31, 2004

Musharraf: What about Baluchistan?

The Pakistani case for Kashmir no longer rests on religion; the Bengali rebellion and secession in 1971 did that argument in. It now rests upon the more exalted principle of self-determination. That is what their friends abroad and in India wax eloquent about. The Pakistanis no longer harp about Indian perfidies in Junagadh and Hyderabad. Free elections, full integration and the sheer fact of Hindus being the major community in these two onetime princely states has put paid to that. But Kashmir still dogs us. It is predominantly Muslim and the demand for self-determination has us confused. Isn't that what democracy is all about?

But the irony is that Pakistan is the champion of self-determination when its own people do not enjoy any democratic rights. The three pillars upon which the Pakistani State rests are Allah, Army and America. The people of Pakistan do not figure in this scheme at all. The Pakistani leaders want a diplomatic engagement with us on Jammu and Kashmir again. Their prime minister has once again donned the cloak of democracy that hangs outside General Pervez Musharraf's bunker. But we must not shirk from talking about self-determination with them. It is two edged and cuts both ways. Let us take the case of Baluchistan.

The Pakistani province of Baluchistan is a mountainous desert area of about 3.5 lakh sq kms and has a population of over 7.5 million or about as much as Jammu and Kashmir's population. It borders Iran, Afghanistan and its southern boundary is the Arabian Sea with the strategically important port of Gwadar on the Makran coast commanding approach to the Straits of Hormuz. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan. The population consists mainly of Baluch and Pathans. Like the Kurds, the Baluch are also a people ignored by the makers of modern political geography. There is an Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan spread over an area of 1.82 lakh sq kms and with a population of over 2.5 million. Its capital is Zahedan.

Through most of their history the Baluch administered themselves as a loose tribal confederacy. The Baluch are an ancient people. In 325 BC, after his abortive India campaign, as Alexander made his way back to Babylon through the Makran desert, the Greeks suffered greatly at the hands of marauding Baluchis. The legend has it that they originally came from near Aleppo in Syria and there is much linguistic evidence to suggest that they belong to the same Indo-European sub-group as the Persians and Kurds. They came into Islam under the shadow of the sword of Mohammad bin Qasim's conquering Arab army in 711 AD.

Whatever be their origins, by 1000 AD they were well settled in their present homeland. The poet Firdausi records them in the Persian epic, the Book of Kings, thus: 'Heroic Baluches and Kuches we saw/Like battling rams all determined on war.' As relatively late arrivals in the region, the Baluchis had to battle earlier occupants of the lands such as the Brahui tribes who still abound around Kalat. The Brahui language belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and is close to Tamil. Quite clearly, the Brahuis are the only Dravidian survivors in northern India, after the Aryan invasion.

A restless people, the Baluchis naturally pushed eastwards towards the more fertile regions watered by the Indus river, but were halted by the might of the Mughals. But we still have reminders of the many Baluchi incursions in the names of towns like Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan in the Punjab and NWFP. Unlike the Dravidians of Mohenjodaro and Harappa who disappeared without a trace, the Brahuis made one last hurrah when they asserted their power in Kalat.

By the 18th century Kalat was the dominant power in Baluchistan and the Khan of Kalat was the ruler of the entire region. But the Brahuis paid for it by getting assimilated into the majority Baluchis. The Brahui language still survives in small pockets but only by just. My late father who served in British India's Defence Services Staff College at Quetta in the early 1940s would often tell me of hearing local tribesmen serving in the Staff College speaking a language that sounded remarkably like Tamil!

The British first came to the region in 1839 on their way to Kabul when they sought safe passage. In 1841 they entered into a treaty with Kalat. In the wake of Lord Auckland's disastrous invasion of Afghanistan, the British annexed Sind in a mood, Mountstuart Elphinstone said, was that 'of a bully who had been kicked in the streets and then goes home to beat the wife in revenge!' The British annexed Sind in 1843 from the Talpur Mirs, a Baluchi dynasty.

On June 27, 1839 Ranjit Singh died and within 10 years his great prophecy on being shown a map with British possessions in India in 'ek din sab laal ho jayega!' came to be true. After the formal surrender of the Sikhs on March 29, 1849 and the annexation of Punjab, the British now had a long border with the Baluchis. But learning from their disastrous experience with the Afghans they preferred to keep out of harm's way on Baluchi assurances of the inviolability of their borders.

In 1876, the British however forced another treaty on the Baluchis and forced the Khan of Kalat to lease salubrious Quetta to them. The Khan's writ still ran over Baluchistan, but now under the watchful but benign eye of a British minister. That the Khan of Kalat was not considered another insignificant prince was in the fact that he was accorded a 19-gun salute. With security assured and largely unfettered domestic power the Khan led lavish and often eccentric lifestyles. One Khan collected shoes, and to ensure the safety of his collection had all the left shoes locked in a deep dungeon of his fort in Kalat!

Whatever the whimsicalities of the Khans of Kalat, like the rulers of Hyderabad and Kashmir, they enjoyed the greatest degree of autonomy possible under the system established by the British as long as whimsy was within reason and not inimical to British interests. This arrangement prevailed till 1947. The urge to be independent rulers burned equally bright in all three of them. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, went further than Hari Singh of Kashmir and Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad. He declared independence, while the other two dithered and allowed events to overtake them. Unlike in Hyderabad, it was apparent that the population largely supported the Khan.

The Baluchis, like the Pathans of NWFP, were not too enthused with the idea of Pakistan. In the NWFP the separatist Muslim League led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah was actually rejected in elections. Yet eight months after the Khan's assertion of independence the Pakistanis forcibly annexed Baluchistan. But Baluchi aspirations for an independent state were not quelled completely. In 1973 a war of independence broke out in Baluchistan.

For five long years there was total war. At its peak the Baluchis raised a force of 55,000 combatants. Nearly six Pakistan Army divisions were deployed to fight them. The Pakistan Air Force was also deployed and its Mirage and Sabre fighter jets carried out strikes all over rural Baluchistan. Widespread use of napalm has been documented by scholars like Robert Wirsing of the University of Texas and Selig Harrison. Iran too joined in the military action and Huey Cobra helicopter gunships of its Army Aviation were widely used. By the time the last pitched battle was fought in 1978 5,000 Baluchi fighters and 3,000 Pakistani soldiers had died. Civilian casualties were many times that. The Baluchi war for independence was crushed, but the aspirations still flicker.

Speaking at the 57th session of the Commission of Human Rights at Geneva between March 9 and April 27, 2001, Mehran Baluch, a prominent Baluch leader said: 'Our tragedy began in 1947, immediately after the creation of Pakistan. The colonialist army of Pakistani Punjab forcibly occupied Kalat at gunpoint.' Even now a struggle continues in Baluchistan. Leading Baluchi leaders like Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Sardar Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, heads of the three great Baluch clans, have been leading protests over the economic exploitation of the region's great natural resources to the exclusion of the local people. Marri and hundreds of his supporters are under arrest.

Till 1977 the Indira Gandhi government actively worked for the democratic aspirations of the Baluchis and Pathans. Baluchi fighters were trained in the deserts of Rajasthan. We also provided them with financial and diplomatic assistance. With Bangladesh free, Indira Gandhi reckoned that Sind, Baluchistan and Pakhtunistan should follow.

After her electoral defeat in 1977, Vajpayee as the Janata government's foreign minister made his first misguided and woolly-headed attempt to normalize relations with Pakistan. We now remember Lahore as his first, but that is not correct. Indian support to various movements struggling for self-determination in Punjabi-dominated Pakistan was withdrawn. L K Advani was as much a comrade in arms then as he is now for he did not protest even when G M Syed's Jiye Sind movement was betrayed. He was quite pleased with being able to go to his hometown of Karachi and visit his old school.

Vajpayee's assurances to Zia, the man who initiated the policy of 'death by a thousand cuts' to destroy India, ensured that the Baluchis were forced to leave their camps in Rajasthan and all financial, military and diplomatic assistance was cut. Even though the Janata Party regime did not last very long, the damage was done. Now the Pakistanis want to talk to us about self-determination.

July 14, 2003

Talks on Balochistan likely next month

KARACHI, Dec 30: Talks between the federal government team and a dialogue committee representing a four-party alliance to sort out issues relating to Balochistan are expected to be held sometime in January , Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, a leader of the Balochistan National Party, said on Thursday.

He said he was informed about the programme by the government-nominated team headed by PML Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain.

However, he added, the date and venue for the talks had not yet been finalized. Mr Bizenjo said the main issues to be taken up at the talks would be Gawadar port, cantonments and provincial autonomy

Announcement : Seminar to be held at Turbat BSO (united)

Seminar at Turbat BSO (united)

According to the Central press release Of Baloch Students Organization (BSO) (united) a Seminar is going to be held in Turbat on 1st of January 2005 and the topic is('' Baloch rajee junz ay deem rohee ah baloch ezmkar oh baloch aadub ay kird". ) ("The Role of Baloch Singer and Literature in the Progress of Baloch Nationalism".)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

OGDC, Mari Gas awarded oil exploration licences

KARACHI: The Government of Pakistan has granted four petroleum
exploration licences with two being granted to both Oil and Gas
Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) and Mari Gas Company Ltd (MGCL) and
the remaining two to OGDCL only.

This was stated in a press release issued by the Ministry of
Petroleum on Wednesday.

Two of these licences for Block Nos 2968-3 (Kohlu) and 2969-7
(Kalchas), both in Zone-II, covering an area of 2459.11 square kms
and 2068.32 square kms, respectively, have been awarded to Oil and
Gas Development Company and Mari Gas Company.

The remaining two viz, 3072-2 (Bagh) Zone-II and 2763-2 (Shahana)
Zone-I, covering an area of 1036.51 square kms and 2445.06 square
kms, respectively have been awarded to OGDCL only.

The Kohlu and Kalchas areas lie in Kohlu and Dera Bugti Agencies,
Districts Barkhan and DG Khan of Punjab/ Balochistan province,
whereas Bagh area falls in Districts Jhang and Toba Tek Singh of
Punjab province and Shahana in Districts Kharan and Panjgur,

A minimum firm investment of over $29.32 million and a contingent
investment of $16.50 million would be made in the said four blocks.

During the initial term of these licences, OGDCL shall carry out G&G
studies, gravity survey, seismic acquisition, its data processing
and interpretation thereof.

OGDCL has also planned drilling of three exploration wells in second
licence year in Kohlu and Kalchas blocks.

The licences and the Petroleum Concession Agreements were signed by
Ahmed Waqar, Secretary Petroleum and Natural Resources on behalf of
President of Pakistan, G A Sabri, Director General Petroleum
Concessions, Najam K Hyder, Managing Director OGDCL and Lt Gen
(Retd) Muhammad Janjua, Managing Director MGCL.


By B Raman

1. The anti-Islamabad unrest in Balochistan continues unabated.

2. As already pointed out in our earlier articles on this subject, the unrest is, inter alia, due to anger over the suppression of the nationalist aspirations of the Balochs by the Government in Islamabad, the lack of economic development in the province despite the fact that its gas fields, which sustain the economy of Punjab, are a major source of revenue, the continuing failure of the Pakistan Government to give to the provincial administration and the tribes in whose territory gas was found an adequate payment of royalty for the gas supplied to the other provinces of Pakistan, the non-association of the provincial authorities with the decision-making on the construction of the Gwadar port on the Mekran coast with Chinese assistance, the award of almost all contracts relating to the project to non-Balochs, mainly Punjabis, the import of Punjabis and other non-Balochs, many of them ex-servicemen, into the province to work in the project and the plans of the military-dominated administration in Islamabad to construct three new cantonments in the province in order to increase the number of troops permanently stationed there.

3. The continuing unrest, which is mainly directed against the Army and the central Government authorities and the gas production and supply infrastructure, was reflected in another attack by the Baloch nationalist elements on para-military personnel deployed in the province on December 25, 2004, coinciding with the 128th birth anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

4. Four men of the Frontier Corps (FC) were killed and as many injured in an ambush in the Buleda area of the Trubat district, about 650 kilometres west of Quetta, the provincial capital. According to the FC officials, two of their vehicles carrying 14 personnel were attacked by unidentified persons with automatic weapons. They also fired several rockets. The officials said that the attack was so fierce and sudden that the FC patrol could not retaliate and the attackers were able to escape after the ambush.

5. Shortly after the ambush, a person who identified himself as Azad Baloch of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) reportedly telephoned media offices in Quetta and claimed that the BLA had carried out the ambush in protest against the plans of the Pakistani Army to set up three more cantonments in the province. He warned that such attacks would continue if the Army went ahead with its plans. He also claimed that 17 members of the FC were killed in the ambush and not four as stated by an FC spokesman.

6.Earlier this month, 11 persons, including an army soldier, were killed when a powerful bomb exploded at a crowded market place in Quetta. While claiming responsibility for the incident, the BLA expressed regret for the death of the civilian passers-by in the explosion , which according to it, was directed against the Army. Six persons, including five military personnel ,were killed in Khuzdar in August while three Chinese engineers were killed by an explosion in Gwadar in May. On December 13, 2004, the police claimed to have foiled a major incident by defusing two rockets that were installed by the side of a road in Quetta. On December 18, 2004,a powerful bomb exploded in the Balochistan Civil Secretariat in the ministers’ block, but it did not cause any casualties.

7. While the explosion, which killed the three Chinese engineers working in the Gwadar project, was believed to have been caused by anti-Beijing Uighur separatists based in the South Waziristan area, the responsibility for most of the other incidents, which had taken place in Balochistan since the beginning of this year, has been claimed by the BLA.

8. While not much is known about the leadership and infrastructure of the BLA, since 2001, sections of the Pakistani media have been carrying some details of the various groups of resistance fighters behind the growing unrest in Balochistan. According to an account carried by the "Newsline", "hundreds of Marri Baloch tribesmen, armed to the teeth, have taken up position on the Kohlu mountains, one of Pakistan's most backward, but oil and gas rich areas, to challenge the Government's policies in Balochistan. The tribesmen, who call themselves "guerillas" waging a war for the rights of the Baloch population, are armed with Russian Kalashnikovs, heavy machine and anti-aircraft guns and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), picked up in Afghanistan during their 14 years in self-exile. Most of them are educated with military/guerilla training received in Afghanistan." (My comment: during the pre-1992 days of the then Afghan President Najibullah )

9. It further said: "The Marri guerillas are currently led by Nawabzada Balach Marri , the son of the ailing Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri. Balach, an electronic engineer from Moscow, won the provincial assembly seat from Kohlu with a record vote of over 18,000 - the highest ever cast in the constituency - despite all efforts by the administration to support his rival candidate, Mir Mohabat Khan Marri, the then provincial caretaker Minister. After a sudden increase in the Marri tribes militant's actions in 2000, other militant groups also joined them to carry out joint actions across the province. Rocket attacks on F.C. posts, landmine and dynamite explosions against F.C. personnel were witnessed in the neighbouring Dera Bugti tribal agency. Similar attacks were also launched in Kalat, Dalbundeen, Khuzdar, Gwadar, and other areas by the militants in a show of strength.

10. "In a recent army search operation in the mountainous Kachh area against the militants, regular as well as paramilitary troops, despite using aircraft and heavy cannons, failed to nab or kill any of the militants. However, two soldiers reportedly lost their lives, while many others were injured. A couple of months back, the Government decided to take action against the militants and secure the mountains between Kohlu and Kahan that are still in the possession of the Marri militants. An army of Levy forces and Bijrani tribesmen loyal to the Government, backed by the Frontier Corps, battled with the militants for two days, in which one Bijrani tribesman and one levy personnel were killed, while no losses were inflicted on the militants. After gauging the capability of the militants and their political support from nationalist parties, the Government has stopped its operation for the time being.

11."Locals in Kohlu claim that there are over 30 to 40 militant camps where Baloch youth have joined the militants to train in guerilla warfare. However, Government agencies put the figure of the camps as little over 15. The first ever visit of a two-member journalist team from Quetta to some of these camps in the mountains revealed that each camp had 300 to 500 recruits. The camps were established in militarily strategic and protected areas, housed in abandoned buildings set up by the Pakistan army during the 1973 operation (against Baloch nationalists). The militants, equipped with modern communication gadgets, apart from physical training, spend their time discussing possible Government military actions, reading newspapers and listening to the BBC every night to keep up with public and political reactions and Government policies. They also visit areas under the influence of opponents and Government forces to spread their message of an armed struggle against Government policies.

12." Mir Balach Marri settled all enmities with the neighbouring Bugti tribe a couple of months back in accordance with the tribal customs and traditions. Now both tribes have formed a strong alliance against the Government. Some 300 well-trained Marri tribes rushed to the aid of Nawab Akbar Bugti to fight para-military forces a couple of years back when the Bugti fort in Dera Bugti was under seige in the wake of increased attacks on gas pipelines. The Government later withdrew their forces after an understanding was reached with the Bugti tribe.

13. "The Tali (Sibi)-Kahan road is in complete control of the militants who have established dozens of check posts and camps, while hundreds of men are perched on the mountain tops all the way from Kahan to Tali. Not a single vehicle belonging to anyone hostile to their cause is allowed on the road. The Kahan-Kohlu road used by Frontier Corps vehicles is a death trap of landmines. Despite regular mine-sweeping checks, incidents of mine explosions killing or maiming para-military personnel or members of opponent tribes are commonplace. In a recent action, the militants abducted two Frontier Corps personnel and one police constable and declared that they will not be released unless the Government stops its operations and gives up its plans of constructing cantonments in the area.

14. "The Marri tribesmen are also believed to be involved with other militant groups who are working underground in Balochistan. The Government believes that the militants support the Baloch Liberation Army, an organisation responsible for the many bomb blasts and rocket attacks that have rocked the province and killed scores of military personnel. However, leaders of militant tribesmen firmly deny any connection, but openly admit their sympathy for the BLA. With the exception of Dr. Abdul Hai Baloch of the National Party, all Baloch nationalist leaders and student organisations openly support the guerilla warfare against para-military forces by regularly issuing statements in the press. According to Government sources, the Marri militants are being financed by neighbouring Iran, some Gulf states and probably the United States who want to sabotage the Chinese involvement and influence in the building of the deep sea port in Gwadar." ( Citation ends)

15. A correspondent of "Ibrat", a Sindhi daily published from Hyderabad, Sindh, who claimed to have visited the training camps, reported as follows on August 1, 2004: "During a recent visit to the training camps by journalists , it was disclosed that more than 60 training camps are operating in the area where Baloch youth are getting armed training. The estimated number of such persons is in thousands whereas hundreds of youth are joining these camps daily.

16."Dosteen Baloch is the Commander of one of the training camps. He told the journalists: 'Resources of Balochistan have been misappropriated and the entity of Balochs has been badly damaged. The time to resolve the problems through democratic means is already over. Now we have been compelled to take up arms. I am a graduate and married. Now our children ask when they can join the movement.

17."Another Commander said he is a landlord who got an opportunity to exchange views with some young persons already present in the camps. Now I have decided to participate in the struggle in principle. He complained that Balochistan has been deprived of its national rights.

18."During the survey conducted by journalists, it was noted that Balochs were being trained with rocket launchers, RPG--7, mortars, anti-aircraft guns, Kalashnikovs, land mines etc. They were possessing modern wireless sets, walkie-talkies, and satellites sets. They had modern communication sets. For transport, they had motorcycles, pick-ups etc.

19."Well placed sources maintained that the Government has decided, for the moment, not to go ahead with its plan of a military operation in Balochistan, but instead buy some time by talking to local tribal leaders who they basically view with contempt.

20."It is generally believed that the present insurgency in Balochistan, which includes almost daily rocket attacks on the Quetta cantonment and other strategic installations besides gas pipelines, has been perpetrated by the still undefined Baloch Liberation Army.

21."The Baloch Liberation Army is an amorphous, underground organization which was born in the Balochistan university many years ago during the cold war era. Extremists, left-leaning students of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) were its most important component. To establish the BLA as a countervailing force in a region perceived to be the weakest link in the US chain, that is, Pakistan, the former USSR funded BLA with money and arms and logistics. After the Soviets were removed from power in Russia, nothing was heard about the BLA.

22."However, after the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan but with their presence near the Pak-Afghan border areas, sources said the US thought it prudent to establish its own spy network to counter-check the information made available to them by the ISI. The anti-Taliban nationalist elements, whether they are Pakhtuns or Balochs , were thought to be the best available resource that could be used to keep track of Taliban activities.

23."In these circumstances, when Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal returned from London to Pakistan after a long exile, it was not surprising for many suspicious people.

24."Sources in the Pakistan Army went on to say that soon after the Sardar returned, the youth were reorganized under the banner of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Kohlu was the place where a recruitment and training camp was established.

25."Sources in the Pakistan Army maintained that about 200 people were armed and trained in Kohlu in which the Afghan and Indian Government officials came deep into Pakistan and played a major role. These same sources said that apart from the 200 people, the main propelling force are the tribal chiefs like Nawab Akbar Bugti, Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal and Nawab Khair Bux Marri who are instigating their tribes to revolt against the Pakistan Army. It is their perceptions, whether real or imaginary, which have created grounds in the military minds for an operation in Balochistan.

26."Sources say that such is the mindset that has developed that the Army thinks it can wipe out the insurgents once and for all as the terrain in Balochistan is not tough like South Waziristan and tracking insurgents would not be a problem, but the army cannot afford to open up so many fronts at once.

27."The Govt has, for the present, abandoned its plans (for military operations) in the area and is pressurising the local tribal leaders to help in pacifying the situation." (citation ends)

28. While neither confirming nor denying the existence of such camps, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the chief of the Jamhoori Watan Party and a former Governor of Balochistan, has stated that if such camps existed it was the result of state oppression, injustice and the prevailing sense of deprivation among the Baloch people.. He has blamed the military-dominated Islamabad Government for forcing the Balochs into a situation where they felt that they had no other way of protecting their dignity, honour and rights except through resort to arms. According to him, apart from the BLA, two other organisations called the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and the Baloch People's Liberation Army (BPLA) are spearheading the anti-Islamabad militancy in the province.

29. Though the Government and sections of the media say that the Government has not yet launched a military operation and has been trying to pacify the people through political means such as the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee on Balochistan by Shaukat Aziz, the Prime Minister, Baloch nationalists, including Nawab Bugti, say that a military operation with the use of the Air Force, helicopter gunships and tanks, similar to the operation launched by the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto in the 1970s, is already on since August last following an attack on some army personnel and an abortive attempt to kill the provincial Chief Minister, Jam Yousuf, who heads a coalition consisting of the anti-US religious fundamentalist parties and the Musharraf-created Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam).

30. Musharraf and his military-intelligence establishment, who are calling the shots in Balochistan, have imposed a virtual ban on the dissemination of correct information about the ground situation and have not been sharing with the public and the international community details of the casualties suffered by the army in its operations in the province. Baloch Police sources claim that the Army and the para-military forces have already suffered over 100 fatal casualties, but they are not admitting them. These sources allege that in order to downplay the gravity of the anti-Army revolt in the province, the Army has been showing these casualties as suffered in the anti-Al Qaeda operations in South Waziristan and not in the undeclared operation against the Baloch nationalists in Balochistan. According to them, inflating the figures of casualties in South Waziristan, by including in them those suffered in Balochistan too, also serves the purpose of convincing the US of the claimed sincerity of the Army's drive against Al Qaeda, at a tremendous sacrifice to the Pakistan Army as claimed by Musharraf.

31. The Baloch nationalist movement is only one component of the deteriorating internal security situation in Balochistan. There are other factors too. Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province area-wise, but the most sparsely populated. Even more than 50 years after Pakistan's independence, large parts of the territory remain unopened up, unadministered and undeveloped. It is almost like North Myanmar, with very little administrative or military presence in large parts of the territory in the remote areas.

32. Taking advantage of this, the Pashtun survivors of the Taliban and the Arab survivors of Al Qaeda have moved into the remote areas of the province and set up their own clandestine sanctuaries and training infrastructure. Senior officials of the Hamid Karzai Government in Kabul, including Karzai himself, have been alleging for over a year that Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, and his associates in the Taliban leadership are operating from Balochistan. Similarly, periodically, there are uncorroborated reports that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No. 2 in Al Qaeda, are now based in Balochistan and not in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where there is a strong US intelligence presence.

33. Baloch Police sources say that the survivors of the 600-strong force consisting of the Uzbeck, Chechen and Uighur components of the International Islamic Front (IIF) of bin Laden, which was earlier operating from South Waziristan, have also moved over into the remote areas of Balochistan and that these areas have become important clandestine operational bases for the training of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements and infiltrating them into Iraq via Iran for operating against the US troops there. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has set up its own training camps. Uzbeck recruits are brought via Turkmenistan and Iran, trained in these camps and either sent back to Uzbekistan by the same route or infiltrated into Iraq via Iran. The Uighurs do not so far seem to have their own training camps. They are instead trained in the camps of the IMU and some of them have also gone to Iraq.

34. Instead of acting against these Taliban, Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements using the Baloch territory, Musharraf has been concentrating his campaign against the Baloch nationalists, who are strongly opposed to the presence and activities of the Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements from their territory.

35. The bad internal security situation in Balochistan poses a serious dilemma for Musharraf. After seizing power on October 12,1999, he had drawn up detailed plans for the diversification of the Pakistani economy in order to reduce the present dependence on the export of textiles, leather goods and sports articles and the Karachi port. His plans for the Gwadar port, the construction of the Mekran Coastal Highway connecting Karachi and Balochistan, and the plans for the exploitation of the rich mineral resources of the province are part of this economic diversification project. In his perception, Gwadar would not only become the exit point for the external trade of the Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and the Xinjiang province of China, but would also reduce the dependence of the Pakistan Navy on Karachi, which is within easy reach of the Indian Navy.

36. The implementation of this project demands a large flow of foreign investment and the co-operation of the Balochs. His deep distrust of the Baloch people, which he shares with other Army officers, and his consequent dependence on imported non-Baloch labour, mainly Punjabi and Pashtun ex-servicemen, has made the Balochs oppose the project.

37. The bad internal security situation has kept the foreign investors, other than the Chinese, away. The Chinese have been actively associated with the construction of the Gwadar port and the development of the Sanidak copper-gold mines, a long lease of which has been given to them. The presence of a large number of Chinese engineers and other personnel in the province to work in these projects has attracted the Uighur terrorists into the province, who have targeted them.

38. The consequent security concerns of the Chinese have not slowed down their implementation of these projects, but have made them hesitant to undertake commitments for new projects as was seen during the recent visit of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to China.

39. The need to strengthen the physical security of the Chinese and the imported non-Baloch labour in the province has led to an increase in the deployment of Pakistani troops in the area and the launching of plans for more cantonments. These have become an additional root cause of the growing anger of the Baloch nationalists against the Army.

40. To deal with the situation, Musharraf has been trying to follow a carrot and stick policy. He has been claiming that his Government has been spending more money for the economic development of Balochistan than any of the preceding Governments and that the Balochs would be the ultimate beneficiaries of the on-going projects with Chinese assistance. He admits that the Balochs have legitimate grievances on the question of payment of royalty for the gas taken out of the province and has been promising since he took over in 1999 to have the issue re-examined without, however, any follow-up action so far. At the same time, he has been expressing his determination to crush the militancy.

41. He visited the province in the middle of December,2004, to review the security arrangements for the Chinese and the imported non-Baloch labour, to visit the site of the under-construction Mirani dam, and to inaugurate the Lyari-Gwadar section of the Mekran Coastal Highway. For his participation in the public engagements in the province, he chose to highlight his dual role as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) by wearing his uniform to give added weight to his warnings to the Baloch nationalists that they would be ruthlessly crushed if they did not call off their anti-Government activities. In the meanwhile, the attempts for finding a political solution through a joint parliamentary committee have received a set-back following the decision of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal to boycott it.

Challenges to Baloch Resistance

By Dr. Ashok K Behuria

Charles Napiere called Balochistan the place where Allah had dumped “all the rubbish of this earth“. British military intelligence called the Baloch “thieves by tradition and descent“after they found it difficult to tame them.
With the discovery of oil and gas in north eastern Balochistan over the period since the 1960s, Napiere’s dictum does not quite hold any more. The spirit of Balochi resistance about which the British forces insinuated in their writings, however, continues till today. The strategic lure of Balochi terrain has invited steady incursion and invasion from outside-it was under British administration before 1947 it has been part of the Pakistani state ever since.

The Balochis resisted the might of Pakistan during the accession, which every Baloch believes was done through force and fraud, and also during the 1970s, when prime Minster Bhutto sent in General Tikka Khan, the butcher of East Pakistan and Balochistan, who infamously declared: “we need the territory, not the people of Balochistan.“ The rebel leaders were either allowed to flee or made to change their orientation during army rule under General Zia-ul-Haq, and consequently the movement was deemed to have kept silence waiting for another day.

But, enter the new millennium, and the clouds of a fresh insurgency have started building up. This has come out into open since the beginning of the year and even warranted army action since July since when encounters between the army and insurgents have resulted in quite a few casualties. Keeping in mind recent events in Balochistan — the killing of some off-duty army-men, an attack on the Balochi Chief Minister and subsequent arrest warrants against veteran Balochi leaders such as Khair Baksh Marri and Mr. Akhtar Mengal and their followers — suggests that Balochi unrest may again pose internal security problems for Pakistan. It is useful to analyse the phenomenon from a strategic perspective.

The current Balochi resistance drive has been building up for quite some time, especially since the federal authorities in Pakistan started developing Gwadar port with road and rail links to it as part of an ambitious project to provide a surface trade link with central Asia through Chaman, Kandahar and across Afghanistan into central Asia via the Silk Route. This was a fashionable idea during Nawaz Sharif’s time, the late 1990s. Chinese patronage of the idea gave it a further boost and it continued after General Musharraf’s takeover of the Pakistan government.
Resistance from the Balochi side to such efforts by the federal government efforts were initially limited to the nationalist fringe that came out with the traditional interpretation that even if it brought development to Balochistan, the development would ultimately favour the Punjabis. But the Balochi resistance was submerged in the Islamist fervour that surfaced in the wake of post-9/11 war on terror in the neighborhood.

Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Salah Hayat held a press conference as Balochi soldiers’ burn confiscated drugs. Pakistan has stepped up its crackdown on Balochi rebels, including raids throughout the province

This was made apparent by way the nationalist parties suffered severe reverses in the elections of 2002, even if they did not quite concede the areas where the traditional nationalism held sway, in Khuzdar, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, and Awaran.

But the sense of Balochi disaffection grew in the aftermath of the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan and the establishment of US bases in Pasni, Gwadar, Dalbandin and Jacobabad in Sindh. This was not so much because of the US military presence but because of the decision of the Musharraf administration to establish some army cantonments in Balochistan, under the pretext of contributing to the war on terror. This was part of a larger plan to consolidate the army’s position in the border provinces.

The army, as well as the MMA-led government in Balochistan, could not effectively counter the Balochi nationalist argument, which was put forward through the Pakistan Oppressed Nations’ Movement, that the building up of cantonments will help the Punjabis in strengthening their controls over the Balochis and their territory. The imperiousness with which the federal administration dealt with the legitimate demands of the Balochis, that they should be given preferential treatment in recruitment for so-called developmental activities, hardened their sentiments further. In a way, General Musharraf obliged Balochi nationalists with a cause they were desperately in need of, to resuscitate nationalist resistance.

While all this was happening it was interesting to see a younger generation of Balochi leadership taking on the mantle of the resistance movement. This new leadership is removed from the old in terms of its bases of influence, its outlook, its power of articulation and its ability to look at the Balochi problem in an unemotional way. Young leaders like Sanaullah Baloch (at present a Senator and associated with the Baloch Nationalist Party), and Hameed Baloch, Amaullah Baloch, who are associated with the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO, which has become BSO-United), which provided the sparks during the resistance of the 1970s, do not look towards the old traditional Sardari based system of loyalty and privilege for a guaranteed support base. Through their appeal and persuasion they have managed to assemble a group which is modern in its outlook and has the capacity to sustain the Balochi nationalist struggle for a longer period.

This is not to deny that the veterans of the resistance movement in the 1950s and 1970s, the “famous four”— Ghaus Bux Bizenzo, Khair Bux Marri, Mr. Akbar Bugti and Ataullah Mengal — have lost their appeal. The younger Balochi leadership, as was perceptible in the submission by Senator Sanaullah Baloch in Delhi, a few months ago, has enough respect for them and in fact jealously covers up the weakness of some of them like N.A. Bugti for hobnobbing with the federal administration in Islamabad.

It needs further mention here that the spark of the ongoing Balochi upsurge started from the areas still under the control of some of these veteran families. It built up around the terrain rich in gas resources (estimated total reserve of around 25.9 trillion cubic metres) and under the control of the Mengals, Marris and the Bugtis in the districts of northern Khuzdar, Kohlu and Dera bugti respectively. The tribe Marri has kept the flag of resistance alive in Kohlu, while Mr. Akbar Bugti’s successors have jealously guarded their influence in the Bugti region. Since October 2003, the Kohlu and Bugti areas have witnessed sporadic attacks on outposts of the Frontier Constabulary and the Levies. They have also reacted strongly to the idea of building up a cantonment in Kohlu, for which the federal government has asked the oil companies to contribute (Rs. 600 million over two years) since it is in their interest.

These growing attacks on the army in northern-central Balochistan (in Kohlu and Dera Bugti) perhaps encouraged the Balochi nationalists of the south around Kech (Turbat) and Gwadar and later Khuzdar to resist the idea of a stronger and larger army presence in Gwadar. In fact, since June the nationalists have even rejected the Mirani dam project close to Turbat and fired several rockets at the project site, damaging some parts of it.
The encounters between the army and the Balochi nationalists have become regular and more intense since early July 2004 when, in response to the rising tide of terrorist attacks in Karachi, Musharraf directed the Gwadar Port Implementation Authority (GPIA) to shift to Gwadar and instructed the army to provide them with tight security in view of the earlier attack on the Chinese engineers in April. With the introduction of regular army into the fight with the Balochi nationalists, the struggle has intensified and the attacks on the MMA Chief Minister and army men (who were only going on leave), the insurgency seems to be gathering momentum.

The problems the resistance movement may encounter in the coming weeks could, however, come from within the movement. For it will be really difficult to sustain the tenuous pan-Balochi unity, cutting across divisions on the lines of tribes, clans and even ethnicity (Baloch-Brahui). At another level, the Islamist enthusiasm of the majority Pushtuns of the northern Balochistan, which seems to have infected many Balochis in the Balochi-dominated corners in the western, central and southern Balochistan, is also diluting the nationalist position and making the army intrusion in the name of anti-terrorist operation, look more legitimate and creating more enemies than friends for the movement outside. Henry Kissinger said in 1962 that he would not recognize the Balochi problem even if it hit him in the face, and one believes the response of his successor in the US State Department would not be any different at present. It will thus require exemplary leadership, long-term strategy and resources to keep the movement alive.

In the Pakistani media, the insurgency in Balochistan is not given the attention it deserves. But still there is a suspicion in Pakistan, according to Pakistani sources, that the army is deliberately provoking the Balochis, fully aware of their sense of disaffection, to prepare the case for the ouster of the MMA government in the province. And with the introduction of sophisticated defence equipment for tackling the insurgency as well as assured American sympathy with its command, the army will never allow the insurgency to build up beyond a point. However, it would be naïve on the part of Pakistani administration to equate Wana with Balochistan, as Balach Khan Marri would argue, in one of his recent articles in Urdu. The present state of Balochi resistance is more explosive and cohesive, he would say.

It has been a constant refrain of many analysts close to the Pakistani establishment to try and drag India into the internal troubles in Pakistan and invent an Indian hand even behind the sectarian killings on the occasion of Muharram in Quetta. Such inventions have hardly helped to bring down the temperature in Balochistan. The authorities in Pakistan will have to be sensitive to the genuine demands placed on the federal government by the Balochis, rather than seeking to quell any show of resistance through force alone. History is witness to the fact that suppression is the fertilizer that nourishes such movements. If Balochistan burns today can Searikistan, Balwaristan and Pakhtunistan be far behind?

Dr. Ashok K Behuria is a New Delhi-based commentator on Pakistani society and politics

Attacks in Balochistan (Editorial)

Source :

This weekend's attack on Frontier Corps personnel in Balochistan in which four FC men were killed reflects the troubling situation prevailing in the province. The province has had many incidents of violence that have left 94 dead and 303 injured in this year alone.

Most prominent of those was the attack in March on a religious gathering in Quetta that left 33 dead and the killing of three Chinese engineers working on the Gwadar port project in May.

In between, there has been an attempt on the CM's motorcade as well as several attacks on pipelines and other government installations. While a number of high-profile projects are currently under construction in Balochistan, concerns expressed by the local population over their fate once they have been completed remains a matter that the government has not addressed so far.

Such a situation can lead to a heightened sense of alienation among the people of the area, which in turn would affect the prospects of these projects. To further complicate matters, apart from the nationalist lobby, Balochistan also hosts a number of former Taliban cadres. These people pursue their own agenda against Islamabad.

An earlier attempt at engaging Balochistan's leaders politically seems to have fizzled out. The government's knee-jerk reaction has been to try and solve the issue by force.

This tactic has not worked in the past and is unlikely to do so in the future. Instead, issues raised by various quarters in Balochistan need to be addressed on an urgent basis.

The representation of locals in Gwadar, for example, should be enhanced immediately so that the people of the area, and not outsiders alone, have a say in the affairs of the town.

Similarly, the question of royalties that have to be paid to the Balochistan government for use of Sui gas must be settled. More attention needs to be paid to developing local human skills and resources while neglected sectors like education, health, water and transportation should receive better attention.

It is important for the government to give priority to Balochistan since recent events and incidents provide an indication that the people there are getting restless over their poor share in employment and fruits of development.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

QUETTA: Demand to honour SC verdict on judges

QUETTA: Demand to honour SC verdict on judges

By Our Correspondent

QUETTA, Dec 28: Balochistan Bar Association President Mohammad Wasay Tareen has called upon the government to implement in letter and spirit the 1996 verdict of the Supreme Court regarding elevation of judges to the apex court.

Speaking to Panjgur Bar Association's representatives, he said the apex court judgment had determined the principle for promotion of judges and violation of the verdict affected the seniority of judges of the Balochistan High Court, says a press release issued here on Tuesday.

Mr Wasay urged the government to fill the three vacant posts of judges in the Supreme Court by promoting senior-most chief justices of high courts. He also demanded establishment of circuit benches of the BHC in Turbat, Khuzdar and Loralai for disposal of cases pending in the high court.

Patriotism: A Baloch Cultural Tradition as Depicted in Modern Balochi Poetry

Patriotism: A Baloch Cultural Tradition as Depicted in Modern Balochi Poetry

Jan Muhammad Dashti, Chairman of the Balochi Academy, Quetta, Pakistan


The love of a Baloch for his homeland has been phenomenal. "Although barren, the fatherland is worth anything", goes the saying, and folk traditions refer to the presence of the finest and costliest things in places once inhabited by the Baloch.

According to tradition, Bebagr, a folk hero of the 16th century, while bringing the daughter of one of the Afghan nobles from Kandahar very proudly describes the land of the Baloch to his Afghan sweetheart. "Let us go to the land that is of the Baloch, the town of Sibi is pleasing to our heart", he says. This reflects a deep sense of pride and lasting regard not only for the country but for everything attached to it.1

Another great national hero, M r Ch kar of the Rind tribe, bewails the factors causing the migration of the Baloch from Sibi with great sorrow, which shows his love for the land and his reluctance to give up that place.

Sibi is amidst the storms of wars

May the pearl-like Gawhar2 be cursed.

From the seven hundred grand youths

Who used to tie their turbans with grace and pride,

Who raced their horses without reins,

None of them can be shown to be alive,

All fell prey to the powerful strokes of the Indian swords,

All of them were devoured by the misfortunes of Gawhar.

(Moh. Sardar Khan, A Literary History of the Baluchis, I, pp. 128-129)

The Baloch who moved out of Kirman and Sistan centuries ago in the early era of their migration eastwards always kept the memory of the area fresh in their folk tales. They talked of the mountains and rivers of their lands with a feeling of profound love which is strongly felt even by a casual observer. We come across many stories which indicate a sentimental regard for those regions where the Baloch once lived.

This paper is compiled to show how similar feelings are expressed in Balochi poetry of the second half of the 20th century. Before we do so, it is necessary to give a brief account of this period, since the patriotic elements of the Balochi poetry of this period are very much relevant to the Baloch history of this era.

Social and political changes in Balochistan in the 20th century

Beginning from the early 20th century and due to the gradual spread of literacy and improvement of means of communications, leading Baloch intellectuals became aware, more than before, of their past and the changing realities of the presentday world. Direct and indirect intra-Baloch contacts made them more and more conscious of the fact that, although divided between three countries and different administrative divisions within each country, they formed one single nation with a common past, a common culture, and, in most cases, a common language.

The rise of nationalism in South Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia and Africa had tremendous influence on Baloch leadership and intellectuals, who now began to develop (and propagate) the idea that they deserved to have a separate sovereign state. They believed that given the natural resources of the Baloch land and its geo-strategic position, such a country was not only viable, but was also potentially likely to be one of the developed modern countries.

The political reality was, however, quite different. The land and nation of the Baloch had been divided against their will into three parts, and each part was annexed to a country dominated by non-Baloch ethnic groups. The Baloch were deprived of democratic rights and the right to self-determination.

It was during this period that specific events took place. For the first time in the history of Western (Iranian) Balochistan, Dost Muhammad Kh n, a traditional Baloch ruler, declared himself "the Shah", i.e. the king of that part of Balochistan. This was a declaration of Baloch sovereignty, upon which Reza Shah Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, sent his armed forces and crushed the newly established Western Balochi Kingdom without mercy. Since then Iranian governments in succession have been pursuing policies aimed at frustrating Baloch political and cultural aspirations.3

Eastern Balochistan with its capital at Kalat, known as the Baloch Confederacy of Kalat, was a sovereign state before the British extended their indirect domination of this part of Balochistan. Under forced treaties, the Kh n, i.e. the ruler of Balochistan was obliged to hand over the defence and foreign affairs of the Baloch Confederacy to the British. In principle, the British recognized the sovereignty of the Baloch state. In practice, however, all affairs of the Baloch Confederacy were controlled by the British so-called "Political Agent", who was supposed to be the British Crown's diplomatic representative in the Kh n's court, and by the Political Agent's ever expanding civil and military establishment. The personnel of this establishment was recruited almost exclusively among non-Baloch Indians, particularly Punjabis.

When the British left the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, the Kh n, the House of Commons and the House of Lords of the Baloch Confederacy almost unanimously reaffirmed the independence and sovereignty of the Baloch State. Nevertheless the two clauses of the earlier treaties with the British which stated that the British would be responsible for the defence and foreign affairs of the Baloch state came to haunt the Baloch Confederacy. These imposed clauses implied that the Baloch Confederacy would not have an organized defence force nor would it be allowed to have direct diplomatic relations with other countries; that is to say that it would not be allowed to seek recognition as a sovereign state from the world beyond the British Crown. Pakistan, on the other hand, which had inherited not less than a fourth of the formidable British Indian armed forces and bureaucratic machinery crushed Baloch resistance and annexed the Confederacy by force in March 1948, eight months after its independence.

The Baloch resistance against Pakistani domination, however, continued in different forms with at least three uprisings. The first started with an immediate revolt against annexation of the Baloch Confederacy in 1948. The second took place in 1958 and the third in 1973. During the 1960s and the 1970s some responsible elements of the Baloch leadership offered to recognize Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan within the existing de-facto international boundaries if the three states agreed constitutionally, that they were multi-national confederal or federal states. This "revisionism" not only became controversial within Baloch circles, but also weakened the Baloch national struggle. The rejectionists argued that it was futile to expect that the three states would become democratic in a real sense, accepting the principles of multi-national confederalism or true federalism.

The aspirations of the Baloch federalists remained unfulfilled, because until very recently the military-bureaucratic complex and reactionary Islamic forces intervened repeatedly in constitutional politics of Pakistan. Constitutions were abrogated by the military or military-supported regimes, thus frustrating the hopes for the establishment of a truly multi-national federal democratic state. Iran and Afghanistan also continued their policy, rejecting the idea of federalism and multi-nationalism.

Aspirations for freedom or federalism, and demands for the recognition of their cultural, linguistic and other basic human rights, particularly the right to self-determination, were costly for the Baloch. Baloch leaders and activists who identified with these aspirations were oppressed severely. Their parties and publications were banned repeatedly. Several military and paramilitary operations were launched. Numerous Baloch leaders, activists and their sympathizers were imprisoned for years. Towns, villages and farms were bombarded and people were killed. Most of the imprisoned were humiliated and tortured. Many were put to death after show trials by military courts. Particularly beginning from the late 1950s, an increasing number of Baloch activists and sympathizers of the Baloch movement fled Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan in order to avoid harassment, imprisonment, torture and death.

The following random selections from the Balochi poems of this period refer to the events, trends, and developments briefly mentioned above. My selections are based on the material published before September 1985. Except for brief biographical remarks about Gul Kh n Nas r, Sayyid H shim and 'At Sh d, I have simply mentioned some poems by other poets as examples.4
Gul Kh n Nas r, Sayyid H shim and 'At Sh d

M r Gul Kh n Nas r (1914-1983), the poet-politician, gave a new meaning and form to Balochi poetry. The concept of freedom and sovereignty was beautifully portrayed. It was his nationalistic poetry that brought the ideals of the leaders of the Baloch movement close to the hearts of the Baloch masses and intellectuals.

Gul Kh n Nas r's poetry is the greatest manifestation and the most profound expression of the Balochi political and social approach since the early thirties. His exhortation to the Baloch to uphold their traditions is a clear sign of the deep-rooted hatred felt towards the new rulers and strong disapproval of the new political dispensation.

Gul Kh n Nas r's work embraced some fifty years of his life. He participated in the Baloch struggle for national independence and remained behind bars for several years between 1945 and 1979. He was a socialist by inclination and opposed the tribal system and its attendant injustices.

Gul Kh n Nas r considered himself destined to guide the people towards social awareness and the achievement of their political rights. He assigned himself the task of educating the youth for the great cause for which he suffered immensely during his lifetime. He was uncompromising, honest and commanded respect. As far back as November 1936 he composed a poem praying that he might have the courage and strength to awaken the people from ignorance, so that they would be able to find a proper place among world nations once again. The poem, which is in Urdu, shows his determination to conduct a lifelong struggle in a cause which was very close to his heart.5

Gul Kh n Nas r had a prolific pen and a philosophical mind. His treatment of the Baloch social and traditional ethos depicts a high sense of history and culture. Gul Kh¨n was the product of agonizing socio-political conditions. He saw the British Raj in Balochistan, a brief period of Baloch sovereignty and ultimately Balochistan losing its independence and merging into the new-born state of Pakistan.

Gul Kh n Nas r's message is impressive. It circles round the Baloch and their history. His works portray a deep hatred for those countries which have occupied the Baloch land, and for their institutions, which he regarded as corrupting and degenerating in substance and nature.

The new generation of revolutionary poets have been greatly influenced by his philosophy. I have not attempted any translation of his work for the simple reason that none of his poems can be singled out for the purposes of this paper. A separate treatment would be required if Gul Kh n Nas r's poetry were to be analyzed in the context of the Baloch national struggle and its impact on the Baloch youth.6

Sayyid Zah r Sh h H shim (1926-1978) is undoubtedly one of the "Big Three" of modern Balochi literature, the other two being Gul Kh n Nas r and 'At Sh d. Given his thorough knowledge of the Balochi language and the fact that he concentrated throughout his life on language-related work avoiding active involvement in political and social activities makes him the best of the three according to some analysts.

On patriotism and other political and social subjects, Sayyid H shim is more subtle than Gul Kh n Nas r and less abstract than 'At Sh d. The patriotic elements in Sayyid H shim 's works are less known than e.g. those of Gul Kh n Nas r among the activists and general readers and listeners of the Balochi for the following reasons. As a prominent political leader and, eventually, as a Provincial Cabinet Minister, Gul Kh n Nas r was widely known to activists and opinion leaders. Unlike Sayyid, Gul Kh n Nas r could not be ignored by official, semi-official and non-official media and institutions, particularly in Quetta and Karachi, the two main centres for the propagation of Balochi literature.

'At Sh d, (1938-1997) a great poet and a lovable human being was also based in Quetta, beginning his career as a radio programme producer and reaching the high cadres of bureaucracy. Those familiar with our norms know well that a poet and a Secretary of Information stationed in Quetta, like 'At Sh d, is more likely to get coverage than an unemployed poverty stricken and politically unaffiliated intellectual and poet of even Sayyid H shim 's calibre.

There is more patriotic and nationalistic material in Sayyid H shim 's multi-volume poetry than might be expected. Let us content ourselves here with a few pieces. Sayyid is deeply shocked to see the Baloch losing their national sovereignty. In his Sistage– dastunk he remarks:

My heart bleeds

to wet the barren land of my miserable people

In the hope that one day these lands will turn green

and there will grow red flowers

I will gather the seeds of those flowers

because these are from my blood.

(Sayyid Zah r Sh h H shim , Sistage– dastunk, p. 28)

I am like those brave youths

Who have been ambushed by the enemy.

Injured by sword, they are lying hopeless

in a vast desert without water.

Hungry wolves are waiting to eat their flesh

after they breathe their last breath.

But I tell them7 not to be off guard:

Revered mothers will bear

such invincible sons again.

(Ibid., p. 63)

The one, whose hands are red

with my blood, says he is pure;

The other, like a jackal who has stolen my pouch,

boasts of being a tiger;

The third who has snatched a portion of my shawl,

and has an eye on my shirt,

says: "I am your brother";

The fourth one is so courteous

that I am frightened.

(Ibid., p. 64)

We8 do not want your buildings

do not set our huts on fire;

We do not require your forts,

do not surround our hills;

We do not need your stores,

do not ravage our fields;

We do not demand your ships,

do not destroy our boats;

We do not desire your crafts

do not snatch our camels;

We do not aspire to your armours,

do not break our arms;

Do not oppose us lest you may be oppressed by a superior spirit.

(Ibid., p. 66)

In another poem, Y diga suhre– m dine–, Sayyid expresses in very lucid language the Baloch's determination to fight his way through to emancipation and freedom. The Baloch will crush the enemy, shedding his blood and drinking it in revenge, the poem says.9 In Sarjam butagant he tells them that the enemy wishes their oblivion. Weakness is the last link between strength and misery. Wake up and do something for your survival, he exhorts them.10 In Samosk r nab –, Sayyid H shim says he cannot forget the Baloch country the vast barren land, its valleys, mountains and rivers. The people and their history, their bravery and courage and the hardship they suffer, cannot be erased from his memory.11

'At Sh d was one of the greatest Balochi poets of our time. After the mid 1960s he made a conscious effort to identify himself with progressive trends, particularly with the Baloch movement against tyranny, and stood up for national rights and for social justice within Baloch society. Referring to the tyranny and to the events of 1968 in which some Baloch leaders and activists were imprisoned and some were put to death, 'At Sh d in his poem S h kandin says:12

Efforts to put a curb

on the peoples' consciousness

in an exercise in futility.

Consciousness cannot be snatched away by death;

it is everlasting, ever vigorous,

like overwhelming love and affection.

The poem chastises the rulers for their victory over helplessness and their control over the "forcibly snatched" land, about the inhabitants of which the poet maintains:

A people's spirit cannot be destroyed by killings;

they remain restless, ever resentful.

This restlessness and resentment lead the people to their ultimate goal,


In his Yal en sarma r and Deh makkahe–13 'At Sh d speaks of a people and its invincible fighters who give their lives to uphold national pride. The poem refers to degrading dependence and asks the Baloch to change the course of events through force and determination. The poet eulogizes the Baloch motherland and vows to fight for it.

'At Sh d dedicated a poem to the memory of Ham d Baloch, a young victim of tyranny who was executed in 1981, saying that a cause will never die along with the bodily death. "If I am a tree, set me on fire; but a mountain cannot be destroyed by a mere flash of lightning."

Other Baloch poets

Muhammad Husayn 'Anq (1907-1977), a political activist and poet, writes in a poem entitled z t 14 that freedom is the highest ideal of mankind. In a clear reference to Baloch desire for independence, 'Anq exhorts the people to fight for their liberty. In another poem, azal,15 'Anq refers figuratively to the Baloch, who are in slavery and their country under alien domination. The poem, which is one of 'Anq 's masterpieces, reflects a deep sense of frustration.

Bash r Bed r regrets in his poem Pandal16 that the people are being oppressed and expressed his profound opinion that killing cannot destroy human instincts. Every drop of blood shed will help the tree of freedom and emancipation to grow. In a similar piece, Ku indahe n m ,17 Bashir Bed¨r expresses the hope that the enemy will become exhausted and the people will fight through to freedom. The poet thinks that the Baloch will take revenge and the enemy will be brought to account for the cruelties he has committed. In his poem Zor k ,18 Bash r Bed ?r draws a parallel between the situation in Balochistan and that in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Palestine. He maintains that the enemy cannot defeat the inspiring spirit of a man through bullets. In the poem Hambal – the poet portrays the miserable conditions in which the Baloch are living and calls upon the people to change their lives through an armed struggle, and in another poem, Gw nk, he says that a motherland mortgaged with the enemy can be restituted only through blood.19

Ghul m Ras l Mull (b. 1939) believes in his destiny as the poet of a subjugated people whose rights have been snatched away and whose vast land has been put under alien hegemony. In one of his poems he says:

Balochistan is my heart, my soul,

a cure for all conceivable pains of life.

Why should I not sacrifice,

or hesitate to suffer indignities of confinement,

when my motherland is facing poisonous bullets.

(G. R. Mull , Bazn, p. 37)

Ghaws Bakhsh S bir in his poem jj ' e sogind vows to preserve Balochistan from the clutches of the enemy through sacrifices in blood. In Hon zam ?n hamrang b t he refers to Baloch traditional military and political insight, warning the enemy that war with the Baloch will prove disastrous for them.20

Mub rak Q z in his poem u e– sar man kan – kurb n haz r –21 paying tribute to Balochistan believes that the motherland is to be watered in blood to make it green and release it from the drought of centuries. In the poem Junz u ob n hazz m bib t the poet wishes for a drastic change through war. He visualizes the clashes of sword and singing of war music which should bring the defeat of the oppressors, and freedom and emancipation for the masses.22 In Watan23 he says that he is writing history in blood to remain as a witness to the truth that the motherland is the only indestructible, envigorating, inspiring and ever-lasting reality through which the individual can achieve perfection. In Siken24 he proclaims that the subjugation of a people cannot end without a fight and a firm stand against the enemy backed by force. In Man hon n trinzuk25 Mub rak Q z figuratively refers to the alien rulers, asking them to stop their oppression, because the bloodshed will stain their hands and make them notorious for their misdeeds.

Sidd q z t describes the grinding poverty and hopelessness of a beloved, a personification of Balochistan. The lover promises to improve her life and fight for her cause. In a poem written in Beirut, entitled Taw har kas m ten watan,26 Sidd q z t addresses the motherland with reverence, saying "I am staying away from you not for the sake of any personal pleasure, but to seek support in order to free you from subjugation. I am in exile because I want to redeem the pledge which I made to you, a promise I want to fulfil. In spite of immense comforts, I am not happy in the alien land. Things, objects and images from you keep coming to my mind in wonderful dreams. I cannot detach myself from your sweet memories", the poet writes.

z t Jam ld n (1918-1981) born in Noskhe, Pakistani Balochistan, was the person to start the periodical M ht k balo (Balochi monthly), one of the few Balochi periodicals being published at present. In his poetry he expresses determination to achieve the independence of Balochistan. He holds the opinion that a great change will be brought about when everyone in the nation will fight for the freedom of his country.27

Jazm hails the Baloch for his resolution to fight for his emancipation. He expresses the hope that Balochistan will be created through the warm blood of his people.28

khird d Husaynburr29 maintains in M t en watan Balo ist n30 that the day is not far off when our beloved land will get its independence. In Sarma r31 he exhorts the Baloch to fight for a separate state of their own. The poet stresses that the time has come for the unavoidable battle against the enemy.

Bahr m Mengal pictures Balochistan as a "mother" in his poem Gupt r32 and writes that her sons have forgotten her. No one seems to be aware of her condition. "Balochistan" mournfully replies that her sons were those glorious Baloch of the past times who fought to uphold her honour. She advises the Baloch to learn from these heroes and to struggle for a better future.

The poet Ulfat Nas m writes in his poem Gw nk33 that although the Baloch is oppressed he will follow the banner of freedom and fight the enemy with renewed determination, because freedom can only be purchased with blood.

Mans r Baloch portrays a fisherman who through his constant crying is mistakenly thought to be mad, but the fact is that he weeps for a cause. He weeps because he thinks of Balochistan, its helplessness and servitude. He even imagines that everything is weeping, including the deep impassable sea, which is filled with his tears of blood. But he has not given up hope, because although he has lost his way, he sees in the dark the lights of martyrs like M r Namroz, Safar, Law ng Kh n, Rash d and Asad. He imagines that the darkness will eventually be replaced by a gleaming light.34 In Y g 35 he vows to fight for the country. The poet identifies himself as a true Baloch who rejects every comfort and works to achieve the desired objectives.

M. H. Khal l Apsar compares in Man u taw36 the Baloch with the enemy, who is powerful, cunning and cruel, but at the same time unaware of the changing mood of the Baloch. A Baloch, the poet says, is enduring the malaise because he is born in misery and hardship. He is perfected in grief. He is mature and brave. The enemy is given the warning that now he cannot sit at ease any longer.

Mu½ammad Ashraf Sarb z in Pirband37 urges the Baloch to be united, since it is only through unity that they can get their rights. In the poem O Brikstane burze– cin l38 Sarb z addresses the cypress, seeking advice from this ever-green tree in a nicely composed poem in dialogue form. Since this tree has "a long lasting life of centuries experiencing many upheavals" the poet supposes that it is "in touch with a high God". He therefore asks the tree to inquire from God in confidence why the Baloch are shackled, living a tormented life plagued by outrageous poverty? Why are they being tyrannized? Can they not become sovereign and free? Are these miseries and this ill-fate ordained by God? The tree rejects the notion with dejection and fury that such a fate should be ordained by God, and remarks tauntingly that unless the Baloch decide to live in liberty and offer sacrifices to achieve that freedom, conditions will remain unchanged.

D n Muhammadburr asks in his poem Zrumbi te taw r39 for unity among the people. The poem says that the Baloch are treading in the dark without anybody to lead. The miseries and hunger can be countered through the determined efforts and unity of the masses.

Muhammad Beg Begal claims in his poem Koh – man g ant that although the Baloch are now miserably poor and helpless the situation will change because they are the inheritors of a great land and they descend from a great and ancient nation.40 In kare ob dag he writes that the national desire for freedom cannot be gagged through oppression and killings. The poet is convinced that the Baloch will take revenge.41

Akbar B rakza' in Med u t p n42 figuratively mentions the loss of direction of his boat in the stormy waves of high seas. The inference is that the Baloch people are being led astray. The poem wishes for a safe coming ashore, which may bring happiness and compensate the pains endured during the troublesome times.

In B r g43 'Abdul Maj d Suhr b addresses the Baloch, saying that the red sun of hope is rising in the east, which will bring comfort all over the motherland. He visualizes the asupicious occasion when freedom is achieved and everyone is jubilant.

Fid Ahmad Baloch in his poem Sal m sar b t nam r n –44 pays his tributes to those who are behind bars. The people are oppressed and there is no hope of any change in their painful conditions.

Kh lid Suhayl urges in Bel – man 45 the people to take up arms for a change from the dark night to a bright dawn.

Master 'Abdul Maj d Gw dar expresses in Ru ne mist g46 the hope that the days of frightful tyranny will end and there will emerge happiness and freedom out of a long dark night of slavery. The poet believes that the Baloch youth will surely fulfil their pledge to redeem the motherland from its enemy. In another poem, Taw namir n ay47 the poet eulogizes the youth and the martyrs seeing them as the only hope of a glorious people.

Ibr h m ' bid asks in Zor gule– b sk biday48 why grinding poverty and ill-fate has seized the Baloch. Come out, he exhorts, ready to lay down your life for your rights. This is the only way to get a place of honour among the nations.

Nab Bakhsh Buzd r believes that the Baloch have lost their country, their honour and their sweet language. He holds the Baloch themselves responsible for such subjugation to the alien.49

Anwar S hibkh n writes in Zub n hine– s nkal nad rant50 that the people will fight for their national cause and that oppressive exploitation will no longer be tolerated. In another poem, M t en watan,51 he praises the motherland and expresses his determination to offer sacrifices to vindicate its honour.


A literary analysis of the poetry referred to above, and a critical evaluation of the movement for armed struggle, its causes and consequences, are beyond the scope of this paper. However, we have dealt with certain recurring themes of the patriotic poetry of the period, some of the most important of which call for a summary.

Almost all of our poets consider the Baloch land to be under tyranny, suffering from its consequences and deprived of the right to self-determination. For Sayyid H shim none of the three occupying states is a lesser evil. All are guilty of suppressing the Baloch. Among the four states he mentions in one of the poems quoted above "the third" is most probably the Pashtun-dominated Afghanistan which supports the Baloch only to make Balochistan a part of a greater Pashtunistan.

The "too courteous fourth" could be any outside power, such as the Soviet Union (now Russia) or the USA or the UK. which has occasionally flirted with the Baloch cause, only to abuse it for their own ends according to the poet. Sayyid perhaps also has the history of the Kurds in mind when he talks about the "too courteous fourth" power.

Sayyid H shim summarizes a history of cruelties by others on the Baloch when he says that they have set our huts on fire, surrounded our hills, ravaged our fields, destroyed our camels, broken our arms, and wished our annihilation.

The love for the land is expressed in a typical Eastern passionate, even sometimes exaggerated manner by the majority of the poets. For G. R. Mull Balochistan is his "heart", his "soul" and "a cure for all conceivable pains of life. Khalil Apsari is proud of the land, its "great", "innocent" and "simple" people the Baloch. For Mub rak Q z , the land of Balochistan is "an inspiring, invigorating reality through which (he) can achieve perfection". "Things, objects and images" of Balochistan "keep coming to the mind" of

Sidd q z t in "wonderful dreams" though in exile. He cannot detach himself from the "sweet memories" of the land he was forced to leave. He renews his pledge to "redeem" the motherland. 'Anq , as well as all the rest, consider this beloved land to be under "alien domination".

Regardless of difficulties, our poets are optimistic. "We are not hopeless", Sayyid declares. He is sure that the "day of freedom" will come. The enemy may massacre a generation or more, but Sayyid is certain that "revered mothers again will bear invincible sons" and that ultimately "the superior spirit" of the Baloch will overcome.

'At Sh d is sure that tyranny will reinforce the Baloch resentment, and this "resentment will lead the people to freedom and emancipation". He is convinced that the people "will give their lives to uphold national freedom".

Mub rak Q z is sure that "a revolutionary dawn, a bright future" will come, and that the "motherland is indestructible", and Bash r Bed r maintains that "killing cannot destroy human instincts" but rather "every drop of bloodshed will help the tree of freedom to grow". 'Abdul Maj d Suhr bi, like many others, visualizes "auspicious occasion when freedom is achieved and everyone is jubilant.

Representing the rejectionist point of view, most of our poets talked of the necessity for an armed struggle in order to achieve freedom. As I have already mentioned the poems belong mainly to the pre-1985 period. It was a time when most of the Baloch leaders and activists had rejected the idea of reconciliation with the Central Governments. "Only through blood" will emancipation come, Bash r Bed r proclaims. "The motherland is to be watered in blood" and freedom is to be gained "through war and revolution". "Subjugation cannot end without a fight and a firm response to the enemy backed by force" is Mub rak Q z 's message, followed by a call to the Baloch to take up their arms. Anwar --S hibkh n and Ulfat Nasim find that the only way to get freedom is through "the force of the sword" and "bloodshed". During the late 1980s and the 1990s, however, the confrontationist attitude has given way to a somewhat more reconciliatory tone among the Baloch poets.

Who leads the Balochs?

Who leads the Balochs?


Balochistan National Party's totally unanticipated decision to
withdraw from the Senate's Subcommittee has come as a bombshell in
the political quarters. It is, political pundits believe, a major
setback for the ongoing peace process in Balochistan. This decision
was taken a day after the inauguration of Coastal Highway in Makran
by President Musharraf.

Makran Coastal Highway, a 529 kms long highway that was completed
with a cost of 10 billion rupees, will link Lyari to Gwadar. The
highway is divided in three sections: Lyari-Ormara (242 Km), Ormara-
Pasni (152 Km) and Pasni-Gwadar (135 Km).
During the inaugural ceremony, President Musharraf severely
castigated the elements that are perpetrating acts of violence in
the province. The President too maintained that those who were
destabilising the situation in Balochistan were not the true friends
of Balochistan.

These remarks of General Musharraf infuriated the Baloch
nationalists. The BNP (Mengal) leaders accused that following the
recent bomb blast in Quetta, several Baloch youths, majority of whom
are reported to be students of university, had been immured by the
law enforcing agencies.

They too, while disclosing the causes of their withdrawal,
complained that the government, on one hand, was making high claims
of improving the life standard of local people, on the other had, it
has not managed to comply with the demands of the nationalist
leaders yet.

The political situation in Balochistan has taken a dramatic turn
following the decision taken by the Balochistan National Party. This
decision has plunged the whole province's politics and the prospects
of the Subcommittee's success in a state of uncertainty. The
withdrawal of BNP seems to have long-lasting impact on the Senate's
Subcommittee's recommendations as it will arguably not be accepted
by the Baloch nationalists.

This step taken by BNP will greatly worsen the political situation
in that province and the government's efforts to dig out a peaceful
solution to the ongoing turmoil in Balochistan. The question arises
what the government contemplates to do now to gratify the
nationalists and continue the pace of development in Balochistan
simultaneously. Anyway, when one talks of finding out a peaceful
solution, the important question is to whom the government must
negotiate with.

Before the formation of the Senate's Subcommittee, the nationalists
of Balochistan continuously insisted that the government must come
forward and embark upon a negotiation process. The government
without any hesitation accepted the nationalists' demands. A process
of interaction with Baloch leaders was started and Senator Mushahid
with his teammates visited Balochistan and listened to the points of
view of all segments of life. That, no doubt, was a very positive
initiative taken by the government. But after the occurrence of
violent acts of terrorism in Balochistan, particularly in Quetta,
and the withdrawal of BNP from the Senate's committee, the question
arises what the nationalists exactly want and what approach they
want for the resolution of their problems and removal of their
reservations. Do they covet the settlement of their problems
peacefully or violently? It seems the Baloch leaders are not very
clear about it themselves.

As a matter of fact, there does not exist unanimity of views amongst
the Baloch nationalists. All of them do not see eye to eye with each
other. They are divided in various groups and there exists a lack
of 'Central Leadership' in the ranks of Balochs. Let's categorise
the Baloch nationalists for the sake of understanding the present
situation in Balochistan more clearly.

Balochistan National Party (Awami) is a prominent nationalist party
in Balochistan. It does not hesitate in terming itself a Baloch
nationalist party. But interestingly, at present this nationalist
outfit has adopted a very clear pro-government and pro-mega policy.
BNP (Awami), formerly a part of Sardar Mengal's BNP, is an ardent
backer of the ongoing development of Balochistan. Several leaders of
this nationalist party, including Syed Ihsan Shah and Asghar Rind,
are presently holding important portfolios in the cabinet of Jam-led
provincial government of Balochistan. BNP (Awami) terms rest of the
parties that oppose the construction of mega projects as anti-

National Party, a newly formed party that culminated following the
merger of defunct Balochistan National Movement (BNM) and
Balochistan National Democratic Party (BNDP), is one of the key
parties that is opposing the ongoing mega projects in Balochistan.
Fascinatingly, this outfit often speaks against the 'Sardi System'
in Balochistan. It hardly shares ideological similarity with both
wings of BNP but ever since the emergence of the recent Balochistan
crisis, the two parties have gotten closer and share similar views
on Gwadar.

The third party in this political game is Balochistan Liberation
Army, and not much is known about its structural and organisational
features, as it is a hidden organisation. The government has been
insisting that this organisation does not exist in actual terms. But
soon after the recent bomb blast in Quetta, Balochistan Chief
Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf, for the first time, said this
organisation does exist. BLA is unwilling to negotiate with the
government and is bent upon harming the government's interests via

Lack of clear vision and central leadership in the ranks of Baloch
leaders has made it more difficult for them to fight the battle for
their rights in an organised and effective manner. It is surely not
possible for the government to talk and satisfy each group as the
nationalists consist of elements with totally distinct viewpoints.
Unless they are united and have a central leadership, it will
neither be possible for them to voice their stance properly nor will
it be possible for the government to hold dialogue with any party.
Violence and negotiations cannot run at the same time.


Pakistani Punjabis arrested 10 Balochis

10 more blast suspects held

QUETTA, Dec 28: Police have arrested another 10 suspects in
connection with the Meezan Chowk bomb blast which had claimed 11
lives and other similar incidents in the provincial capital.

"We have taken 10 more suspects into custody for interrogation. One
of them is a key accused," DIG Quetta Range, Pervez Rafi Bhatti,
told Dawn on Tuesday, adding that 15 people had been detained in
this connection.

He said that the key accused arrested by police was involved in
providing explosives and weapons to saboteurs for carrying out the
bomb blast and rocket attacks. "We got important information about
the incidents which recently took place in Quetta," he said.

He said that earlier the police had arrested 35 people in connection
with blasts in Quetta and after necessary interrogation 30 of them
were released last week. However, he did not confirm the arrest of
eight suspects allegedly belonging to the Baloch Liberation Army
(BLA). He said that strict security measures had been adopted in
Quetta and other areas to protect life and property of the people.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Indo Pak détente and The Future of Baloch Nationalism

Jan Muhammad Dashti

The global events for the last two years especially after 9/11 have shaped and reshaped foreign and domestic polices of many countries. The Western civil society has come to the conclusion that firm steps have to be taken to tackle the threat to their survival from “modern barbarians” specifically from the Muslim and their creed, Islam. Multi-dimensional steps both on political, military, economic and social fronts are being taken by the western countries to minimize this gigantic threat to their nations, their way of life and their democracies for which they have traveled distances of hundreds of years to achieve the present level of pluralism and decency. Punitive military actions against Afghanistan and Iraq can be seen in the background of this threat perception. Efforts for a Middle East settlement after Iraq, conceding sovereign autonomy to Kurds, taming the Libyan tiger, Ghaddafi, to bow before the American will on question of nuclear technology; compelling South Korean and the yet unrelenting Ayatollahs of Iran to open their nuclear installations to inspection, and initiating the process of Indo Pakistan détente are emanated from the overall policy objectives of the West conceived and perfected for the last many years in an overall strategy to withstand the threat to the west from the East.

We would like to discuss the issue of Baloch nationalism and their right to sovereign autonomy, especially in Pakistani context keeping in view of global changes in policy directions of US and its western allies. The Pakistan-India rapprochement would have wider dimensions in the context of Baloch national struggle than any event in recent history. Supporting the Baloch political aspirations in central Asia in the pattern of Kurds or Russian Central Asian states appear to be a much confused options for the super and regional powers to follow in case of Pakistan forgoing its dreams of hegemony over anarchic Afghanistan, turning it to its “strategic depth” in its endless fight against the Indian, giving up its territorial claims on Kashmir, minimizing its nuclear ambitions, reducing its army to manageable level, and above all denouncing its jihadi philosophy in its internal and external relations. It is still debatable whether the Punjab-muhajir axis of power in military and civil bureaucracy will be willing to sacrifice these dogmatically held policy approaches based on religious fantasies by falsifying history and negating ground realities in political and strategic arena and which have been cast in their psyche for the last five decades. It appears rather alien to the ruling mind to agree to live in peace and harmony by pursuing pluralistic, secular and decent policies particularly towards the national minorities within the country. Fatal attempts on the life of the Army Chief and the President of Pakistan in Rawalpindi a few days before the most important SAARC Summit, indicates grave scars of dissentions within the army and the intelligence agencies then filter out from within the establishment for public consumptions after the events.

Glancing into history, the subcontinent was divided in 1947 and permanent marks of peep hatred and enmity was ensured between the people of same racial and linguistic stocks, in pursuance of British global polices which were shaped taking into considerations primarily the mixed policy gestures of Indian Congressional leaders for a possible post-independent India, and of growing Russian influence in the East and increasing uncertainties coming from Maoist communist revolution in China. Pakistan was to serve as a British outpost in south Asia a responsibility which the country rightly fulfilled for succeeding decades. Balochistan was among the few states in British India that enjoyed a protectorate status. Balochistan which was never part of the sub-continent and had treaty obligations with the British Crown as a sovereign and independent state bordering the sub-continent, Iran and Afghanistan, and in effect a recognized buffer zone between the Russian territorial possessions in central Asia and the British possessions in India, was compelled to be part of the new scheme of partition plan for Pakistan. The deceptive referendum in British Balochistan and forceful annexation of Kalat confederacy into Pakistan after 9 months as a sovereign independent nation after partition are unparallel events in partition scenario of Indian subcontinent.

In an historical context, after the first Anglo-Afghan War the British entered into a treaty with the Khan of Kalat in 1854 for joint defenses against external threat ostensibly from Russia. At the same time the Iranian rulers who had lost their northern provinces to the Russians pursued a policy of expansion towards Balochistan in the West in order to compensate the territorial losses. After some bickering, the British and the Iranian governments agreed to demarcate the borders with the Khanate. A demarcation line, Goldsmith line, was drawn in 1871 dividing Balochistan into two parts. By all means Goldsmith’s line was based purely on political considerations without taking into account, geo-historical, cultural and linguistic realities and ignoring the wishes the Baloch people.

The State of Pakistan came as unique experience in statehood. A large part of its Eastern Wing got itself free in 1971 as Bangladesh after a bloody struggle. The British which has created the country is dubbing it as a failed state. The State from day one followed a path of irrationality in its internal and external policies. It refused to recognize the national entities within the country; denying them their political, cultural and social rights. The state overwhelmed by Punjab never think it appropriate to share state powers with national minorities. Therefore the issue of national autonomy to the Baloch, Pakhtoons or the Sindhis is still the cardinal point of dissent within the country.

Soon after separation of the eastern part in 1971, the country was given a constitution. Three lists of state powers were devised: Provincial, Federal and Concurrent. The concurrent list was to be handed over to the provinces after an initial period of 10 years. This never happened. The country is being run in a semi-federal status. The central government in all practical terms is running the affairs of the provinces in policy, planning and administrative spheres. The provinces have no tax collecting powers except for some minor and unimportant duties such as arms licenses fees or tax on transfer of properties from one owner to another.

For the last five decades Balochistan got nothing in financial resources to develop it. Being rich in minerals and having very negligible population it has no economic infrastructure to sustain any development efforts. The education percentage compare to other provinces is far less, no more than 10% of the total population. On Health sector there is one doctor for more than 3500 people. The government is spending 0.92 US Dollars [Rs. 55.33] per person in Balochistan on health care facilities. Roads density is the lowest in the province 0.05 km per square kilometer compare to other provinces. Except for three national highways including the recently constructed coastal highway, linking Balochistan with the Punjab and Sindh almost all the roads in the interior of Balochistan some 18157 kilometers in all are shingle or almost un-jeep able roads while the provinces territory [347192 squire KM] constitute 45% of the entire land mass of the country.

The province is getting from divisional pool of the federal revenue collections a meager amount of Rupees 2 to 3 billion annually which is less than 1% of the total development funds from the Federal budgetary allocation far less than the agreed share of Balochistan in terms of its population which is 5.5% according to 1998 Census. Balochistan has never got its proper share from the Federal funds supposed to be utilized for development projects throughout the country. If Balochistan share is calculated the federal government has withheld Balochistan shares in development sectors for the last five decades to the tune 500 billion rupees. The Baloch leaders are not unconscious of the fact that of all the mega projects of economic sustainability for the last 50 years initiated and completed by Pakistan, Balochistan have got almost nothing. They believe that the figures on royalty of Sui Gas per well according to international standard is far less and that the Federal government is always fudging the figures. They maintain that a total amount of around 3000 billion rupees is outstanding against the central government and this is the amount which has been fraudulently denied to the province since 1953 when Sui started producing Gas to the country[1]. Baloch leaders believe that the recent announcement of Gwadar deep sea-port and Miraani Dam are for strategic purposes and they have nothing to do with Balochistan and its development. Gwadar is required as a second viable port for the country and also for military use, and Miraani Dam is being constructed to support the drinking water provisions for an expending port of Gwadar and its military-industrial complex in future. Baloch leaders are apprehensive that the entire Baloch coast line will be reduced into colony with drastic demographic consequences for its people. Their fears are getting some credibility because of the fact that 80 % of land purchases during the last 6 months are being made by Punjabis and immigrant, muhajir communities from out side the province. More over, the armed forces: Navy, army and air force and intelligence agencies of various nomenclatures have acquired millions of acres of land along the coast. Most of the Baloch believe that land acquired by these institutions will ultimately be used for housing projects managed by these forces for re-settlement of the non-Baloch in those housing colonies. Since various branches of the armed forces have a very flourishing real Estate business in various cantonments of the country, the Baloch fears appears to be well-founded.

In Baloch perspective, they are a subjugated people. Their genuine leaders have been kept out of power and protégés of the Punjab are put into authority in the province. The federal law enforcing agencies keep on insulting and molesting the people. The provincial bureaucracy is imported from Punjab. The province has been turned to a police state with least regards to rule of law and morality. The Baloch resources are being exploited mercilessly to the benefit of others. Their language is being replaced by language of immigrants. The Baloch masses are living in pathetic conditions of hunger and poverty[2]. Their culture and traditions are being defaced and finer elements of their moral and cultural values are under constant media attack. A sustained and vicious propaganda of character assassination is being carried out in Pakistani Media against the Baloch leaders. Thus the secession has been the dominant theme and assertion in Baloch mind since their losing sovereign status over their country.

The Baloch went through three armed conflicts since forcible merger of their country with Pakistan. The first was at the time of merger in 1948 and later events occurred in 1958, and 1974. Although the central government’s political and economic incursions into the province triggered off the hostilities, the root cause lay in the unfulfilled national aspirations of the Baloch for an independent sovereign status of their own. Annexation of the Kalat confederacy in 1948, which led to a short-lived uprising, successive regimes had perceived Baloch nationalism as a grave threat to the state’s suzerainty. The incident that strengthened the center’s threat perception was the abortive attempt of the Khan of Kalat to convene a meeting of the Baloch Sardars in 1958 to work out plans to consolidate a Baloch state. The revolt of (1973–77) should be seen as the continuation of the previous insurgencies and was built upon the experience of the previous armed conflicts with Pakistani authorities. It was a relatively well-organized military event, spearheaded by a body that called itself the Popular Front for Armed
Resistance (PFAR). The strength of the insurgent force varied from 1000 to 10,000. They operated in small bands of 30 to 50 men equipped with light weapons and were based in hideouts in the mountains. The army deployed about 30,000 men who were equipped with sophisticated weapons of modern warfare[3].

In Baloch context, the process of military mobilization began simultaneously with political mobilization. Despite strong objective conditions, neither of these processes achieved the optimum level of mobilization when the armed conflict broke out in 1973. It was mainly due to cleavages in the Baloch society along tribal lines making it difficult to evolve collectively “agreed symbols” to ignite and sustain an enduring nationalist movement; the division of Baloch leadership on some very fundamental issues by pursuing divergent political objectives and options and the strong divisive and coercive tactics of Pakistani establishment to contain the growth of mobilization of the Baloch.

The political dynamics of the post-September 2001 had certain characteristics that are distressing Pakistani establishment and influencing its polity of religious extremism and militancy on the one hand and perpetuation of repressive policies towards national minorities on the other. The military junta in an apparent policy shift in order to affiliate the regime with the West, prompting new discourses by state elites in referring to the significance of a liberal and secular identity of Pakistan. This is heading towards the abandonment of Islamic ideology as a political manifesto[4]. In the course of these developments the religious elements and old guards of the so-called Pakistan ideology are re-emphasizing the significance of religious values and criticizing such a drastic policy shift.

In post 9/11 scenario, the national minorities in the country see the official shift in policy approaches from religious to liberal is a temporary maneuver mostly prompted by an urge to safe-guard the interests of ruling elites rather than motivated by a genuinely legitimate and sustainable interest in Pakistani identity. This is quite clear by the fact that in the recent rhetoric of tolerance and pluralism there is no easing of tyrannical policies towards national minorities or any mention of the fact that Pakistan being a multi-national state.

In a cold-war perspective the US and the West viewed the Baloch aspiration for autonomy as extensions of Soviet influence. They supported the Persian and Pakistani military and political campaigns against the Baloch. After 9/11 drastic changes are being observed in international relations in general and central and south Asia in particular. The dynamics of post September polity are bound to effect the national questions of the subjugated nations in the region. Balochistan is geographically and strategically important in respect of oil game being played in central Asia. Many western thinkers believe that a liberal and secular Balochistan located at the centre of three states of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan with their fundamentalist religious ideologies and wide spread discontent among their constituent nationalities, can play a positive and balancing role.

Although in the long run the Baloch question is that of a stateless nation, aspiring sovereign autonomy, a federalist solution could be envisaged within the boundaries of the existing nations of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan as an interim solution. A federal structure and national autonomous provincial governing mechanisms may address the problem and offer prospects of a new pleasant partnership of trust and coexistence amongst various nationalities. The central governments of the existing countries should take responsibility in areas of defense, foreign affairs, and on minimum of fiscal discipline. All other state functions should be taken care of by the federating units. Such a mechanism will generate participation, share responsibilities, and offer opportunities to all nations. Logically, such an arrangement will provide the foundations for stronger, civilized, prosperous peoples in multinational states with a new vision and civilized images of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nevertheless, many Baloch leaders and Baloch intelligentsia believe that a permanent resolution to Baloch question is that all parts of Balochistan, divided between the three neighboring countries could be equally federated between them, as a national sovereign entity. Undoubtedly the artificial political frontiers dividing Balochistan, which are in real sense inter-Baloch frontiers, would loose their raison d’être and disappear in the years to come. By its central geographical position, Baloch nation is predestined to play the role of a democratic link between the neighboring nations, to be perhaps at the heart of a kind of union between the nations of the southern tip of central Asia. Balochistan would then become a land of peace and a highway for co-operation and development in association with other liberal and democratic nations of the world[5].

Reverting to Pak-India détente, if Pakistan is really interested in a peaceful south Asia spearheaded by India, the country’s internal and external policies have to be reshaped. A hegemonistic India would certainly want democratic traditions to flourish in Pakistan. They want to keep out the huge Pakistani army from interfering into political arena in the country. They would also like a secularist approach and end to jihadi extremism sustained by the country’s intelligence institutions. The Indians who have no grudges against the Pakistani nationalities at least at this stage would positively stand for their rights: at the least India may advocate a similar quantum of autonomy which they are allowing to Indian provinces or states. India may also encourage demands for re-demarcation of provinces on cultural and linguistic basis because most of the Indian states are territorially reshaped on these percepts after independence. In such a dispensation Pakistan’s economic distribution of resources will also suffer a change to the benefit of the smaller provinces. These are possible plus points for national minorities of likely fall out of Indo-Pakistan détente.

The Western concern for security after 9/11 is based not only from the threat of jihadi philosophy of Islam where the Muslims are ordained by the Almighty to spread the words God to fore-corners of the world and subdue the non-believers by force, but by acquirement of nuclear technology by Muslim countries with a deep hatred towards non-Muslims especially the Hindu and Judaic-Christian civilizations, which they term as civilization inferior to Muslim. US led coalition of developed nations is clearly focusing on this menace. Libya, Iran and North Korea have visibly bowed down before the Western might. Pakistan is under high pressure to forego its nuclear technology and dismantle what it has manufactured so far and handover its nuclear scientists to extensive interrogation by the Western agencies, which the country is faithfully obliging.

By all indications Pakistan has only two options: Either to agree to the Indian hegemony by accepting the Indo-American security guarantees for Pakistan or to face the consequences for the Western manipulated Indian military onslaught to settle the Pakistani question once and for all. While discussing both the scenarios we must not dismiss the events which have a confusing mix of administrative philosophy, historical fantasies, of theoretical flaws in the very foundation of the Pakistani state and of its subsequent behavior we did refer to above, nor can we minimize the consequent implications of either option on regional political scenario.

If Pakistan trades its security in exchange for the nuclear technology, Kashmir, de-militarization, minimizing or totally curtailing the invisible power and authority of ISI and other intelligence outfits; reducing the support to the huge and threatening Mullaism and its numerous breeding grounds of religious intolerances; give up interferences in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and stop exporting religious fantasies to outside world; it should mean that Pakistan should accept civilized norms of society and agree to live in a decent and human manner, which is a very pinching formula for the state establishment which has been harping to tune of intolerance, distortion of the facts of history and geography in its internal and external approaches of polity for the last five decades. It has to concede more in terms of democratizing the Pakistani society, and to certain extent give rights to smaller nationalities within the country, against the clear distaste of Punjabi-muhajir power axis[6]. On the contrary refusing to heed to geo-political realities of the present day world does mean the break-up of the “failed” or “rogue state of Pakistan”. However in the former event, Pakistan assuming the role of a satellite state in the region, the national question in the three provinces of Balochistan, Sindh and NWFP should suffer a considerable set back. There is a possibility that the Baloch, the Pakktuns or the Sindhis may be treated like the Indians reacted to the nationalist demands of the people in Kashmir or Khalistan or Mezoram. The Baloch in a worst scenario will be facing the Indian army and anti-terrorist elite troops in their areas, or Indians guarding the Sui installations, Gwadar port facilities, Sandak Project in Chagai or securing Raskoh military installations housing sensitive military equipments against Baloch guerrillas. Similarly, Mezzos, Tamils, Sikhs in Khalistan and Kashmiris if they continue their struggle will face the Pakistan army and its elite troops in those areas[7]. After SAARC conference in Islamabad the Indian and SAARC leaders gave statements emphasizing that consolidated steps have to be taken by the member countries jointly against any national movements which they termed as terrorist activities in those countries. India would surely welcome such a development. Indian army were sent to Sari Lanka to crush the Tamil uprising during Rajeo Ganghi regime. The same could be repeated by the Indians in Balochistan in support of Pakistan whose security will be guaranteed by India in a new dispensation. The Pakistan and its intelligence agencies in reciprocation will be obliged to supply the names of their former Indian contacts and agents from their archives to the Indians. We have many example in recent past where the neighboring countries after reaching agreements on issues in their wider national interests have ditched those people they had been supporting for long against their respective countries. Iran under Shah supported Kurds insurgents against Iraq in 1970s but after reaching a rapprochement with Iraq on disputed Shath ul Arab in Algeria in 1975, Iran simply ditched the Kurds and thousands of Kurds were killed by Iraqi troops in subsequent fight against them in Kurdistan. Similarly the Iraqi support though negligible came to a halt for Iranian Baloch against the Shah regime. The Baloch were promised all out support by Afghanistan in their fight against the Pakistan army during 1974-1978. However after Afghan President Daud Khan’s official visit to Pakistan and reaching agreements with Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on a wider range of bilateral issues, the Afghans simply ignored frantic calls from the Baloch for military equipments for their guerrillas fighting the Pakistan government.

To sum up, Pakistan is passing through a crucial period of political and administrative uncertainty and policy confusions. However, in both the cases: Pakistan accepting a dictating position of its big neighbor in its internal and external polices, or choosing for a complete reversal of recent policy pronouncements of its peaceful intentions towards India, Baloch leadership have to tread very carefully in the muddy waters of international intrigues and internal conspiracies, and have to take into considerations all aspect of the impending conflict with Pakistan before going for an armed insurgency for realization for Baloch political rights.

(The author is editor in Chief of Daily Asaap, an Urdu daily being published from Quetta and Turbat, and Editor-in-chief Balochistan of News and Feature Services)

[1] During Nationalist Government of Akhthar Mengal (1997-1998), the Chief Minister of the province intended to prepare and send a demarche to the federal government regarding loss to Balochistan on account of Sui Gas royalties and balance amount supposed to be withheld through fraudulent means by the Federal government on Sui Gas income which is calculated to be in billions. The Chief Minister acquired the services an expert who started work on the project. His initial report to the Chief Minister was revealing which said that billion of rupees to be paid by the Federal government annually to Balochistan, not to speak the fudged figures or any withheld amount since 1953. Apart from many other reasons, disintegration of his party and dismissal of his Government through underhand tactics was the Chief Minister’s determination to bring the Gas figures public once it is calculated. Mr. Mengal was also determined to move the Supreme Court of the Country if the Federal government refuses to negotiate the figures.

[2] Every fourth able-bodied Baloch in the province is un-employed.

[3] Presently a Baloch Liberation Army is claiming rocket attacks on Pakistani security forces and in Quetta, the provincial capital for the last many months.

[4] The country’s military ruler in its address to both the houses of Parliament on 17th of January 2004 declared a war against religious extremism as one of the top priority of his government policies. However, apart from half hearted security operations against extremists who are allegedly responsible for the attack on the life of the President, no firm steps have been taken to rout out religious fanaticism in the country. Religious outfits are still operating with active connivance of the country’s main intelligence organizations.

[5] If Pakistan wants a democratic solution to the Baloch question, she must imperatively amend radically her fundamental perception and recognize, according to a new constitution, the existence of the Baloch within her boundaries as a people distinct from other nationalities comprising Pakistan, equal in collective rights and duties. Without such a democratic dispensation and political will it will be difficult to satisfy the Baloch and to reach a solution to Baloch question which may be in line with internationally recognized principles of justice and equality of all peoples in a multi-national state.

[6] Now question is will the Punjab seeing the writings on the walls allow such a rapprochement to be effected so easily? The muhajir factor in power is yet another irritant. They have enjoyed political and economic power for many decades. Being minority their language got the status of national language in the country. Obviously if everything goes smooth and a pluralistic polity of governance and rights of nationalities are guaranteed though may be in a later stage, the muhajir would be losers to a large extent after the Punjab.

[7] The Baloch had a first hand experience in 1970s when Iran under Shah actively supported Pakistani army in its campaign against the Baloch. Iranian government sent Cobra Helicopters to Pakistan army, which were used in military operations in Balochistan. Both Pakistan and Iran had big stakes in case Baloch are successful in obtaining any kind of autonomy in either part of Balochistan. The Baloch case is not much different from Kurds whose aspiration for national sovereignty is being seen as a threat to Iraq, Iran and Turkey.