By Sajjad Shaukat
Taking cognizance of the deteriorating situation of Pakistan’s largest province, Pakistan’s rulers and political leaders are focusing their attention on Balochistan as they expect elections this year. In this regard, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has declared 2012 the ‘Year of Balochistan.’ While in his address to a rally, Imran Khan apologized to the Baloch people for the national misgivings.
In this regard, Nawaz Sharif met to the Baloch Sardar (Fedual lord) Ataullah Mengal, and listened to his tirade against the ‘Punjabi’ army and about hatred against Lahore. In other words, he endorsed Mengal’s viewpoint. However, there were many things which Nawaz Sharif should have clarified during his meeting.
Notably, no one from political class of Balochistan comes forward to speak on the issue or at least give response to negative propaganda, which is due to the fear of revenge attacks, threatening calls from the separatist elements—ultimately tantamounting to leaving a space for the anti-Pakistan elements which disseminate biased information against Pakistan’s security forces and Punjabis.
So, instead of getting the sympathies of the Baloch people to increase their vote bank by manipulating the situation, our politicians must give awareness to the general masses of the province about the real problems the province faces.
In the recent years, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has made strenuous efforts to develop the infrastructure in Balochistan, providing the people employment opportunities to bring the Balochis in the mainstream of the country. In this regard, Pak Army has not only established schools and colleges in Balochistan, but also set up technical and industrial institutes in the province, besides giving military training to the youth.
While addressing, the passing-out parade in Quetta on October 11, 2011, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani pointed out various efforts of the Pak Army in alleviating the people of Balochistan. He appreciated Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Kayani for ensuring best possible training to bring the youth into the national mainstream. Gilani highlighted development projects in Balochistan, aimed at the socio-economic uplift of its people. He said that the federal government would also provide 30 percent of its shares from the Saindak Project to the Balochistan government, adding that under the NFC award, fund transferring had been increased from 5.1 to 9.09 percent.
Last year, I had visited Balochistan along with other journalists. I saw a number of institutes, set up by army, and these were providing especially technical training to thousands of Balochis. I had also a trip to far-flung areas of the province and witnessed various mega projects and mineral sites. I was greatly surprised that no military operation is going on in Balochistan as propagated by the foreign elements. People told me that some subversive events are taking place by the minority separatist elements so as to create instability in the province.
In fact, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have intensified their common conspiracy in order to obtain their secret collective designs through high-profile acts of violence, which are part of alarming intrigues in Balochistan. Besides suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, destruction of gas pipelines etc., kidnapping of and killing of people—especially of Shia community continues in the province.
In this connection, recently, the leaders of separatist Baloch groups, who are living in self-exile in UK, have been found to be holding secret meetings with the Indian diplomats in London. Sources suggest that they have been living in highly expensive flat which has become a centre of their covert activities. They get anti-Pakistan propaganda material printed in London and using different channels to distribute it in various parts of Balochistan. They obtain tickets for their frequent foreign visits from an Indian travel agent in London, who reportedly receives payments from the Indian High Commission. Indirectly, Indian RAW sends money for all their financial expenses.
It is notable that the agents of CIA, RAW and Mosssad are well-penetrated in various NGOs and human rights organisations which are being used for vile propaganda against Pakistan’s security forces. In this context, on July 31, 2011, a rally was organized by Baloch Human Rights Council in UK, in front of the US Embassy in London, which raised false accusations such as inhuman torture and extrajudicial murder of the Baloch intellectuals by the Pakistani army and ISI. Some human rights groups and Human Rights Watch (HRW) also raised similar allegtions.
On August 3, 2011, ISPR spokesman, Maj-Gen Athar Abbas, while rejecting human rights groups’ reports about Balochistan as a conspiracy against Pakistan, called for probing the funding of these organisations as this could be traced back to those forces which want to destabilize Pakistan.
It is noteworthy that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, is determined to make India a super power of Asia to counterbalance China and weaken Pakistan as well as Iran. Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport which has great geo-strategic location, linking Central Asia, is considered a greater threat by America, India and Israel.
It is mentionable that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and an another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from RAW and CIA, and are also trying to sabotage Pakistan’s relationship with China and Iran. In the past few years, their militants kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. In this respect, Jundollah arranged a number of suicide attacks in Iran, while Tehran had directly named CIA for supporting those terrorist attacks.
It is of particular attention that Balochistan is replete with mineral resources of various types. In this context, Saindak project-full of gold and copper mines has its own significance. American companies had an eye on the project. But Islamabad had given the contract of Saindak mining project to state-owned Chinese firm, Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC). In May, 2011, Pakistan gave five years extension to that Chinese firm—after it agreed to pay five percent additional shares to Balochistan government.
Nevertheless, in wake of several mega development projects in Balochistan, Reko-Diq gold and copper mining project is considered to be the biggest national asset which would make Balochistan as the richest province. Experts opine that some 12.3 million tons of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold lie in the Reko Diq area (EL-5), located in the Chaghi area of Balochistan. However, US which was fully interested in the Reko Diq project, got frustrated when the Supreme Court of Pakistan took notice of the project. Some sources say that China had requested Pakistan to award the site of Reko Diq to MCC, but Islamabad had declined the request fearing a possible legal battle with a Canadian and Chilean company, Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) which was recently facing a case in the Supreme Court regarding its controversial deal. But Pakistan’s high officials want to give the contract of this project to the Chinese firm, MCC after the verdict of the court.
Besides, containing China and subduing Iran, it is also owing to the mineral resources of Balochistan—particularly gold and copper that US-led India and Israel including Karzai-led regime of Afghanistan have accelerated their subversive acts in Balochistan.
Actually, the instability started in Balochistan when various projects were undertaken by the previous government to develop the backward regions. The Baloch Sardars (Feudal lords) who have been backed by India, US and Israel, opposed all the developmental projects. These Sardars who were running their own private jails and ‘farrari camps’ resisted the government plans as they did not want to give up the old system of feudal lords. It was Pak Army which occupied private jails and farrari camps and thus set free several innocent people. That is why, now living in Afghanistan and other foreign countries, these Sardars are propagating against Pakistan, its army and ISI, while they are themselves creating unrest in Balochistan with the assistance of external powers.
Nonetheless, the year of 2012 must prove very positive for Balochistan. This is the right time for the government that its announced policy for political, social and economic reforms should be implemented so as to remove sense of deprivation among the Balochis. At the same time, our political and religious leaders and media must convince the people, especially the youth that their Sardars want to restore old system of feudalism in the province and are playing in the hands of foreign enemies. These are the anti-state elements which incite the Balochis against the federation and the security forces.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations