Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Kahan Training Camps for Resistance

An exclusive visit by Quetta journalists to 'Kahan Training Camps for Resistance' in Balochistan


QUETTA: [A group of local journalists visited the Kahan Camps recently where activists of 'Resistance Movement' are under training. We are giving here brief translation of the article published in a Sindhi daily Ibrat, Hyderabad dated Aug 01, 2004, by Ismail Khoso with courtesy and in good faith - ed].

After the creation of country (Aug 1947), Balochistan in Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the only province where 3rd. time Army Operation has recently been launched.

Recently, not only Baloch nationalists but also members of ruling Muttehda Majlis Amal (MMA) and Pashton (Pushto speaking) members in Balochistan Assembly including ministers has passed a unanimous resolution demanding Govt of Pakistan to give up the construction of army cantonments in the province.

Army Operation against Balochs, first time was launched during the tenure of Army dictator President Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan in the year 1958.

2nd Army Operation was launched during the days of former Prime Minister late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) in early 70s. Air Force was used against the Balochs. The main target was Kohlu Area in Balochistan where big deposits of oil still exist.

The Mari Tribe headed by Mir Sher Mohammad Mari (generally known as General Sherrof) fought against the Govt of Pakistan whereas Sardar Khair Bux Mari - another influential person of Marri Tribe parted his way due to his differences with General Sherrof. He lives in Kahan (near Kohlu).

Some trainees of Marri Tribe with arms in a Training Camp

During the recent journalists' visit to Training Camps, it was disclosed that more than 60 training camps are working 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.

Dosteen Baloch is Commander of one of such Training Camps. He told the journalists: 'Resources of Balochistan have been occupied whereas the entity of Balochs has been badly damaged. The time to resolve the problems through democratic means has already exhausted. Now we have been compelled to take our Arms.' He added: ' I am graduate and married. Now our children ask when they will join the movement.'

Another Commander of the Camp namely said he is a landlord who got an opportunity to exchange the views with some young persons already present in the Camp. Now I have decided to participate in the struggle in principle. He complained that national rights f Balochistan have been looted.

During the survey conducted by journalists, it was noted that Balochs were being trained with Rocket Launchers, RPG Seven, Mortars, Anti-aircraft Guns, Kalashnikovs, land mines etc. They were possessing modern wireless sets, walkie-talkies, and satellites sets. Nevertheless, they had modern communication system. The camps were equipped with electric generators. For transport, they had motorcycles, pick-ups etc.,

When Chief Minister of Balochistan Mir Jam Yousuf contacted in Naushki, he said 'Operation' would be launched in the areas where such training camps exist. He said disclosure of such camps is tantamount to blackmailing tactics.

Meanwhile, Chief of Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP) and former Governor of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti told journalists about such training camps, in Dera Bugti, it is the result of state oppression, injustices and prevailing 'sense of deprivation' among the Balochs. He further said that Govt has itself created such situation where the Balochistan has become centre of such resistance movements and it has also compelled our Baloch youth to take arms.

In Islamabad, Federal Interior Minister Faisal Hayyat replying to a question said: Like Al-Quaida, nationalists have proved themselves detrimental to the country. Meanwhile, many Baloch leaders have been arrested in Turbat, Mund and other parts of Balochistan.

The world media has also covered activity of such training camps with photographs (52h01).
Operation in Balochistan: Another view

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

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.

The Baloch Liberation Army is an amorphous, underground organization which was envisaged in the Balochistan university many years ago during the cold war era. Extremists, left-leaning students of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) were in 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 BLA.

However, after the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan but with their a 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 nationalists elements, whether they are Pakhtuns or Balochs , were thought to be the best available resource that could be used to keep a track on Taliban activities.

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

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

Sources in 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 there perceptions, whether real or imagines, which have created grounds in the military minds for an operation in Balochistan.

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.

Though major political leaders have not been arrested, including Nawab Khair Bux Marri, Attaullah Khan Mengal, former Chief Minister Akhtar Hussain Mengal but the Govt has, at the movement, abandoned its designs in the area and are pushing the arrested leaders to play their role to pacify the situation (courtesy: The Star dated Aug 08, 2004) (37h08).


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