Monday, January 31, 2005

Strike call for Feb 12

Shujaat resumes talks today

By Our Staff Reporter

KARACHI, Jan 30: Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Husain is due here on Monday. Besides offering condolences to the Soomro family on the passing away of veteran politician Rahim Bukhsh Soomro , the PML chief is likely to resume talks with Baloch leaders he had met last week and see other important people.

During his last visit to Karachi, Chaudhry Shujaat held a meeting with Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal, who advised him to see Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti to sort out the Sui issue.

The PML chief also held a meeting with another veteran Politician, Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari, to persuade him to use his good offices for arranging his meeting with Nawab Bugti.

However, informed sources told Dawn that Nawab Bugti, reacting to a statement made by ISPR chief Major General Shaukat Sultan, had declined to receive the PML delegation. But, the sources said, attempts were being made to find some other route to Dera Bugti.

Our correspondent in Quetta adds: Nawab Bugti has suggested that a committee comprising independent and impartial journalists, Ayaz Amir, Irshad Hussain Haqqani and Mushahid Hussain Syed, be set up to hear the viewpoints of the concerned parties on allegations levelled by the ISPR chief.

The JWP leader said that Mushahid Hussain in his capacity as a journalist, and not as a politician, should act as judge and Ayaz Amir and Irshad Hussain Haqqani as members of the jury investigate the allegations.

Govt to root out violence: Sherpao - Talks on with Baloch leaders

By Bureau Report

PESHAWAR, Jan 30: Federal Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao has said the government is determined to protect national assets.

Speaking to party workers at his residence here on Sunday, he said the government was trying hard to find a political solution to the Balochistan problem.

The government had already started negotiations with Baloch leaders to defuse tension and restore normality, the minister added. He emphasized that the government would not tolerate any violence in the province and was striving to find a peaceful and negotiated solution of the situation, he added.

Mr Sherpao said that Pakistan was trying to get rid of terrorism for which it had extended all-out support to the international community. He said his brother, Hayat Mohammad Khan, had been a victim of terrorism.

He urged workers of his party who were making preparations for the 30th death anniversary of Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao to forge unity in their ranks and prepare themselves for the next local bodies elections.

Mr Sherpao said his party would defeat the Awami National Party in the polls as it had done in the previous elections. A large number of party workers attended the meeting.

ANP vows not to allow construction of dam: Army operation in Sui alleged

By Bureau Report

PESHAWAR, Jan 30: The Awami National Party (ANP) has vowed not to allow construction of the controversial Kalabagh Dam and accept the hegemony of Punjab.

Speaking at a public meeting at Chowk Yadgar on Saturday, party central president Senator Asfandyar Wali alleged that the Kalabagh project had been planned for the prosperity and progress of Punjab.

The meeting was organised to commemorate the 17th death anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who led a non-violence movement against British colonialism in the sub-continent. The venue was decorated with party flags and banners.

"We are followers of Bachaa Khan and believe in non-violence, but will not allow any power to build Kalabagh Dam," Asfandyar remarked. He warned that no one could construct Kalabagh Dam and destroy Pukhtuns for the economic prosperity of others.

The ANP leader said the Kalabagh project was technically unsound, and asked the government not to waste time and resources on it. Asfandyar Wali accused the government of launching an unannounced military operation in Balochistan.

"On the one hand the government talks about a peaceful settlement of the issues while on the other it has initiated a military operation in Sui against Balochs." "They (government) targeted Pukhtuns in South Waziristan Agency and now has started an operation against Balochs in Sui and other parts of Balochistan.

The rulers should not forget the East Pakistan tragedy as the ongoing situation can lead the country to another debacle," he warned. He held out an assurance that the ANP would fully support Balochs in their struggle to secure their constitutional rights.

Paying tribute to Bachaa Khan, he said Ghafar Khan wanted peace in the subcontinent and always preached the philosophy of non-violence. Pakistan was holding talks with India, but when Abdul Ghafar Khan had suggested that the Kashmir dispute should be solved through negotiations, he had been declared a 'traitor', he said.

ANP senior vice-president Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour claimed that Pakistan had got independence as a result of long struggle led by Ghafar Khan. Criticising the MMA government policy, he said the NWFP Assembly had passed a Shariat bill, but did not implement Islamic laws in the province.

The meeting passed resolutions demanding that the government should cancel privatisation of Wapda and end the military operation in Balochistan.

Strike call for Feb 12

By Our Correspondent

QUETTA, Jan 30: The alliance of four Baloch nationalist parties has given a call for a strike in the province on Feb 12 in protest against deployment of army in Sui and looting of Balochistan's resources.

The alliance has also demanded the arrest of the security forces officials involved in assault on a lady doctor. The Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party had earlier given a strike call for the same day on the drought issue. The alliance and the PMAP have agreed to protest jointly on the Sui and drought issues.

Speaking at a press conference at the press club, Balochistan National Party (Mengal) Secretary Habib Jalib Baloch, Jamhoori Watan Party General Secretary Sardar Naiz Breach and Dr Ishaque Baloch of the National Party criticized the provincial government for handing over the security of Sui to federal forces.

They alleged that the federal government had planned to evacuate 500 villages in Sui and establish a cantonment and it had used the pretext of protection of installations to deploy army for the purpose.

They refuted the Inter-Services Public Relations' claim that tribesmen had sold the land to the government and maintained that the Dera Bugti district nazim and local tribal elders had denied that the 400 acres had been sold.

The leaders claimed that the government wanted to establish cantonments to complete the Gwadar project and explore untapped resources in the province despite the fact that the Balochistan Assembly had unanimously adopted a resolution against such a move.

Ponam opposes cantonments in Balochistan

By Our Correspondent

SUKKUR, Jan 30: Speakers at a public meeting held under the auspices of the Pakistan Oppressed Nations' Movement on Sunday called upon the government to immediately withdraw troops from Balochistan and stop construction of cantonments in the province.

The central leader of the Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Mr Mehmood Khan Achakzai, said the country was virtually under martial law and provinces were being run by corps commanders.

He said the main cause of disharmony in the country was the government's spending of income of small provinces on Punjab. He demanded that resources be distributed judiciously among all provinces.

Sindh National Front chief Mumtaz Bhutto described the federal system as the source of all ills and called for a change of basic nature in the system. He said that democracy and solidarity required every person to get his rights.

He said the army rule was being nurtured through the so-called democracy in the country. He also said that cantonments were not needed in the country. He said he feared that after Wana and Balochistan, an operation would be launched in Sindh and Rangers had already been deployed in Shikarpur, Garhi Yasin, Jacobabad and other towns of the province.

He alleged that Sindh police officials kept in touch with outlaws on mobile phones. He said almost half of the armed forces and personnel of other agencies were being used to provide security for two VVIPs while the common people had been left at the mercy of bandits.

Mr Mumtaz Bhutto said the two major parties of the country, the PPP and the Muslim League always joined hands with the establishment. Qadir Magsi called upon all the oppressed nationalities to join hands to get rid of the army rule.

He said the oppressed people could not get their rights till the army rule was ended. He said all hostels of the Sindh University had been vacated on the eve of Gen Musharraf's visit to Jamshoro. Zain Shah, Qamar Bhatti, Maulana Azizullah Bohio, Azhar Jatoi and Majeed Kanjoo also spoke on the occasion.

RESOLUTIONS: Resolutions adopted at the meeting criticized the army action against the people of Balochistan. They demanded that work on the Gwadar seaport be stopped and the project be handed over to the Balochistan government.

They called for resolving the Balochistan issue through dialogue. They condemned the Sui assault incident and demanded exemplary punishment of the culprits. They opposed the Kalabagh dam and Thal canal projects. Another resolution demanded autonomy for the Sindhi, Balochi, Pukhtun and Seraiki people in accordance with the 1940 resolution.

JWP sets terms for peace

By Our Correspondent

QUETTA, Jan 30: The information secretary of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Senator Amanullah Kanrani, has said that withdrawal of army from Sui, arrest of criminals involved in the assault on a lady doctor and putting a stop to the campaign of character assassination of Baloch leaders are needed for building trust and restoring peace in Balochistan.

Speaking at a press conference at the press club here on Sunday, he said that denial of full autonomy to federating units, establishment of checkpoints and refusal to register an FIR against security forces who killed five tribesmen and wounded 23 others were some of the issues causing disharmony between the Baloch people and the federation.

Mr Kanrani rejected government's assertion that army deployment was aimed at protecting gas installations. He said that the government was not sincere in resolving the issue through dialogue and the Sui incident was a pre-planned drama to sabotage the efforts of the parliamentary committee and prepare ground for army deployment in the area.

He said tanks were used against enemies but moving them into Sui against civilians was a warning to tribesmen, either to keep quite or face the wrath troops. Senator Kanrani said that at present the main issue for the Baloch people was to protect their honour and until the Sui incident culprits were arrested and troops were withdrawn from Sui, negotiations would be meaningless.

He accused officials of the Sui police station of being biased in refusing to register an FIR on behalf of tribal elders against the DSG and FC men for killing five tribesmen and injuring 23 others.

The JWP senator said that the leadership of his party would not succumb to pressures and never compromise on the rights of the Baloch people. He said that they would continue their struggle against oppressors.

Weapons seized: The Kharan Rifles, a wing of the Frontier Corps, has seized arms and ammunition from the general Patuk area, but has made no arrests. Frontier Corps sources here said on Sunday that militiamen, acting on a tip, had raided the area and found weapons concealed under-ground.

The seized weapons include 12 RPG-7 rocket, six anti-tank mines, one air defence missile, five rocket launcher fuse, one Kalashnikov, one sub-machine gun, 12 7-MM guns, 765 rounds, 14.5-MM guns, 47 rounds and five mortar bombs.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

BLA claims responsibility for Head Baloki pipeline blast

Listen to these reports

Nasirabad: Electric towers blown up electric supply suspended BLA claim responsibility

Quetta: Tension in Sui, Bomb blasts in Quetta and Kuchlag and more

BLA claims responsibility for Head Baloki pipeline blast: Gas to industrial units not restored

By Khawaja Naseer

LAHORE: Gas supply to industrial units in Lahore, Kasur, Pattoki, Sahiwal and Multan remained suspended on the second day on Saturday with the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) claiming that the domestic connections had been restored.

Taking precautionary measures against attacks, the SNGPL on Saturday directed its operational wing to lay all overground gas pipeline crossings underground in Punjab, Azam Khan, the SNGPL deputy managing director, told Daily Times.

He said gas supply to industrial units would be restored today (Sunday) evening or on Monday. Sources said the SNGPL lost Rs 7.5 million due to Friday’s attack on the pipeline. He said the company had hired the services of the Army, the Rangers and the FC to guard pipelines but it was difficult to protect the 6,000-kilometre main line and 38,000-km distribution lines. The SNGPL on Saturday ordered an inquiry into the attack.

Meanwhile, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has accepted the responsibility of attack on Kasur gas pipeline, Online reported.

Power cut in Quetta, other cities

LAHORE: The electricity supply to several cities in Balochistan including Quetta was suspended on Saturday, the BBC reported. The report quoted an official of the WAPDA as saying that the electricity supply was suspended due to a technical fault. However, the BLA claimed power had been suspended after it blew up electricity towers in Chatar, a tehsil of Nasirabad district, the BBC reported. According to PTV, two circuits of the main electricity transmission line tripped near Nasirabad district, suspending power supply to cities in Balochistan. The restoration of electricity supply would take over two weeks, PTV added. Unidentified attackers fired two rockets at a FC checkpoint in Kohlo, Online reported. A non-politician friend of President Musharraf telephoned Nawab Akbar Bugti on Saturday and discussed the law and order situation in Balochistan with him, Geo reported. daily times monitor

EDITORIAL: MQM’s tactics in Balochistan

The Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain convened a conference on Balochistan in Quetta on Friday to back the Baloch nationalists’ demand for autonomy in general and for rejection of a “military operation” in the province. A glance at who’s who will help define the nature of the MQM initiative. The PML, BNP, JWP, National Party, Baloch National Movement, Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao, Hazara Democratic Party, Balochistan National Congress, PML-Junejo, and BNP-Hai Baloch Group were among the parties attending the conference. Interestingly, the main opposition parties PPP-Parliamentarians, Jamaat-e-Islami and PMLN turned down the MQM invitation.

The ARD and the MMA stayed out of the session and there was a cloud of mystery hanging over the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) which is the big party in the alliance ruling Balochistan. This means that the MMA and ARD were not completely united over the issue and the MMA showed understandable reluctance to say no but was not among the parties present. The PML was there, which means that the ruling alliance was well represented. From the ruling alliance the MQM was the most important party giving a clear call in favour of the nationalist position but couching it in terms of the provincial autonomy it has been demanding in Sindh ever since it turned “Muttahida” from “Muhajir”. Understandably too, the opposition stayed out because they saw it as a show organised by those in power.

The nationalists are a “secular” lot and have a deep cleavage with the religious alliance ruling in Quetta in tandem with the PML. That should incline the PPPP to show solidarity, but it did not, and compelled people to recall the 1973 trouble it had in Balochistan. Thus “nationalism” — as separated from ideology — is being seen in “personal” terms. The other reason is the heat produced in the Sindh Assembly where the PPPP has to tangle with the MQM in every session amid a great deal of verbal violence. Out in the streets of Karachi, the MMA is being challenged only by the MQM which more than any other party within the ruling alliance — and this should not be lost on President Pervez Musharraf — now brandishes its “secular” identity and expresses readiness to give battle to the enraged clerics. It is not surprising that the Jamaat declined to attend.

One can say that there were no principles involved in organising or attending the conference. Those who did not attend had personal or political considerations rather than any principles. The PMLN repeats the mantra of “political accommodation” like everybody else but was not ready to strengthen the hands of the “secular” nationalists in the session by being there. In the event, the strength came from the ruling alliance, which augurs well for any resolution that may be in the offing. Had the MMA-ARD parties attended the position of the nationalists could have been become more irreconcilable. The Baloch were allowed to let off steam, which was a good thing to do before the Centre attempts some really substantial change of policy to appease them.

How much is the MQM departing from the common agenda of the ruling alliance? In convening the conference, not much. Its Dr Farooq Sattar, however, made a statement that could be seen as some sort of a departure. The deputy convener of the MQM, presiding over the conference, said that all political parties and nationalists had been brought together on a single platform to speak against an “exploitative system”. The MQM chief Altaf Hussain spoke on the phone, saying the situation in the province might worsen and become more complicated. “The rulers should realise Balochistan’s importance in terms of revenue generation,” was the key sentence that tended to link Sindh to the argument. He went on to say that Balochistan was a very important federating unit of Pakistan and was playing an important role in developing the country’s economy and that nobody could guarantee a stable country if its federating units were not allowed to utilise their resources. Rather than closing their eyes to the facts, Pakistan’s leaders should face the facts and resolve Balochistan’s grievances, he argued.

Needless to say, it was Altaf Hussain’s threat earlier to get out of the ruling alliance in Islamabad that lent credence to his position among the nationalists. There is no doubt that his party’s exit can change the complexion of the politics inaugurated by President Musharraf after 2002. But there is a lot of political distance to cover before Mr Altaf Hussain reaches the point of no return and actually gets his people out of the government. There is no doubt, however, that his reaching out to the nationalists was motivated by his agenda in Sindh where he is fighting over resources with the coalition partners and facing the clerics off in the streets of Karachi. He is playing on a good wicket there. No one is opposed to more provincial autonomy under the Constitution. But in Quetta he has been able to isolate the MMA-ARD parties on this subject. *

Shujaat postpones meeting with Bugti

* Tribal chief not willing to talk yet
* Wants investigation into ISPR charges

Staff Report

KARACHI: Tribal chief Nawab Akbar Bugti is not yet ready to meet Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the Pakistan Muslim League, to negotiate a solution to the Balochistan crisis, his spokesman said on Saturday.

Shahid Bugti, the secretary general of Bugti’s Jamhoori Watan Party, told Daily Times that Nawab Bugti would not meet Shujaat, the head of a parliamentary committee on Balochistan, until “actual issues” are sorted out.

He said Nawab Bugti had made clear to Shujaat during recent direct and indirect contact that talks would be fruitless until there is a “conducive atmosphere”, and this was not possible while the alleged rapists of a woman doctor were not arrested and regular troops and paramilitary forces had Sui “under siege”.

Government sources told Daily Times that Shujaat planned to visit Nawab Bugti in Dera Bugti on Sunday, but had postponed the visit until Mushahid Hussain, the secretary general of the PML, returns from Malaysia.

Shahid Bugti said that the governor of Balochistan was wrong when he said that Captain Hammad, one of the alleged rapists, had been taken into custody. He said the arrest of Pakistan Petroleum Limited officials for allegedly tampering with evidence was not enough.

Meanwhile, Nawab Akbar Bugti has reacted angrily to charges from the military that he is paid Rs 125 million a year by Pakistan Petroleum Limited for public welfare and that 100 of 300 locals employed by the company are his personal employees.

In a press release, Nawab Bugti said he was willing to allow journalists Irshad Ahmad Haqqani, Ayaz Ameer and Mushahid Hussain Syed to investigate the truth of these charges.

Bugti said the accusations against him from General Shaukat Sultan of Inter Services Public Relations were false and the general should produce the documentary evidence he claims he has.

“General Sultan should present his case to these journalists that we believe are impartial. We will not even present our case to defend ourselves,” he said.

He said the “jury” of journalists should decide who is lying and should decide the sentence too. Nawab Bugti said the company didn’t pay him or his family a single penny for public welfare, he was only paid for land he owned.

Routine life disturbed by Sui gas shortage in city

By Nauman Tasleem

LAHORE: The gas suspension on Saturday disturbed routine life in most parts of the city. The gas shortage also caused losses of millions of rupees to Compressed Netural Gas (CNG) stations, learnt Daily Times.

Major parts of the city including Model Town, Township, Johar Town, WAPDA Town, Faisal Town, Multan Road, Iqbal Town, Garden Town, Liaqatabad, PIA Society, Kahna, Nishtar Town, Muslim Town, Wahdat Road, Awan Town, Sabzazar, Samanabad and parts of Gulberg were without gas from the morning to late afternoon. However, in some areas the gas pressure was low instead of being completely cut off. CNG stations in these areas closed for the day because of the shortage.

CNG station owners said that they suffered heavy losses because of the depleted gas supply. “I have incurred losses of at least Rs 20,000 in these hours. There are around eight CNG stations in these areas and they must have suffered the same amount of losses,” said Muhammad Safdar, a Peco Road station owner.

Sajid Ali, a CNG station owner at College Road Township, said, “This suspension has caused me to suffer around Rs 15,000 losses.” “My loss is around Rs 25,000,” said another Johar Town CNG owner, Haseeb. People with cars were seen searching for gas, driving their vehicles from one CNG station to another. The few stations the gas deficiency had not affected saw long queues of vehicles.

“I went to three CNG stations but failed to get CNG for my car. There is no gas avaliable therefore I have decided to run my car on petrol. Although petrol is much more expensive, I have no choice but to bear it. I hope it is only for one day and no this incident does not happen again in the future,” said Abdul Basit, a car owner while standing at the Model Town Link road filling station.

It was not only the CNG shortage that caused difficulty for people as gas supply for preparing meals and warm water was also suspended. “My geyser is not working and I had to take a bath with cold water in this cold weather,” lamented Shahzad, a resident of Johar Town.

As preparing meals at home became impossible, the majority of people had purchase food from the market. Restaurants and hotels witnessed immense load of customers. “There is no gas in my house, so I have to come to market to purchase lunch for my family,” said Sadeed, a resident of Township, while standing in a queue at a restaurant. When a restaurant owner, Razaq, was asked how he was able to prepare food, he said, “I have purchased gas cylinders from the market in order to keep my business going.”

“I have purchased wood to cook food and run my business. It was a hectic day for me. Earlier I thought that the gas would be restored in one hour or so but later I had to buy wood and prepare lunch,” said Dawood, another restaurant owner.

Where the gas shortage caused difficulty for most citizens, it brought relief to some housewives; “Thank God, there is a day of rest for me, otherwise I would normally be preparing a meal thrice a day,” said Faiza, a housewife.

“Today I took a much needed rest after a very long time as there was no pressure of preparing meals and my husband went to market to get lunch,” said Aliya, another housewife.

Gwadar port to be completed in 2007: minister

QUETTA: “The development work on the Gwadar Port will be completed by 2007,” Babar Ghauri, the federal minister for shipping and ports, claimed on Saturday.

The minister told a press conference that the port would help Pakistan establish trade relations with Central Asia and other countries and that after the completion of three berths at the port, PM Shaukat Aziz and his Chinese counterpart, Van Jiabao, would inaugurate them in March 2005. “I have taken up the matter with Jam Mohammad Yousaf, the Balochistan chief minister, and the Balochistan National Party president, in which they say they are not opposing the project, but have some reservations about it,” he said. “We will give all necessary details to them as we believe that the inclusion of the local populace in such a mega development is a must and good for the country.” Ruling out the chances of the Gwadar Development Authority’s headquarters in Karachi, he said its head office would be in Gwadar. online

No strong ARD support for JWP on Balochistan

* PML-N and PPPP have reservations about tribal chiefs

By Shahzad Raza

ISLAMABAD: The Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) will not get strong support from the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) with its policy in handling the Balochistan crisis.

The JWP is a part of the alliance, but the two biggest ARD parties – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) – do not want the JWP to use the ARD platform in its confrontation with the federal government. The head of the JWP, Nawab Akbar Bugti, is also chief of the Bugti tribe, whose members are believed responsible for attacks on Sui gas facilities following the alleged gang rape of a woman doctor by security personnel. ARD sources said alliance leaders did not want the ARD’s main mission, to restore a “genuine” democracy to Pakistan, to be sidetracked by other issues.

Most ARD leaders do not support JWP policies in Balochistan. They said JWP leaders had direct contact with the government and the ARD had nothing to do with it.

ARD leaders say they oppose the presence of military troops in the neglected province and have demanded that the government ensure the development of the area.

“But they are not ready to get involved in the fight between nationalist forces and the government,” the sources said.

Several PPPP and PML-N leaders believe that tribal leaders are also responsible for the plight of the Baloch people. They said that the JWP chief, Nawab Bugti, had been governor of the province but done little for its development.

One ARD leader said the centre was responsible for aggravating the Balochistan situation. “The government pays a lot of money to the tribal sardars, but still allows itself to be blackmailed by them on separate issues.”

He said the Balochistan issue would be discussed openly at the next ARD meeting. He added that the alliance would give the people of Balochistan, not tribal chiefs, its moral support.

PML-N briefing: The PML-N will brief the PPPP about Nawaz Sharif’s recent meetings with the top leaders of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in Jeddah.

A PML-N leader said the briefing would be given to PPPP leaders before the next ARD meeting, which was expected to be held in the second week of February. He said Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N acting parliamentary leader, and with other senior leaders of the party would brief Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the PPPP chief.

‘US will not like significant Chinese presence in Balochistan’

By Shahid Husain

KARACHI: Leading political analyst Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed has said the United States will not appreciate “significant Chinese presence” in Balochistan and in future if an operation is conducted by the United States against Iran, it would like to have a safe haven back line in Balochistan.

In an interview with Daily Times on Friday, he said: “This time around Balochistan has again attained a strategic position in the region. The United States is fully entrenched in Iraq and has virtually occupied Afghanistan, but now Iran is out of the American influence. It appears that in future Iran will come under severe pressure and the American establishment has explicitly made it known that to it Iran is part of the ‘axis of evil.’ So in future if some operation is conducted against Iran by the US, it would like to have a safe haven back line in Balochistan like it used it against its attack on Afghanistan and the Taliban regime.”

With an area of 3,47,188 square miles that is larger than the combined area of Punjab and Sindh, Balochistan comprises 44 percent of Pakistan, and has an 800km-long coastline and the province enjoys immense geo-strategic importance since it is the hub between South Asia, West Asia (Middle East) and Central Asia and shares 1,173 km-long border with Iranian Balochistan, and 837 km-long border with Afghanistan.

“The potential for trouble for the United States if the Bush administration acts aggressively towards Iran is enormous,” warns Juan Cole, the widely-quoted Middle East historian. “It could turn the Iraqi Shiites and the Afghan Hazarahs decisively against Washington. An Iran in chaos similar to that in Iraq would be three or four times the problem for the US and the world than Iraq is,” Juan Cole has been reported to have said.

“There is another aspect of Balochistan’s strategic importance and that is the role China is playing in the construction of Gwadar Port and other similar projects. In this scenario the situation in Balochistan attains complexity and the government of Pakistan faces a gigantic challenge in containing the renewed Baloch aspirations and demands and in keeping Balochistan away from international political tussle,” Dr Ahmed said.

“There is a strong need to resolve the issues politically and starting a genuine political process, involving all the major political parties of the country. One would also suggest that a joint session of the parliament be convened at the earliest and a threadbare discussion on Balochistan issue be held there,” he said. Recalling the military operation in Balochistan in the 1970s, he said: “In the 1970s the Shah of Iran acquired an important role in the region and emerged as a regional policeman, safeguarding American interests. After the overthrow of Zahir Shah in Afghanistan, tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan grew which were aggravated by the Shah’s interests. The military operation in Balochistan in the 1970s had the full backing of Iran to the extent that Iranian helicopters were used in the operation and at one point Shah’s twin sister, Princess Ashraf Pehlavi, paid a visit to Balochistan,” Dr Ahmed said.

He said Balochistan had been always important due to its strategic importance. “Balochistan always had a very important strategic position. During the British period, it constituted the border of the British Raj and the British devised a very well thought-out policy regarding it, making Balochistan a secure borderline between itself and Russia

“As a result of this policy, military cantonments were built in Balochistan and advanced defence infrastructure was created. “After the British rule, Balochistan continued to have its strategic importance in the context of the Cold War. It was assumed to be a buffer between the Soviet Union and the Arabian Gulf. Expecting that the Soviet Union would aspire to reach the warm waters, Pakistan, at the behest of the US, accepted to play a role of containing the communist threat which also implied the containment of Baloch nationalists’ aspirations,” he pointed out.

BLA attack Quetta Electric Supply Company,Balochistan plunged into darkness

Balochistan plunges into darkness

Four towers blown up: Shujaat defers visit: FC post attacked : BLA accepts attack on gasline

From Shahzada Zulfiqar
QUETTA - Four towers of main transmission line were blown up with explosion in Chattar area of District Nasirabad, plunging the whole Balochistan province including Quetta into darkness for two hours on Saturday night.Baloch Liberation Army claimed the responsibility for blowing up the power supply network.
Quetta Electric Supply Company, which started providing power from alternate sources, announced a major power loadshedding after a 40 per cent decrease in its capacity.

When contacted, QUESCO Chief Executive Officer Brig Tassaduq Hussain Shah confirmed the sabotage incident and said that four towers of main supply line were blown up by the saboteurs Saturday evening causing blackout in the whole province.He said two out of three main supply lines from Ghuddo Power House had been tripped and the power was being supplied from the third alternate line.He said that due to breakdown of two main supply lines, QUESCO was unable to meet the 100 per cent power demand.

He said that the repair work could take 10 to 12 days to complete.
However, Azad Baloch, spokesman of Baloch Liberation Army, telephoned a newspaper office claiming responsibility.

A day before Eidul Azha, two towers of 220KV were blown up by the terrorists in Rakhni close to Punjab border, which was repaired after a week. Another tower was also blown up with the explosives a couple of days ago and which yet to be repaired.
Shujaat defers Dera Bugti visit: Online adds: Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain along with Mushahid Hussain was earlier scheduled to leave for Dera Bugti today (Sunday) to discuss current tense Sui situation with Bugti.

But the visit has been postponed because Mushahid Hussain, who was heading a sub-committee on Balochistan, is in Malaysian city of Putrajaya to attend a meeting of Organization of Islamic Countries Eminent Personalities.

FC check post attacked : Unknown miscreants fired on Saturday two more rockets on Kohlo Frontier Constabulary check post creating terror and fear in the area.
According to detail, some unknown miscreants in Kohlo e fired two more rockets on FC Check posts, which exploded in big bang. But, there was no lost of human life.
The local administration has registered case against the unknown miscreants and started search for arresting them.

BLA accepts attack on Kasur gas pipeline: Baloch Liberation Army has accepted the responsibility of attack carried on Kasur gas pipeline.
In a telephonic interview to Online from some unknown place on Saturday, BLA’s Major Nohaf has accepted the responsibility of attack of blowing up gas pipeline near Kasur district and also rocket attack on Quetta district.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A First Hand Account of Life Inside Dera Bugti

The 'jhuggis' of Afghan Refugees now rented out to Bugti refugees

Army Commandos Beat up Police as Operation Sui Gathers Steam

Special SAT Report

DERA BUGTI, Balochistan, January 27: Hundreds of poor Dera Bugti tribesmen and their families have been driven out of their homes and forced to become tenants of Afghan refugees inside Pakistan.

This shameful tragedy is going on as the Pakistan Army has taken over the area and prepares for the ultimate assault after a political drama of holding talks with nationalists, to silence national and international critics.

In at least one encounter the Army troops beat up even local policemen who have crossed over into Sindh to save their lives, a correspondent for the South Asia Tribune has reported after traveling widely in the area.

In a rare first hand account from the heart of Operation Sui, the SAT correspondent interviewed Dera Bugti refugees who confirmed that the Army operation had begun, although officially it was not being admitted for political reasons. The name of the correspondent is not being revealed as Army authorities would immediately arrest or deport him from inside the operation area.

Pakistan Army SSG commandos raided the local Dera Bugti Police Station on Sunday, Jan 23, beat up the policemen and took away the two doctors of Pakistan Petroleum Ltd, who were detained by the police in the Shazia Khalid rape case, the correspondent reported.

The SSG attack highlighted the continuing clash between the Army and the Police over attempts to cover up the rape case and to protect the Army officers accused of the crime.

The South Asia Tribune correspondent reported: “An attack force which locals call "jharee pashk" (meaning wearing a multi colored dress) took the two doctors away after thrashing the policemen on duty. The cops abandoned the police station and ran for their lives, crossing into Kashmore in Sindh province.

(The Sui police took the Medical Chief of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) Dr Muhammad Usman and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Muhammad Ali into custody for investigations as to why the lady doctor was shifted to Karachi without securing permission from the Sui police, Balochistan Home Minister Shoaib Nausherwani told The News. He added that after investigations the doctors were released the same afternoon.)

The manner in which the SSG troops snatched the doctors from the police gave rise to immediate fears that these doctors may be killed because they could pose a threat to the rapists belonging to the Army.

The Sui-Dera Bugti-Dera Allah Yar, road was opened by the troops on Tuesday and some public transport was allowed but after a thorough search of passengers carried out by different agencies including Army commandos, the FC, regular Army troops and the Police. Check posts have been set up at various places. A very small number of passengers were observed on the roads, while transporters have doubled and tripled the fares.

In the town of Sui, the authorities showed a little flexibility and people sheltering in nearby desert and on hilltops were allowed to buy some goods. But prices were too high and there was shortage of goods in the shops.

A convoy of fresh stocks was seen heading for Dera Bugti from an unknown route to meet shortages in the city. This aid is believed to be provided by Balochs for their tribal brother.

According to an estimate, more than 700 families have moved from the Sui town and have got scattered in nearby hills, the desert or the neighboring cities of Dera Allah Yar and Dera Murad Jamali. Some have moved up to 150 miles from their homes.

The local administration is still claiming that they did not force any one to leave their home or migrate. But as a matter of fact, they have been forced by the targeted firings and harassment by security forces.

Some 60 to 70 people are missing and witnesses claim at least 30 persons were taken away by the Army. Officials are not admitting any detentions.

On the night before Eid al Azha, 53 persons were arrested from different residential colonies of Sui. Later 26 were detained while others were released after being told to leave the township.

Baloch sardars have offered shelter to some refugees in Dera Bugti Town or the hilltops nearby, but those who have migrated from Sui are fearful that they wont be secure in Dera Bugti as well.

All fear that sooner or later troops will invade the Dera Bugti Township. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti himself is under siege. He is not in a position to visit the affected areas and his people himself.

The Army operation started the very first day on arrival of regular armed troops in the area, though the strategy is a little different as compared to Wana in Waziristan. Troops are trying to sweep out the local population and have already shifted it at least 25 kilometers from the town.

Strategically the troops have surrounded the area from three sides: Sui-Kashmore, Sui-Dera Bugti and Sui to Lehri. They have left one side open for people to leave for bordering Sindh Province’s Naseerabad and Jafarabad Districts.

The idea is to cut the resistance manpower when the operation goes into full swing. The Telephone Exchange at Sui has been shut down and there is no any public transport available in the area. Those who came here have said that they had to travel miles on foot from Sui-Reeri Faqir, Sui-Khaten, Sui-Uch, before they could get any transport.

Army, Frontier Constabulary, The Bhambore Rifles & Sibi Scouts, have been deployed every where. Tough and insulting search of every passenger, whether male or female, is being carried out at every check post.

The correspondent also visited the city of Dera Allah Yar and sent this first hand report: “When you enter the city of Dera Allah Yar from Dera Murad Jamali, you see a lot of men wearing the traditional Bugti dresses, with their huge "puggris " (head scarves) on their heads. They are refugees from Sui sitting with their hosts in the area. Though healthy, their expressions are cold and dead, worried about their future and for their loved ones they had left behind.

We approached a roadside hotel and talked to Arsala Khan Bugti and his son Sahib Dad. Arsala Khan was a low grade worker with PPL at Sui. All the conversation was in Balochi.

Q: Arsala what happened exactly at Sui?

Arsala: What had to happen? It had become a matter of routine at Sui. The “Sarkari Lashkar" (State troops) used to insult us every day, but that day they crossed the limits.

Q: What do you mean by crossing the limits?

A: (Sahib Dad replied instead of Arsala. The son seemed to be educated. He had a one-year diploma of medical technician and is known as doctor in his town) By traditional hesitation of Haya they insulted our guest, they raped the madam. This is unforgivable. If they could do it with our guest, they can do it with our own families as well. They don't know guests are more respectable to us. We can die, and we can kill, literally kill the offenders.

Q: Then what did you people do to teach a lesson to the offenders?

Arsala: We the PPL Employees protested first and said to our officers to take action against the offenders. Our delegation of the union went to meet Madam (Dr. Shazia Khalid) but DSG (Which Arsala calls the dee eye jees) did not let us see her. We complained about their behavior in our tribal way of hal hawal. We told the facts to our men of the tribe and the elders, who took it seriously and started the armed protest against DSG (Defence Security Guards). Then furious firing started and we saw the worst bullets rain at Sui. They (security forces) targeted our homes and firing claimed more or less four lives.

Q: Why more or less. You yourself did not see the dead bodies?

Arsala: (his face got red with anger) Who the hell was able to come out of the homes. It looked like we were in Iraq. Women and kids were shocked and terrified. They could not prepare food for two days. Thank God I had my own Datsun, we managed to escape from there safely. But I am worried about my brother whom I left behind to look after the house and stuff. The phone lines are dead and we are out of touch at such a hard time.

Q: Sahib Dad what do you think of the incident?

Sahib Dad: The Punjabis just want to do as they did in Bangladesh. But they will never let us become a free people because of our natural resources. So Bengali people were luckier than us.

Q: Sahib Dad you are educated and seem to be mature how can you blame the whole of Punjab or Punjabis?

Sahib Dad: Why shouldn`t I, do you see any sort of protest in Punjab? Has any one come out to protest on the roads, doesn`t all this show the silent support to the Army?

As we had no answer and before leaving requested them for some pictures but they rudely refused and started questioning whether we were agents of agencies. We proved our identity and calmed them down. Then Sahib Dad brought to our knowledge the situation of refugees in a shelter almost half a kilometer from the town area.

We went to their huts and jhuggis, where kids of Pashtoon and Baloch tribesmen were playing around. Kharghi Bugti, who had a vegetable shop in Sui, told us he was staying with an Afghan refugee family, paying them a rent. When he left his home two weeks back, amid heavy firing from security forces, his wife was pregnant and had to deliver the twin babies in open desert at night.

Kharghi burst into tears narrating his story. “We escaped by foot and could walk only 5 miles from Sui as my wife was pregnant. My wife gave birth to twins in the cold of a desert night. As we could not provide proper clothes or heating at night one of the newly born babies died of cold, probably pneumonia, the very next morning. I buried him there in my "Puggri" (head scarf). The second baby survived and I have named him Fouj Din, in memory of the armed invasion at our homeland.”

On my insistence he let us visit his shack (jhuggi) where I managed to get a picture of the newly born Master Fouj Din (above).

Former East Pakistan game being repeated in Balochistan

Former East Pakistan game being repeated in Balochistan: Asfandyar
(Updated at 2250 PST)

PESHAWAR: President Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali has said that the situation in Balochistan and S.Waziristan is drawing the country towards the circumstances that were prevalent in 1971.

He was addressing a gathering on the eve of the 70th death anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan founder of the Peshawar Khudia Khidmatgar Tehreek. Asfandyar said that the game that was played in former East Pakistan is being repeated in Balochistan and the consequences would not be different this time.

He said that the government wants to initiate a dialogue by pointing the gun at the heads of the Balochi people, which is not a suitable step. Asfandyar said that the gas pipeline in Patoki has also been destroyed but the army is not being deployed there because the policies of the centre are different for Punjab and for other provinces. He said that the meaning of the Kalabagh dam is to live a life according to the wishes of Punjab for which the Pakhtons are not ready.

Musharraf’s close aide talks to Akbar Bugti on phone
(Updated at 2230 PST)

ISLAMABAD: A close aide to President Musharraf has talked to Baloch leader Akbar Bugti on phone over the recent situation in Balochistan while the President of the Muslim League Chaudry Shujaat Hussain and Secretary General Mushahid Hussain would meet Baloch leaders next week.

According to sources the close aide of President Musharraf contacted Nawab Akbar Bugti on telephone and discussed important issues to control the law and order situation in the province. Elsewhere according to sources in the Pakistan Muslim League Chaudry Shujaat Hussain would meet Baloch leaders next week and the meeting for Sunday has been cancelled. The sources said that the Chaudry Shujaat and Secretary General of the Pakistan Muslim League Mushahid Hussain would meet Baloch leaders after Mushahid’s return from Malaysia and would inform them about their meetings with President Musharraf on the Balochistan issue.

Friday, January 28, 2005


By Malek Towghi, Ph.D.

The struggle for the Baloch national survival in the Punjabi-Muhajir-occupied Balochistan is now taking a final definite shape, with its inevitable positive effects on Western and Northern Baloch lands. It is now clear that the Baloch political parties, the Resistance groups such as the BLA and the BSO are determined never to allow the Punjabis, Muhajirs and a greedy faction of another ethnic group to transform the Baloch nation into a fading-away minority in its own homeland. The Baloch nation will survive within a clearly defined geographic unit with an overwhelmingly Baloch population.

Baloch intellectuals as well as our masses have now realized clearly and confidently that considering its God-given rich resources, its geo-politically strategic location and, above all, the healthy humanistic secularist approach of our people, a free Balochistan will soon become one of the richest nation states of the world while remaining larger than more than half of the UN member states.

Nations of different languages, cultures, geographic entities and historical background can remain in a single state only on the basis of a voluntarily and mutually agreed-upon social contract. Such a social contract remains meaningful and dependable in a secular federal or confederal constitutional system of government. Given its past 58-year experience, the cardinal principles of a re-written federal or confideral constitution of Pakistan have to be as follows:

1. The Saraiki regions now in the Punjab have to form a new federating unit; and the historically Pashtun areas dumped on Balochistan have to merge in the NWFP to become a federating unit called Pashtunistan, Pakhtunkhawa or Afghania.

2. The primacy of the Balochi lanuage in Balochistan, of the Sindhi language in Sindh, of the Saraiki language in Saraikia / Saralkistan, of the Pashtu language in Pashtunistan and of the Panjabi language in Punjab have to be recognized on all levels and for all purposes. All these and only these five languages have to be recognized as national languages. Only English has to be the official language and the medium of instruction for higher education to be taught along with the relevant provincial/state national language from the earliest stage of education. The Saraiki language will be recognized as the lingua franca of the federation replacing Urdu.

3. The limits of central federal authority are to be set by 100% consensus among the federating units.

4. Regardless of their size and population, all federating units will be represented equally in all federal institutions including the armed forces.

5. Any federating unit will have the right to secede from the federation for whatever reason.

It is now clear that the Punjabis and the Muhajirs like their counterparts elsewhere in the Islamic world (e.g. the Arabs of North Africa, the Sudan, Syria and Iraq; The Turks of Turkey and the Persians of Iran) are incapable of overcoming their colonial mentality and their primitive and reactionary chauvinism reinforced by their religious fanaticism. They are incapable of digesting the requirements of a federal democratic system. Consequently, they are incapable of understanding the need for a social contract on the basis of which the Baloch, Sindhis, Saraikis and Pashtuns can live together with the Punjabis and the Muhajirs in a single federal state.

For us the Baloch, Sindhis, Saraikis and the Pashtuns, as far as living together with the Punjabis and Muhajirs in a single state is concerned, the dream of federalism is dead -- killed by the Panjabis and the Muhajirs themselves. So, we have now only one option: moving decisively towards a United Free Balochistan flanked by three friendly Free Republics of Sindh, Saraikia and a united Pashtunistan. The remaining Punjab absorbing the Muhajirs will be the last and permanent Pakistan. Congratulations!

We are lucky that the international situation has taken a U-turn in our favor. We must grab this opportunity wisely, decisively, openly and unapologetically.

The oppressed nations of Asia and Africa no longer suffer from the complications of the Cold War. 9/11 has forced the West and the whole civilized world to revise their understanding of the Islamic world. This revision has led to the discovery of the Qadeer Khans of the region and of the intricate networks of Islamic fanaticism and terrorism, sustained mostly by the core ruling groups of Islamic societies, i.e. the Arabs, the Persians, The Turks and the Muslim Punjabi-Urdu speakers of South Asia.

The post-9/11 revisions and observations have also led to the discovery that there indeed are some nations within the Islamic world -- such as the Berbers, the Darfuris and their likes in Islamic Black Africa, the Kurds, the Baloch & Sindhis and many others -- who, though Muslim, do not share the inherent reactionary irrational anti-West, anti-modern and anti-democratic psyche of the Arabs, Turks, Persians, the Punjabis and the Muhajirs of Pakistan .... and that these oppressed Muslim nations may enthusiastically welcome the Westerners, particularly Americans, as liberators. This is what the Kurds did in Iraq, and the Darfuris in the Sudan.

Western think-tanks are also realizing that a positive response to the goodwill of these oppressed nations of the Islamic world serves the security as well as economic interests of the Western powers, particularly the U.S.A. For example, helping the Baloch, the Sindhis, the Saraikis, and the Kurds get rid of the Punjabi-Muhajir-Persian-Arab-Turkish tyranny puts vast, resource rich and strategically located homelands of these nations in the hands of sincere and dependable friend of the West.

Mainly because of the naiveté of a significant segment of Western citizenry and related democratic process of decision making ... and also because of some urgent security, diplomatic and budgetary concerns ..., the West, particularly the US may need some time to digest these newly discovered facts of the Muslim world.

Sooner or later, however, the West will conclude that in order to secure peace for itself and its friends in the regions concerned, the disintegration of the mega and mini multi-national despotic empires is inevitable. Sooner or later, the civilized world will realize that the so-called international boundaries of China, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and the Sudan are as sacred and untouchable as those of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were.

Redrawing of state boundaries and the creation of new nation states during and after every major hot and cold war in modern times has generally served the cause of freedom, peace and prosperity. The present War on Terrorism and the related cause of a much-needed Reformation in Islamic societies can not succeed without the shock-treatment of redrawing some international boundaries and of creating some new but real nation states in the region. The failed and sick states of Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and the Sudan need this shock treatment. It might be inevitable, sooner or later.

My earlier reservations about identifying with American policies concerning Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan were based on my concern that President George W. Bush would follow a typically Kissengerian-Republican Cold War policy: that he 1) will betray the Kurds again allowing himself to be blackmailed by the Turks and some Arabs; 2) will simply aim at replacing the mullahs of Teheran with another Pahlavi (Persian) tyrant; and 3) will ignore the radically problematic, blackmailing and corrupt nature of Pakistan as soon as a tyrant in Islamabad surrenders to the US ultimatum concerning the Taliban regime and al-Qaidah. Thanks to many factors which I can not detail here, President Bush did not succumb to a morally questionable Kissengerian mentality. (hopefully, I am right!)

Now it is time for the oppressed nations (as well as genuinely secularist circles, if any!) of the Islamic world to openly and unapologetically identify with the War on Islamic Terrorism and with the cause of an ideological Reform ... both spearheaded by President Bush. They must ally themselves openly and unapologetically with the West, particularly with the U.S.A. I will confine myself to some specific brief requests addressed to the leaders of the 4-Party Baloch Alliance, the BLA and the BSO in particular and to the Baloch intellectuals, opinion leaders and activists in general.

The leaders of 4-Party Baloch Alliance, BLA and BSO should issue statements saying that they support the US War on Terrorism and that regardless of any possible geo-political changes in Pakistan and Iran or lack thereof, they welcome the Western/US presence in the region including the Baloch homeland, expecting that no Western, particularly US-British resource will be used against the Baloch cause.

These Baloch leaders should also say that if as a result of the continuing Punjabi-Muhajir tyranny the struggle for and the consequent establishment of a sovereign Balochistan become a reality, the Baloch leadership and the nation will continue to welcome the Western presence in the region, and will prefer to have closest military, economic, scientific, technological and cultural-educational relations and cooperation with the West, particularly the US. This, however will depend on the Western attitude during our struggle for the achievement of our national and basic human rights. The least we expect is that the West including the US will not allow the use of their resources to crush our struggle , extend moral support for us and condemn the militarism of Islamabad and Teheran.

As long as the US does not revert to a Kissengerian anti-Baloch policy, the Baloch intellectual, political, Resistance and student circles should maintain a policy of ZERO TOLERANCE for anti-West slogans and expressions and for anti-Americanism. They should also adopt a policy of ZERO TOLERANCE for anti-Semitism and ant-Hinduism in all circumstances. Any flirtation with the agents of Osama bin Ladin and his al-Qaida in the Baloch regions must be discouraged.

Waakaa karan' munjho wass

Buddhan' kamm Baroch-a jo!

The Balochistan Cantts

Balochistan projects to continue

From Afzal Bajwa
ISLAMABAD - President General Pervez Musharraf Thursday directed the Balochistan Governor Awais Ghani to immediately work on identification and launching of development projects in northern parts of the province in order to ensure socio-economic improvement in the province.
According to officials, the governor called on the president here and briefed him on the law and order situation in the province with special reference to the latest security threats to the Sui and other oil and gas installations.
The governor also briefed the president about the progress on mega projects namely Gwadar Port, Mirani Dam under progress in the southern parts of the province, the officials informed The Nation.
According to them, both president and governor were of the view that infrastructure including roads, water and social sector like education and health projects would be launched in the first place will directly impact the life of people of northern Balochistan. Therefore, the president has desired the governor to put the development in northern Balochistan on top priority of the provincial government.
“During the meeting, they reviewed the law and order situation as well as the political measures being undertaken for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the province,” the officials stated referring to the PML President Ch. Shujat Hussain’s drive of talks with ‘unhappy’ tribal leaders of the province.
President Musharraf Wednesday gave his nod to Ch. Shujat to meet Nawab Akbar Bugti as the latter had briefed the former on his earlier meetings with Mengal and other tribal leaders of the province.
“They were of the view that there is a need for identification of new infrastructure and other projects in northern Balochistan as well,” the officials added.
They quoted the president as saying that projects in the province are generating economic activities and their timely completion would result in socio-economic welfare of the populace of the province.
On the security issue the president, they said, reiterated that no one would be allowed to disrupt the ongoing process of development in the province and deprive the people of their right to progress.
ARD not to attend MQM moot: Assuring full support to JWP President Nawab Akbar Bugti, ARD has refused to attend an all parties round-table conference hosted by MQM.
“The MQM has invited us to a round-table conference on Balochistan but we have declined the invitation as MQM is part of the government and whatever is happening in Balochistan is due to wrong policies of the government,” said ARD secretary general Zafar Iqbal Jhagra.
Bugti for arrest of rapists: Chief of Jamhoori Watan Party and Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti has said that negotiations with the government were out of the question until rapists of Lady Dr. Shazia were brought to book.
Talking to a private TV channel on Thursday, he said that the evidence from the lady doctor’s room suggest that she was raped therefore those who committed this heinous act should be brought before justice.
He termed condemnation of military operation on Balochistan by Punjab as good oemn. He dispelled the impression of involvement of foreign hand in Balochistan mayhem.
Zobaida: Defending the presence of military troops in Balochistan, Federal Minister for Special Education Zobaida Jalal has said that no military operation is going on in Sui and the government is trying to resolve the issue through dialogue.
Zobaida said this while addressing a Press conference here at her office on Thursday.
She made it clear that the government would take stern action against the culprit if found involved in the rape incident of lady doctor Shazia. She said DNA test was also being conducted besides investigation so as to find the reality.
Shujaat, Bugti meet: The Central President of Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhry Shujat Hussain has said that he will meet Nawab Akbar Bugti on February 1 in a bid to resolve the Sui issue through peaceful means.
He was talking to Federal Minister of Social Welfare and Women Development Zubaida Jalal here Thursday.
Shujat said the government wants to resolve the issue through political dialogue. He also briefed the minister about his meetings with Atta Ullah Mengal and Sardar Sher Baz Khan Mazari.
“We will take all the Baluch leaders into confidence on Baluchistan’s situation,” he added.
A key railway track was ripped apart by a blast for the third time in a week Thursday in Balochistan.
The attack came a day after the military announced plans to set up a new garrison to protect Sui gasfield.
Tribesmen believed to have links with nationalist groups have waged a long battle to get more jobs and royalties from the province’s natural resources, with their attacks intensifying in recent weeks.
President Pervez Musharraf repeated an earlier warning to the tribesmen not to push the government too far after meeting the Balochistan Governor to discuss the law and order situation.
“No one would be allowed to disrupt the on-going process of development in the province and deprive the people of Balochistan of their right to progress,” Musharraf said.
In Thursday’s attack, a blast ripped apart the main line near Mushkaf, about 85 kilometres west of Quetta, senior railway official Ghulam Rasool said.
“The track was damaged by explosives planted by saboteurs,” Rasool said.
Two trains to Quetta were delayed for a few hours before engineers could repair the track, which links Balochistan with Karachi, he said.
Railway authorities had already banned all trains from running at night in Balochistan after a blast hit the line late Monday. The same line was hit by another explosion on Saturday.
Meanwhile a rocket landed near an electrical grid station in Sibi late Wednesday, but there was no damage. Local residents said they heard three blasts, but it could not be confirmed.
A bomb also exploded in a public park in Quetta late Wednesday, but caused no casualties or damage.
No one has claimed responsibility for the latest blasts but the Balochistan Liberation Army, said it carried out Tuesday’s rail attack and the bombing of a government office in Quetta the same day.
The organisation is believed to have links to the tribesmen, who have recently stepped up attacks on key installations and security forces in the impoverished province to press their demands.
A paramilitary commander told visiting journalists in Sui on Thursday that the government would remove all housing around the gas plant and relocate it some 15 kilometres away.
“The terrorists armed with heavy weapons used these houses and their inhabitants as shield for attacking the installations and security forces two weeks ago,” Colonel Mohammad Mujeeb said.

A policing cantonment

GENERAL Musharraf’s endorsement of Ch Shujaat’s recommendation for a political solution of the Balochistan crisis is a positive development, especially his emphasis that the government should stay in touch with the Baloch. After an exhaustive briefing by Ch Shujaat on his recent meetings with Baloch leaders, the President reiterated the government’s commitment to the resolution of all problems through consultation and reconciliation, but pointed out it would not be done at the cost of the national interest. However, he must also be aware of the difficulties the Parliamentary Committee has been facing in dealing with opposition Baloch leaders. The reason why Nawab Akbar Bugti refused to meet Ch Shujaat and Senator Mushahid Hussain is that he believed they had no mandate to make any commitment for resolving the crisis.
Former CM Taj Muhammad Jamali even claimed there was a conspiracy against General Musharraf who was being misinformed about the causes of unrest. According to him, General Musharraf and Ch Shujaat should both move to Quetta to closely watch the situation and take immediate measures, rather than relying on a distant view from Islamabad, which was throwing up a confusing picture. He said only then they could understand that there was no separatist movement, and the Baloch only wanted their genuine concerns addressed. But the government dealt a severe blow to its so-called initiative of resolving the Balochistan crisis through political means, by formally announcing the setting up of a new garrison in Sui for which the army has taken over 400 acres of land in this area. Amidst fears that they are being coerced rather than engaged in a political dialogue, the decision is bound to further accentuate local alienation. As the concerned commanding officer told journalists that the cantonment was meant to protect gas and oil installation as well as the life and property of citizens, it appears that it would be more of a policing cantonment: a throwback to the Raj. No doubt, frequent attacks on key installations require their constant monitoring, but then this task could be assigned to a police force especially raised for this purpose, as has been done in other countries with similar problems.
The Balochistan Government cannot escape its primary responsibility of maintaining law and order by endorsing every decision by the Centre. The federal government too cannot justify projecting one specific area as a trouble spot when almost the entire province is in the grip of lawlessness. The Balochistan situation is serious enough to be dealt with a serious mind: lack of political will by the quasi-military dispensation has already complicated it. However, all the blame cannot rest on the government. The Baloch leaders need to move back from maximalist positions if there is to be any resolution.

PMA demands

THE government must heed statements made by the Pakistan Medical Association on the issue of the notorious Sui gang rape. The PMA has asked for the culprits to be arrested, tried and if found guilty, sentenced immediately. It has also warned against moves to convert the rape case into one of assault and battery; and pointed out another murky development where a jirga in the victim lady doctor’s village in Sindh, has qualified her for honour killing by declaring her a kari. It seems the delay in the government response has allowed the rape to snowball into a problem that feeds many latent issues. It has revitalised the Balochistan unrest and propped up the sardari system. Leaders from both sectors have made this a cause célèbre, incorporating it into their grudges against the army since the alleged perpetrator is reportedly an officer. Nawab Akbar Bugti has bracketed this issue with the government decision to open cantonments in Balochistan. Unfortunately, the government’s slow response has allowed this case to be dragged into a much larger pond. It must immediately attend to the PMA demands regarding accountability for the culprits and to its warning on moves to protect one’s own. Also, the jirga members involved in the criminal act must also be brought to justice to prove it is committed to protecting women’s rights and upholding the law of the land.

The Balochistan Cantts

The die is cast, it seems. The Pakistan Army has started implementing its decision to build three new cantonments in Balochistan, in Sui, Kohlu and Gwadar. Apart from the effects this will have on the current crisis in Balochistan, two of the cantonments mark a new departure for the Pakistan Army, or rather a reversion to an old stereotype, which was last seen during the British era, that of using the Army to police the populace.
The cantonments have caused great irritation to the Baloch Sardars, particularly the heads of the Bugti, Marri and the Mengal tribes. Some would describe them as the last true Sardars of Balochistan, the others having seen their authority dissipated and challenged with the emergence of Balochistan, or at least their areas, into the 20th century (the 21st is lagging a little). For the last holdouts against the modern era, the cantonments represent an unwarranted intrusion into their jurisdictions.
However, the Army has different motives. One of them was stated by the head of the Army, President Pervez Musharraf, as being that of bringing ‘development’ to the area. The lieutenant-colonel who made the announcement in Sui, that construction has begun, explained that the purpose of the cantonment was ‘to protect key gas installations, life, honour and property of its citizens from miscreants and to provide reinforcement to paramilitary forces in maintaining law and order in the area.’
At one level, this is an admission of failure. Pakistan inherited a number of ‘law and order’ cantonments, whose basic purpose was to provide a base from which the British forces, whether British or Indian, but universally officered by Britons, would control the native populace. For several decades after 1857 (Mutiny for the British, War of Independence for the natives), the Raj was extremely worried about a recurrence, and depended on the Army-in-India to act as the final bulwark. (One factor in the decision to grant India independence in 1947 rather than 1948 was the increasing ‘unreliability’ of the Indian troops, now increasingly officered by Indians, and the consequent uncertainty about the Raj’s ability to maintain its rule.) Therefore, its placing of most cantonments was linked to its internal security needs.
Pakistan inherited these cantonments, as did India, such as Lahore and Multan. However, one of the first steps after Partition was to withdraw from one of the key policing cantonments, that at Razmak. This was a personal decision of the Quaid-e-Azam, which took after overriding the advice of the entire bureaucratic machinery, civilian and military.
After that, all cantonments set up have served one of three purposes. First, beefing up the border defences. Second (like Gujranwala and Kharian), to serve as bases for strikeforce/reserve formations. Third, to fulfil logistics requirements. Even the 1970s Balochistan insurgency did not provoke Bhutto to set up cantonments there, even though the situation was much graver than today. The most controversial cantonment after Partition, that at Panno Aqil, was primarily set up to control the border defence in the Sindh-Rajasthan border, though it did have a secondary purpose of providing a strong point in interior Sindh, which was definitely a disturbed area in the 1980s.
However, Panno Aqil also provided an opportunity to increase recruitment of Sindhis into the Army, and in that regard was a successful experiment. Recruits had initially been promised that they would not be transferred when their units rotated out to other parts of the country, but would be transferred to their replacements. It was a pleasant surprise when, from the very first rotation, regimental spirit convinced the new soldiers to volunteer to rotate out along with their units, rather than be transferred to new (and therefore by definition lesser) units.
The Army is often criticised as being heavily tilted towards Punjabis and Pushtuns, and is not given enough credit for its efforts to broaden its base of recruitment, and its readiness to go out of its way to accommodate citizens of poorly represented provinces. The first attempt, which ultimately did not succeed, was to increase the strength of East Pakistanis. The formation of the East Bengal Rifles and then the East Pakistan Regiment were efforts in this respect, as well as relaxation of physical dimensions for East Pakistani candidates for commission. Post-Bangladesh, one example should suffice: in the 1980s, at PMA, a cadet was allowed one relegation in his four terms, which meant that if he failed to pass a particular term, he could repeat it, but if he failed a second time in any other term, he would be dropped. One cadet from Balochistan, the only one from that province in PMA at that time, was allowed three relegations, passing out finally after seven terms. It was accepted by his instructors that he was intrinsically good officer material, but lacked the academic advantages of his colleagues from other provinces. The then COAS reportedly took a personal interest in his case (for he was the competent authority to make the necessary relaxation.)
However, while there is no change in this orientation in principle, the Army has now ended up taking a couple of steps backward. It has moved back into the Tribal Areas, and now it is setting up policing cantonments in Sui and Kohlu. Gwadar would make sense, because it is also scheduled to be a Navy port, and if nothing else, Army Air Defence units will have to be deployed here. But the other two new cantonments have only a policing function.
There is a major disconnect here. The ‘miscreants’ Lt Col Mazhar Masood referred to are not foreigners. They are Pakistani citizens. They may well be highly unpatriotic, even treasonous. But they are still to be accorded the rights due to any Pakistani citizen, including the right to be treated in a certain way. The ‘American Taliban,’ John ‘Abdul Hameed’ Walker waged war against his own country, but he was given different treatment than other so-called ‘illegal combatants.’ He was not thrown into Camp Xray, but was given a proper trial, being allowed access to legal representation that the Guantanamo Bay prisoners can only dream of. There has to be a difference between setting up cantonments against an enemy invader, and dealing with your own citizens, no matter how recalcitrant or reluctant. This was the mistake that was made in East Pakistan, and it is being repeated today, though hopefully without equally disastrous consequences.
There is the Iranian bogey which is being raised, first by the US press, and now even by Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Yusuf. Though the Jam has withdrawn his statement, it is very suspicious that the Army has decided to go through with a cantonment building programme extending its reach closer to the Iranian border than ever before, at a time when the USA is planning some form of military action, probably but not certainly short of ground invasion, against Iran. Pakistan’s participation in this unholy enterprise would be horrendous, almost as big a U-turn as its abandonment of the Taliban and its choking off the Kashmir freedom struggle. Is Pakistani public opinion being somehow prepared for Pakistani assistance to the US in its Iranian misadventure? Are the cantonments being prepared post-haste so as to provide US forces the kind of facilities they enjoyed against the Taliban on Pakistani bases?
One thing is certain. Musharraf acts boldly only when there is US pressure. Domestically, he has always adopted a low-risk strategy where only national interests or issues are involved. He has even backtracked on bold domestic steps like amending the blasphemy law or building the Kalabagh Dam, whenever faced with opposition. However, wherever his perception of the national interest has coincided with American interests, he has acted firmly: U-turn on Afghanistan, winding down support for the Kashmir cause, going further in placating India than Nawaz or Benazir ever did, floating ideas like abandoning Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir and recognising Israel, carrying out the Waziristan operation, allowing the CIA and FBI to run loose in Pakistan, humiliating Dr A.Q. Khan. Indeed, there are only three issues on which he took a stand against the Americans: the UNSC vote on Iraq, sending troops to Iraq and handing over Dr A.Q. Khan to the USA.
Taking on the Baloch in their homes can qualify as a bold step. The nation should be assured that this is a decision taken only in its interest, and not because it also coincides with some US interest.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Balochistan review : Listen to voice of baloch

Click to listen

Karachi: Sardar Attaullah Mengal rejects talks with Government

Baloch freedom fighters attacked various targets

Quetta: Several Bomb and rocket attacks thought out Balochistan

Sui: ISPR says Cantonment will be built in Sui

Sibi: Bomb blast on train line near Sibi, BLA claim responsibility

Seminar : Balochistan Solidarity Front

Balochistan Solidarity Front
PD-1154B Irum Plaza, Shahrah-e-Stadium, Rawalpindi
Ph: 4422656 Fax: 2824257

The Balochistan Solidarity Front is an effort of numerous progressive
political organizations to support the democratic struggle of the people of
Balochistan. We invite you to a panel discussion on the burgeoning conflict
in Sui between government security forces and local resistance. This
discussion will be held on:

Monday, January 31st 2005 at 2.30pm
At the Envoy Continental Hotel, Fazl-e-Haq Rd,
Blue Area, Islamabad

The discussion will attempt to bring together political workers,
members of parliament, intellectuals, and social activists that have
the emergence of the present conflict. The purpose of the discussion is for
progressive forces in the twin cities to express solidarity with the
resistance of popular forces in Balochistan.

The history of Balochistan’s relationship with the center in Pakistan
been consistently troubled. The province’s forced annexation in the
the denial of provincial autonomy, and the pillaging of precious gas
resources are problems that are now being topped by the planned development
of Gwadar port and military cantonments. The situation is ever more
complicated by the obvious interests in the region of the US and China. It
is in this context that the roundtable discussion will be initiated.

Confirmed speakers as of now include:
Senator Sanaullah Baloch Balochistan National Party
Senator Asfandyar Wali Khan Awami National Party
Sufi Abdul Khaliq Baloch Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party
Senator Amanullah Kanrani Jamhoori Watan Party

We hope you will join us.
Zafar Baloch - Lahore

For further information, please contact:

Nazish Zahoor 4422656
Asha Amirali 2278487

People's Rights Movement (PRM)
PD-1154B Irum Plaza
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Ph: 92-51-4422656
Fax: 92-51-2824257

The gathering storm

The gathering storm

Army to set up garrison in Sui

SUI (Agencies) - Army formally announced Wednesday the project to build a garrison in the troubled gas-rich town of Sui in Balochistan. “We have come here and taken over the 400 acres of land allotted to the Pakistan Army,” commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Mazhar Masood said.
“We will soon build a cantonment (garrison) here which is the need of the area,” he said at a special Press briefing in this dusty town, some 350 kilometres southeast of Quetta.
Masood said the troops were in Sui “to protect the key gas installations, life, honour and property of its citizens from miscreants and to provide reinforcement to paramilitary forces in maintaining the law and order in the area.” He said it was necessary to station troops in the town, as rocket attacks, which have damaged the strategic gas pipelines, become a ‘regular feature’.
The government last year said it planned to build three new military bases in Sui as well as in Kohlu, which has untapped oil and gas reserves, and the coastal town of Gwadar, which is the site of a Chinese-funded deep seaport.
The plan triggered strong opposition from tribesmen who claimed the projects would bring in outsiders who would ultimately outnumber ethnic Balochs.
Meanwhile, police have detained four officials of Pakistan Railways in connection with bomb explosion along the track two days back.
A powerful explosion had blown up a two feet piece of rail close to outer signal of Quetta-Sibi section Pakistan Railways on Monday night. The police for interrogation purpose detained four officials, Faizullah, Abdul Majeed, Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Farooq who were on duty on that night.
AFZAL BAJWA FROM ISLAMABAD ADDS: President General Pervez Musharraf and PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain Wednesday resolved to settle the issue of the minerals-rich Balochistan province through dialogue with whosoever tribal leaders parallel to ‘adequate measures’ for the security of Sui installations.
The two apex leaders of the current regime held a sort of one-on-one meeting at the Camp Office of Presidency in Rawalpindi to finalise a high-profile agenda of negotiations with the Baloch tribal leaders seeking enhanced royalty on oil and gas production from the province.
According to an official statement, President Musharraf emphasised that the protection of national assets like the Sui installations is vital, and adequate measures are being taken to ensure their security.
Meanwhile, sources told The Nation that President Musharraf has mandated Ch Shujaat to negotiate with Akbar Bugti on ‘give-and-take basis but to a limited extent’.
The meeting also decided to play down the unhappy tribal leaders and the issues they are playing on including poverty and underdevelopment in the province, the sources added.
Later, Ch Shujaat told The Nation he would be travelling to Balochistan in a few days in order to meet Akbar Bugti, the former Chief Minister and most influential figure of the tribal leaders of the province.
“I am planning to go there (Quetta) to meet rest of the Baloch leaders including Bugti Sahib on January 31 or February 1,” said the PML President.
He was confident sufficing the gravity of the matter to resolve the issue through dialogue with the political as well as tribal leaders of the province. “My meetings so far with them (Baloch leaders) are encouraging and I am more than hopeful about the upcoming talks,” he maintained.
About his meeting with Musharraf, Ch Shujaat said the President had expressed his desire to resolve whatsoever issue in a political manner. However, the security of the state assets is to be ensured, he added.
He was of the view that unrest anywhere in the country due to any reason was not in favour of anyone. While the desired development in the province also requires peace and maintenance of law and order in the first place, he observed.
Earlier, the sources said the meeting, in which Secretary National Security Council Tariq Aziz was also present, decided to highlight the development work in progress in the province in the form of various mega projects.
“President Musharraf spoke of various mega projects in Balochistan with particular reference to the recently completed Makran Coastal Highway and the under-construction Mirani Dam, Gwadar Deep Seaport and Kachi Canal,” said the official handout.
It quoted Musharraf as saying that people were witnessing a remarkable socio-economic change in the province.
According to reliable sources, President Musharraf maintained that blackmailers ‘stunned’ over the development of Balochistan have now been committing terrorism. These elements want to deprive the people of the fruits of development in order to achieve their objectives, he added.
He called upon the media to play its role in informing the people about the real issues. The government is spending Rs 130 billion on development projects in Balochistan which will automatically lift the standard of the people, he remarked.
Meanwhile, President Pervez Musharraf summoned Balochistan Governor Awais Ghani to Rawalpindi.
According to sources, the Governor will brief the President over the law and order situation and the on-going development projects in Balochistan. He will also inform the President about the situation in Sui and Dera Bugti.
OUR MONITORING DESK ADDS: Meanwhile, Mutthida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has called a roundtable conference in Quetta on Friday (tomorrow) to discuss the Balochistan issue. The objective of the conference is to highlight the issue with a focus on seeking solution to all the problems through dialogue, MQM Senator Babar Ghouri told Geo Television on Wednesday.
“Time is ripe for all political parties to sit together and seek solution to the problems of Balochistan,” he maintained.
To a question about the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan, Babar Ghouri said the Committee members have some reservations as all its members are not being taken into confidence. “We have told the Prime Minister about our reservations and also discussed them with Mushahid Hussain and emphasised that all members should be taken into confidence on the issue,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Yousaf has remarked that he cannot rule out the involvement of foreign hand in the deterioration of the law and order situation in his province.
In an interview with the VoG on Wednesday, Jam Yousaf said PML President Ch Shujaat Hussain is in contact with the annoyed Baloch leaders as regards the Sui situation and its results will soon come to light.
Responding to a question, he said the Army and paramilitary forces have been called out only to safeguard the Sui installations. “We are trying that the dialogue process should continue and the tension should not further increase in the area. We are also trying that no further action is taken.”
To another question, he said there is no existence of Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), adding it is only a fictitious name and there are other factors behind it.
To a query, Jam Yousaf said, “Nawab Akbar Bugti and Sardar Ataullah Mengal have some other kind of problems and I cannot make any comment in this regard at this moment.”
To another query, the Chief Minister ruled out the possibility of imposition of Governor’s rule in the province, saying his government is working in the right direction.
Meanwhile, political observers said despite all claims by the Chief Minister, the law and order situation is very alarming in the province.
BUGTI’S HELP SOUGHT IN SHAZIA PROBE: PPI adds: Addressing a Press conference in Quetta, PPO Balochistan Chaudhry Muhammad Yaqoob has asked Nazim Dera Bugti and other notables of the area to cooperate in the investigation in Dr Shazia Khalid rape case.
He invited Nawab Akbar Bugti or his representatives, tribal notables and general public to join the investigations for their satisfaction and participate in the Identity Parade of the accused.

The Shujaat mission

WHILE one part of the government is trying to bring Balochistan back to normalcy, another part is seemingly involved in moves that may well wreck this mission. As Ch Shujaat Hussain, accompanied by his secretary general Senator Mushahid Hussain was using all his persuasive powers to bring round Sardar Ataullah Mengal and seek Sardar Sherbaz Mazari’s help in resolving the standoff, Balochistan CM Jam Yusuf told a private TV channel he suspected the involvement of Iran, Al-Qaeda or some unnamed foreign power in the ongoing unrest. A Chief Minister is supposed to be a highly responsible state functionary. One expects him to abstain from making the claim unless he has foolproof evidence. Coming as it does within days of a Foreign Office clarification that there was nothing to suggest Iran’s involvement, one wonders what motivated him to make the statement. Do some people want to keep the pot boiling in Balochistan for reasons of their own? Or is it part of an attempt to create anti-Iran sentiment domestically to allow Islamabad to facilitate Washington if it launches its likely aggression against Iran?
Both Islamabad and the Baloch leaders must realise the dangers inherent in the ongoing confrontation for the province in particular and the country in general. While presently there is a lull in Sui and Dera Bugti, incidents of violence continue in other places. After attempts to blow up the railway lines in Sibi and Quetta two days back, night train services have been halted in the province. Combined with numerous other incidents of violence, this will strengthen the impression of lawlessness prevailing in Balochistan, causing a widespread feeling of insecurity and endangering the future of numerous development projects in the offing. Meanwhile, Ch Shujaat’s talks with Baloch leaders have produced no tangible result and he has been advised to hold parleys with the already reluctant Nawab Akbar Bugti. With Senator Mushahid having left for Kuala Lumpur to attend an OIC meeting, the next round of talks can be organised only next week. Meanwhile, Baloch leaders have reiterated that, to produce an atmosphere conducive for talks, troops have to be pulled out from the Sui area, house to house searches stopped, political prisoners released and action urgently taken against the rapists of the lady doctor in Sui.
Both the government and the Baloch leaders have to withdraw from their maximalist positions. The government must not make the presence of troops in Sui a matter of prestige. If troops can be withdrawn from the LoC to create an environment conducive for peace talks with India, why can’t the same be done in Balochistan? Similarly, political workers detained without hard evidence incriminating them directly in violence should be released. Normal legal procedure should be followed in dealing with the lady doctor’s case and nobody treated as a sacred cow. This should be followed by talks on the issues that divide the two sides. The Balochi leaders too have to understand it is in their own interest and that of the people of the province to safeguard installations and promote a peaceful environment.

From BLA to SLA

Aziz-Ud-Din Ahmad
What is happen-ing in Baloc-histan is the result of the way the country is being run since October 1999. All vital decision affecting the provinces are being taken by those commanding from Islamabad. The government at the centre and those in the provinces are told to obediently implement whatever the real rulers have decided in their superior wisdom. Their’s not to question why, their’s but to do and die!
When those in power resort to extra-constitutional measures to resolve political issues, the example is liable to be followed by other sections of society. Taking decisions on matters pertaining to provinces and going ahead to execute them without caring to ascertain the opinion of those directly affected or redressing their reservations, is liable to be considered an extra-constitutional procedure. In turn those affected are likely to react with scant respect for law. Whether it is the Gwadar project or the decision to establish new cantonments, Islamabad has shown total disrespect for provincial autonomy, one of the cardinal principles of the constitution. This has sent a message to Balochistan that the centre thinks it alone knows what is good for the province and has a right to execute it in disregard of the public opinion. The chief minister is no more than an orderly, responding only with a “Yes, sir” to every directive from superiors in Islamabad.
The hubris which has continued to be displayed by the real rulers since October 1999 has already done incalculable harm to the federation. In Balochistan it has taken the youth out of the national mainstream and forced them to resort to meet one type of extra-constitutionality with another kind of extra-constitutionality. The situation has been exacerbated by the way an army Captain was declared to be innocent and provided immunity from normal legal procedure before holding an enquiry. This implied that the armed forces personnel are above law. If they are, how could one persuade others not to resort to illegal actions?
None had heard about the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) till three years back. Before October 1999 most Balochi nationalists were part of the mainstream politics, contesting elections and seeking to resolve what they considered the province’s grievances through parliamentary means. Nawab Akbar Bugti had his JWP, duly represented in the Assembly. Khair Bux Marri’s sons contested elections – Balach Marri is still an MPA on the ticket of Baloch Haq Tawar Party. Mr Akhtar Mengal who led the BNP, like Nawab Akbar Bugti, became the Chief Minister of the Province and thus a part of the establishment. A middle class leadership, small but a vibrant part of the mainstream politics, had also reached the Provincial Assembly while some of its members also sat in the parliament. The group led by Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch renamed itself a couple of years back as National Party to underline its all Pakistan identity.
Now thanks to Islamabad’s policies the Balochistan Liberation Army is in the driving seat, leaving mainstream politicians high and dry. Many Balochi young men believe the parliamentary road leads to nowhere as the assemblies have been rendered showpieces by those who possess weapons indicating to all and sundry that political power in fact grows out of the barrel of the gun. They have concluded that in order to get their problems resolved they too must also acquire weapons and resort to violence. There is a perception among the Balochi youth that constitutional guarantees provided to the provinces have become meaningless as the constitution is powerless to save itself from the onslaughts of those who control the gun and consider that this gives them the supreme mandate to rule.
And now thanks to those commanding the country from Islamabad we have a Sindh Liberation Army, which has proclaimed its existence through a blast in Hyderabad. A man identifying himself as Major Murad has declared that unless President Musharraf abandoned the Kalabagh dam and Greater Thal Canal, his organisation would undertake more actions of the sort. If provinces continue to be managed as they are, the time is not far when the younger generation of Sindhis too might start thinking like some of the Balochis. This would make centrist parties like the PPP and PML(N) redundant.
It is in supreme national interest to resolve political issues through negotiations rather than use of power. Neither those extending threats from Islamabad nor the ones advocating “liberation” seem to be aware of the grave consequences arising out of civil-military confrontation. The first and foremost sufferers would be the Balochi common people, but those involved in military action will not go unscathed as the experience of Waziristan would amply prove. The rest of the country will find it hard to cope with the consequences of the situation. The supply of gas would become uncertain as it would be impossible to station army all along the gas pipeline for an indefinite period. Shortages and breakdowns will affect not only the domestic consumers but also enhance the costs of electricity. This would bring down industrial production and make goods uncompetitive in international market. Uncertain conditions in the province will jeopardise plans to take the Central Asian gas pipeline through the area. With guns booming and blasts taking place, those planning to invest in Gwadar would turn away to safer countries.
Islamabad must drop its high and mighty attitude and agree to resolve all contentious issues through talks. For this it has to undertake the necessary confidence building measures. If forces can be withdrawn from the LoC to create an atmosphere conducive to parleys with India, why cannot these be recalled from Sui and Dera Bugti, particularly when no rockets are being fired there? The country’s economic progress is vital but much more important is its integrity which must not be put at stake by forcing decisions down the throat of the provinces. A genuine respect for provincial autonomy alone can ensure that organisations like the BLA and SLA do not come into existence.
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The gathering storm

In Balochistan when they cook rack of lamb, sajji, they take their time and slowly bring the circle of fire closer to the rack. When finally cooked it becomes a sumptuous meal.
The prevailing situations in and around the country are akin to the cooking of the Sajji – sectarian in-fights in the Northern regions, blowing up of the situation in Balochistan, the Waziristan operation, Two Nation Theory bashing by the MQM leadership, simmering unrest in Sind, Punjab bashing by separatist elements, India’s fait accompli on Baghlihar and other dams/hydel projects and resultant LoC firing, increase in dacoities and law and order breakdown, land scam and the resultant lack of industrial growth. Last but not the least, open resentment among masses and media about the role of the generals and what they have given to the nation.
Laying blame will only worsen things. I saw a recent TV discussion by Sherbaz Mazari, Mumtaz Bhutto and Sassi Palejo. The conclusion drawn was that the people felt alienated and a revolution was in the making. I had documented similar thoughts in a previous articles, as I did on the Balochistan issue and the water crises in ‘The Balochistan card’ and ‘The Water Crises,’ but the country’s powers that be seem to have an agenda of their own.
In Balochistan whatever you do, you must keep the nation’s interest supreme. It is thought provoking that the federal government is thinking of increasing gas royalty, provincial allocation, providing jobs and thinking of amending the Constitution to give Balochistan greater autonomy. Hello! Are we all there? By all means give these concessions, but do so for the other provinces too: greater autonomy and a bigger share from their resources. Otherwise this would be seen as giving in to blackmail, and blackmailers never give up. This will also cause resentment in other provinces as is already evident from the statements of Bashir Qureshi of JSQM.
A friend approached an elderly sage in Quetta, originally from a Bombay business family but settled in Balochistan since decades. He felt we would not be able to take out the Sardar from the Balochis and the Mullah from the Pathans. I differ. If we cannot or presently don’t want to, at least we can wean them off.
If kings, princes, lords, nawabs have all been relegated to history, Baloch Sardars must also realise the changing environment and adapt. We have three stalwarts of Baloch Sardari amongst us, Mr Bugti, Mr Mengal and Mr Marri, all proud and perceivably brave men, but men nevertheless, with all their faults and graces.
We should concentrate on the newer generation, make them feel part and parcel of this country, assure them not just with words but deeds, that Balochistan’s development would provide dividends to all Balochis. Include the Sardars or their sons in the committee overseeing development funds disbursements, educate them to take pride in developing the lot of their faithful tribesmen instead of keeping them subjugated, and make them realise that developing their area and people would make them more popular. Let the initial infrastructure development contracts go to Baloch contractors. When they see they are not being discriminated against, they would seek the help of contractors from the other provinces, and learn from them.
The irony is that the awaam perceives all those involved at the helm as criminals one way or another, whether ministers with default cases, a Prime Minister facing an election petition for abuse of office, a President whom the whole opposition unitedly calls illegal, or Sardars who should be reminded of a 1953/54 arrest for murder and the Kulli Camp.
The Mullah can be weaned off by developing concerned regions with education taking priority over all else, and by inducting religious scholars who can teach them Islam’s true and progressive aspects. We should select our best religious scholars by competitive exam, and send them every year to Al-Azhar and Qum. On return, deploy them in the hinterland with benefits for hard areas.
If those airing sectarian violence in the Northern Areas are unaware of the latest study Rand Corporation study for the US government, stating that USA should note the differences among Muslims and use them to achieve its objectives, leaders of both factions should be enlightened. After that, if they still insist on instigating their respective followers then it is akin to sabotaging national solidarity and steps must be taken against such unwanted elements.
The Baglihar, Wullar, Salal and Kishanganga hydel projects are very much either on ground or on the drawing board, with necessary funds allocated for implementation by the Indian government. These, my dear countrymen, are not the last but the least of what they plan to do with the rivers coming to our share. Now, how and why General Ayub Khan agreed to give away the other three in 1960, is debatable.
The fact is, we lost our eastern rivers under the Indus Treaty, and now have our friendly neighbour freely constructing on the remaining three.
According to Natwar Singh, “We have plans to make dams on all the rivers feeding Pakistan. Then all we have to do is stop water from flowing into Pakistan and Pakistan will be on its knees.” In 2002 the Indian water resources minister Bijova Chakraborty is on record as having stated that “If we decide to scrap the Indus Waters Treaty, there will be drought in Pakistan and the people of that country would have to beg for every drop of water.” Wednesday’s newspaper carries a heading: “India about to finish tunnel to divert Neelum water.” What happened to the oath of defending the country’s interests?
My countrymen, the fact that two senior Indian ministers are being so cheeky, the fact that the construction of dams and hydels has taken place and the fact that they plan another 50 on our rivers is in my opinion a very serious situation and we cannot – Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushtun, Hazarawal, Baloch, Muhajir –afford to sleep over it another single minute. All you separatist elements, remember that those inciting you today will do worse to you if ever you are on your own. The answer lies in uniting. I know your perceptions of being wronged and kept out of the mainstream are not without cause, but going our own ways would only play into the hands of the powers that be.
We have started blaming RAW, KHAD and other neighbours for most of our internal and regional quagmires. There must be some truth in this. If so, why aren’t our agencies taking advantage of the rifts existing in all the countries bent on undoing us? The theory of inverse psychology which I used to debate during my short stint in uniform with my instructor Brigadier Kamal Alam is not being applied.
I do know he tried his level best when he was around. God Bless his soul, he passed away recently, remembered fondly by family, friends, colleagues and students alike. In the academy we were all “you bloody chaps“ until passing out, when we all became his buddies. He will not be around to see the trials the country will have to face, but his cadets who form the majority of the new generals are very much here.
All I want you all to remember is that, with instructors like Akhtar Marroo, Kamal Alam, Saleem Akhtar Malek, Tahir Qureshi and S.P. Shahid, I don’t recall ever being made aware that there were animals like sectarianism or regionalism. It was pure professionalism, truth, and above all nationalism.
The awaam is feeling betrayed, let down. Their confidence in themselves and the country must be revived. The politicians along with the uniformed rulers are the cause of their dejection, but at this important juncture India has to be contained on our water rights.
Remember, no enemy can hurt us if leaders and people breathe together. Besides building up maximum diplomatic pressure we need to show our serious intent and not just be sabre-rattling. We must deploy all resources, covert and overt, and the masses must rally, as in Ukraine, and be seen as an unshakable human wall in front of the Indian Embassy,the UN office, etc, until work on these dams is stopped. If we do not resort to this now, then prepare to teach your children and future generations to beg!
As Brig Shaffi said, “It is dangerous to be the enemy of USA but fatal to be its friend.” And history shows this to be true. On the economic front we have two bullet trains gathering speed in our proximity – China and India. We must immediately adjust our policies so as to ride the suction these two economies will create. If we fumble, that suction will make us tumble. Let India’s stake in Pakistan increase, like gasline passage or transit facilities for Afghanistan for products not manufactured here. But let us also let them know we will not stand by while they suck away our waters!
I’m not being dramatic when I say that as a country we have it in us to BE… if only we can contain our own Holy Trinity.