Sunday, January 02, 2005

771 rockets fired in Balochistan in two years

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: As many as 771 rockets were fired on civil and military installations in Balochistan by ‘unknown elements’ killing 15 and injuring 50 people in two years (2002-2004).

This was revealed in an official report of Balochistan Inspector General (Police).

Seven military men were also gunned down in addition to dozens of policemen and FC personnel.

About 1,100 people were murdered, 227 dacoities committed and 200 cases of motor snatching on gun points were reported from different corners of the province, once known for ‘low crime’ ratio as compared to other three provinces.

The year 2004 turned out to be the worst as for as rocket attacks were concerned. A total of 650 attacks were launched in this year.

The rocket attacks started after the government decided to construct military cantonments and defence housing schemes at Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Gwadar.

The report was presented in a recent meeting of the sub-committee of the parliamentary committee on current situation. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed presided over the meeting that was attended by two federal ministers from Balochistan, 11 senators and MNAs.

This is the first time that statistics of rocket attacks in Balochistan have been compiled and shared with the federal government to give an idea about the worsening situation in the province.

Briefing the members of the committee, Ch Mohammad Yaqoob, Balochistan IGP and Chief Secretary Abdur Rauf Khan gave details of rocket attacks on civilian and military installations.

The parliamentary committee was constituted on the direction of the then Prime Minister Ch Shujaat Hussain after a series of rocket attacks.

The IGP informed the committee that Balochistan has a unique position as far as policing is concerned because it has been divided into ‘A’ and ‘B’ areas for administrative purposes.

The A areas consist of cities and towns and is under the jurisdiction of the police. The sparsely populated B areas are under the jurisdiction of Levies. The committee was told that Balochistan has been a low crime province with limited law and order problem.

However, over the past couple of years, the problem of law and order has developed seriously. The first rocket was fired in Quetta in 1998 and since then there is no break in cases of rocket firings.

The meeting was told that nationalist elements became active in opposition to the establishment of proposed cantonments at Dera Bugti, Kohlu, and Gwadar, and after the initiation of work on Gwadar deep sea port project, and conversion of B areas into A areas.

The Chief Secretary, Abdur Rauf Khan, said Balochistan had borders with Afghanistan (1,200 km), Iran (900 km) and has a coastline of 770 km. Its population comprises 45 percent Baloch, 38 percent Pukhtuns and 17 percent others.

The law and order in Balochistan has three dimensions —conventional crime, sectarian violence and militancy/terrorism.

Giving the figures of rocket firing, the IGP told the meeting that in 2002 a total of 7 cases of rocket firing were reported in A areas in which only two persons were injured. While in the B areas 13 cases of rockets firing were reported in which two persons were killed and 12 injured.

In 2003 43 rockets were fired in A areas in which 4 persons were killed and 8 injured. While in B areas 58 rockets were fired, three persons were killed and four injured.

In 2004 117 cases of rockets firing were reported in which two persons were injured. In B areas however 553 cases of rocket firing were reported killing four and injuring 17 people.

The participants of the meeting were also given details of a few major incidents of violence in the province such as firing in Sui at FC posts, firing in Kohlu town, car bomb blast that killed three Chinese in Gwadar, murder of seven armymen in Khuzdar, seven bomb blasts in Quetta on August 14, and killing of four FC men on August 16 in Dera Bugti.

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