Friday, April 15, 2005

Young Baloch American Writes to His (Michican) Senator

(The folloing is a copy of a young Baloch American,Omar Towghi, sent directly to a powerful American senator, Carl Levin who is one of the two directly elected senators from Michigan State in the US Senate. MT)

To: Senator Carl Levin

Our alliance with Musharraf and the Military who he governs through is akin
to our support of Saddam Hussein and his Baath party Thirty years ago. Only
difference being in that Pakistan actually has Weapons of mass Destruction
in form of a Nuclear Bomb.

I would like to take a brief moment of your time to point out a few
irregularities with the Pakistani government and that of its president
Musharraf, specifically with its conduct in the south western part the
country known generally as Baluchistan.

First, as you know, President Musharraf came to power by way of a military
coup and the democratic process has not led to elections for several years
nor does it look very likely in the near future. We have dealt with
dictators in the past that may have been convenient initially, Saddam
Hussein to keep Iran in check during the 80's, but once that threat no
longer existed the burden of holding a close relation with a despot was soon
or later going to become a problem. We need Musharraf right now in our war
on terror and he, I believe, knows that. Just as a Saddam knew that in
using chemical weapons on the Kurds and on the Iranians during the war
between those countries would not bring an outcry from the rest of the world
Musharraf believes he can conduct himself as he pleases in disregarding any
due process or diplomatic solution to problems that exist at this time in
Baluchistan. Even the government branches that have no real power have
attempted to restrain the "President" from going into an all out war with
the Baluchis. The rape of a female Dr. by Pakistani Military officer and the
subsequent handling of the crime, which was to relocate the Dr. for 2 weeks
and scurry off the officer to another region, is what triggered the latest
confrontation between the Military and the Baluchis. But the problem lies
deeper attached is a recent article that gives a good summery from the BBC.

January 17 2005

The Pakistani military is already embroiled in what many analysts call a
"war without an end" against foreign militants and local supporters in
Waziristan near the Afghan border.

Now the Pakistan government risks a new battlefront against an adversary of
an entirely different nature.

The venue is Balochistan, Pakistan's troubled western province where
nationalists have been fighting pitched battles against security forces for
well over a year.

Their demands include more autonomy for the province and an end to military
cantonments and huge development projects that they feel may marginalise the
local Baloch population.

Guerrilla-style attacks

In 2004 this conflict assumed serious proportions as rebels stepped up their
attacks, killing more than 30 soldiers and paramilitary personnel.

The government should be asking why so many people in Balochistan support
the BLA

Former chief minister Nawab Akbar Bugti

Government troops and installations across the province came under rocket
attacks and bombings throughout the year, including the Sui gas complex.

More important was the emergence of a new militant group calling itself the
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

It is this group, say government officials, which is fuelling the current
unrest. The BLA says it carried out several attacks over the last year.

"The question is not whether what the BLA is doing is right or not. The
government should be asking why so many people in Balochistan support the
BLA," says Nawab Akbar Bugti, former Balochistan chief minister and the last
of the major tribal chiefs still resident in the province.

Mr Bugti argues that the BLA's agenda clearly strikes a chord with the
Baloch population.

The BLA, for its part, says it is fighting "Punjabi domination" - the sense
that Balochistan's natural resources are being exploited by a state
apparatus dominated by people from the province of Punjab.

This, they say, results in the "marginalisation of the Baloch population
through mega-development projects".

Doorway to Central Asia

One of the BLA's immediate targets is the city of Gwadar, once a tiny town
on the Makran coastline that constitutes the southern boundary of

Paramilitary soldier guarding Sui gas complex

A paramilitary soldier guarding the Sui gas complex

The federal government intends to turn it into a major international route
for sea traffic in the region, projecting it as the world's doorway to
Central Asia.

"Fifty years ago, Karachi had half a million people, all of them locals,"
says Sardar Ataullah Mengal, one of the three major tribal chiefs in
Balochistan who recently ended his 18-year exile in London and is now living
outside Balochistan in Karachi.

"Today, Karachi has 14 million people, 90% of them outsiders."

Mr Mengal says that the government is trying to turn Gwadar into another

"Balochistan has a population of about five million. If they turn it into
another Karachi, the Baloch will become a minority in their own province."

Such fears are compounded by the Pakistan army's plans for establishing new
garrisons in the province. Senior military officials in Islamabad say that
the garrisons, or cantonments, are necessary because of the increased
security needs of the area.

Quetta was the last major Pakistani city to be connected to the national Sui
gas grid

Ghizain Baloch
Baloch Students' Organisation

With the fall of Pakistan's former ally, the Taleban, in Afghanistan, army
officials argue that Pakistan has lost the "strategic depth" in Balochistan
which shares a 600-mile border with Afghanistan.

And with India continuing to increase its presence in the southern Afghan
city of Kandahar, they say, Pakistan has no choice but to secure Balochistan
against external threats by building additional cantonments in the area.

The military also argues that the cantonments bring windfall gains in terms
of development and that anyone resisting the creation of new cantonments
"cannot be sincere to Pakistan".

Poor development

Locals scoff at this argument. "They have had a cantonment in Quetta [the
provincial capital] since before partition," counters Ghizain Baloch, a
leader of the Baloch Students' Organisation, which is sympathetic to the
BLA's agenda.

"But Quetta was the last major Pakistani city to be connected to the
national Sui gas grid."

Indeed, Balochistan's development record is not something that any Pakistani
government can be proud of.

Covering nearly 350,000 square kilometres, it is by far the largest province
in the country but houses less than 7% of Pakistan's population.

Basic quality of life indicators are abysmal.

Tapped drinking water is available to less than 5% of the population. The
female literacy rate is under 15%.

Over the decades, consistent degradation of the province's water supply
system has turned Balochistan into an arid wasteland, adding to local

Baluch people migrate from the Sui area

Baluch people leaving the Sui area

The province is also an administrative nightmare. More than 80% of
Balochistan, designated as tribal area, is governed through special laws
that locals complain are hugely discriminatory.

The police are ill-equipped and poorly staffed and banditry is a major means
of making a living in the province.

The Balochistan-Afghanistan border was once the principal drug smuggling
route from Afghanistan to the western world.

It is currently a human trafficking hub, with an estimated 40,000 people
finding their way to the Middle East via the Makran coastline every year.

According to local analysts, the traditional tribal chiefs have steadily
lost their clout over the years. However, they say the ensuing power vacuum
has not been filled either by an effective administration or the kind of
political activity that connects people to the mainstream of Pakistani

The Balochistan legislative assembly is by far the most fragmented house
amongst the four provincial assemblies in the country.

What this means, say analysts, is that an entire population of young men,
who have no jobs and no hope of a better future, is running around
leaderless and directionless.

And it is these people who have decided to take on what they call "Punjabi
domination". The army is generally seen as a Punjabi-dominated institution
in Pakistan's smaller provinces.

Way back in the mid-1970s, an armed uprising in Balochistan was brutally
quelled by the army with help from the Iranian military. Some 30 years
later, many fear that the province seems poised to repeat its past.

We recently rewarded Mr. Musharraf with the sale of F-16's no strings
attached. That is fine as long as he is in power but once he is gone then
what. We go in and fight against our own aircrafts? The solution is to
pressure the Pakistani government to resume talks with intention of
addressing key issues that must be resolved. Let's not wait until thousands
of innocents civilians are killed, so far several hundred have already been
killed, before we take action.

Sincerely Yours

Omar Towghi

2304 Hickory Pt. Drive North

Portage Michigan 49024


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