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Posts from — September 2009

No funds to resume renovation of Quaid’s birthplace: The Dawn, Sept 28

By Bhagwandas
KARACHI, Sept 27: Because of a paucity of funds, the restoration work of the Wazir Mansion — the birthplace of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah — has been suspended for over 15 months, it has been learnt reliably.

While the government is spending billions of rupees on various projects in the city, the historical structure located in the old city neighbourhood of Kharadar, awaits a mere Rs3 million so that its restoration work, started years ago, could be completed, sources have told Dawn.

According to the sources, the priority the government gives to this historical building related to the Father of the Nation can be gauged from the fact that not a single rupee has been allocated for the project during the past financial year (2008-09), which brought the restoration work to a halt in June 2008.

The federal archaeology department, which manages the Wazir Mansion, protected under the Antiquities Act, is implementing a six-year (2002-2008) evaluation, preservation, rehabilitation, and upgrade project.

The sources said the government realised the importance of the Wazir Mansion and allocated Rs3 million for the restoration project during the current financial year. However, with a quarter of the year already over, the allocated funds had not been released and when they could be released, no one was sure, they said.

It was also uncertain if the site could be reopened to the public by Dec 25, 2009, they added.

The restoration project has hit many snags since it started in 2002. Its cost has been revised and fixed now at Rs25 million, out of which Rs22 million has already been spent.

One of the major setbacks came in mid-2007 during construction work when a portion of the gallery collapsed.

The archaeology department tried to protect its project officials, claiming that the gallery had to be removed although a picture in the project documents showed the same gallery was to be restored and new ones, based on original THE mess inside the Wazir Mansion building has been lying unattended since June 2008, when the renovation work was stopped.—White Star

designs (that was not known) were to be constructed, the sources said. Subsequently, the department demolished the galleries on both floors. Now the railings taken out from the old galleries are to be fixed in the new galleries.

The sources said that another controversy surrounding the project was over purchases. Many types of electrical equipment worth millions of rupees had been procured for the museum several years ago but most of the equipment had remained packed in boxes since then and their warranty had expired in the meantime.

Responding to Dawn queries, Omar Qureshi, the federal archaeology department official who is associated with the restoration project, said that the work on the project was stopped in June 2008 as there was no budget allocation for the year 2008-09.

He said that most of the work on the project had been completed and some work on outer side, some inside tile work, some woodwork in the display area etc had to be completed.

He said that when the Rs3 million allocated in this year’s budget was released, the remaining work would be completed and the museum would be opened to the public on the Quaid’s birth anniversary on Dec 25.

Responding to the queries regarding the controversy over the galleries, he said that a committee, with architect Yasmeen Lari and other experts, had been set up to suggest designs for the galleries. The committee, after getting evidence from the neighbourhood and other stakeholders, decided to fix the same old iron railings in the galleries after removing rust and properly cleaning them up. The only difference that might be left would be of wooden railings in place of the old ones, which were made up of concrete.

He said that although he had not been communicated anything officially, he had heard that the government had cut 20 per cent budget of all projects proposed by the ministry of culture. If that were true, it would be difficult to complete this project of national importance by Dec 25 and it might drag on further, he added. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/karachi-no-funds-to-resume-renovation-of-quaids-birthplace-899

September 28, 2009   No Comments

There are leads on Hafiz Saeed which amount to evidence..

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram tell Indian Express
Excerpts from interaction with editors of the daily

•AMITABH SINHA: What were the specific results achieved during your recent US visit?
Much has been made of the Hafiz Saeed chapter but it was only one small part of the agenda. The main purpose of the visit was to work out an arrangement by which we can share intelligence on a real time basis and then to share analysis of intelligence. We also discussed access to technology. We need technology; we need to improve the skill sets of our people. Then there was the very important need to get to know the important people in the US on a personal basis. I believe the objectives were substantially achieved.

•RITU SARIN: Is there a qualitative difference in the nature of evidence we have against Hafiz Saeed and the evidence we have handed over to Pakistan on other 26/11 accused?
Yes, because Hafiz Saeed did not come to India. All his overt actions were done on Pakistan soil. So all I can give are leads as to what he did. The evidence is on Pakistan soil. If the Pakistan government throws up its hands and says it cannot or it is unwilling to investigate on Pakistan soil, that is a very sad commentary on the Pakistan police.

•AMITABH SINHA: You mean there is no evidence against him as of now and Pakistan will have to investigate further?
There are leads which amount to evidence. For example, when Kasab said Hafiz Saeed asked a man to set up 10 targets and asked each one of them to hit the targets and he was given target No 4 and he hit target No 4 and Hafiz Saeed personally complimented him on his accurate firing, that is a lead bordering on evidence which has to be substantiated by locating the place where the target practice took place, by talking to the people involved, by investigation. If these are confirmed, it is hard evidence.

•PRANAB DHAL SAMANTA: Is there any possibility of a joint investigation with Pakistan?
No more investigation needs to be done on Indian soil. We have filed the chargesheet, the trial is well on its way and is about to be concluded. All the investigation that has to be done now is on Pakistan soil. FBI asked for access, they (Pakistan) denied it. If they did not give access to FBI which is obliged to investigate the attacks since six American nationals were killed in 26/11, what chance do we have?

•AMITABH SINHA: So what is the way out?
I see the tunnel. I don’t see the end of the tunnel yet. We have a Letter Rogatory for Hafiz Saeed. We will follow the processes of law which are available to us. At some point of time, the Pakistan Government, I hope, will fall in line and investigate and help us gain access to the evidence of that investigation.

•RITU SARIN: At some stage, India will have to take a call on the nine bodies of the 26/11 perpetrators lying in cold storage in Mumbai.
What do we do? No Muslim organisation is willing to take those bodies and bury them. Pakistan has grudgingly accepted that some of them maybe Pakistani nationals. There must be some organisation which is willing to come forward to bury them and we are willing to work with them. They are dead and deserve a decent burial.

•MANU PUBBY: There has not been any major terrorist strike since the Mumbai attack. What has changed on the ground?
I don’t think there is any let-up in the plans of militant organisations in Pakistan, especially LeT and JeM. I think they continue to plan and plot. What has changed is that our intelligence sharing is now on a real-time basis and the level of alertness, vigilance of states is much better. We are proactively seeking out cells and modules to neutralise them. Let me say very candidly that while effort plays a big part, luck also pays a big part. We have to be ever vigilant and we have to raise our level of preparedness.

•VAIBHAV VATS: Is there any thought being given to repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)?
We are proposing amendments to the AFSPA. As far as the presence of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, I have said on the border, the army will be present. The paramilitary will be deployed in the hinterland to aid and assist the state police. And the state police will take the frontline in maintaining law and order.
http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/521990

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Pak using top LeT men to fight Taliban

The Indian Express, Sept 26
NEW DELHI: One reason why Pakistan doesn’t appear to be sincere in its against t Lashkar-eToiba founder and Jamaatud-Dawa chief Hafiz Sayeed is slowly emerging.
It’s been learnt here that some of the LeT’s top commanders, spearheading its violent campaign in India, have now joined the Pak Army’s campaign against the Taliban.
Sources said they have been moved from Punjab in Pakistan to set up and lead Army-sponsored armed “vil- i lage defence committees” in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP).
Sources said LeT commanders Sad Baba, Asad Khan, Bilal, Gazi Sultan and Huzefa have moved to NWFP where the Pak Army is encouraging local tribesmen and their el- i ders to form armed groups to fight the Taliban. l Local tribesmen are said to have told the Pak Army not to deploy its forces because their presence helps build support for the Taliban. Hence, the committees.
This anti-Taliban resistance has a parallel with the “Sunni awakening” in Iraq, where tribesmen took on al-Qaeda militants in Anbar province and elsewhere.
The village defence groups rely on tribal customs and i widespread ownership of guns to raise traditional private armies — interestingly, these are also called Lashkars — each with hundreds of volunteers from local tribes.
These armies, launched last autumn, are not aimed at preventing individual acts of terrorism — suicide bombings etc — but to create a local defence system that prevents the Taliban from setting up an “extremist mini-state” in the lawless north-west.
Such Lashkars have already been established in Bajaur, Dir and Buner in NWFP .
The biggest anti-Taliban Lashkar had been set up by Sulthankeil tribe in Khall town with 10,000 local recruits who came along with their weapons.
Sources reveal that the LeT’s support for setting up and leading these tribal groups has two main reasons.
One, the LeT belongs to a different ideological sect, theologically opposed to the Taliban and an armed rebellion against the Pak army.
Two, LeT’s commanders are experienced in guerilla warfare and most of them have been operating in Kashmir or directing terror acts in various cities across India.
Security agencies monitoring Lashkar operations have found that the geographical location of many of these LeT commanders is being concealed via “spoofing” of their satphones.
“When a satellite phone is spoofed, it means its Lat (latitude)-Long (Longitude) is misrepresented by highly sophisticated sensors thus preventing surveillance,” a senior official told The Indian Express.
The official alleged that there were instances where the service provider was “giving inaccurate information.”
“We worked on two numbers, one belonging to an LeT commander and another used by a Hizbul man. Both were spoofed and in both cases we knew the actual location of the users. The service provider gave us the correct information about the Hizbul man while it misled us on information about the phone used by the LeT.” http://epaper.indianexpress.com/IE/IEH/2009/09/26/ArticleHtmls/26_09_2009_001_007.shtml?Mode=1

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Political situation heats up in Balochistan: The Nation, Sept 27

By Bari Baloch
QUETTA – Chief Minister Balochistan has started efforts to soothe those ministers in his Cabinet who were angry for not having portfolios or their departments were not attractive enough after sacking of PPP Minister Ali Madad Jattak from the Cabinet.
Ali Madad Jattak was devoted worker of PPP and he was elected as member of Balochistan Assembly for the first time in the general elections of 2008.
His success became possible because of boycott of elections by nationalist forces of Balochistan.
He was amongst the most loyal people to Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani and his brother Senator Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani who is also the President of PPP Balochistan.
Formation of coalition govt under the leadership of PPP was the top priority of central leadership of party therefore all important and lucrative departments were given to JUI (F), Balochistan National Party (Awami) and the independent group because they had assured their support to Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani for formation of the govt.
This is why PML(Q) could not form govt in Balochistan despite being the largest party in the Provincial Assembly.
PML(Q) not only failed to form govt but after failure its all members supported Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani for the office of Chief Ministership except Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind who had a feud with Raisani tribe.
Because of this situation, PPP Ministers got less important Ministries while some of them were Ministers without portfolios causing anger amongst them. However Ali Madad Jattak was allocated the Department of Food which was better as compared to the departments of some other Ministers of party.
It may be recalled that Food Department is amongst the allegedly notorious departments in Balochistan like Communication and Works. Annually around 600 million to 1000 million rupees are allocated for subsidy of wheat but a major portion of this amount goes in the pockets of officers of the department.
Though parliamentary leader of PPP in Provincial Assembly Muhammad Sadiq Umrani and some other Ministers of PPP were not happy and they were alleging that Chief Minister was not giving due importance to ministers of PPP as compared to ministers of other parties.
Majority of PML(Q) ministers were also making the same complaint.
However, Ali Madad Jattak joined the camp of critics of Chief Minister and his brother when provincial President of party Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani tendered his resignation from his office as he had not only made the central leadership of party subject of criticism but he had also said that Ministers of PPP in Balochistan were not solving problems of the workers.
He had also levelled charges of corruption on some of his party ministers.
Ali Madad Jattak caused rebellion and became the leader of that group which doesn’t want to see Senator Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani as provincial President of the party following the statement of latter.
Few months back Jattak visited Islamabad alongwith Agha Irfan Karim who tendered his resignation as a protest against dismissal of the former from the Cabinet.
Following these meetings some reports appeared in local Press that central leadership of party was considering change of entire provincial leadership because there were serious differences between Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani and party’s provincial General Secretary Bismillah Khan Kakar.
Alongwith these reports this was talk of the town that Ali Madad Jattak would be given an important position in the party following change of provincial leadership.
Besides meetings with central leadership, Ali Madad Jattak had also met some PML(Q) leaders including PML Parliamentary leader Sheikh Jafar Khan Mandokhel in Quetta.
Some reliable sources said that these moves had annoyed Chief Minister Balochistan. He changed Secretary of Food during Eid holidays.
Following this step Ali Madad Jattak issued a statement that he had support of 28 members of Balochistan Assembly and they would make a protest in the next session of Balochistan for interference of junior officers of CM secretariat in the departments of PPP ministers.
Chief Minister dismissed him from Cabinet with a charge that Ali Madad was creating distrust between PPP and provincial government and his moves were tantamount to destablising the provincial government.
After his dismissal Chief Minister is making efforts to compensate other PPP and PML ministers who were without portfolios or their departments and were not lucrative.
He allocated Food Department to PPP Minister Asfandyar Kakar and the Excise and Taxation Department to other PPP Minister Baboo Muhammad Amin Umrani. While Zakat and Ushar Department was taken from Agha Irfan Karim and was allotted to PML (Q) Minister Salim Khosa who had earlier a less important department.
Political observers are of the view that so far there was no big threat to govt of Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani ,however, he would have to face a difficult situation as a large number of his Ministers are not satisfied with their portfolios.
He has to also face another difficult situation because a large number of Balochistan Assembly members have announced to move a no-trust motion against Speaker of Balochistan Assembly Muhammad Aslam Bhootani.
Some political observers also believe that the rise of sudden differences by the PPP leaders with their own CM heralds an attempt between the establishment to pave the way for mid-term elections in Balochistan. http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online//Politics/27-Sep-2009/Political-situation-heats-up-in-Balochistan

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Now focus is on human trafficking: The News, Sept 24

ISLAMABAD: It was a shameful Wednesday for Pakistan, first for being dubbed as one of the most corrupt nations by the Transparency International and then on the same day to be put on the State Department watch list for failing to curb human smuggling.

The government’s failure to provide the required information to the State Department on the former’s efforts to curb human trafficking has led to the Islamabad’s inclusion in the State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List.

Much to the embarrassment of President Zardari, the State Department report said parents in Pakistan sell their daughters into domestic servitude, prostitution, or forced marriages, and women are traded between tribal groups to settle disputes or as payment for debts whereas NGOs contend that Pakistani girls are trafficked to the Middle East for sexual exploitation.

The State Department in its report said, “The government of Pakistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

Despite these significant overall efforts, including the prosecution of some trafficking offences and the launch of public awareness programme, the government did not show evidence of progress in addressing the serious issues of bonded labour, forced child labour, and the trafficking of migrant workers by fraudulent labour recruiters; therefore, Pakistan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Sources in the FIA said on the ground Pakistan did well during the recent years to continue to be in the category of Tier 2 countries but despite all its efforts it is downgraded and placed in Tier 2 Watch List only because the interior ministry under Rehman Malik failed to provide details of what Islamabad did in this area of global concern.

It was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had made the State Department’s annual report on human trafficking public several weeks back. The report contained a chapter on Pakistan and places it amongst the countries on the Tier 2 Watch List. In case, Pakistan does not improve it may further downgraded to the worse available category — Tier 3.

Because of Eid holidays no one was available either in the FIA or in the interior ministry to explain as to who is responsible for this great embarrassment to Pakistan. Interior Minister Rehman Malik was also contacted on his mobile number but that, too, was not responding. The ring tone of Malik’s mobile showed as if he is abroad.

Sources said the FIA has presently engaged a team of its officials to prepare details to be provided to the State Department to get back to amongst the countries of category Tier 2. However, no one is sure if the State Department would change its findings about Pakistan after the belated awakening of the latter. A source in the FIA said the incumbent FIA director-general is required to pay more attention to this issue instead of zeroing in on the post of member executive committee of the Interpol for which he is presently campaigning.

Tier 2 Watch List is the category of countries whose governments do not fully comply with Trafficking Victims Protection Acts (TVPA) and where a) the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; or b) there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or c) the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

In its report, the State Department noted Pakistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.

The country’s largest human trafficking problem is that of bonded labour, which is concentrated in Sindh and Punjab provinces, particularly in brick kilns, carpet-making, agriculture, fishing, mining, leather tanning, and production of glass bangles; estimates of Pakistani victims of bonded labour, including men, women, and children, vary widely but are likely over one million.

The report said parents in Pakistan sell their daughters into domestic servitude, prostitution or forced marriages, and women are traded between tribal groups to settle disputes or as payment for debts. Moreover, NGOs contend that Pakistani girls are trafficked to the Middle East for sexual exploitation. Pakistan is also a destination for women and children from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, and Nepal trafficked primarily for forced labour. Women from Bangladesh and Nepal are trafficked through Pakistan to the Gulf.

Convictions of trafficking offenders decreased during the reporting period, the report said, adding the government continued to punish victims of sex trafficking and did not provide protection services for victims of forced labour, including bonded labour. The report recommends a significant increase in the law-enforcement activities, including adequate criminal punishment against bonded labour, forced child labour and fraudulent labour recruiting for purposes of trafficking; continue to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and punish acts of government complicity in trafficking at all levels; and expand victim protection services for victims of forced labour and sex trafficking.

It said the government of Pakistan made insufficient law-enforcement efforts to address trafficking in 2008, particularly in regard to labour trafficking, and noted the FIA did not provide data on the number of law-enforcement officials that received training. It said government officials at all levels have been implicated in human trafficking and there were reports of bribery of government and law-enforcement officials during the reporting period.

The report also said the government’s efforts to protect victims of trafficking were inadequate during the reporting period. “Pakistan did not report any programs to identify and protect victims of forced labour — the largest sectors of Pakistan’s trafficking victims — particularly bonded labour and forced child labour in informal industries such as domestic work,” the report said, adding foreign victims of trafficking also did not receive government protection services. www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=24666

September 24, 2009   No Comments

Transparency indicts Pakistan at critical time: The News, Sept 24

By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: In an obvious rebuke to President Asif Zardari’s efforts to seek massive aid from the world community, the global anti-corruption watchdog, the Transparency International, issued a stinging indictment on the eve of a high-profile New York meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, saying: “How can one expect from any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan from its current financial crisis, when there exist no law against corruption.”

President Zardari is to meet US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in New York on Thursday but in its 2009 Global Corruption Report, released on Wednesday, Transparency International portrays Pakistan amongst the most corrupt nations in the world.

Releasing the annual report, the TI chief in Pakistan Adeel Gilani said anti-corruption efforts in the country had taken a 180 degree turn since Gen Pervez Musharraf issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance on October 5, 2007, 56 days after the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.

The timing for the release of the TI report would be embarrassing for President Zardari, whose government’s credibility is already seriously questioned internationally because of President’s own as well as many of his government’s key players’ past plagued by serious corruption charges.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin tried to soften the impact of the TI report by saying in his talks with US officials in New York, the US side had assured that most of the aid to Pakistan will be channelled through the federal government, although it is still not clear whether the US Congress will approve this.

A press release issued in Islamabad and New York, Syed Adeel Gilani, Chairman TI Pakistan, said the NRO has also granted further protection to the parliamentarians, as no sitting member of parliament or a provincial assembly can be arrested without taking into consideration the recommendations of the special parliamentary committees on ethics, which are not formed yet.

Gilani said over and above the NRO, the aims of the present government which has sent serious signals all over the world is that in Pakistan corruption will not be a crime if no accountability is held for three years. “The Draft Holder of Public Office Act 2009 prepared by the government to substitute the NAB Ordinance, under consideration of the National Assembly, gives further immunity to all against corruption from October 2010,” the report said, wondering, “How can one expect that any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan from its current financial crisis when there exist no law against corruption.”

The report said corruption is a serious problem in Pakistan, and this position is corroborated by a number of recent studies and reports. An assessment of Pakistan’s infrastructure implementation capacity was carried out at the request of the government, and the resulting report was published in November 2007 jointly by the World Bank and the planning Commission of Pakistan.

It states that approximately 15 per cent of the cost of corruption lies in procurement, costing the Pakistani development budget (2007/8) over Rs150 billion. Furthermore, the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Indicator in 2007 ranks Pakistan a mere 21.3 out of 100. The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 ranked Pakistan 101st out of 130 countries and found that respondents pointed to corruption as the second most problematic factor for doing business in the country, after government instability.

The instability of the political situation in Pakistan cannot be underestimated as a factor in permitting corruption in the private sector to flourish. Despite Musharraf’s claim to be committed to fighting corruption, little headway has been made, and it is still considered to be ‘pervasive and deeply entrenched’.

Musharraf relinquished military power in November 2007, and his supporters were defeated in the February 2008 general election by a coalition of the Pakistan People’s Party and Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League. Musharraf resigned in August 2008, facing impeachment for alleged crimes including gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution, it said.

The following is the Pakistan Chapter of the Global Report released on Sept 23: Legal and institutional changes: In a meeting with a delegation of TI Pakistan on 17 July 2007, the former prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, gave assurance that the Public Procurement Rules of 2004 would be implemented in all the federal government ministries. He also claimed that transparency was the ‘hallmark’ of government policy and that the government was promoting e-governance as a tool for more openness and in order to make processes more efficient. He claimed that the ëgovernment had made it mandatory that integrity pacts are signed for all government contracts over Rs10 million. Moreover, the adoption of the rules ëminimises discretion, gives priority to technical competence and ensures that award of contract is on the basis of lowest evaluated responsive bidder in the shortest possible timeí.

He also agreed with TI Pakistan that the Election Commission should ëhold the elections in the most transparent manner’. These commitments were undermined after the departure of the former prime minister in 2007. Under the caretaker government in 2008, complaints to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority board were not acted upon.

The former president, General Pervez Musharraf, issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on 5 October 2007, fifty-six days after the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption. In many ways this was a setback for anti-corruption measures in Pakistan, as all proceedings under investigation or pending in any court that had been initiated by or involved the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prior to 12 October 1999 were withdrawn and terminated with immediate effect. The NRO also granted further protection to parliamentarians, as no sitting member of parliament or a provincial assembly can be arrested without taking into consideration the recommendations of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Ethics or the Special Committee of the Provincial Assembly on Ethics.

Public ills, private woes — the survival of the private sector during political instability: Corruption is a serious problem in Pakistan, and this position is corroborated by a number of recent studies and reports. An assessment of Pakistanís infrastructure implementation capacity was carried out at the request of the government, and the resulting report was published in November 2007 jointly by the World Bank and the Planning Commission of Pakistan. It states that approximately 15 per cent of the cost of corruption lies in procurement, costing the Pakistani development budget (2007/8) over Rs150 billion.

Furthermore, the World Bankís Control of Corruption Indicator in 2007 ranks Pakistan a mere 21.3 out of 100. In terms of the business sector, there are a number of measures that indicate that there is a serious issue of corruption. TI’s Global Corruption Barometer 2006 reported that the impact of corruption on the private sector was perceived as almost equal to corruption in the public sector; and The Global Competitiveness Report 2008ñ2009 ranked Pakistan 101st out of 130 countries and found that respondents pointed to corruption as the second most problematic factor for doing business in the country, after government instability. The instability of the political situation in Pakistan cannot be underestimated as a factor in permitting corruption in the private sector to flourish. Despite Musharrafís claim to be committed to fighting corruption, little headway has been made, and it is still considered to be ëpervasive and deeply entrenchedí.

The inauguration of the new president, Asif Ali Zardari, on 9 September 2008 ushers in a new era, but not one without challenges. The new democratically elected government will, therefore, require the immediate enforcement of good governance and transparency standards to counter the various dire problems facing Pakistan. There is an increased threat of terrorism, hyperinflation, a reduction in the Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index, a sizeable depreciation of the currency, a substantial reduction in foreign currency reserves and a huge trade deficit inherited from the previous government.

Banking fines for cartels: the new Competition Commission: In Pakistan, monopolistic practices and cartels are perceived to hold sway in such businesses as banking, cement, sugar, automobiles, fertilisers and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Although cartels distort market prices, they also create other anomalies. Existing players in an industry may firmly block the entry of new entrepreneurs through cartels, in order to ensure their own market dominance. This practice acts as a clear disincentive for the much-needed expansion of Pakistanís industrial base.

In October 2007 a new Competition Commission was set up under the Competition Ordinance 2007, in order to ëprovide for a legal framework to create a business environment based on healthy competition towards improving economic efficiency, developing competitiveness and protecting consumers from anti- competitive practicesí.

It was also meant to ërestrict the undue concentration of economic power, growth of unreasonable monopoly power and unreasonably restrictive trade practicesí, which are perceived to be ëinjurious to the economic well-being, growth and development of Pakistaní. In one of its first initiatives, the Competition Commission challenged the Pakistan Banks Association (PBA) on its decision to ëcollectively decide rates of profit and other terms and conditions regarding deposit accountsí. The PBA is a membership association to which only banks in Pakistan can be affiliated, and it advertised its decision openly in a daily newspaper on 5 November 2007. The terms of the agreement included a number of its member banks imposing ëa four per cent profit on Rs20,000 deposits and a Rs50 charge on less than a Rs5,000 balanceí on bank accounts included in the new Enhanced Savings Account (ESA) scheme. Furthermore, holders of basic accounts that met the criteria would have their accounts changed to ESAs without the prior instruction or agreement of the account-holders.

The Competition Commission considered this move by the PBA to be in violation of section 4 of the Competition Ordinance 2007, and, moreover, in acting as a cartel, the banks were alleged to have behaved anti-competitively. The implications of the changes included customers with balances of less than Rs5,000 having to pay Rs50 each month and the transfer of accounts without the account-holdersí prior permission.

On 24 December a ëshow-causeí was issued to the PBA and the banks, and they were asked to provide justification of their behaviour to the commission by 10 January 2008.

Both the PBA and the banks issued responses on 9 January, denying the charges of cartelisation, and on 28 February 2008 a further statement was issued, arguing that the commission did not have jurisdiction in this area and that, furthermore, the changes had been made ëat the behest of the regulator (the State Bank of Pakistan) in the larger public interestí. The PBA also argued that it could not be considered to be stifling competition as the deposit amounts affected by the ESA scheme amounted to only 2.25 per cent. The commission found later, however, that in terms of the number of account-holders affected the impact was much higher, constituting 45.12 per cent.

The final decision of the Competition Commission was made on 10 April 2008. The commission argued that the ëPBA has acted beyond its mandate…and has been instrumental in the formation of a cartelí. As a result, it had deprived small account-holders of the benefits they were otherwise earning on their savings accounts. The PBA and the culpable banks were ordered to discontinue the practice, not to repeat it and to pay considerable fines. The PBA was fined Rs30 million, and the seven banks involved were fined Rs25 million each.

The penalised institutions did have recourse to appeal to the appellate bench of the Competition Commission, but they failed to do so within the stipulated time. On 27 May the PBA did, however, appeal against the decision of the commission with the Sindh High Court, which ordered the commission not to take any action against the PBA before the decision had been adjudicated in court.

The commission appealed against the high courtís decision, and on 15 September 2008 the Supreme Court allowed the commission to proceed against the banks. The Competition Commissionís move against the banking cartel, as well as the support provided by the Supreme Court, is encouraging. It has sent the message that such practices by the private sector, including the maintenance of unreasonable power by monopolies and restrictive trade practices, will not be tolerated and that the institutions in charge of monitoring such practices have the power to act.

Privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills: Corruption in privatisation in Pakistan is endemic: manipulation of the process can be found at all stages, from the evaluation of profits and assets of a company to the provision of kickbacks on completion of a settlement.

One of the most famous cases relating to privatisation involves the attempted privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills. As Pakistanís largest and only integrated steel manufacturing plant, it is a private limited company, and 100 per cent of its equity is owned by the government. The plant is the biggest producer of steel in Pakistan and was installed in 1981, with the collaboration of Russia, by the Ministry of Industries, Production and Special Initiatives. In 1997 the government of Pakistan decided to privatise it, and, following the rules, secured approval from the Council of Common Interests.

In 1998 the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills was abandoned, and to make it profitable the labour force was reduced from 20,000 to 15,000.

As the steel mill had been designed, constructed and fitted out entirely by the Soviet Union, in February 2003 General Musharraf visited Moscow and signed an agreement to expand the production of the plantís steel from 1.1 million to 1.5 million tonnes. By December 2004, less than two years later, the privatisation of the plant was being discussed again, and by 10 February 2005 the decision to privatise the mill was taken by the government. The corporation, assessed at Rs72 billion, was sold to a consortium for Rs21.58 billion on 24 April 2006.

On 23 June 2006, the Supreme Court ruled against the privatisation, and Chief Justice Chaudhry prevented the sale of the state monopoly to the private investors.

The Supreme Court concluded that approving the award of the contract reflected disregard for the mandatory rules, as well as the information necessary for arriving at a fair sale price. The unexplained haste of the proceedings also cast reasonable doubt on the ethics of the whole exercise. While Chief Justice Chaudhry acknowledged that it was not the function of the court to interfere with the policy-making of the executive, the privatisation of the mills was ëvitiated by acts of omissioní and violated the mandatory provisions of laws and rules. The valuation of the project and the final terms offered to the consortium were not in accord with the initial public offering given through the advertisement.

This case had implications that still resonate today, as it is considered one of the causes of the dismissal of Chief Justice Chaudhry in March 2007, who was not reinstated until July 2008.

It is, therefore, partially responsible for a great civil society movement in Pakistan, which called for the restoration of an independent judiciary. There are also unanswered questions that still need resolution. In October 2006 a case was filed against the then prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, and ten other ministers, as well as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, alleging misuse of power ñ corruption as defined in section 9 of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 1999, which covers corruption and corrupt practices.

If found guilty, they would be subject to punishment, up to fourteen yearsí imprisonment, under section 10 of the ordinance for their involvement in the attempted privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills. At the time of writing this report it was yet to be seen how the NAB, under the jurisdiction of the current government, will proceed with this case.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=24659

September 24, 2009   No Comments

Taliban Widen Afghan Attacks From Pak Bases

By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI
The New York Times, Sept 24

WASHINGTON — Senior Taliban leaders, showing a surprising level of sophistication and organization, are using their sanctuary in Pakistan to stoke a widening campaign of violence in northern and western Afghanistan, senior American military and intelligence officials say.
The Taliban’s expansion into parts of Afghanistan that it once had little influence over comes as the Obama administration is struggling to settle on a new military strategy for Afghanistan, and as the White House renews its efforts to get Pakistan’s government to be more aggressive about killing or capturing Taliban leaders inside Pakistan.
American military and intelligence officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were discussing classified information, said the Taliban’s leadership council, led by Mullah Muhammad Omar and operating around the southern Pakistani city of Quetta, was directly responsible for a wave of violence in once relatively placid parts of northern and western Afghanistan. A recent string of attacks killed troops from Italy and Germany, pivotal American allies that are facing strong opposition to the Afghan war at home.
These assessments echo a recent report by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top military commander in Afghanistan, in portraying the Taliban as an increasingly sophisticated shadow government that sees itself on the cusp of victory in the war-ravaged nation.
General McChrystal’s report describes how Mullah Omar’s insurgency has appointed shadow governors in most provinces of Afghanistan, levies taxes, establishes Islamic courts there and conducts a formal review of its military campaign each winter.
American officials say they believe that the Taliban leadership in Pakistan still gets support from parts of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s military spy service. The ISI has been the Taliban’s off-again-on-again benefactor for more than a decade, and some of its senior officials see Mullah Omar as a valuable asset should the United States leave Afghanistan and the Taliban regain power.
The issue of the Taliban leadership council, or shura, in Quetta is now at the top of the Obama administration’s agenda in its meetings with Pakistani officials.
At the same time, American officials face a frustrating paradox: the more the administration wrestles publicly with how substantial and lasting a military commitment to make to Afghanistan, the more the ISI is likely to strengthen bonds to the Taliban as Pakistan hedges its bets.
American officials have long complained that senior Taliban leaders operating from Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, provide money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan, where most of the nearly 68,000 American forces are deployed.
But since NATO’s offensive into the Taliban-dominated south this spring, the insurgents have surprised American commanders by stepping up attacks against allied troops elsewhere in the country to throw NATO off balance and create the perception of spreading violence that neither the allied military nor the civilian Afghan government in Kabul can control.
“The Taliban is trying to create trouble elsewhere to alleviate pressure” in the south, said one senior American intelligence official. “They’ve outmaneuvered us time and time again.”
The issue has opened fresh rifts between the United States and Pakistan over how to combat the Taliban leadership council in Quetta. American officials have voiced new and unusually public criticism of Pakistan’s role in abetting the growing Afghan insurgency, reviving tensions that seemed to have eased after the two countries worked closely to track and kill Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, in an American missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas last month.
General McChrystal said in his assessment, which was made public on Monday, “Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with Al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups,” and are reportedly aided by “some elements” of the ISI.
The United States ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, said in a recent interview with the McClatchy newspapers that the Pakistani government was “certainly reluctant to take action” against the leadership of the Afghan insurgency.
Pakistani officials take issue with that, adding that the United States overstates the threat posed by the Quetta shura, possibly because the American understanding of the situation is distorted by vague and self-serving intelligence provided by Afghanistan’s spy service.
A senior Pakistani official said that the United States had asked Pakistan in recent years to round up 10 Taliban leaders in Quetta. Of those 10, 6 were killed or captured by the Pakistanis, 2 were probably in Afghanistan and the remaining 2 presented no threat.
“Pakistan has said it’s willing to act when given actionable intelligence,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We have made substantial progress in the last year or so against the Quetta shura.”
Pakistani officials also said that a move against militant leaders in Quetta risked inciting public anger throughout Baluchistan, a region that has long had a tense relationship with Pakistan’s government in Islamabad.
Mullah Omar, a reclusive cleric, recently rallied his troops with a boastful message timed for the Muslim holiday of Id al-Fitr.
In the message, he taunted his American adversaries for ignoring the lessons of past military failures in Afghanistan, including the invasion of Alexander the Great’s army.
And he bragged that the Taliban had emerged as a nationalistic movement that “is approaching the edge of victory.”
A half-dozen American military, intelligence and diplomatic officials said in interviews that the Taliban leadership in Baluchistan, which abuts the portion of southern Afghanistan where most of the fighting is taking place, is increasing its strategic direction over the insurgency.
“The Taliban inner shura in Baluchistan is certainly trying to exercise greater command and control over the Taliban in Afghanistan,” said one American official in Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his assessment involved classified intelligence.
The official said that Mullah Abdullah Zakir, a former inmate at the American military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who is now a top Taliban lieutenant, was involved in replacing Taliban shadow governors and commanders, as well as reorganizing the Taliban throughout the country. “The Quetta shura — you can’t knock on their clubhouse door,” a Western diplomat said. “It’s much more of an amorphous group that as best we can tell moves around. They go to Karachi, they go to Quetta, they go across the border.”
American officials grudgingly acknowledge the Taliban’s skill at using guerrilla-style attacks to manipulate public impressions of the insurgency. “We assess that the primary focus of attacks in northern provinces such as Kunduz is to create a perception that the insurgency is spreading like wildfire,” the American official in Afghanistan said. “But I think it’s more of an ‘information operations’ success than a substantive one of holding any territory.”
Another American intelligence official who follows Pakistan closely said the insurgents had sought to exploit allied countries’ political vulnerabilities, like elections in Germany on Sunday. “The Taliban have proven themselves capable of strategic planning,” the official said.
General McChrystal said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he had been surprised by “the growth of the shadow government, the growth of its coercion and its growth into the north and west.”
Germany, which has suffered 33 combat deaths in Afghanistan, has remained committed to the Afghan mission, although it has placed strict limits on where its soldiers can serve, refusing to send them to the south.
But that commitment is now being hotly debated in the coming parliamentary elections, after an airstrike called in by a German commander this month. The NATO airstrike, directed at two tanker trucks carrying alliance fuel that had been hijacked by the Taliban, killed scores of people; the number of dead civilians remains unclear.
Other allies are also rethinking their presence in Afghanistan. A bomb that killed six Italian soldiers in Kabul last Thursday prompted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy to declare that his nation had begun planning to “bring our young men home as soon as possible.” Italy has 3,100 troops in Afghanistan. www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/world/asia/24military.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print

September 24, 2009   No Comments

Balochistan ‘package’: op-ed by Sanaullah Baloch in The Dawn, Sept 21

The writer is a former senator
THE Baloch people had hoped that over the past few years the central government would have come to the realisation that the conflict in their province was not merely about financial packages.

In fact, the struggle in the resource-rich but poverty-stricken region is political: it aims at ending Islamabad’s exploitation, oppression and colonial control over Balochistan.

The centre’s endless desire to control the province’s natural wealth and its continued suppression of the people through ethnically-structured military and paramilitary forces are the prime reasons behind the uneasy Baloch-Islamabad relations. Since the time Pervez Musharraf took over in 1999 and after, the term ‘Balochistan package’ has been used repetitively to confuse and distract debate and attention away from the province’s genuine political, social and economic issues.

If the current regime in Islamabad is sincere, willing and authorised by the establishment to indisputably resolve the prolonged Baloch-Islamabad conflict, then they have to agree to address the crux of the matter: the rulers should come up with a more political and long-lasting solution, rather than packages. However, their silence on the aggravating situation in the province is proof of their aloofness.

In the last six decades the Baloch people have been governed like a subsidiary. Islamabad is ruling Balochistan through a system known as ‘control’. Control is a suppressive and outdated system based on a set of mechanisms used in multi-ethnic states by the dominant ethnic group to contain and keep its control over dissident ethnic minorities.

It is based on the idea that one ethnic group takes over the state and its institutions, imposes its culture on society, allocates to itself the lion’s share of resources and takes various measures like military operations, suppression, etc to prevent the non-dominant groups from organising politically for their due rights.

Control works through three interrelated mechanisms:

a) Divide and rule: creating internal social and tribal rifts and divisions among the non-dominant groups.

b) Economic dependence: controlling and exploiting resources and making the non-dominant group permanently dependent for its social, cultural and basic livelihood on the central government (dominant group).

c) Co-optation: involving the non-dominant elite like greedy tribal chiefs, feudals, drug tycoons and corrupt politicians through partial dispensation of benefits and favours.

First, the central government has to end its colonial control over the destiny of the people of Balochistan. The province’s politics, economy and security set-up must be Balochistan-oriented rather than imposed from elsewhere. Islamabad has to ensure an end to political suppression, ‘disappearances’ and the intimidation of the Baloch.

Perhaps it is too early to say so, but it appears that the PPP’s package may not be different from the packages announced by previous regimes. I am also uncertain whether the package is going to be attractive enough to end growing Baloch anger. The package will aggravate Baloch dissatisfaction if it does not address the root causes of the tension and genuine demands of the Baloch people. The central government needs to be very fair when dealing with Baloch demands.

The package will only be appreciated as a confidence-building measure if it includes stopping the daylight robbery of Balochistan’s natural wealth, and includes the termination of all MoUs signed by the Musharraf regime with regard to Saindak and Reko Dik copper-gold projects and an end to the half-century old exploitation of Pakistan Petroleum Limited, known as Balochistan’s East India Company.

The package should include provincial control over the civil armed forces (CAF) and replacement of more than 50,000 aliens of the CAF by unemployed local youth and should include the termination of countless military and paramilitary facilities and their transformation into education and health centres.

Also, the intelligence agencies’ meddling in Balochistan’s social, tribal and political affairs, including killings and disappearances of Baloch nationalists, should stop. There must be reliable assurances to the victims of the military operation that Musharraf and his close associates involved in gross human rights violations will be tried for their official and unofficial crimes, including the killing of veteran Baloch leaders.

Last but not least the package must offer a clear political roadmap to end Islamabad’s colonial control over the province and accept the Baloch people’s demand for the right to self-rule. Any bureaucratically drafted announcement would be useless to appease the politically conscious Baloch. Rather than being promise-oriented, the Balochistan package should be action-based.

The Baloch people have witnessed enough pain, promises and packages. Their demands are crystal clear: a peaceful Balochistan, ruled, governed and controlled by them. The Baloch have given 60 years to Islamabad to change the fate of the region but have, instead, been showered with bombs and bullets. Political, economic, social, educational and cultural values have been all but destroyed in the province. An end to the Balochistan conflict is not a simple task. The mistrust between the Baloch and the establishment has intensified after repeated killings and intimidation.

Fair and unbiased policies towards Balochistan will gradually pave the way for sustainable peace and security in the region. This can only be done by allowing experienced and neutral international mediators and experts to devise a strategy for conflict-resolution and management. The establishment must come forward and wholeheartedly demonstrate its willingness to grant self-rule and political autonomy to the province. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/the-balochistan-package-199

September 21, 2009   No Comments

Gas exploration hampered by Balochistan security situation: The Daily Times, Sept 21

By Tahir Niaz
ISLAMABAD: The law and order situation is the foremost factor that has hampered the exploration of gas and production activity in Balochistan over the last few years, according to the recently-released ‘Balochistan Economic Report’.

The report – a copy of which is available with Daily Times – said over three-fifths of the 657 terrorist attacks in 2006, nearly one-third of deaths in such attacks and almost half the injuries were reported in Balochistan. The report said the security situation in Balochistan worsened in 2006 compared to the previous year. It said the number of terrorist attacks in 2006 was almost twice as high as the period between 2002 and 2005. According to the report, the gas fields of Sui, Uch, Pirkoh and Loti are all located in Dera Bugti, which is at the heart of a violent conflict. The report identifies the principal reason for the deteriorating security situation as “a violent conflict between security forces and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Bugti tribesmen”.

It said the BLA, the Balochistan Liberation Front and Bugti militiamen launched 403 terrorist attacks in the province during 2006, killing 277 people and injuring 676 others. It said gas pipelines, security checkpoints and camps, government offices, rail tracks and bridges were targeted in these attacks. According to statistics compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), Dera Bugti accounted for two-fifths of the 136 terrorist attacks reported in Balochistan between January 2006 and July 2006. The attacks killed 137 people and injured 315 others. According to the Balochistan Economic Report, Kohlu district – a stronghold of the BLA—along with Quetta and Sibi represent over a quarter of the terrorist attacks.

The report said Balochistan accounted for three-fifths of all terrorist attacks in Pakistan during 2006, and most of them took place in or around Dera Bugti. It said the precarious security situation in Dera Bugti was the main reason behind the decline in gas output – with the financial impact felt throughout the province. According to the study, the security situation in Balochistan was “highly unsatisfactory” during 2007, as terrorists continued attacking state installations and security apparatus.

The report said with gas fields exhausting, security worsening, fiscal receipts declining and community support in doubt, Balochistan’s gas economy was in urgent need of reforms. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\09\21\story_21-9-2009_pg7_10

September 21, 2009   No Comments

The other side of Balochistan: op-ed in The Nation, Sept 19

By Muhammad Jamil
The writer is a freelance columnist

There is no denying that Balochistan was neglected during British Raj, and after independence successive Pakistani governments either failed to develop Balochistan or dissident sardars did not allow the development effort to succeed. The people of Balochistan had genuine grievances during One Unit era and under unitary form of government, but Baloch sardars are responsible for the woes of the people of Balochistan in equal measure. If one dispassionately examines the situation one would reach the conclusion that strong centre syndrome on the one hand and centrifugal tendencies on the other are responsible for the continuous crisis in Balochistan. But it has to be said that liberal democrats, leftists or religious right, would not allow anybody to destroy national assets or challenge the writ of the government, or keep the poverty-stricken people in servility. It goes without saying that the people of Balochistan have the first right over minerals and other natural resources of Balochistan, and major part of the income from these assets should be spent on their welfare.
The province was originally formed over the period 1876-1891 by three treaties between Sir Robert Sandeman and the Khan of Kalat. He was a ‘political agent’ for the British-administered areas which were strategically located between British India and Afghanistan. The province was abolished in 1955 and was merged into One Unit. In 1970, One Unit was done away with by the Yahya government and the provincial status of Balochistan was also restored. Before Sir Robert Sandeman was appointed as ‘political agent’ in Balochistan, British Raj used to give a part of ‘dole’ to big sardars;
however a major part went to chieftains of the tribes, who used to spend on or share with tribal people. This two-tier system was abandoned after Pakistan came into being and the people of Balochistan were left at the mercy of the sardars. Historical evidence suggests that before the British Raj, tribal people used to choose their sardar on the basis of his valour, his wisdom and his commitment to the welfare of the tribe. The British, however, gave sardars unprecedented powers and sardari was made hereditary.

One can disagree with late ZA Bhutto on other counts but he did try to develop Balochistan by launching his rural integrated development scheme in all the provinces including Balochistan. Though it worked in other provinces, yet in Balochistan it proved a complete failure due to stiff resistance of the sardars. Anyhow, the long dormant crisis had erupted into a brutal confrontation with the Centre in 1973 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had tried to establish educational institutions and started construction of roads in Balochistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto then dissolved Balochistan coalition government under Ataullah Mengal and put all the leaders in jail who were tried under Hyderabad conspiracy case. Some educated young men from Punjab and Sindh driven by the passion for revolution went to Balochistan because they were under the impression that some of the sardars wished to bring about a basic change in the system. But that was not appreciated by the sardars.

Ziaul Haq, however, adopted the old policy of reconciliation with the local Baloch sardars and a semblance of peace was restored in the province. In 1988, the Balochistan Assembly was dissolved, when Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was chief minister of the province, but later was restored under the orders of the High Court. It has to be borne in mind that tribalism is firmly rooted in Balochistan, as ethnic and tribal identity is a potent force for both individuals and groups in Balochistan with the result that there exists deep polarisation among different groups. Each of these groups is based on different rules of social organisation, which has left the province inexorably fragmented. Tribal group-ism has failed to integrate the state and enforce a national identity. But those who have not weaned away from the poison of sham nationalism should take a look at the history of the Balkans, and the fate they met. We want that leaders of Balochistan should be given respect but at the same time they have to forget their bitterness and make a fresh start.

We also strongly urge the government to take measures with a view to addressing the grievances of the smaller provinces, and in this regard Punjab and Sindh should sacrifice a part of their share in the National Finance Commission Award for Balochistan and NWFP that were neglected in the past.

Marri, Mengal and Bugti are major tribes of Balochistan and their sardars consider entire Balochistan as their fiefdom. They want to pocket the entire income from gas and other minerals; they want more privileges and powers, and instead of negotiating with the provincial and federal government they arrogate to themselves the right to secede. The insurgency had lasted for four years from 1973 to 1977, and it was after the promulgation of martial law by General Ziaul Haq that sedition cases were withdrawn against Baloch sardars. It has to be mentioned that the sardars and feudal chiefs thrive even amid the centre’s injustices and the clashes between them and the security forces.

In other words, the poor people of Balochistan stand to suffer in general by the sardars during peace times and also become fodder for the sardars when they challenge the writ of the state. It is unfortunate that the civil society does not consider it worthwhile to comment on what sardars have been doing to their people. No human right activist cries over the atrocities inflicted on them by their feudal lords and sardars in their private jails.
The people of Balochistan have been waging struggle for their rights ever since the British left. There could have been some justification for resistance when they were under strong centre and unitary form of government in 1950s and 1960s. But once the One-Unit was done away with and complete provincial status was given to Balochistan, the struggle should have ended. Since the time, former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf had focused on the development of Balochistan and mega projects were started, the Baloch sardars launched a campaign against the federal government.
They did not understand that all the mega projects including Gwadar deep sea port will remain in Balochistan, despite the fact that Gwadar – earlier part of Oman – was purchased by the federation. After February 18, 2008 elections the elected governments in the centre and the provinces are in place, Baloch nationalists should coordinate with the provincial government to secure their rights. http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/19-Sep-2009/The-other-side-of-Balochistan

September 19, 2009   No Comments