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Category — Balochistan

Balochistan Scene- edits- Nov 17, 2017

Danse Macabre In Balochistan: edit in The Nation, Nov17, 2017
With recent killing of a senior police official, SP Muhammad Ilyas, the death toll of Balochistan Police in Quetta has risen above 20 in 2017. The systematic targeting of police officials in the conflict-ridden province is a question mark on the performance of law enforcement agencies. The worsening security situation in the area also brings down the towering claims the CM Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri, and the provincial interior minister Sarfaraz Bugti, about improved law and order situation in the area. One wonders if the violence will ever come to an end? The irony in the present case is while PM was chairing the meeting to evaluate the law and order situation of Balochistan , a police officer was gunned down. The attack is the evidence of believing contrary to officials’ statements related to Balochistan’s peace and security situation.

The ever-deteriorating peace of the province needs a comprehensive plan. To eradicate the menace of terrorism, which the province is suffering from, all stakeholders need to sit together to find a durable solution for restoration of security and peace in Balochistan .The streak of violent attacks against people irrespective of their caste, creed, color and occupation show ugly state of affairs. The situation of the province is far from normal. The country needs to take extraordinary and radical measures to curb terrorism. A multi-pronged policy is an answer to counter the insurgency that has entered its twelfth year. However, first things first. Seriousness on the part of the state is needed if it wants a peaceful solution for Balochistan . Moreover, to bring the dissidents to the dialogue table a round of diplomacy should be initiated.

The depressing fact is that situation is getting out of control. Only in 2017, seventy terrorist attacks have been reported in Quetta. One can only imagine the compromised state of affairs in the rest of the region.It is high time for the political leadership of the country to engage in a meaningful discussion with all those who do not conform to the writ of the state. We have seen that merely relying on military operations will not achieve the long-desired peace in the province. The need of the hour is to allow media to gauge the socio-economic and political situation of the region. An independent investigation is needed to find out what went wrong in Balochistan in the first place that gave room to violent activities in the restive region of Pakistan.http://nation.com.pk/17-Nov-2017/danse-macabre-in-balochistan

Balochistan’s tragedies: edit in The News, Nov17, 2017

Violence, and the tragedy it brings, continues to haunt Balochistan. This march of death has not really stopped at any point, perhaps slowing down now and then but then gaining pace once more. Wednesday was a particularly ugly day with death decimating lives in two separate incidents. In a terrorist attack that mimicked others which have come before, SP Mohammed Ilyas was gunned down by unidentified motorcyclists who approached his vehicle near his home in the Nawan Killi locality in Quetta. Accentuating the tragedy was the death of his wife, son and six-year-old grandson with him. An even younger granddaughter was injured alongside a passer-by. The SP was the second senior police officer to be so brutally killed this month in a city where assailants have repeatedly targeted security personnel. There have been no claims of responsibility in a province where multiple groups with diverse ideological beliefs and motivations operate. It has not been possible to stop them.
Another dimension to the violence these forces unleash on essentially helpless victims was evidenced at the Buleda area of Turbat in Balochistan’s Kech District, where the bodies of 15 people who had been shot dead were recovered near the border with Iran. The men, all from various parts of Punjab, had been kidnapped a few days ago. All had been attempting to cross the border into Iran and then onto Europe as illegal migrants. Their journey ended in a bloodbath within their own country. The news of their fate has been conveyed to their families in the towns, villages and hamlets from which they had set out. More darkness has been added to their often desperate lives.
That both these attacks came on the same day that the National Security Committee reviewed the security situation in Balochistan and spoke of the progress being made shows how much work is still to be done. The committee decided to devote more development resources to the province but clearly the problem cannot be solved with money alone. Militant groups such as the Islamic State have been able to establish themselves in Balochistan and they will need to be rooted out. Action needs to be taken too against separatist groups while also addressing the alienation felt by many Baloch people which leads to them to sympathise with the separatist cause, if not the violent tactics used by such groups. In response to the attacks, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal spoke of how India is using Afghanistan as a base to foment terrorism in Balochistan. According to him, such attacks are meant to destabilise CPEC. While it is true that India is known to have meddled in the province – the capture of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav was proof enough of that – we cannot use that as an excuse to do nothing. It is important to keep drawing international attention to India’s gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty but without using it as an excuse for inaction at home. The only way to bring peace in Balochistan is through smart law enforcement and the understanding that we need the Baloch people to buy in to this fight.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/244975-balochistan-s-tragedies

Balochistan killings: edit in Dawn, November 17th, 2017

ON the very day that a National Security Committee meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and attended by the senior-most military leadership, praised the state’s efforts in Balochistan to establish peace and stability, the province was again rocked by violence. The attacks on Wednesday are significant because they have widened the recent pattern of violence in the province.While the police are clearly being targeted in Balochistan, the killing of a police official along with his wife and young family members is highly unusual and may represent a broadening of the terror threat in the province.Meanwhile, the killing of 15 young men from Punjab near the border with Iran could have been a human smuggling operation gone grotesquely wrong, but reports suggest the Punjab residents were separated from a larger group before being killed, indicating a deeply troubling re-escalation of separatist militant violence in the province.

The disconnect between the state’s assessment of the situation in Balochistan, as indicated by the NSC meeting, and the reality in the province could not be more stark.The flawed approach of dealing with Balochistan primarily through a security prism and suggesting that state-sponsored economic development is a panacea for the province’s problems continues to prevail.With a fresh wave of violence having seemingly been unleashed across Balochistan, urgent action is needed.On the security front, the police force must take steps to better protect its officers to allow them to carry out their duties.The repeated targeting of police officers appears to be an attempt to destroy morale and sow fresh fear among the people — if the police cannot protect their own, the general public is deeply vulnerable.

There must surely be a few defensive steps that can be taken by the police, while the overall intelligence and security apparatus must be able to find and degrade whatever network is responsible for a succession of attacks on the force.On the political front, whether from inside Balochistan or outside, and from inside the provincial and federal governments or outside, there is a need for a fresh attempt at a grand consensus on policy in the province.The security-centric approach pushed by the military leadership and meekly accepted by the Balochistan and federal governments is not working.Friends of Balochistan need to come together and have the courage to speak truth to power. The status quo must not be allowed to prevail.http://www.dawn.com/news/1371063/balochistan-killings?preview

Targeted killings in Balochistan: edit in Pakistan Today online, Nov 16, 2017
The wave of terrorism is receding all over the world, one of the reasons being the more efficient anti-terror measures adopted by governments. One day the grisly chapter of the activity will be over. The common man however cannot be satisfied by the declining graph of casualties. For him any horrendous terrorist act is a blot on the performance of the administration and its agencies.
The Terrorism Index report released by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace, maintains the number of people killed in terrorist attacks in Pakistan fell to 956 last year, a reduction of 12 per cent as compared to the previous reporting year. We are also told that Pakistan, which ranked fourth in terrorist casualties, is now number five. Good, but by no means enviable. The country has to be terrorism free. As things stand, major terrorist incidents continue to take place in the country orchestrated by various networks in pursuit of their peculiar agendas.
On Wednesday, 15 bullet-riddled bodies of job seekers from Punjab who intended to cross over illegally into Iran were found in Buleda near Turbat, presumably killed by Baloch separatists. The same day a police SP was shot dead in Quetta along with three family members. Last week a DIG and two others were killed in a blast in the city. The NSC has expressed deep concern and condemned the action. Regrets and condemnations alone will however inspire neither confidence nor hope in the common man who wants an effective plan that puts an end to these killings at the earliest.
Everybody knows foreign agencies are behind some of the attacks. Also that some want to stop work on the CPEC. What one expects from the administration is action rather than a repetition of these charges ad nauseam. While agencies of the hostile countries are both ruthless and resourceful, what needs to be remedied is the unsatisfactory performance of those responsible for providing security to the citizenry. The enemy succeeds only because he is ahead of the security agencies in efficiency. https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/16/targeted-killings-in-balochistan/

November 17, 2017   No Comments

Security forces arrest 5 terrorists in Balochistan

Breaking News in The Nation, Nov 17, 2017 at 9:50 AM,
Web Monitoring Desk: According to Radio Pakistan, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad is continuing across the country indiscriminately.

According to ISPR, FC Balochistan conducted intelligence based operations in Dera Bugti, Uch and Chaman on terrorist hideouts and apprehended five terrorists .

Explosive and ammunition including IEDs, mines, detonators, grenades and communication equipment also recovered during the operation.http://nation.com.pk/17-Nov-2017/security-forces-arrest-5-terrorists-in-balochistan

November 17, 2017   No Comments

Balochistan scene- edits, Nov 16, 2017

Flashy Headlines: edit in The Nation, November 16, 2017

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced a development plan for the restive province of Baluchistan. The estimated value of the project is 20 billion rupees, and the state will release the funds over a span of ten years. However, before anything else a few reservations and fears need a mention.

Apart from mentioning the fact that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG plants will be opened in various locations the development plan does not specify what it will be doing. General fields are mentioned – like education and health – with no indication what the development is going to be. So far it seems like simple a simple cash grant; the staple of our politically prompted “development”. Such open ended and ill-convinced projects have rarely had any success on the ground, most end up being siphoned off in this discretionary project. Without details, this project is nothing but a headline and a pre-election gimmick.

Abbasi’s visit to Balochistan and the development package should not suffer the fate of the earlier announcement that was aimed at imposing a ban on automatic weapons, which was similarly announced with much flourish without having the requisite policy mechanisms in place to make it happen. A mere days after the initial “suspension of licences” the Interior Ministry has quietly issued a notification saying the licences aren’t actually suspended, only the exchange and reimbursement scheme are in place; making the entire exercise redundant.

It is ironic to note that banning automatic weapons was on the top of PM’s agenda to see a weapons-free society. If an issue of such importance cannot be followed up properly, how can one expect that Balochistan development plan will be followed by follow-ups to check the progress of the developments?

While it is laudatory that the province of Balochistan is on the priority list of the Prime Minister, but a cash package of this sort will not bring order in the messy situation of the region. Such packages, if not followed by checks and balances and a thoroughly explained policy of social and economic development, generate results but with almost zero impact.

Nevertheless, the region is in dire need of government’s attention. It needs far more radical and urgent steps on behalf of the state to bring normalcy to the province. Apart from injecting money to lay down an infrastructure of concrete, more essential to correct is the worsening situation of human rights in the area. The money will not make the mare go if bullet-ridden bodies are discovered on a routine basis from the different districts of the province.http://nation.com.pk/16-Nov-2017/flashy-headlines

Balochistan matters: edit in Daily Times, November 16th 2017

Almost a decade has passed since the political leadership of the country unanimously passed an Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, and nothing has changed for the province and its residents. Attacks on law enforcers continue; members of the Shi’a Hazara community live under constant threat; a low level insurgency goes on, and mutilated bodies keep emerging every now and then.

On Wednesday morning, 15 bullet ridden bodies were found in the Kech district. So far, we have been told that the deceased were from various districts of the Punjab but their purpose of stay in the restive western province is not known. In another incident on the same day, a senior police officer and three members of his family were shot dead in Quetta. Only a week ago, another senior police officer in the province was killed in a suicide attack.

To us and many other impartial observers in the country, it is very clear that the writ of the state does not exist all over the province in an effective manner. Equally clear is the fact that the grievances that have to do with centre-province relations remain unaddressed.

It is not clear, however, if the civil and the military leadership of the country recognise these facts of the matter. If they did, they would have realised by now that military means are not going to provide any durable solution to the province’s problems. They would also have acknowledged that Balochistan’s grievances need to be addressed and dissident voices to be engaged to the extent that is possible for restoring peace and rule of law. The scale of lawlessness in the province is matched only by the apathy towards it shown by the country’s top leadership.

There is an urgent need for a comprehensive and wide-ranging dialogue to be started with participation of all stakeholders. Dissidents should be invited with open arms. Those who still refuse to join the process will only expose themselves to the public in the province and in rest of the country.

Keeping in mind the abysmally low turnout in the province in 2013, the dialogue must be started in time for the next year’s general election to be a genuinely free and fair exercise. The residents of the province must be able to express their will and to send their representatives to the legislators. The authorities must keep in mind that with turnout figures for the rest of the country hovering around 40 and 50 percent, no impartial election observer will buy a low turnout in the province next year. https://dailytimes.com.pk/140525/balochistan-matters/

Balochistan package: edit in The News, Nov 16, 2017
When the PML-N government first announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor soon after taking power in 2013, there were claims it would bring development to Balochistan. The plan was quickly amended, as a greater share of projects was allocated to other provinces, but the original sentiment remained: that the way to ease the sense of deprivation felt by the people of Balochistan was to spend more money there. The same thought seems to have been in play during Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s visit to Quetta on Tuesday. Abbasi announced a Rs 20 billion, 10-year package for Balochistan which would be used for the provision of gas, electricity, education and clean drinking water. While all investment in Balochistan – by far the most under-developed province in the country – is welcome, it is notable that the centre will only contribute half of the total money, with the difference having to be made up by the provincial government. It is also a bit late in the day for the PML-N government, which has less than one year remaining in power, to realise it needs to ensure that basic services are provided to Balochistan. This package will now be dependent on future governments and if there is one constant in our politics it is that there is very little continuity between different governments.

The main problem with this Balochistan package is that it misdiagnosis why the Baloch people are so alienated from the rest of the country. As the province most abundant in natural resources, it is because of political reasons that Balochistan does not receive its fair share of gas. Constructing LPG plants, as the government has been doing, may ease gas shortages but it is does not address the fundamental problem of gas from Balochistan being disproportionately sent to the rest of the country with the people of the province not even benefited financially from the use of their resources. The reason nationalism has taken hold and why even some more extreme groups hold appeal in the province is because there is a strong perception among the people of Balochistan that the balance of power between the centre and the province is skewed in the centre’s favour. Tackling that requires not just a package of economic development but political reforms. That would require the state to listen to Balochistan’s leaders rather than just announcing a package and believing that will solve problems that have existed for decades. http://thenews.com.pk/print/244699-Balochistan-package

November 16, 2017   No Comments

National Security Committee reviews security situation in Balochistan

Report in The Nation, November 16, 2017
ISLAMABAD – Expressing serious concerns over the anti-state elements and their collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies to destabilise Pakistan, the National Security Committee vowed to uphold the internal and external security of the country and fight out these elements.

The meeting which held in the chair of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the recent attacks on the Pakistan Army post at Bajaur Agency and police officials in Quetta. The committee also reviewed security situation in Balochistan and appreciated the significant improvement brought through the tireless work by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

The committee affirmed that the thrust of federal government policy shall be to collaborate more deeply with the Government of Balochistan for the rapid socio-economic development of the province.

The meeting also developed a consensus on providing increased development resources to Balochistan and adopting a cooperative implementation mechanism for development projects to ensure greater efficiency and transparency so that the benefits of increased development funding flow reach directly to the Baloch people at the very grassroots level.

Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Interior, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Foreign Affairs, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman JCSC, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Army Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of the Naval Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, and senior civil and military officials were in attendance of the meeting which remained in session for well over two hours.

The foreign secretary briefed the meeting on the latest developments in the regional security situation with a focus on the events rapidly unfolding in the Middle East. After detailed discussion, the meeting unanimously agreed that it was of critical importance for Pakistan to play a proactive role in the best interest of the Muslim Ummah while firmly adhering to its bilateral commitments.

The committee was apprised that concrete measures are being undertaken to improve border management to deny movement of miscreants and criminals into Balochistan. The committee was also informed that the federal government was following a policy of allocating amongst its best civil servants to Balochistan to improve the administrative efficiency in the province.

While reviewing the progress made with respect to Pakistan’s commitment under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) framework, the committee observed that Pakistan needed to convey its position and achievements comprehensively and clearly to the FATF.

The committee also reviewed the status of regional gas and oil pipelines under consideration from the perspective of strengthening Pakistan’s energy security , and it was agreed that Pakistan should take advantage of the opportunities available where they are in Pakistan’s best economic and national interest. http://nation.com.pk/16-Nov-2017/national-security-committee-reviews-security-situation-in-balochistan

November 16, 2017   No Comments

Police officer, three members of family shot dead in Quetta

by Saleem Shahid | Behram Baloch in Dawn, November 16th, 2017
QUETTA / GWADAR: In a spike in violence across Balochistan, 15 bullet-riddled bodies were found in the Buleda area of Kech district close to the Iranian border, while a senior police officer and three members of his family were gunned down in Quetta on Wednesday.

It was the second targeted attack on a senior police officer within a week.

On Thursday last, a suicide bomber killed a deputy inspector general of police and two other police personnel.

Acting SP Investigation Mohammad Ilyas was gunned down by motorcyclists in the Nawan Killi area when he was travelling in a car along with his family.

His wife, son and six-year-old grandson were also killed in the firing. However, his four-year-old granddaughter was injured in the attack and admitted to the civil hospital, Quetta.

Quetta DIG Abdul Razzak Cheema said SP Ilyas was targeted when he was coming to Quetta from the Nawan Killi area.

Earlier in the day, security forces found 15 bullet-riddled bodies of people hailing from Punjab who were allegedly en route to Iran through an infrequent route illegally.

Official sources said the bodies were found abandoned in the mountainous region of Grock, a small town of Buleda tehsil, close to the Iranian border.

Makran Commissioner Bashir Ahmed Bangulzai told Dawn that the victims belonged to different towns and cities of Punjab, “They had arrived in the area to cross into Iran illegally,” Mr Bangulzai said. Security forces took the bodies to the Turbat district hospital, he added.

Official sources said documents and other belongings found along with the bodies confirmed that the deceased were going to Iran illegally on their way to Europe.

A senior official said the tragic incident had taken place on Tuesday night.

A Levies official said the victims had arrived in the area through their agents for crossing into Iran illegally. They might have been kidnapped and the kidnapper had killed them, he said.

The people of the area had informed the local administration about the bodies. Levies force and personnel of other law enforcement agencies rushed to the site and took the bodies to hospital for autopsy.

Quoting hospital sources, Levies officials said all the victims were shot from a close range which caused their instant death. “Multiple bullet wounds were found on the head and upper parts of the victims,” they said.

Assistant Commissioner of Turbat Dr Jamil Ahmed Baloch said 12 of the victims were identified and their bodies were kept in the hospital’s mortuary.

The bodies would be sent to their native cities and towns on Thursday morning. Security forces have launched a massive search operation in the area to trace their killers.

Some of the victims were identified as Mohammad Hussain, Zulfiqar Ali, Khurram Shahzad, Azhar Waqis (Mandi Bahauddin), Ahsan Raza, Ghulam Rabbani (Gujranwala), Saifullah (Gujarat), Mohammad Ilyas (Daska) Tayyab Raza, Abdul Ghafoor and Zafiran Zahid (Sialkot).https://www.dawn.com/news/1370752/police-officer-three-members-of-family-shot-dead-in-quetta

November 16, 2017   No Comments

A ban on adverts defending human rights? TfL must think again: op-ed

by Peter Tatchell in Guardian, Nov 8,2017
The writer is a human rights campaigner
Transport for London appears to have caved in to pressure from the Pakistan government and banned London taxi advertisements that draw attention to its human rights abuses in the war-torn disputed province of Balochistan. Islamabad denounced the advertising campaign as “malicious”, “anti-Pakistan” and an attack on the country’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”. It has demanded the British government removes the adverts, which were emblazoned with the words “#FreeBalochistan. Raise your voice. Save the Baloch people.”
Pakistan’s high commissioner in London, Syed Ibne Abbas, requested the Foreign Office ban the adverts. The UK high commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, was summoned by the government of Pakistan and told that such adverts “should not be allowed”.
Within 24 hours, TfL ordered the adverts to be pulled, ostensibly on the grounds that they were “controversial and sensitive” in violation of clause (h) of its advertising policy. However, the advert organisers, the World Baloch Organisation (WBO), argue that most reasonable people would not regard the wording as controversial or sensitive. They note that clause (h) states that adverts promoting humanitarian-type causes will “not normally be disapproved”, even if they are controversial or sensitive.
So why was TfL so quick to order the adverts be removed? It looks like a panicked reaction to Pakistani lobbying and, possibly, to pressure from the Foreign Office, which often seems to prioritise good relations with Pakistan and ignore its many human rights violations. Undeterred, the WBO has launched phase two of the campaign: billboard adverts on London roads.
Bhawal Mengal of the WBO is one of the advert organisers. He’s exiled in the UK, fearing that if he was active in Balochistan he’d be killed by Pakistan government agents. Five of his relatives have been jailed or murdered. “The bullying tactics of Pakistan are an attack on freedom of expression,” he said. “They are a bid to censor the voice of the Baloch people and cover up war crimes by the Pakistan army in Balochistan.
“Pakistan’s aggressive reaction is an attempt to intimidate the UK government and Baloch human rights defenders. We do not believe our adverts violate TfL policies. They are not political. Our advertising has a human rights theme similar to the Amnesty International adverts in 2016 in support of the Human Rights Act, which were accepted by TfL. The call to free Balochistan is consistent with the human rights principle of the right to self-determination, which is enshrined in the UN charter. We will appeal against the ban.”
Balochistan was previously a British protectorate that was granted independence in 1947. It was forcefully annexed by Pakistan in 1948, against the people’s will, and has been militarily occupied ever since. Pakistan has consistently refused a referendum on independence. It knows it would lose the vote.
WBO activists allege that Pakistan is seeking to impose on the UK the same censorship about Balochistan that it imposes inside Pakistan. It’s iron-fisted rule is so brutal that it will not allow journalists, human rights monitors and aid agencies to enter Balochistan. These adverts are necessary to expose the crimes of Pakistani forces, they argue.
WBO human rights campaigner, Noordin Mengal, a grandson of two veteran nationalist leaders and former parliamentarians who were jailed by Islamabad, added: “The aim of our #FreeBalochistan adverts is to alert the British public, media and politicians to Pakistan’s secret, dirty war in Balochistan. This war of terror involves the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of Baloch villages, and the kidnapping, torture and assassination by Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies of anyone who peacefully opposes the military occupation and human rights abuses.
“Tens of thousands of Baloch people have been murdered or disappeared by Pakistani security forces. The killings are happening right now and are aided indirectly by the US, which has supplied the F-16 fighter jets and Cobra attack helicopters that are being diverted and misused to attack Baloch civilians.”
TfL needs to rethink its decision. The appearance of kowtowing to a government that is committing daily atrocities is a bad look. I hope the mayor of London will intervene to get WBO’s adverts reinstated. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/08/human-rights-adverts-transport-for-london-banned-balochistan-pakistan

November 16, 2017   No Comments

UK can’t control anti-Pakistan advertising: Envoy

by SHAFQAT ALI in The Nation, November 16, 2017
ISLAMABAD – United Kingdom High Commissioner Thomas Drew on Wednesday said that the British government could not control anti-Pakistan advertising in the UK.

Responding to concerns about adverts about Balochistan in London, the The British high commissioner said: “I understand the strength of feeling about adverts in London. The British government does not and cannot control advertising in the UK.”

He added: “But our own position is clear: we fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan , of which Balochistan is and will continue to be an integral part.”

This month, Pakistan had summoned Thomas Drew and lodged strong protest over the hate slogans against Pakistan in London.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua had called in the British high commissioner “to convey Pakistan’s serious concern at the display of slogans on London cabs that directly attack Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The high commissioner was informed that Pakistan rejects actions and advertisements with malicious content that “impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The foreign ministry said the posters were being used for propaganda by the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

Pakistan said the BLA had been banned not only by Islamabad but several other countries of the world.

Later this month the “Transport for London” authorities – after taking suitable action for removal of the malicious material – initiated an inquiry in the matter and assured disciplinary action against the perpetrators.

A foreign ministry statement said: “Pakistan appreciates the prompt steps taken against such propaganda, which impinges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan . We are aware of the sinister intentions behind such malicious campaigns. These should not be repeated anywhere.”

This week however, the so-called “World Baloch Organisation (WBO)” once again carried out an advertising campaign demanding “independence” for Balochistan.

In the latest campaign, the WBO put up “Free Balochistan” posters on over 100 London public transportation buses.

Spokesperson for WBO Bhawal Mengal said: “This is the third phase of our London campaign to raise awareness about Pakistan ‘s human rights abuses in Balochistan and the right of the Baloch people to self-determination. We started with taxi adverts, then roadside billboards and now we are advertising on London buses.”

Asked why the implementation of the gas pipeline project between Pakistan and Iran was delayed, Honardoost said Iran had fulfilled its commitments regarding construction of gas pipeline in the Iranian section and was ready to start export of gas to Pakistan at the earliest in case of implementation of the commitments by Pakistan .

He said no energy source could be replacement of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline for growing gas requirements of Pakistan .

“Especially in view of implementation of [the] CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] project, Iranian gas will not only fulfil the gas requirements of Pakistan in the coming years rather its transit to China can also be considered,” Honardoost explained.http://nation.com.pk/16-Nov-2017/uk-can-t-control-anti-pakistan-advertising-envoy

Questioned, if Pakistan and Iran can jointly fight against terrorism, the envoy said both the neighbours had good experiences of fighting terror and can join hands to eliminate the menace.

The Iranian ambassador said, “Pakistan by launching of two important operations by the names of Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fasaad has taken unprecedented steps towards fight against terrorism. Iran has also shown that it has high potential in fighting against terrorism. At the moment issue of presence of ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] and other terrorists in the border areas is a serious threat for the two countries and there is possibility of reaching of an agreement by the two countries to jointly fighting against terrorism.”
http://nation.com.pk/16-Nov-2017/us-wants-to-divide-pakistan-iran-envoy

November 16, 2017   No Comments

Seeds and soil: by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur in The News on Sunday (TNS), Nov 12. 2017

As trees have seeds and mushrooms spores to grow from, similarly movements whether political or armed have historical seeds; movements do not happen without a reason. The Irish Republic is said to be the result of British callousness during the Irish Famine of 1845-1852; Bangladesh the result of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s March 21, 1948 Dhaka speech about Urdu and then the continued injustices.

Balochistan issue arose when Khan of Kalat was forced to sign the instrument of accession on March 27, 1948. The soil for these seeds are people who are historically conscious of their political and social rights.

The Baloch struggle for their rights has simmered since, and has now and then boiled over into open armed insurgencies. These didn’t succeed in their aims but at the same time Pakistan, despite the use of military might was unable to crush the Baloch resistance.

The Baloch insurgencies of 1948 and 1958 were spontaneous and short lived. The credit for organised and sustained armed struggle for Baloch rights goes to Mir Sher Mohammad Marri respectfully called Babu (Uncle) by Marris; media often called him General Sherov to imply he served Russian interests. It was he who with the support of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri established the first Farrari camps in 1962 to challenge the might of Pakistan in an organised manner. Babu left the mountains in 1969 when Yaha Khan took over, an amnesty was announced and One Unit dissolved.

The formation of Baloch Peoples’ Liberation Front (BPLF) during the 1973-1977 army operations in Balochistan during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rule was possible because of the Farrari camps established by Babu. Incidentally, the 1973 insurgency was the first sustained armed conflict between Baloch and Pakistan, fought to a stalemate which saw heavy casualties on both sides. The confrontation between Baloch and Pakistan after cessation of military operations in 1977 didn’t die out, though on surface there was calm. A large number of Marris had migrated to Afghanistan and Nawab Khair Bakhsh went there in December 1981.

When Nawab Sahib and Marri refugees returned from Afghanistan in 1992 after Dr. Najeebullah’s ouster a change was seen and even his sons, despite his displeasure, became ministers in the Balochistan government. This period of ambiguity of acceptance and cooperation continued till Pervez Musharraf assumed power in 1999.

In January 2000, Nawab Khair Bakhsh was incarcerated on false charges of killing Justice Mohammad Nawaz Marri and that ended the ambiguity which had cast its shadow over Baloch aspirations and struggle because his arrest proved that the establishment would never reconcile with the Baloch. The repression was then re-launched against the Baloch and the dormant resentment at the historical injustices was rekindled.

Mir Balach Marri, son of Nawab Khair Bakhsh, won the October 2002 provincial elections from Kohlu and created a furor by taking oath in Balochi and swearing loyalty to Balochistan. Knowing that the assembly was powerless, he went to the Marri hills to struggle for Baloch rights.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) was formed during this period to resist the intensified state repression; violence of the victims against state violence. The Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) of Dr Allah Nazar was also formed around that time and it was on May 2, 2004 that three Chinese engineers working on Gwadar port were killed and the BLF owned it. The Baloch Republican Army (BRA) was formed when confrontation between Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and establishment began in 2004. The Baloch resistance had come a long way from 1948. Unsurprisingly, these militant organisations consider the Baloch political parties supporting Pakistan as traitors.

The then interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao on January 31, 2005 admitted that since 2003, 1,529 rockets had been fired and 113 bombs exploded in Quetta, Sui, Kohlu and Gwadar; later he admitted 4000 Baloch were detained. These figures indicate how active BLA, BLF and BRA were.

The Baloch resistance continued to intensify and so much so that when Musharraf visited Kohlu in December 2005, rockets were fired by the BLA at that gathering. Nawab Khair Bakhsh told me once that Balach had asked if they had done the right thing to which he was asked, “Why did you miss?” It is beyond doubt that Balach Marri led the BLA till his death on November 21, 2007; however one shouldn’t surmise who the BLA is being led by now because even conjectures can put a burden on the names named thus.

The structure of an armed organisation fighting a standing army out of necessity is fluid as they are always on move and their situation always tenuous. Like the BPLF of past, the BLA and others have educated persons as well as tribesmen among their fighters. From my experience of BPLF, I can say that on ground there is an overall commander and then area commanders who lead fighters in different areas. These groups are hardly at a place for a few days; their mobility helps them evade detection and also gives them the element of surprise. For instance, in November 2005 a hundred BLA fighters attacked Bolan Mining Enterprise extracting iron ore in the Dilband area of Mastung and destroyed its Rs50-60 million worth machinery.

Surprisingly, in September 2008 out of blue the BLA, the BLF and the BRA announced a unilateral ceasefire; probably hoping that the new PPP government would change tack and not repeat the 1973 mistakes; then disheartened at lack of response they announced the end of ceasefire in January 2009.

It wouldn’t be out of place to mention that it was under this PPP government that the abhorrent systematic ‘kill and dump’ policy was initiated and its first victims were Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, President Baloch Nation National Movement (BNM), Lala Muneer, Vice-President BNM and Sher Mohammad Baloch, Deputy Secretary General of Baloch Republican Party (BRP), who were abducted from the office of lawyer Kachkol Ali on April 3, 2009 and their mutilated bodies found on April 9at Murghaap near Turbat. This grisly policy was then intensified and now continues in form of fake ‘encounters’.

The presence of BLA outside Pakistan is again based on conjectures as no one has ever come forward to claim its leadership. However, the West has a large Baloch Diaspora and they arrange conferences and rallies in support for a free Balochistan and Baloch rights. Recently #FreeBalochistan posters appeared on taxis in London and Pakistan officially protested. These were then removed as Transporters for London said these violated rules. However, now billboards of #FreeBalochistan have been put up on roads there. Oddly Pakistan panics and over reacts at posters of #FreeBalochistan’ in the West.

Dr Allah Nazar has remained in news since he formed the Baloch Students Organization (Azad) — it was proscribed by Pakistan in March 2013 — which struggles for Baloch rights and has borne the brunt of state repression. He was arrested in March 2005 from Karachi while meeting former BSO comrades; barely alive after severe torture he was shifted to hospital in August 2006 and once well enough he took to the mountains and continues to fight. The BLF not only fights the army but also battles state’s fundamentalist armed proxy groups in Awaran. In September 2015, Balochistan home minister wrongly claimed that Allah Nazar had been killed.

Two weeks back there was the sensational news of Allah Nazar’s wife and Aslam Baloch’s (of BLA) sister being arrested. The government claimed they were arrested from Chaman but Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini told Senate that an entire neighbourhood witnessed their arrest in Quetta. The government had presumed that the Baloch are sensitive about families and it could pressurise him but was disappointed and released them.

Dr Allah Nazar’s brothers and his cousins have been killed in army operations in his home region of Awaran, but he refuses to give up the fight and is considered a grave threat to the CPEC and the Chinese personnel who will come. A Special Security Division has been created and expansion of Civil Armed Forces is underway. Also residency permits and fencing of Gwadar are under consideration to protect Chinese.

The state’s distrust of the people, their repression and the consequent internal displacement has not stopped the people from supporting the groups that they think are fighting for their salvation. It is because of this support that despite the oft repeated claims by the government and army that the Baloch insurgency has been crushed the Baloch armed resistance refuses to buckle under the might of the state. http://tns.thenews.com.pk/seeds-soil/#.WgfgaYhx3IU

November 12, 2017   No Comments

Balochistan scene- two edits, Nov 11, 2017

Quetta attack: edit in The News,, Nov 11,2017
The audacious attack in Quetta on Thursday which led to the deaths of DIG Hamid Shakeel and two other policemen in a suicide bombing near the martyred DIG’s residence raises many questions over the state of security in the province of Balochistan. A bomber, armed with a sizeable quantity of explosives, was able to make his way to the highly protected location near Chaman House where top officials in the province are housed. How this happened we do not know. We would assume that, given the periodic attacks on the security apparatus in Balochistan, which have killed hundreds of policemen while on duty, the elaborate security network we maintain would have spread out to try and infiltrate the groups responsible. Such infiltration is fundamental to breaking up militant networks. Instead, there appears to have been no such security alert to the attack or any measures to offer better protection to vulnerable police officials.

Of course, the security situation in Balochistan is a difficult one to tackle. It involves extremist terrorist outfits who have in the past unleashed violence across the province targeting communities like the Shia Hazaras while alongside this runs a nationalist insurgency which operates at different levels. Efforts have been made to suggest that these two sources of violence are connected. There are doubts about the accuracy of this information. But what there is no doubt about is that dangerous terrorist outfits have been able to remain operational in Quetta and beyond it in other parts of Balochistan. When the best members of the police force, which has been the main target of attacks on security personnel in Balochistan, are removed from the scene, there is greater room for militants to unleash their violence and take away yet other members of society locked in what seems to be an unending war against violence. There are as yet no signs the situation in Balochistan is drawing to an end. In the troubled province of Balochistan, there are clearly many different strands of conflict – not all of which require the same solution. This is a problem we need to tackle if there is ever to be anything resembling peace and calm in our land.http://thenews.com.pk/print/243507-Quetta-attack

Balochistan; Who Cares?: edit in The Nation, Nov 11, 2017
The violence that has engulfed Balochistan is a two head hydra; justification for violence is grounded in truncated religious indoctrination and exploiting the feeling of marginalisation that prevails among the people. While the tactics of both kinds of militancy are different, ordinary people of the province bear the costs.

In the latest suicide attack, in Quetta’s high-security zone, DIG along with two policemen succumbed to the injuries. Though no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, the nature of suicide attack shows that an armed religious organisation carried it. The weak law and order situation in the province raises many questions in one’s mind; will we ever see a peaceful and stable Balochistan in our lifetime? Will the state ever accept its failures in Balochistan rather than blaming other countries for the unrest in the province?

Whatever happens there remains there. The unrest has hardly disturbed the iota of consciousness of the rest of the country’s population. The ongoing conflict is a result of extensive problems that the region is facing. These issues need remedies of different nature. Reliance on military operations for solving the unrest has only exacerbated the worsening of law and order situation in the region.

The military operation that is going in the province since 2006 without allowing any political solution is the reason the state has failed to counter militancy in the area. Even the argument that external forces are behind the chaos in the area is a reflection of state’s failures.

In the present situation, the least the state can do is to bring the nationalists, who are fighting against the country, to a dialogue-table. Unfortunately, the state has failed in feeling the mood of the people of the province. The harsh reality is that a majority of the Baloch population has lost faith in government’s seriousness to restore the peace of the region. The murky security situation in the province demands a radical solution.

It is time tested that military operations on their own cannot generate the desired results of ensuring law and order situation. It has almost achieved the status of a cliché to suggest that fighting militancy through force is only one dimension of finding peace. Political dialogue is the other side of the solution. Both combined can extinguish the flames of insurgency that has paralysed the province. Sole reliance on brute force cannot guarantee an enduring normalcy to the bleeding Balochistan.http://nation.com.pk/11-Nov-2017/balochistan-who-cares

November 11, 2017   No Comments

Situation in Balochistan- two edits, Nov 10, 2017

State’s failure in Quetta: edit in Dawn, November 10th, 2017
ANOTHER deadly attack in Quetta; yet more policemen targeted and killed. The sickening pattern of violence in Balochistan is too public and clear for state officials to simply try and foist blame on unnamed external actors.That a senior police officer, this time a DIG and two other policemen, could be killed near his official residence in what ought to be a high-security zone in Quetta is an utter failure of the intelligence and security apparatus.There is simply no excuse for why a suicide bomber can infiltrate the area, reach his target and detonate explosives without being identified and stopped.Quetta and the wider province have suffered violence that has ebbed and flowed too many times for the usual explanations to be tolerated.

A murky security strategy in the province appears to have made accountability all but impossible.Who is responsible for the consistent lapses and why is it that the only thing that appears horribly certain in Balochistan is that more attacks will occur?The targeting of policemen is a particularly deadly terrorist tactic.In Balochistan, where the state has been hollowed out by attacking officials over the years to discourage others from serving in the province, there is a desperate shortage of skills at all tiers of the private and public sectors.The worse that shortage is made and the more others are deterred from serving in the region, the less Balochistan will be able to reverse its abysmal socioeconomic indicators.And that will surely help consign Balochistan to many more years of deprivation and violence — a cycle that the security establishment appears to have no real answer to.

Without recognising that a militarised security strategy in Balochistan has failed to produce adequate results in a province that is beset by a range of security challenges, Balochistan cannot begin to find answers to a complex, layered security threat.Perhaps now is the time for the civilian government or one of its partners to issue an urgent call for a fresh national dialogue on Balochistan.Previous attempts have achieved little, but it remains the case that only a combined civilian and military strategy affords Balochistan a chance to escape from its otherwise seemingly endless misery.The different challenges — sectarianism, external interference, domestic militancy, radicalisation of parts of the population and a low-level separatist insurgency — require different responses, but they all need a coherent state strategy.At the moment, it is not clear what strategy the state has to respond to this latest wave of violence.A fresh initiative by the civilian leadership could open the door to an intra-state dialogue and an understanding of how to tackle the different strands of militancy, terrorism and violence in Balochistan.The lack of ideas and initiatives in Balochistan appears to be undermining security in the province; it is time for another path to be taken. https://www.dawn.com/news/1369477/states-failure-in-quetta

Troubled Balochistan: edit in Daily Times, November 10th 2017.
Three policemen including Additional Inspector General (AIG) Telecommunications Hamid Shakeel have become victims of the latest terror attack that struck Quetta on Thursday. The martyred AIG had served as the Investigations and Operations DIG in the city and was reportedly on the hit list of sectarian militants since long. There seems to be no respite in sight for Quetta as the city continues to witness terrorist attacks despite claims by the security forces and law enforcers that the terrorists are ‘on the run’.Police officials appear to be the prime targets of terrorists in the province for the last few months. In July, SP Mubarak Ali Shah was shot dead by unknown assailants.

The provincial government should have taken preventive measures and increased security for high profile police officials especially those believed to be on the hit list of terrorists. A lack of action on the part of the provincial government has been termed by analysts as one of the reasons for consistent attacks in Quetta.The lack of coordination among the various forces responsible for law enforcement, security and intelligence gathering is also a cause for concern. Balochistan remains the most highly militarised province and yet a variety of militant groups continue to operate there. Though no particular group has yet claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, the list of the suspects features the usual suspects: ethnic or sectarian militants.It is of crucial importance that the authorities recognise the fundamental difference between these two types of militants active in the province. To fight sectarian militants, we need to implement the National Action Plan in its letter and spirit.

But the ethnic militants cannot be dealt with force. Theirs is a political battle that has to do with the imbalance of powers between the centre and provinces. These concerns can, and must, be resolved through negotiations. In this regard, a recent announcement by exiled Baloch leaders of a meeting in Geneva to devise a strategy for peaceful struggle must be observed carefully. So far, the authorities have dismissed the meeting on grounds that sardars have lost public support in the province to middle class leaders like Allah Nazar. Be that as it may, the point to bear in mind is that the province has been at the receiving end of violence all along this country’s history. The conflict has resulted in loss of countless lives and caused misery and hardship for many others. The authorities, ethnic militants and the rest of us carry this burden of history on our shoulders. We can end this conflict by recognising and addressing legitimate grievances and agreeing to a viable and equitable federal framework, or, like those before us, we can pass on the burden to those who will soon take our places. Our choices today will determine how history judges us tomorrow. https://dailytimes.com.pk/136523/troubled-balochistan/

November 10, 2017   No Comments