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Category — Khan of Kalat

Balochistan farmers’ protest: Edit in The Daily Times, May 12

While the prime minister was having a meeting with provincial chief ministers to review the success of the energy conservation strategy, farmers in Balochistan observed a province-wide wheel-jam strike to protest electricity load shedding on the call of the Zamindar Action Committee. Extended power cuts are adversely affecting their crops. Agricultural productivity of the province is already low due to arid terrain and inadequate investment in development of this sector.

This protest is different from what we are accustomed to hearing from Balochistan — militancy, nationalist insurgency and, recently, target killings of non-Baloch people. This is something that cuts across the political and social spectrum, because it is a question of economic survival. In the widespread protests, all the main highways serving the province were shut down. While there has been an improvement in load shedding nationally, as the prime minister triumphantly observed, it seems that it is not equally spread amongst all provinces, and even within provinces, as some areas are more privileged than others.

Reportedly, the recent electricity crunch in Balochistan came due to destruction of seven power pylons in Naseerabad’s Chattar tehsil three weeks ago, disrupting electric supply to 40 grid stations of the province. According to Wapda officials, it could not carry out the repair work due to lack of adequate security for its repair team.

While making efforts to cool tempers raised due to electricity load shedding elsewhere in the country, the government should not leave out Balochistan. In the presence of heavy contingents of the military and paramilitary forces, it is strange why security cannot be provided to the WAPDA team for repair work. Given the sense of alienation of the Baloch people from the state, it is understandable that going out unguarded in the interior may be risky. But making it an excuse to delay work is not acceptable. The government must double up its effort to ensure a sustained supply of electricity in Balochistan at par with other provinces. The sense of deprivation and resentment in Balochistan because of the past injustices will only be further fuelled by the perception that they are once again being treated as second-class citizens. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\05\12\story_12-5-2010_pg3_1

May 12, 2010   No Comments

An elusive package: edit in the Daily Times, Jan 21

The walkout by two ministers from the Balochistan Assembly session on Monday in protest against the killing of two Baloch students at a protest rally in Khuzdar last week and condemnation of the killings by senators of both the treasury and opposition benches once again focuses minds on the plight of the Baloch. When the PPP government presented a package for Balochistan, a province that has been fighting for its rights since the inception of Pakistan, many termed it a historic step. Though the Baloch nationalists rejected the package and said that it would not bring about any change in the current situation, a broad swathe of opinion thought the nationalist leaders were being overly pessimistic. Now, however, it seems the ‘pessimist’ Baloch nationalists were right after all. This has been proved yet again by the incident in Khuzdar, where the people’s right to a peaceful protest was violated and brutally crushed. The use of brutal force by the Frontier Constabulary (FC) has not only alienated the Baloch further, it has put the federation of Pakistan at stake.

The ‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan’ package has failed to deliver on its promise. The military operation is still continuing, as are the kidnappings of Baloch nationalist leaders and workers. The government must ensure that the military operation is stopped, and the ‘missing’ persons the prime minister promised would come home, recovered. In this backdrop, the removal of some Baloch leaders’ names, including Ataullah Mengal, Akhtar Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri, from the exit control list (ECL) was a good gesture, albeit a small one. What is more shocking is Prime Minister Gilani’s comment that it was “news to me” that these people were on the ECL. We should be thankful for small mercies that the prime minister finally got this ‘information’ and acted upon it. If the chief executive has no ‘news’ about prominent names on the ECL list, one can only pray.

Despite the mention of Balochistan’s IDPs in the said package, the situation remains the same. We hear of humanitarian aid for the Swat and Malakand IDPs every day, but the Baloch IDPs are hardly ever mentioned. If this continues, the anti-federation sentiment would rise even more in the neglected province. Balochistan needs concrete steps to defuse the situation and engage the alienated Baloch rather than pie-in-the-sky ‘packages’.

For the past many years the Baloch have been waging a fight against the Pakistani establishment for their just rights. They have largely been asking for what has been promised to them under the constitution. Failure to fulfil this aspiration is the surest way to exacerbate separatist sentiment in the province. Instead of playing politics with such a serious matter, the government should deliver on its promises and not make a mockery of the Baloch issue. To ignore Baloch grievances is to run the risk of weakening the integrity of the federation. The Centre must pay heed to the disquiet ruling Balochistan. The government needs to have a dialogue with the alienated Baloch leaders, both in Pakistan and those living in exile abroad. The tension-ridden atmosphere of Balochistan should ring alarm bells for the government. Pakistan is already fighting a war with the Taliban and it cannot afford another war front against Baloch insurgents. The results of not delivering on the Balochistan package can be disastrous for the country. The government needs to get its act together or else get ready for another debacle.http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\21\story_21-1-2010_pg3_1

January 21, 2010   No Comments

What needs to be done in Baluchistan: op-ed in the News, Nov 1

By Gibran Peshimam
The writer is city editor, The News, Karachi.
Judging by the feedback, the reaction to labelling Balochistan’s fast-deteriorating and drastically-changed situation Pakistan’s chief problem – one that will carry on beyond operations in the Tribal Areas and the NWFP – has met with across-the-board agreement. However, the persisting question is how to tackle the situation.
The need to bring the Baloch nationalists and others stuck in the middle on board is obvious. Yet, the question of how and whether any measure will earn the trust of these elements remains highly debatable. For starters, let it be known that what needs to be done now is obviously diametrically opposed to what is being done now and has been done in the past in Balochistan. That is, Islamabad needs to push boundaries, break stereotypes and think out-of-the-box.
Big. Long-term. Enduring.
No status quo, not even hybrids (ala the trademark ‘three pronged’ proposals of a certain London-residing retired general). No, those will not do. More of the same in terms of policy means more of the same in terms of results. That’s a time-tested policy. We need pristine. The good stuff. Uncut, unadulterated.
In short, unprecedented.
Any compromise has to begin with the release of the ‘missing’ people, a large chunk of who are activists or sympathisers of the Baloch nationalist movement. Releasing them unconditionally, in a dignified manner possibly with an overarching apology, would send the right signals to begin with. You cannot say that you sincerely want to work with the nationalists while keeping them habeas corpus in a practice that is against all civilised norms.
This is just the beginning of the appeasement process. We need more drastic steps. This would, as mentioned earlier, entail engaging the true representatives of Balochistan.
Call on Brahmdagh Bugti. While he may not hold as much clout as the establishment alleges he does, the point is that he is the default protagonist-in-chief of the Baloch resistance. But this, needless to say, will be difficult.
In a recent interview, the young Bugti, alleged to be operating from Kabul, shows that he is in no mood for reconciliation. And why should he be? According to reports, he was there when his grandfather, the indomitable Nawab Akbar Bugti, was killed in the mountains by the state of Pakistan.
Before that, in 1959, Babu Nowroz, one of the original Baloch nationalists, was called down from the mountains with his companions, including his sons, to negotiate after those in power swore on the Holy Book that they would not be arrested. They were. And then hanged.
Nawroz’s death penalty was later turned into a life imprisonment, owing to his age.
So when Brahmdagh says, “If someone expects us to still negotiate with the people who ruined our lives then you are not being fair with us,” he is spot on justified.
To mitigate this, there needs to be a concerted, institutionalised reconciliation process. If the establishment can conjure up an audacious document to give the past plunderers of this country a clean slate to come back and restart their trade, then surely such a concession can be afforded to people who have been suppressed for decades, and whose return is a big part of saving your largest province from brutal secession. Drop the cases of sedition, subversion and other such charges against Brahmdagh, against Hairbayar and Gazin Marri and other Baloch leaders. This should be approved unconditionally by parliament and made into law instantly. The BRL – the Balochistan Reconciliation Law.
To show even more sincerity, pull out the armed forces from the areas where these leaders will be returning to. Call in the United Nations. Let them come in and handle their return to ensure that any sign of mistrust is mitigated.
They will come. The credibility of coming out into the open, onto Baloch soil, will be a proposition that will definitely attract them. In any case, if Brahmdagh is indeed in Afghanistan as is alleged, then he should know that history shows that the Baloch nationalists have been expelled from there before – Prince Abdul Karim, the brother of the Khan of Kalat – and there is no reason it cannot happen again, especially with a fickle and stretched Washington calling the shots.
Then show them that you are sincere in conceding self-determination. That freedom is possible without complete secession. This will entail constitutional guarantees. Now, this is a process that Pakistan needs to move to regardless of its policy towards Balochistan. The federation has long been struggling under the centralised control policy of Islamabad. What is needed is a step towards a confederational system that goes deeper than just abolishing the Concurrent List, which should have been done a long time ago to begin with.
The constitutional guarantee can take the form of a 50-50 basis sharing formula between the centre and the provinces. That is, 50 per cent of the constitution should be written by the centre, and the rest can be decided by the respective province itself, which should be absolutely free to decide on issues such as employment quotas, investments etc. You want only Baloch to run Baloch affairs, including the law-enforcement agencies? You want a massive chunk of resource revenue? It’s your call. Land ownership, the works.
All this may sound drastic. But what other option is left? If you want to be taken seriously, you have to abandon shallow moves such as conjuring up polished old policies under the garb of fresh initiatives, such as what the Balochistan Package is sure to be.
Of course this is all a moot point if the government doesn’t have the will or the spine to confront tradition and abandon archetype strategies that are more about conceited jingoism than heartfelt patriotism. Sadly, this is probably the case. The government that tries this, or any other drastic last-ditch attempt to win over the trust of the Baloch, will have to be iron-willed.
As it stands, anything less, and the Balochistan Package might as well be categorised as foreign aid. http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=206262

November 1, 2009   No Comments

‘Balochistan solidarity campaign’ to be launched

By Malik Siraj Akbar in The Daily Times, Oct 10
QUETTA: Several civil society organisations have decided to launch a countrywide signature campaign to express solidarity with the people of Balochistan.
Sungi Development Foundation Director (programmes) Asad Rehman announced this at a seminar, Proposed Balochistan Package and the NFC award. Rehman said Pakistan would disintegrate if the federating units were not treated equally and respectfully. People had realised that Balochistan had been brought to the verge of disintegration due to the erroneous and repressive policies of successive governments, he said. “The government should make arrangements for the return of the internally displaced persons of Dera Bugti and Kohlu to their hometowns. The Hindus should be compensated for the damage caused to their houses during the military operation. Nawab Akbar Bugti’s body must be handed over to his family,” he added.
Balochistan National Party (BNP) President Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini said, “We reject all kinds of packages. We want ownership of our natural resources. It is impossible to run the country on the basis of ad hocism,” he commented.
National Party President Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch said the government had not consulted the Baloch parties on the proposed package. The ruling party, he said, was treading in the footsteps of former military ruler Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf.
BNP Secretary General Habib Jalib said the military government had promoted around 6,000 seminaries in the province. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\10\10\story_10-10-2009_pg7_26

October 10, 2009   No Comments

The Baloch perspective: By Murtaza Razvi

IN a series of recent TV interviews, Shah Zain Bugti, the grandson of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti, has spoken eloquently on what needs to be done to end the insurgency in Balochistan.

The crux of his argument is that Balochistan minus the Baloch is a grossly flawed policy — one that Islamabad has been pursuing all these years. The young Jamhoori Watan Party leader has restricted his demands to three points: the trial of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the provision of gas royalty arrears to Balochistan and provincial autonomy. As the aggrieved heir to the slain Baloch leader, he has all the right to ask for the general’s trial.

It was almost pitiful to watch the Baloch leader being repeatedly grilled by anchors on the conduct of Baloch sardars, that too in response to his overtures when he emphasised that he sought a solution to the Balochistan predicament within the ambit of the 1973 constitution. The sardars’ anti-people policies, tyranny and support for terrorist attacks on vital installations in the province kept coming up. The construction of the coastal highway and the Gwadar port were also cited as development projects which have been opposed tooth and nail by Baloch nationalists.

There may be some merit in such counterpoints raised by self-righteous journalists. But what one fails to understand is why are the Baloch singled out for this harsh treatment. The Pakhtuns, too, have a tribal system which is taken as basic law by many communities. Clans in Sindh and biradaris in Punjab also practise tribal customs, some of them truly despicable.

Likewise, cult politics continues to be the norm within the country’s so-called democratic parties, whose ‘representative’ leaders often bury their heads in the sand when even a gross violation of the law takes place. In a country full of historical injustices and abuse such as that of Mukhtaran Mai, the burning of Christian homes in Gojra, Karachi’s May 12, 2007 street violence, to name a few, how can any objective observer single out Baloch sardars for censure?

The Baloch are not half as well integrated with the rest of Pakistan as, say, those hailing from Sindh. Their elected leaders at the centre and in the province do not enjoy the same representative status as do leaders from other provinces. The reason is that when the 2008 elections took place, Balochistan was in the grip of turmoil and Baloch nationalists had boycotted the polls.

As for the building of Gwadar port and the coastal highway by the Musharraf regime, nationalists allege, with some weight in their argument, that these projects have largely bypassed local communities. Sliding law and order has kept the Baloch at bay from job opportunities created at the port and the labour employed at the port is mostly from Sindh. The transporters whose vehicles ply the coastal highway are Pathan; the law enforcers operating across Balochistan are all Pathan and Punjabi.

If a Baloch villager is found carrying a few cans of unauthorised Iranian petrol in order to sell it to make a living, he is harshly punished and without due process; even his vehicle is impounded. He has to bribe his way out. This despite the fact that most of the petrol sold in Balochistan comes illegally from Iran, transported by petrol barons for whom the law enforcers conveniently look the other way. The same goes for the smuggling of ration provisions, liquor and other contrabands by non-Baloch smugglers.

The grievances of the Baloch are real and not imaginary. In his own homeland an average Baloch is treated like a man colonised by the many arms of the state which only know how to twist his arm. Little wonder then, that nationalist leaders, mainly highhanded sardars, should find resonance for their own causes with the Baloch people.

The Makran region comprising the coastal belt and areas bordering Iran, where much of the wrongdoing goes on and smugglers make millions a day, has no sardari system. The socioeconomic system in this Baloch-majority region is cooperative rather than competitive. No cruel, depraved sardars exist here. But there is widespread resentment and frustration among the people, hence their support for the sardars as their sole spokesmen.

Whenever in the past the sardars struck deals with Islamabad, not a drop of honeydew coming their way trickled down to these utterly impoverished Baloch. If Gen Musharraf, and rulers before him and those that have followed him, had established a somewhat equitable distribution of the wealth generated by this region, the situation today would be very different. But the people have been left at the mercy of the highhanded state machinery on the one hand and Baloch sardars, who now claim to be their messiahs, on the other.

What Shah Zain Bugti has been saying makes much sense. Even under these extremely extraordinary circumstances, he is not demanding extraordinary measures for Balochistan but pleading for provincial autonomy, which will benefit the other federating units equally. It’s the myriad government agencies operating in Balochistan which have no Baloch representation and which routinely break the law when it comes to penalising the Baloch that are the biggest hurdle in the way of resolving the crisis.

The Baloch must be given due representation in state institutions; in the vast security apparatus as well as development projects that, emanating from Balochistan, continue to benefit everyone but the Baloch. Couple this with provincial autonomy and subject the operations of law-enforcement agencies to scrutiny and the crisis will be over. All it takes is will in Islamabad to survey reality and move to correct the many wrongs done to the Baloch in their own homeland. (this article first appeared in The Dawn, Karachi on Sept 10, 2009)

September 10, 2009   No Comments

The Balochistan challenge: op-ed in The News, Aug 31

By Talat Masood
The writer is a retired lieutenant-general of Pakistan
When the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) coalition government assumed power in 2008, it provided President Zardari with an excellent opportunity to focus on Balochistan. Initially, he did raise hopes when, as head of PPP and being of Baloch descent, he made a public apology for all the wrong doings of the past against the Baloch people. This was followed by further conciliatory gestures by both the president and prime minister which resulted in the release of political detainees and a relatively relaxed political environment. Sadly, the momentum was lost and the province is once again adrift with insurgency taking a turn for the worse, as was evident on the third death anniversary of Nawab Akbar Bugti when the province came to a grinding halt.

Prior to the assassination of Akbar Bugti, the insurgency was primarily centered on Dera Bugti, but after his death it has spread beyond the tribal belt into settled areas of Makran, Sarawan and Jhalawan divisions. In fact, there is an on-going operation in Makran division. Target killings are on the rise and Shias and Punjabis are the main victims. In addition, gas pipelines and high-voltage transmission grids are being blown up, and the armed forces are being targeted. All three militant nationalist movements — the Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Republican Army and the Baloch Front are now engaged in low-level insurgency operations and are closely cooperating with one another in attacking military installations and civilian targets.

The Baloch nationalist leaders believe that the present civilian government, even if it wants to pursue a policy of reconciliation, will not succeed as the real policy is still being determined by the military intelligence as was the case during General Musharraf’s period. The Baloch leadership believes that the establishment is not prepared to shed control over their rich resources and there is lack of confidence between the state institutions and the province’s political elite.

Regrettably, the Baloch leadership also does not have much to offer. Tribal chiefs have been mistreating their own people and failing miserably while in office. They are rightly accused of deliberately mismanaging provincial resources and development funds. In fact, they have deliberately kept the people backward by not promoting education, failing to build hospitals and creating physical infrastructure. On the other hand, Balochi nationalists and tribal chiefs claim that the federal government has deprived them of their normal democratic rights and has taken control of their natural resources, thus throttling the Balochs economically and politically.

Extensive involvement of the military and age-old tribal customs has prevented normal political evolution in the province. Practically all Baloch nationalist parties that have a large following and include the Jamhoori Watan Party, Balochistan National party, National party and the Haq Tawar Party boycotted the last national and provincial elections. The current provincial assembly draws its strength more from the establishment than from the people. With politics and governance of the province being managed from outside, the representative character of the provincial government is indeed questionable.

General Musharraf erred by ordering a military operation against Akbar Bugti. The latter was perhaps among the few tribal leaders who had earlier been a part of government and was still prepared to engage with the establishment provided he was dealt with honourably. Instead, Musharraf adopted the fatal military option. The younger generation of tribal leadership has, since then, become more alienated and radicalised. General Musharraf, on the basis of his development projects, wrongly assessed that a majority of the Balochs are supportive of the government and tribal chiefs had limited following.

Tribal leaders claim that false cases are registered against them to keep them out of politics and force them to leave the country. Geography, poor communication links, the absence of political and economic development, antiquated social structures and lack of say in the management of natural resources are mainly responsible for the current state of Balochi frustration.

The main demands of the rebel groups are that security forces should be withdrawn. Political workers and insurgents under detention should be released and the government should make a public apology for its wrong doings. Their main demand however focuses on control of resources and a high level of provincial autonomy bordering on independence. The demand for provincial autonomy in accordance with the 1973 Constitution is perfectly valid and the federal government should grant it, but going beyond that is unacceptable. However, more crucial in the context of Balochistan are social reforms and unless these are undertaken, any sustainable development will not be feasible in a centuries-old tribal structure. The only way to bring the region in the mainstream is to allow genuine politics to take root. But for both political evolution and economic development, the government has to provide security which, so far, has been unsatisfactory.

The government accuses the Balochistan Liberation Army and other nationalist parties of having links with India, Afghanistan and other foreign agencies. The involvement of India was even brought to the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by our prime minister at Sharm-el- Shiekh and will remain a serious subject in future exchanges.

China, Iran and United States too have a deep interest in the province.

The establishment of the Gwadar deep-sea port, confirmed deposits of precious metals in the province and shared borders with Afghanistan and Iran has given Balochistan a unique strategic position. Gwadar has the potential of being a highly profitable communication link between China and the Persian Gulf, and between Central Asia and Pakistan. The US has a huge interest in the province to protect itself in Afghanistan, and considers it important in the context of its potential rivalry with China and poor relations with Iran. The power play of global and regional actors in an insurgency-ridden Balochistan is a serious challenge for Pakistan. Islamabad should realise that the peace security and stability of the province are closely interlinked with the integrity and future well being of Pakistan. And Balochi nationalism has to be assimilated and harmonised with the overall national interest, and not allowed to remain hostile to it. http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=195789

August 31, 2009   No Comments

Why bleed Balochistan: By Murtaza Razvi in The Dawn, Aug 24

INACTION continues to define the government’s conduct in regard to the many issues confronting Balochistan. It is becoming clear to an increasing number of Baloch people that while the state wants their resources, it has little empathy for them.

A year after President Pervez Musharraf — he can be blamed for many of our miseries today — stepped down, little has changed in the equation dogging Balochistan-centre relations. So far the elected government has only paid lip service to solving the restive province’s problems. The apology President Zardari offered to the people of Balochistan at the inception of the PPP-led government more than a year ago has not been followed up with any action to redress Baloch grievances.

Ms Asma Jahangir, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, seems to be among the few spokespersons for the Baloch. She says the army is still very much in charge of that province; the political governments — at Islamabad and Quetta — have no say in managing Balochistan.

An unspecified but large number of Baloch nationalist leaders and political workers have gone missing even after the inception of the democratic government following the 2008 election. ‘Missing’ of course is a polite euphemism for abduction by security forces and intelligence sleuths.

Those who have been spared are either in hiding or lying low for fear of incarceration. The rest are raising a rebellion from abroad; those here are threatened with arrest unless they watch what they say. Why this humiliation of the Baloch in their own homeland?

Has democracy really returned to Balochistan? The elected provincial government keeps mum over these staggering issues or simply looks the other way. In Islamabad, the finger is being pointed at Indian interference in the province. The prime minister raised the issue with his Indian counterpart at a recent meeting in Egypt; the president says threats to Pakistan’s security are internal and not from India. Could someone please step forward and clear the haze?

The HRCP accuses the centre of giving Balochistan a raw deal right from the beginning. The province gets its gas royalties at a rate far below that paid to Sindh and Punjab for the same commodity. This financial year, as previously also, the Balochistan budget continues to be one of deficit, necessitating that Quetta beg Islamabad for financial assistance just to meet its running expenses; the 2009-10 budget has no funds earmarked for development because there is none to be undertaken under the dire straits.

Juxtapose this with the recently unveiled grand plan of building an entire new city in Thatta district, which President Zardari says will be Sindh’s second largest. It is on such lucrative mega-projects that have immense potential for doling out building contracts and blessing the minders and handlers with huge kickbacks in the process that our energies are focused.

If Gwadar and New Murree were the previous regime’s pet projects, Zulfikarabad now suddenly seems to have become this presidency’s priority. Gwadar never took off, and for obvious reasons. New Murree was scrapped altogether — as it should have been.

There is nothing wrong with building new cities; but first we must be able to run and manage the ones we have with some efficiency and public accountability. The new democratic order suddenly seems to be mandated to scrap everything that harks back to the Musharraf era. That is why local governments too will now have to be disbanded, which was perhaps the only saving grace of Musharraf’s — albeit faulty — process of transition to democracy. It allowed some empowering of the people’s representatives at the grassroots level.

Funds allocated and given to districts, town administrations and union councils did reach down to the more earthly and accessible beings from the high and mighty of the land, who are in the habit of blowing them on showcase projects or worse still, on serving multi-course gourmet meals at government houses when not globetrotting. With local governments about to be disbanded and no clear plan in sight to revamp the system, it is the economically depressed districts and even entire provinces, which will suffer most.

In Balochistan public disempowerment at the local level will further fuel the sense of alienation among the people. An average Baloch anywhere in Balochistan has perhaps never set foot in Quetta; he can be content by getting his two square meals in his small hamlet, a roof over his head and just the very basic amenities like water, sanitation and perhaps some schooling for children. Electricity for many in the hinterland is an additional blessing.

Now with the decision to scrap the local government system the little power the grassroots Baloch have had over their own finances will be concentrated in Quetta, without it trickling down to the far-off union councils.

Yet more hurting is the free run of the countryside allowed to the military and paramilitary forces in Balochistan over the preceding decade. The policy has bred much resentment amongst the average Baloch, and is part of the reason why the sardars known for their brutal customs and practices which target their own people are now emerging as people’s leaders — more so than those sent to elected legislatures only last year.

The army is not known to have solved any of Pakistan’s problems — at wartime or in peace — when left to its own devices. Its interference in public affairs has compounded our challenges and distorted the normal course of events. Its commercial interests pursued at the expense of the people are well documented. Ms Jahangir is right in asserting that Balochistan cannot be left to military decision-making mechanisms. The situation calls for political engagement among all concerned. This can only be possible if the government shows the will to act first by calling to account the gross human rights violations in the province, and thus removing the stigma of being disloyal to the state from the names of Baloch nationalists. It remains to be seen if the government is up to the task. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/why-bleed-balochistan-489

August 24, 2009   No Comments

A challenge to integrity: Editorial in The Nation, Aug 13

THE law and order situation in all the four provinces remains a matter of deep concern. With the PPP-led government having done little to resolve the problems of Balochistan despite big promises, extremist slogans are being raised in the province. Sixty persons were reportedly arrested on Tuesday on charge of flying on houses, offices and vehicles the flag of independent Balochistan. In Karachi, targeted killings of political activists continue unabated.
While life in Swat is slowly returning to normal, militancy still poses a threat. Markets have opened, schools, government offices and banks are functioning and the business community and the public at large are expressing resolve to fight extremism. There are however negative developments that need to be taken care of. A day after Prime Minister Gilani and COAS Kayani visited Swat, militants in Buner torched 14 schools, one basic health unit, a warehouse of a private construction company and a policeman’s house. The idea was to undermine the perception of stability, instil fear among the local population and demoralise those cooperating with the government. Through terrorist acts the TTP wants to make it known that despite the government’s claim of having crushed the militants they still remain a force to be dealt with. Meanwhile there are reports of the TTP activists having assembled in the strategic Chagharzai which connects Swat and Buner with Shangla, Mansehra and Battagram districts. There is a need under the circumstances to concentrate on consolidating the gains in Malakand Division before undertaking any other venture as is being suggested by President Zardari. The momentum gained in the region must not be lost. For this the remaining pockets of the militants have to be cleared and their leadership apprehended or neutralised. Any perception of the initiative passing over to the militants is likely to nullify the gains made at great price in human and material terms.
The law and order situation in Punjab as well is far from satisfactory. Speaking at the floor of the House on Monday, a Q-League MNA warned the government of the dangers if firm action was not taken against those responsible for the Gojra incident and the Interior Minister claimed sectarian terrorists were behind the act. A PML-N MNA underlined the gravity of the situation in South Punjab where the incidents of kidnapping for ransom have broken previous records. There is a need on the part of the federal and provincial governments to cooperate to deal with the situation that poses threat to national integrity.

August 13, 2009   No Comments

Baloch ‘independence’: editorial in The Dawn, Aug 13

ON the so-called ‘Kalat Independence Day’ on Aug 11, Mir Suleman Dawood, grandson of the last ruler of Kalat, announced the creation of a council of Baloch separatist elements in Pakistan and Iran who will press for the formation of an ‘independent Balochistan’. Mr Dawood’s demand for an ‘independent’ Baloch state clearly cannot be countenanced; tomorrow marks the 62nd anniversary of Pakistan’s creation and there simply isn’t any room for debate about altering the physical boundaries of the country today. Pakistan’s problems — and, yes, there are many — can only realistically and viably be solved within the framework of Pakistan. Yet, while Mr Dawood’s demand must necessarily be dismissed, it points to ongoing problems in Balochistan that show no sign of abating, and this 18 months after national elections to usher in a new, democratic government in the country.

Mr Dawood’s personal grievances date back to March 1948, when his grandfather, Ahmad Yar Khan, negotiated an agreement with Mohammad Ali Jinnah that brought the State of Kalat, located in the centre and southwest of present-day Balochistan, into the fold of Pakistan. According to the then ruler of Kalat, the agreement had been to accept the state’s unique status and to incorporate it into Pakistan as an independent and autonomous unit along the lines of countries that are part of the European Union today. But this has never been proved and is rejected by Pakistan. Resultantly, a sense of having suffered a great injustice has continued over the decades, even as the Khan of Kalat’s family receded into relative obscurity. A return to prominence was effected in the wake of Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing in August 2006 as Mr Dawood convened a grand jirga — the first in approximately 100 years — that brought together virtually all of Balochistan’s tribal leaders. Even so, what was decided there has been diluted somewhat by the fact that some of the most prominent tribal leaders are today part of the federal and Balochistan provincial governments. But Mr Dawood has continued his dissent against the constitutional status of Balochistan, leading up to the commemoration for the first time of Kalat’s independence on Aug 11 — the day in 1947 that the British allegedly accepted the independence of the State of Kalat.

Whatever the history, the fact is that Balochistan has continued to suffer from the relative neglect of the country’s new leaders. Change has been promised, but in fact the trust deficit between the nationalists and the state has widened. That must change. Whatever the challenges in the rest of the country, the legitimate grievances of the people of Balochistan must be addressed. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/baloch-independence-389

August 13, 2009   No Comments

Khan of Kalat ups the ante: The Dawn, Aug 12

By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, Aug 11: The Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Dawood, announced on Tuesday formation of a council for ‘independent Balochistan’ and rejected any reconciliation with the government of Pakistan without the mediation of European Union and United Nations.
Addressing reporters from London on telephone, he said the council would ensure the creation of an independent state of Balochistan.
The Khan said Baloch separatist forces of Pakistan and Iran would have representation in the council.
He said the names of members of the council would be announced later.
He, however, said that Nawabzada Baramdagh Bugti will be a member of the council, adding that he was in touch with him and other forces which stood for an independent Balochistan.
Replying to a question, he said that recommendations adopted at the Kalat Jirga had not been shelved.
He said that a lot of progress had since been made and the issue of Balochistan had been raised at the international level. He said that some people had disassociated themselves from the recommendations.
He said he was enjoying the support of ‘friendly’ and ‘like-minded’ countries who had promised all help and cooperation.
The Khan of Kalat said the Baloch had observed their Independence Day on Tuesday because the British rulers had accepted independent and autonomous status of the Kalat state on August 11, 1947. They later announced independence of Pakistan and India on August 14 and 15.
He said the Qauid-i-Azam had negotiated Kalat’s accession to Pakistan but it was rejected by the Kalat state assembly. He said Kalat was merged into Pakistan in March 1948 and in reaction Prince Agha Abdul Karim mounted a revolt.
The Khan said the Baloch had lost trust in Pakistani rulers. However, he said that if European Union and United Nations mediated then negotiations could be held with the government of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Khuzdar Engineering University was closed on Tuesday for an indefinite period.
According to sources, a group of students belonging to the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad entered the university campus and tried to hoist the flag of ‘independent Balochistan’ on the administration building.
Law-enforcement personnel did not allow them to remove the national flag and arrested a number of students.
After the incident, the administration announced the closure of the university. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/khan-of-kalat-ups-the-ante-289Khan of Kalat ups the ante: The Dawn, Aug 12

August 12, 2009   No Comments