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News :: International
Targeting Baloch leadership
10 Jul 2006
By: Sheikh Asad Rahman


Eighty two year old Nawab Akbar Bugti has been targeted twice in a period of six months by military mortar fire on his Dera Bugti house and again last week by helicopter gunships, artillery fire and commandos’ attacks in which Akbar claims downing of two helicopters. Family members were wounded while Akbar escaped unhurt in the mortar attack on his home. Some 30 Hindu minority tradesmen who have their homes close to Akbar’s haveli were killed or wounded in the same attack. Akbar shifted his family to Quetta and Lahri while he hid deep in the mountains of the Bugti area where he was again targeted last week. A definite sanction to assassinate him seems to be the order of the day.

Other Baloch leaders like 80-year-old Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and sons, 73 years old and a heart patient, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, his son Akhtar, all have sedition, terrorism and murder cases against them along with many other Baloch. It is alleged that Asadullah Mengal, eldest son of Ataullah, was killed in the 70s in Karachi by government agencies. Recently another son’s killing is also allegedly being attributed to agencies. Samad Khan Achakzai’s murder is being blamed on inter-tribal rivalries but questions are being raised.

Hundreds of Baloch students, political party workers, activists have been picked up and their families are running from pillar to post but can find no trace of their loved ones. Baloch families are migrating out of their areas where the military operations are going on, especially Tehsil Kahan in Marri area and all Bugti areas. The Sui military cantonment is in its construction stages and most probably the Khuzdar and Panjgur cantonments will be started very soon as it is reported that land has already been earmarked.

The provincial government is totally silent on all the military actions and disappearances of people taking place in the province and the federal government is running all affairs. The silence in the Senate, National and provincial Assemblies speaks volumes of the political vacuum created by the buying out of the Baloch political party members of these legislatures. Even the opposition PPP, PML (N), ARD and other parties are not raising their voice in any form on the situation in Balochistan.

In reaction Baloch insurgents are targeting Punjabi and Urdu speaking settlers. Punjabis traveling on buses are being taken off and shot while others settled in Quetta are being harassed to the point where they are migrating out of Balochistan. Attacks by the Baloch resistance on railway lines, gas installations and electricity towers are on the increase day by day. Bomb explosions are taking place every other day.

Reports from authentic sources in the affected areas are even more disturbing. US and Russian weapons, not only assault rifles but rocket launchers and other heavy weaponry, are being sold in the black markets openly. It is also reported that the insurgents are being funded from abroad and other neighboring and far off countries as well. An atmosphere of fear and desperation has been created by these military operations, resulting in ordinary people arming themselves to the teeth. This situation could lead to a widening of the conflict even in areas where there was no law and order situation before. The whole scenario seems to be building up to a full-scale civil war in Balochistan reminiscent of the 1970s in Bangladesh and Balochistan.

This military action portrays a clear indication of the bankruptcy of the ruling elite, who for face saving in the international community made a big show of the Wasim Sajjad Senate and the Mushahid, Shujjat Parliamentary Committees’ fact-finding missions and reports. All those recommendations have been swept under the carpet and not even a modicum of implementation has been seen to be initiated. Yet these erstwhile leaders neither raised their voices nor resigned. Beckham’s resignation from the English football team as captain for the world cup defeat shows character as does the resignation of the coach for Brazil. They are just sportsmen; unfortunately our national leaders and politicians have no sportsman’s spirit nor national spirit and will never resign because of personal power interests. They will never give way to new blood to come up and maybe correct their wrongs.

The apathy of political parties is not the only worrying factor. What is more worrying is the complete dependence of the media on ISPR reports and instructions. No journalists are allowed to go to these areas for authentic reporting. Even the HRCP convoy taking Asma Jahangir and other human rights activists was fired upon. It is alleged that this was also done on the instigation of the agencies. Akbar Bugti is reported as having invited civil society activists to Dera Bugti before the attack on his home to assess the situation and have a people-to-people dialogue between the Baloch and people from the other provinces, especially Punjab. This too was not allowed.

The apathy of civil society is therefore understandable because of the constant and well-planned propaganda by the ISPR against the nationalist leaders of Balochistan, portraying them as anti-state, separatists and terrorists.

Situations like these have dogged the political history of Pakistan from its very creation. How many times have the Baloch had to face military action and operations? From 1948 to date, five full-scale military operations have taken place and the latest one is ongoing. Political and constitutional issues raised by the Baloch nationalists have always been answered with military might and not dialogue. Civilized societies resolve such issues, which incidentally are the same for all the three smaller provinces, through dialogue, negotiation, constitutional rights, and give and take while working out compromises on vital issues in the interests of nation building.

But then can Pakistanis expect such humane and nation building measures from direct military rulers or civilian rulers dictated to by the military high command? The same ruling elite continues to come into power through manipulation of elections and overthrowing elected governments, changed faces but with the same agenda of plunder and corruption and class interests. They don’t believe in learning from past history. I still remember General Musharraf answering a question in one of his early press conferences: “Forget history, talk about today.” Non-political Pakistanis based abroad for thirty or more years are made interim and elected Prime Ministers replacing elected Prime Ministers and Presidents, who ensure that the legislatures become rubber stamps for the dictates of the military high command. Can Pakistan continue to survive in its politically bankrupt environment and for how long in the present geopolitical situation in the region where the international power game has begun? Only time and history will tell!

The writer is a freelance columnist

http://www.thepost.com.pk/OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=48461&catid=11
See also:
http://bso-na.org
http://balochunity.org

This work is in the public domain
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