Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peace for the Baloch (Courtesy: I.A Rehman/Dawn)

QUETTA: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani announced on Monday that the drawdown of troops from insurgency-hit Balochistan would be completed in two months when the last army battalion deployed in the province’s restive district of Sui will return to the barracks. “In future, no [military] operation will be conducted in the province without the permission of the provincial government,” General Kayani said at the inauguration of the Government Institute of Technology in Gwadar. The army chief also announced that 5,000 Baloch youth would be inducted in the army later this month when the national census, currently under way in parts of the country, is completed. The latest recruitment drive will bring the number of conscripts in recent months to 9,000, some 4,000 of whom were inducted earlier – as revealed by the army chief. General Kayani was blunt in his assessment of the problems facing Balochistan, citing in particular the lack of technical education as a major reason for the backwardness and underdevelopment of the province. Recognising the needs of the people, Gen Kayani said that the military is taking steps to resolve the problems of Baloch youth so that they could also use their talents and become involved in the prosperity of their country. REFERENCE: Appeasing Balochistan: Back to barracks in two months, promises Kayani Published: April 19, 2011 Kayani announces army’s withdrawal from Sui Dawn Report | From the Newspaper April 19, 2011 (5 weeks ago)

Balochistan Package - Live with Talat - 1 (AAJ TV 2009)

Balochistan Package - Live with Talat - 2 (AAJ TV 2009)

Balochistan Package - Live with Talat - 3 (AAJ TV 2009)

The Pakistani government must investigate the torture and killings of more than 40 Baloch leaders and political activists over the past four months, Amnesty International said today. Activists, politicians and student leaders are among those who have been targeted in enforced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests and cases of torture and other ill-treatment. The violence takes place against a backdrop of increasing political unrest and Pakistan army operations in Balochistan, south western Pakistan. “The Pakistani government must act immediately to provide justice for the growing list of atrocities in Balochistan,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “Baloch political leaders and activists are clearly being targeted and the government must do much more to end this alarming trend.” Among the latest victims of the ongoing violence are Faqir Mohammad Baloch and Zahoor Baloch, whose bodies were discovered in the district of Mastung on 21 October 2010. Faqir Mohammad Baloch, a poet and member of the Voice of Missing Baloch Missing Persons, was abducted on 23 September. Zahoor Baloch, a member of the Baloch Student Organization-Azad was abducted on 23 August. According to media reports, both received a single bullet wound to the head at point blank range and showed signs of being tortured. REFERENCE: PAKISTAN URGED TO INVESTIGATE MURDER AND TORTURE OF BALOCH ACTIVISTS 25 October 2010 

A REGIONAL consultation on intra-state conflicts in South Asia, caused by some minority communities’ assertion of their right to autonomy, offered Pakistan’s policymakers and students of politics a great deal of food for thought, especially in view of a lack of serious discourse on the subject in this country. The consultation organised by the South Asian Forum for Human Rights discussed conflicts arising at the time of state formation on the inclusion of certain territories in new states and their demand for self-determination, dissatisfaction with the existing social contract and the growth of democracy deficit in highly centralised states, and the rise of minority demands for ethnic homelands. The focus was on an audit of peace accords negotiated for the resolution of some of the conflicts in South Asia, such as the agreements with the Nagas, the Mizos and the Bodos in India and with the tribal population of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Also discussed were the autonomy movement in Madhes, Nepal, that has received a boost during the country’s search for a new constitution and the nationalist upsurge in Balochistan. REFERENCE: Peace for the BalochI.A Rehman (9 hours ago) Today

Gazain Marri with Dawn News - 1 (April 2011)

Gazain Marri with Dawn News - 2 (April 2011)

Gazain Marri with Dawn News - 3 (April 2011)

Violence continues unabated in Pakistan’s strategically important and resource-rich province of Balochistan, where the military government is fighting Baloch militants demanding political and economic autonomy. President Pervez Musharraf’s government insists the insurgency is an attempt to seize power by a handful of tribal chiefs bent on resisting economic development. Baloch nationalists maintain it is fuelled by the military’s attempts to subdue dissent by force and the alienation caused by the absence of real democracy. Whether or not free and fair national and provincial elections are held later this year or in early 2008 will determine whether the conflict worsens. Instead of redressing Baloch political and economic grievances, the military is determined to impose state control through force. The killing of the Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti by the army in August 2006 was followed by the incarceration of another, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, who has been held on terrorism-related charges without due process since December. Law enforcement agencies have detained thousands of Baloch nationalists or those believed to be sympathetic to the cause; many have simply disappeared. With the nationalist parties under siege, many young activists are losing faith in the political process and now see armed resistance as the only viable way to secure their rights. REFERENCE: Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan 22 Oct 2007 

The discussion on Balochistan was based on a fresh study that argued that peace in Balochistan is meaningful, even possible, only if an end to violence is accompanied by justice in terms of a change in the status quo by establishing fair power relationships between the civil and military authorities, the centre and the province, and the elite and ordinary people. The immediate measures suggested for giving the peace process a promising start include: cessation of military operations and human rights abuse, withdrawal of the army and the FC, recovery of the ‘missing persons’, an end to the state’s plans to rule the province through its co-opted elite, and facilitating productive economic activity. While these suggestions are generally in harmony with the domestic democratic opinion on Balochistan a disturbing finding was that although the unrest in that province has been on the national agenda for more than six decades there has been no peace accord between the Baloch and the state. This point was not one of the main issues on the agenda of the recent consultation but it needs to be addressed by all those who wish to secure peace and justice in Balochistan. History supports the view that each Baloch uprising has been suppressed by the state through force and without any peace settlement. The first uprising (1948) was suppressed through a quick military operation and its leaders punished. The second uprising (Ayub regime) was crushed through a mixture of force and chicanery, and a festering sore was created when the state reneged on its pledge of amnesty given to Sardar Nauroz Khan. The armed struggle of the 1970s was ended by Ziaul Haq’s offering palliatives to its political leaders but without any settlement on the issues that had caused the conflict.REFERENCE: Peace for the BalochI.A Rehman (9 hours ago) Today

Gen Musharraf not only ignored Baloch national aspirations but also looked down upon them and threatened them in the language of an insolent bully. He believed, more or less like Ayub Khan, that development projects could persuade any people to forego their autonomy demands. The present government has added political and economic concessions to Balochistan (the 18th Amendment, the reform package and the NFC award) to the policy of settling issues through force. That this strategy can’t deliver is manifest for the simple reason that no package has been given shape in consultation with the people. While the state has never considered the Baloch dissidents worthy of negotiations across the table, it has also largely been indifferent to non-state initiatives to establish peace and tranquillity in Balochistan. The Bhutto-Bizenjo accord of 1972 was wrecked by Bizenjo’s rivals in his own party and Mr Bhutto himself. The memorandum of understanding signed by the MRD parties in the 1980s was never taken seriously by the signatories except for the Baloch. During the Musharraf regime, the Senate committee made some sensible proposals but lacked the will to attach to the matter the priority it deserved. Thus, the Baloch believe that besides being oppressed by the state they have also been abandoned by the country’s political parties and the people in general. The harmful consequences of not having a peace accord with the Baloch people are fairly evident. The state’s lack of interest in negotiating a settlement with the nationalists, including those that are labelled as insurgents, amounts to a denial of their status as citizens who are entitled to be party to any social contract on which the state must be based. This leads to the Baloch people’s alienation from the state. Besides, in the absence of a peace accord the parties to the conflict are without any legitimate framework or context for their demands and assurances. Focus on specific issues becomes difficult. The people outside Balochistan have no measure with which to judge the legitimacy or otherwise of the Baloch nationalists’ demands or the state’s policy of denial. REFERENCE: Peace for the BalochI.A Rehman (9 hours ago) Today

Sardar Akbar Bugti on GEO TV - 1

Relying also on divide-and-rule policies, the military still supports Pashtun Islamist parties such as Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Deobandi Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) in a bid to counter secular Baloch and moderate Pashtun forces. The JUI-F is the dominant member of the six-party Islamist alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Musharraf’s coalition partner in the provincial government since October 2002. It is also a key patron of the Afghan Taliban. Using Balochistan as a base of operation and sanctuary and recruiting from JUI-F’s extensive madrasa network, the Taliban and its Pakistani allies are undermining the state-building effort in Afghanistan. At the same time, U.S. and other Western support for Musharraf is alienating the Baloch, who otherwise could be natural partners in countering extremism in Pakistan. Although the military has retained control through force, it is fast losing the campaign to win hearts and minds. The insurgency now crosses regional, ethnic, tribal and class lines. Musharraf appears oblivious to the need to change course if the insurgency is to be contained and political stability restored. Islamabad has yet to implement any of the recommendations on Balochistan’s political and economic autonomy made by a Senate (upper house) committee in November 2005. The federal government has also disregarded the Balochistan provincial assembly’s unanimous resolutions against unpopular federal development plans. The government’s inadequate response to the cyclone and floods that devastated the area in June and July 2007 has further worsened alienation. Although the crisis in Balochistan is assuming threatening dimensions, it is not irremediable provided the national and provincial elections are free and fair. The restoration of participatory representative institutions would reduce tensions between the centre and the province, empower moderate forces and marginalise extremists. In the absence of a transition to meaningful democracy, however, the military’s strong-arm tactics are bound to further fuel the insurgency, at great cost to the Baloch people and Pakistan’s enfeebled federal framework. REFERENCE: Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan 22 Oct 2007 

Sardar Akbar Bugti on GEO TV - 2

Sardar Akbar Bugti on GEO TV - 3


President Pervez Musharraf and the military are responsible for the worsening of the conflict in Balochistan. Tensions between the government and its Baloch opposition have grown because of Islamabad’s heavy-handed armed response to Baloch militancy and its refusal to negotiate demands for political and economic autonomy. The killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006 sparked riots and will likely lead to more confrontation. The conflict could escalate if the government insists on seeking a military solution to what is a political problem and the international community, especially the U.S., fails to recognise the price that is involved for security in neighbouring Afghanistan. Tensions with the central government are not new to Balochistan, given the uneven distribution of power, which favors the federation at the cost of the federal units. The Baloch have long demanded a restructured relationship that would transfer powers from what is seen as an exploitative central government to the provinces. But Musharraf’s authoritarian rule has deprived them of participatory, representative avenues to articulate demands and to voice grievances. Politically and economically marginalised, many Baloch see the insurgency as a defensive response to the perceived colonisation of their province by the Punjabi-dominated military. REFERENCE: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS Pakistan: The Worsening Conflict in Balochistan 14 Sep 2006 

If it is possible for the powers that be to realise that a peace accord with the Baloch nationalists is necessary, the next step is identification of elements with whom a compact would be meaningful. There certainly are elements in Balochistan who believe that the time for a settlement within a federal framework has passed and if they are so numerous as to make the rest politically irrelevant, then too an accord with them will be necessary, only its terms will be different from those of an intra-federation settlement. The trouble is that the state is not talking even to elements that are prepared for accommodation within the federation provided that their rights as an autonomous unit are fully secured. The present Balochistan Assembly does not have the requisite credentials. For one thing, the 2008 polls were boycotted by the nationalist parties and for another the present provincial government enjoys little real authority. Unless the state can find a way of bringing all the diverse elements in Balochistan to the peace table, an early election to determine the people’s genuine representatives will become unavoidable. The essential fact to be realised is that peace cannot be established in Balochistan without an accord on democratic self-government. One should not be unmindful of the obstacles on the road to a peace accord in Balochistan. The custodians of the security state would go to any length to deny the Baloch nationalists their right to speak for themselves. The bureaucrats would be loath to give up the powers they have enjoyed for ages. The consequences of recognising ‘outlaws and criminals’ would be presented in lurid detail. But a surrender to the vested interest would only mean adding to the agony of the Baloch people and undermining the state’s capacity to deal with the crisis in future. The risks in allowing the present drift to continue are far greater and more serious than those in seeking peace by accommodating the angry, dispossessed and the deeply hurt Baloch. REFERENCE: Peace for the BalochI.A Rehman (9 hours ago) Today

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