Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Taliban Phenomenon - 14

Ahmed Quraishi wrote:

The ‘Kid’ In Kabul By AHMED QURAISHI Thursday, 25 September 2008.

According to one Pakistani official source, close to 8,000 foreigners have infiltrated Pakistani territories over the past two to three years.

Dear Sir,

The link earlier provided by Emergency Moderator regarding Mr Zaid Hamid wherein it was alleged the Mr Zaid Hamid belong to some Batini Sufi Order, I wonder if it is true or his theories to be precise Conspiracy Theories could be the Satanic Influx which in Sufi Terminology called Influx [Kashf]. Reality could be like this:

Foreign hand in Balochistan? Dr Farrukh Saleem [Appeared in the News Internaional January 2006]

India on the east, China in the north and Iran and Afghanistan on the west. Which foreign hand has an interest in destabilising Balochistan? Is Iran arming Baloch insurgents? Here are a few facts: Sistan va Baluchestan, with an area of 187,502 kilometres, is the third largest province in Iran. Sistan va Baluchestan has a population of nearly two million and occupies 11.4 per cent of Iranian territory. Will Iran prop up Baloch nationalism in Pakistan at the risk of encouraging nationalist fervour in Iranian Balochistan? As a matter of record, the Iranian Air Force actually helped us quell the 'rebellion' during the 70s (by loaning us their helicopters). Furthermore, Iran now has an economic interest in the stability of Pakistan's Balochistan or her dream of selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of natural gas will evaporate in thin air.

Is Afghanistan arming Baloch insurgents? Here are a few facts: Lt General David Barno is the top commander of American forces in Afghanistan. The US has the Bagram Air Base (Parvan, Charikar), Kandahar Air Base, Khost Airbase (Paktia) and Mazar-e-Sharif Airbase. There is a large contingent of US National Guard soldiers embedded with Afghan units, and Lt General David Barno is training a 70,000 strong Afghan government force. Can the state of Afghanistan arm Baloch separatists without the explicit authorisation of Lt General David Barno? Then there is Hamid Karzai, so deeply engulfed in troubles of his own neither interested nor capable of arming Baloch insurgents. Is America arming Baloch insurgents? Right now, a stable Pakistan is in America's best strategic interest. Bush needs Musharraf to be focused on Bush's 'war on terror' rather than a powerful distraction elsewhere. And, if Uncle Sam wanted Baloch insurgents to win there is little we can do anyway.

Is al-Qaeda arming Baloch insurgents? Baloch nationalists are secular al-Qaeda is not; the two have very different agendas and goals.

Is China arming Baloch insurgents? Here are a few facts: The total cost of the Gwadar Port Project is estimated at $1.6 billion. In the first phase, China has put in $198 million and Pakistan $50 million. Additionally, China is investing $200 million toward the building of a coastal highway. Gwadar is China's strategic foothold in the Arabian Sea. An instable Balochistan is not in China's interest.

Finally, is India arming Baloch insurgents? The only way that India can arm Baloch insurgents is either through Iran or through Afghanistan. Clearly, India cannot support Baloch insurgents through Iran without the explicit permission of the supreme leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei. Again, Indian cannot arm Baloch insurgents through Afghanistan without the explicit permission of Lt General David Barno. Additionally, an instable Balochistan jeopardises India's pipeline dreams and is not in India's long-term economic interests.

There is little doubt that arms are flowing into Pakistan's Balochistan both through Iran and Afghanistan. That, however, in no way means that the states of Iran or Afghanistan are directly involved. Surely, the entire region has long been flooded with Kalashnikovs, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, landmines and mortars. Every kind of killing machine is available to anyone who is willing to pay the price, and then Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is a rugged 2,430 kilometres long, the one with Iran is 909 kilometres (even America has failed to block the supply of arms to Iraqi 'insurgents').

"We don't face any external threat," said General Musharraf (Agence France-Presse; December 12, 2003). To be certain, the real threat in Balochistan is from DDP; deprivation, discrimination and poverty. According to a recent estimate, "89 per cent of rural Balochistan is in high deprivation areas." Gas from Sui (Balochistan), for instance, is valued at Rs47 per million BTU, Qadirpur (Sindh) at Rs145 per million BTU and from Ratana (Punjab) at Rs217 per million BTU. Looking at poverty, the incidence of poverty in Balochistan is 50 per cent of the population, twice that of Punjab (the literacy rate of females in Balochistan is at 16 per cent, the lowest in Pakistan and worse than what it is in Ethiopia).

The very structure of the state of Pakistan is such that authority is extremely centralised, and the needs of large segments of Pakistani population outside the power structure are not responded to until they go violent. When Balochistan goes violent, gunship helicopters with automatic cannons are sent in. There is no military solution to deprivation, discrimination and poverty.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist

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