It is true that over the past two decades India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) earmarked roughly 800 million dollars for supporting militant violence in Balochistan. Nearly half of the amount was pocketed in kickbacks by the highly corrupt RAW officials, one fourth went into buying palatial mansions and super expensive limousines by Baloch feudal lords, while less than half one fourth $200 million may have gone to ground foot soldiers and commanders who take dare devil actions against Pakistan security forces, blowing up gas pipelines and government installations.
But to shift the blame of Balochistan crisis on India will be wrong, even if it is involved in fomenting violence and terror in response to Pakistan support of jihadi terror in Kashmir. The problem lies at the doors of the army GHQ in Rawalpindi, who have no understanding of mine and thine. For instance Dera Bugti that produced gas worth more than $181 billion since 1953 is one of the poorest districts in the whole of Pakistan. The most highly respected chieftain, Nawab Akbar Shahbaz Khan Bugti from Balochistan worked closely with the Pakistan government, beginning from welcoming Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, but was assassinated pushing Balochistan to a point of no return. The way the Pakistan army berated him by first calling him a “pygmy” him on the orders of a migrant general and coup leader, Pervez Musharraf, is the main reason why Baloch got so angry with Islamabad. It is true that Bugti himself was a feudal tyrant but nonetheless he was highly respected among the Baloch. Even his worst enemies were not happy with the military annihilation of Nawab Bugti. “We had tribal dispute with him but what the army did is wrong,” Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani said, though it was known in Balochistan that Nawab Bugti had sided with the killers of Raisani’s father former governor Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani.
“Nawab Bugti provided Pakistan with gas for a pittance, almost free, but look what they did to him,” says Dr T. Chand, former excise and taxation minister from Balochistan, who now lives in the US.
Zero respect was shown to the most respectable politician from Balochistan. His family was not allowed to attend his funeral and his last remains were kept locked. As many as 20,000 Bugti tribesmen have been killed in the army operation since 2006 and properties of his most ardent supporters in Dera Bugti is to this day being taken over by the men in uniform while political non-entities like Sarfraz Bugti enjoy the blessings of the Deep State.
According to former senator, Rubina Zehri, the causes of Balochistan’s unrest and deprivation are due to the unequal distribution of wealth. “Though legislators change in senate and assemblies, Islamabad never changes its policies, I mean the system never changes. The resources and wealth of Balochistan are valued but people in Balochistan are devalued or ignored and plundering of resources goes on,” she told the Balochistan Point.
According to the most learned Bhutto offspring Fatima Bhutto the GDP of Balochistan is the size of Switzerland or 660 billion dollars while over the last 70 years the center gave Balochistan barely $210 billion. To the benefit of Punjab, stronghold of Pakistan army, the federal resources are distributed on the basis of population rather than on the basis of the size of the province.
The big question today is will elections 2018 change anything in Balochistan as diehard nationalists are likely to boycott the polls. At this time there are 30 Baloch members out of 53 members elected on the general seats in Balochistan provincial assembly and if the Deep State had any vision it would have encouraged the nationalists to win these elections rather than promoting its own toadies. In addition eight out of the 14 members of the national assembly are pro-establishment Baloch, while the rest are Pashtuns.
In a well written analysis French defense analyst Frederic Grare encapsulated the major stakeholders in Balochistan as the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) which is led by Hyrbyair Marri, who espouses a “greater” Balochistan, including Iranian and Afghan Baloch. It is estimated to have about 3,000 fighters, mostly tribal members. The Baloch Republican Party is led by Brahamdagh Bugti (currently in exile in Switzerland) grandson and heir to Nawab Akbar Bugti. The Baloch Republican Army is presumed to be the militant wing of the Baloch Republican Party. The Baloch National Movement, allied with the pro-Iran Balochistan Liberation Front, calls for the independence of Balochistan and refuses to participate in the political process. Its two main leaders, Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and Lala Munir Baloch, were abducted and later killed and their bodies dumped in spring 2009.
The National Party, led by Senator Hasil Bizenjo, is a moderate, center left Baloch nationalist party that claims to represent the middle class. Several of its leaders have been assassinated by Baloch militants. The Balochistan National Party, led by former chief minister Akhtar Mengal, is a major nationalist party. A moderate organization, BNP calls for an increase in Balochistan’s share of revenue from provincial resources. Until recently, the party demanded autonomy for the province but the party now calls for a referendum on self-determination. In addition different factions of the Baloch Student Organization, created in the late 1960s, have produced many nationalist leaders. In addition, there is the United Baluch Army, who uses the name Baluchistan House and is led by Mehran Marri, a younger brother of Hyrbyair Marri. Tribal leader Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud, who now lives in exile in the UK, though lacking a mass following does command respect among the tribal communities but has rejected the electoral process. Taken together, these groups can easily sweep overwhelming majority of seats from Balochistan but the Deep State would not allow this to happen. Even in fragmented form, these parties can obtain majority of the seats in parliament.
At this time, other than the National Party and Balochistan National Party all the other stakeholders out of the electoral process and this presents a major challenge.
When Pakistan’s national security adviser Lt Gen (rtd) Nasir Janjua was the corps commander of Balochistan a serious effort was made to bring back the disgruntled leaders to Pakistan. Former chief minister Dr Abdul Malik and the lone general in Pakistan history, frontier and states minister Lt Gen (rtd) Abdul Qadir succeeded in convincing BRP president Brahumdagh Bugti and the Khan of Kalat to return to Pakistan but the hawks in the Pakistan defense establishment shot down even the small demands that the two exiled leaders made, thinking brute force will win in Balochistan. If the military now shows seriousness and either the present corps commander General Asim Bajwa himself flies to Geneva for talks with Brahumdagh Bugti and to London for talks with the Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud, or requests civilian leaders like Maryam Nawaz Sharif, along with ports and shipping minister Senator Hasil Bizenjo and former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal to go meet these two leaders. The two may return to play a positive role in Balochistan. Other freedom leaders do not seem to be amenable to the idea of talks and thus talks cannot be forced on them.
The Washington DC based American Friends of Balochistan is in a unique position to push the peace process only if the Pakistan army GHQ shows flexibility instead of muscle flexing. It is pertinent to point out here that when the Islamists laid a siege of Pakistan capital, Pakistan army refused to shoot the protesters saying they were their own people. The same magnanimity has to be shown towards the Baloch rather than continuing the policy of enforced disappearances and kill and dump. As a first step towards reconciliation all the Baloch prisoners who are languishing in the torture cells of Pakistan military must be shifted to hospital or jails and proper cases be lodged against them if they were involved in any acts of terrorism.