India wanted to stop Pakistan from becoming a hub of economic activity. India is doing psychological operations by publicizing incidents of human rights violation in Balochistan via highlighting the so-called miseries of Balochs, like disappearance, political victimization, displacement due to military operations,etc.
By Khalid Khokhar
Notwithstan-ding the fact that the four rounds of the stalled Composite Dialogue encompassing the whole range of disputes had passed without any substantial progress on any of the important issues since 2004, yet the resumption of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad is a welcome sign. It is hoped that those who re-took the initiative would create a climate conducive to the resolution of the issues bedeviling the relations between India and Pakistan ranging from Kashmir dispute, to matters of trade, people-to-people contacts, Samjhauta Express bombing of 2007, Mumbai carnage-2008, Siachen, Sir Creek and of course Balochistan issue. Pakistan will raise the issue of alleged Indian role in fomenting unrest in Balochistan and tribal areas at the next round of nascent peace process. In the backdrop of India’s pre-condition to discuss counter-terrorism, particularly progress on the trial of Mumbai suspects in Pakistan, the Balochistan imbroglio also falls in the same gamut that deserves to be discussed in Composite Dialogue process. Let us see what Balochistan issue is all about. The conflict in Balochistan is essentially about three issues. First, Balochs have grievances against the federal government which relate to exploitation of natural resources, in particular Sui gas, without adequate compensation and unfairly low share in the award of National Finance Commission. Second, the Baloch people also fear that the mega projects, in particular the Gwadar port city, would invite an influx of population from other provinces reducing the ethnic Baloch to a minority at some stage. They also complain about injustice in the grant of employment and fear that the benefits of the mega projects would go to the outsiders. Third, building of cantonments in the three most sensitive areas of Balochistan: Sui, with its gas-producing installations; Gwadar, with its port; and Kohlu, the “capital” of the Marri tribe. The tribal chiefs exhorted the common people to stand up against the so-called coercive policies of the government. Three tribal sardars (Marri, Bugti and Mengal) resorted to armed militancy and carried out attacks on FC posts, gas pipelines, bridges, railway tracks and killed innocent citizens in Balochistan. It is beyond comprehension that how few feudal sardars have made the country ‘hostage’. It is to say, if they have some genuine grievances against the policies of the government, they should raise it at the forum of National Assembly instead of destroying national property. In order to put a brake on Kashmiri freedom struggle, India has planned a well-documented strategy to exploit already bad situation of Balochistan by supporting angry Baloch leaders to bargain it on the negotiating table with Pakistan. Additionally, the mega development projects have become sore in the eyes of Indian strategists who wanted to extend their zone of influence in the Central Republics to lay a hand on its enormous natural wealth. To capture the market, India wanted to stop Pakistan from becoming a hub of economic activity. India is doing psychological operations by publicizing incidents of human rights violation in Balochistan via highlighting the so-called miseries of Balochs, like disappearances, political victimization, displacement due to military operations, etc. There is robust possibility of Indian involvement in the killing of Baloch nationalist leaders that achieved the purpose of thwarting the reconciliation efforts between the Government and the angry nationalist leaders. A mushroom of stories in the media circles are being echoed for quite some time regarding Indian internal strike in Balochistan with the singular purpose to destabilize Pakistan. Although, it is true that India does not share border with Balochistan but India cannot remain oblivious from its meddling through hundreds of RAW operatives and Indian regular troops prowling in Afghanistan bordering Balochistan. RAND scholar Christine Fair, a leading American expert on South Asia has validated Pakistan’s legitimate claim about India’s involvement in fanning unrest in Balochistan. There are some stories about the complicity of few angry tribal chieftains with India, as well as much-talked “Balochistan Dossier”, providing proofs of Indian involvement in Balochistan via its consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar along the border. Balochistan Dossier carries some strong evidences of Indian support in planning, commissioning and preparing acts of terrorism in Balochistan through setting up of 26 centres of terrorism (consulates) along the western border in Afghanistan. Side by side, India managed to seek support of angry faction of Bugti, Mengal and Marri tribes deeply involved in harbouring terrorist attacks on strategically important installation in Balochistan. The renegade tribal Balochs openly admit that they would accept any type of “moral help and material support” from India to create mayhem in Balochistan. It is beyond doubt that Brahamdagh’s sentiments were naturally hurt because of the death of Nawab Bugti, but then, the aggression should have been channelized through socially approved norms. The recent call from Baloch Society of North America for a one-day international conference on Balochistan on April 30, in Washington DC, aimed to examine the Baloch options and solutions to the Balochistan’s problem, has no bearing on the political scenario of Balochistan. These tribal Waderas have never done any welfare or developmental work for the common people of the areas when in power, but always tried to obstruct educational and developmental process because it does not suit them. In order to redress the grievances of the people of the province, “Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package” presented in joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, should be implemented in the first place. Although, the “Balochistan Empowerment Package” is unlikely to resolve all outstanding issues of Balochistan, yet it holds the promise of a better tomorrow for Balochs. Some of the salient features of the Package are: (1) Releasing political prisoners against whom terrorism cases are not pending. (2) Expeditious recovery of missing persons. (3) Stopping of the construction of new cantonments in Balochistan. (4) Withdrawing Army from Sui. (5) The basis of National Finance Commission (NFC) Award will be on the size, revenue generation and backwardness of the province. (6) Promising necessary constitutional amendments to strengthen provincial autonomy as demanded by Balochistan and other smaller provinces, as well as abolition of the Concurrent List of the Constitution. (7) Promises initiation of judicial inquiry into the killings of Nawab Akbar Bugti and other Baloch leaders. (8) An end to all operations except anti-terror actions. (9) Payment of royalty to the province (Rs120 billion) on the Gas Development Surcharge from 1954 to 1991 in 12 years. (10) The package promises a judicial inquiry into the allotment of land in Gwadar to accommodate the local population. Besides, a free economic zone will be established in this port city and all jobs will be offered to the local population. The chief minister will be the ex-officio chairperson of the Gwadar Development Authority. (11) There will be a special development package for the Sui area where 5,000 additional provincial cadre jobs will be created. (12) The province will be able to purchase up to 20 per cent of the shares of the PPL, the OGDCL and the Sui Southern when offered in the open market. (13) The Saindak project would be exclusively handed over to the province. (14) Similarly, Rs1 billion will be spent on the rehabilitation of IDPs from Dera Bugti. Once, the much needed reforms are implemented in true letter and spirit then, political and provincial autonomy disputes may be addressed through a policy of reconciliation and mutual accommodation. The meaningful dialogue process with all the stakeholders will bring perpetual peace in the province. On the one hand, inclusion of representatives like Nawab Marri, Sardar Mengal, Brahamdag Bugti and Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleiman Daud may influence the outcome the negotiations. The other players in the Baloch nationalist camp include Balochistan’s four political parties - the Balochistan National Party (BNP), National Party (NP), Baloch Republican Party (BRP), all factions of the Baloch Students’ Organisation (BSO) and other components of the Baloch National Front (BNF). Lastly, the most important phase of the reconciliation process would be bringing the armed resistance groups (the Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation United Front, Baloch Republican Army, Baloch Liberation Front and Lashkar-e-Balochistan) on the negotiating table. The decision of the government to withdraw cases against annoyed Baloch leaders will go a long way in building confidence amongst all the stockholders.