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ہفتہ، 7 اپریل، 2012

Understanding Balochistan


 Balochistan has a total popluation of about 8 million (4% of Pakistan ). Forty per cent are Pukhtuns inhabiting the area of west and north Balochistan bordering Afghanistan. They have orchard and are peace loving traders. They are not Taliban supporters, they are very patriotic and strongly pro Pakistan.
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It is painful to see what is happening in Balochistan. It is more painful to see accusations against the Army or Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan for having been the cause of the problem. Such accusers who are actually trying to gain political mileage do not realize how much they are damaging the solidarity and unity of Pakistan. There also are TV anchors and writers in the print media who with their half baked knowledge cause more damage to the cause of Pakistan.
Balochistan was debated in a US Congressional committee and aspersions cast on human rights violations. Signs of an ulterior motive of planting seeds of separation were visible. I have always warned of a known foreign hand trying to destabilize Pakistan through Afghanistan and Balochistan. This now is getting serious. Pakistan must take immediate note and tell US not to encourage anti Pakistan activity in its highest parliamentary bodies. It is a pity that human rights violations are not being seen in Kashmir or Assam in India but are visible only in Balochistan. I strongly reject these planted notions of human rights violations or missing persons in Balochistan as anti Pakistan designs being spread by agents provocateurs.
Brutal suppression of demonstrations for public rights by citizens within a state does come under the purview of human rights but use of modern weapons to kill innocent people of different ethnicity, undertake terrorist activity to disrupt/damage national infrastructure, launching a guerilla war for separation against government forces openly challenging the writ of the government by a small minority of the population is intolerable for any state and needs to be dealt with an iron hand. There certainly have not been any human rights violations in Balochistan. A few of the Sardars have always shown anti Pakistan tendencies. Operations have been launched against them in Ayub era, Bhutto era, Zia era, and then in my tenure. Such confrontation is not unique to my time alone.

 Balochistan has a total population of about 8 million (4% of Pakistan). Forty per cent are Pukhtuns inhabiting the area of west and north Balochistan bordering Afghanistan. They have orchards and are peace loving traders. They are not Taliban supporters, they are very patriotic and strongly pro Pakistan. The area to the south of Turbat, Panjgur, and Bela is the Mekran coast. This area and even up to Khuzdar and Kalat is populated by 20 % Brahvi speaking Baloch who are very different from tribal Baloch. They are entirely pro Pakistan. This leaves the area in the center and east Balochistan bordering Punjab and Sindh. It is this area that Marri, Bugti, Mengal, Rind and several other tribes inhabit. They are vastly pro Pakistan. It is mainly the Marri and Bugti areas where agitation is found. Their combined population is about 4 lakh (.25 % of Pakistan). Even in these tribes major part of the population is not with the Sardars. The biggest sub-tribe of Bugti clan called Kalpar Bugti of 70,000 were expelled from their lands in vendetta by Nawab Akbar Bugti to languish in Punjab and Sindh for over 15 years. It was our government which resettled them on their own land for which they remain ever grateful to me. In the Marri area the rich Chamalang coal mines were closed owing to Pakhtun-Baloch ethnic feud. Through strong action we got the dispute resolved and the coal mines were made operative again. Thousands of people got employment and millions of rupees worth of coal was sold daily from the mines. Fifteen per cent of the revenue generated went to Kohlu district which probably became the richest district of Pakistan. Marris were extremely happy at their new found development. They will not follow their decadent Sardars. Even within the Mengal, Naseer Ullah Mengal is a prominent tribal leader. He is strongly opposed to the Akhtar Mengal group.
The question that arises is as to who are these militants who are opposing Pakistan and are for separatism. They are a few tribal followers of the agitating Sardars and their offsprings living abroad getting protection from foreign agencies. These tribal followers who perhaps number about 2 to 3 thousand, spread into some sixty Farari Camps and armed by foreign agencies are the ones resorting to militancy. When the governments show weakness or adopt a policy of appeasement towards separatists these militants run wild and suppress the vast majority of the pro Pakistan population.

 Some of the Sardars are very vicious, unforgiving and decadent. They believe in keeping their tribes backward and under subjugation. A typical insight has been given by nobody other that Nawab Akbar Bugti in an interview on 29th June 2006 to the Economist magazine. He is quoted as saying Mr. Bugti claims to have killed his first man at the age of twelve and further says what is better than seeing your enemies driven before you and then taking their women to bed. Ninety per cent of Balochistan was B' area and only 10 % A' area. In the B' areas writ was exercised by the tribal Sardars through Levies. These levies were paid by the government through the Sardars who would keep a good chunk of the money for themselves. Also, in case of confrontation with the Army or Frontier Corps, which was not an infrequent occurrence, the government-paid levies acted as the soldiers of Sardars militia. I, gradually, district wise, converted the entire B' area into A' area. We raised additional police force for districts and additional 10 wings of FC Balochistan creating thousands of jobs to augment law and order. This was not received well by some of the Sardars-notably the Marris, Bugtis and Mengals.
It would be appropriate to talk of Nawab Akbar Bugti's episode here. He was challenging the authority of FC, the Army, the provincial government and indeed of Pakistan. On his behest gas pipelines, electric pylons, road bridges, railways lines were being intermittently blown by miscreants. In one day 450 rockets were fired at the Sui gas installation. The FC garrisons were subjected to rocket and machine gun fire. Their movement in Dera Bugti was restricted. When the FC retaliated, Akbar Bugti escalated the confrontation and with his close followers went into the mountains. During the ensuing confrontation he was located in a cave in the mountains. The cave was surrounded and 4 officers went inside, quite clearly to ask him to surrender. If the intention had been to kill him, the officers would never have gone in like that. After that an explosion took place and the cave collapsed unfortunately burying Nawab Akbar Bugti and the 4 officers inside. The explosion, most likely, was from a planted explosive device or a rocket being fired. The officers certainly could not have been carrying rocket launchers. This is a clear case of a self inflicted casualty.
There is no doubt Balochistan is the most backward and deprived province of Pakistan. Successive governments since our independence are responsible for their share of neglect. But unfortunately the Sardars themselves did not favour development in their areas. Notably Akbar Bugti who has been the Chief Minister and also the governor hardly did anything for Balochistan or even Dera Bugti. An anti Pakistan, anti Army and anti FC sentiment was planted and gradually nourished specially in the Bugtis, Marris and Mengals by their Sardars. Some effort that was made in the 70s to open the area with communication infrastructure was strongly opposed and denied by Marris.

What is the demand of Balochistan? Basically they demand maximum autonomy and an appropriate share of earnings from their natural resources. Both demands are genuine and lot was done by me. More could be and should be done. Their major requirement, however, is socio economic development which the Sardars almost totally ignore. My governance from 1999 started with a complete realization of the sense of deprivation of Balochistan and a resolve to correct the situation. What we did and achieved in Balochistan in 8 years can be safely said to be more than the remaining 56 years of the Province. Let me elaborate on our achievements during my period. 

1) Communication infrastructure:

 a: We created a new deep sea Gwadar port with tremendous strategic significance as an alternate port to Karachi.
b: 750 kms long Coastal Highway linking Gwadar to Karachi was constructed.
c: 950 kms long road from Gwadar to Rato Dero in Sindh linking the port to Super Highway, RCD Highway and National Highway was initiated.
d: Road: Quetta�Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan linking Balochistan to KPK was started.
e: Road: Quetta-Loralai-Dera Ghazi Khan linking Balochistan to Punjab was launched.
f: Road: Gwadar-Turbat�Mand on the Iranian border was launched and completed.
2) Water Projects:
a: Two new Mirani and Subukzai dams were made to irrigate barren lands in Baloch and Pukhtun areas respectively.
b: Over 100 small delay action dams were created.
c: More than 500 Kms long Kachi Canal off taking from Taunsa Barrage and irrigating barren lands of Dera Bugti and Jhal Magsi was made.
d: Over Rs 10 billion were spent on underground water project for Quetta to overcome the critical drought conditions of the city.
3) Pipeline was laid and gas taken to Kalat, Ziarat and Pishin which actually were economically unviable projects.
4) Electricity was imported from Iran for the coastal belt up to Turbat, Panjgur and Ormara.
5) The stalled Saindak Copper mine was reinitiated. The largest copper gold mine project Reko Dik was allotted to the top of the world Chilean-Canadian consortium. Pakistan was supposed to get on the copper gold map of the world by 2011. Unfortunately this key project is closed now and a legal case has been initiated by the consortium in international court. (Some of these projects have now been stalled and are lying in incomplete state)
6) Education:
a: Project for opening seven cadet colleges was launched. Three at Qila Saifullah, Pishin and Jafarabad were opened but the other four have now been stalled.
b: Universities. IT University at Quetta, Women University at Quetta, and Marine Sciences University at Lasbela and Engineering University at Khuzdar were all opened.
c: Vacancies for the Balochistan youth were increased in medical and engineering universities in Punjab and Sindh
d: The Army was told to open special Vocational Training Centres at Quetta and Sui and also to induct Balochi youth in all the other centres.
7) The Army was told to take special measures to increase induction of youth from Balochistan as officers and men. Special training centres were opened to prepare potential Balochi youth for qualifying for the Army. ISSB (Inter Services Selection Board) was also opened in Quetta for administrative convenience of the Balochi youth. Today the Pakistan Army boasts of a substantial number of Balochi officers and men in their ranks in accordance with their population proportion.
8) POF Wah, HIT Taxila, Aeronautical Complex were all told to select Balochi youth for training in their respective workshops and subsequent induction. Thousands of jobs were thus created for the Balochis.
9) Anyone who got a masters degree in Balochistan was guaranteed an interim arrangement of a one year government job with salary of Rs 10,000 per month.
10) Uniquely, the Public Sector Development Projects fund allocation for Balochistan was more than Punjab. Each district of Balochistan was given a special allocation of Rs 10 crore in 2006 over and above their annual fund. Kohlu and Dera Bugti was allocated Rs 1.5 billion each as a special socio-economic development fund for roads, water projects, schools, dispensaries.

 In spite of all my sincerity and good wishes for Balochistan and in spite of all that I achieved for this neglected province there were Baloch elements opposing the government. There were 67 Farari Camps (miscreants/terrorists camps) spread all over Balochistan killing people of different ethnicity (specially Punjabis), blowing up/damaging national infrastructure, waging a guerilla war against FC Balochistan and the Army and challenging the writ of the government. Quite clearly the Sardars manipulating these terrorists were not interested in any development for Balochistan or its people. They were and still remain against Pakistan and are agents of foreign forces. They are separatists and will remain so. All the Farari Camps were dealt with and eliminated by the government.
The question that Pakistan political leaders have to answer is to what limit we should be appeasing such anti-national elements. Should we be doing dirty politics for our narrow minded, short term gains at the cost of very serious long term loss of Pakistan? Today, Changez Marri, the brother of Harbiyar Marri, living abroad in self imposed exile, is totally for independent Balochistan and against Pakistan and behind terrorism in Balochistan, is the Senior Vice President of PML (N). What kind of politics is this? Balochistan needs a stick and carrot policy. Stick for the anti Pakistan and anti Balochistan elements and lots of carrots for the vast majority, deprived people of the Province. The media must also understand the Balochistan issue in its entire complexity and stop giving anti Pakistan elements a platform to project their nefarious designs. The Human Rights Watch groups should stop meddling in Balochistan affairs without understanding the depth of the problems or perhaps acting at the behest of foreign hands out to destabilize Pakistan.
As long as Pakistan armed forces are as strong as they are, Pakistan can never become a banana republic. All Pakistanis must rise as one to this occasion for the solidarity and integrity of our motherland.

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By Pervez Musharraf

Thank You For Reading.
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