Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a ''Sunni''-Deobandi terrorist outfit was formed in 1996 by a break away group of radical sectarian extremists of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a ''Sunni'' extremist outfit, which accused the parent organisation of deviating from the ideals of its slain co- founder, Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. It is from Maulana Jhangvi that the LeJ derives its name. It was formed under the leadership of Akram Lahori and Riaz Basra. The LeJ is one of the two sectarian terrorist outfits proscribed on August 14, 2001, by former President Pervez Musharraf.
The LeJ aims to transform Pakistan into a ''Sunni'' state, primarily through violent means. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is part of the broader Deoband movement.
According to political and defence analysts, the US, Russia, India are widening the ethnic and sectarian schisms in Balochistan and FATA. For quite some time, government functionaries have also been telling the nation that there is foreign hand behind the unrest in Balochistan, but they never name the country or agencies involved in destabilization of this province. Last year, Inspector-General (IG) Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Ubaidullah Khan told the media on last Saturday “that 20 agencies are active in Balochistan; around 121 insurgent training camps are in Balochistan and 30 in Afghanistan contributing to unrest in the province”. He claimed that the camps are being operated by Harbiyar Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti, Allah Nazar and Javed Mengal, and running concerted campaigns to defame state institutions. Brahamdagh Bugti is the leader of Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) and Harbiyar Marri of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) – both are accused of fueling insurgency in the violence-plagued province. Since army is busy fighting the TTP militants in FATA, the centrifugal forces in Balochistan try to take advantage of the situation. Baloch dissidents had taken to the mountains in 1973, as they believed that after disintegration of East Pakistan military was demoralized.
Nevertheless, tribalism is firmly rooted in Balochistan, as ethnic and tribal identity is a potent force for both individuals and groups in Balochistan with the result that there exists deep polarization among different groups. Each of these groups is based on different rules of social organization, which has left the province inexorably fragmented. Tribal group-ism has failed to integrate the state and enforce a national identity. But those who have not weaned of the poison of sham nationalism should take a look at the history of the Balkans, and the fate they met. Sardar Ataullah Mengal, in one of his interviews, said that America did not pay any attention adding that he would welcome if any country would help us to get freedom. Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Bugti and Marri sardars openly talk about disintegration of Pakistan.
The people of Balochistan have been waging struggle for their rights ever since the British left. There could have been justification for resistance when they were under strong center and unitary form of government in 1950s and 1960s. But once the One-Unit was done away with and complete provincial status was given to Balochistan, the struggle should have ended. In fact, there has been a sort of rebellion whenever there was an elected government. However, the long dormant crisis erupted into a brutal confrontation with the center in 1973 when late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had tried to establish educational institutions and construction of roads in Balochistan. The insurgency lasted for four years from 1973 to 1977, and it was after promulgation of Martial Law by Late General Zia-ul-Haq that sedition cases were withdrawn against Baloch sardars. However, sardars and feudal chiefs thrive even amid the centre’s injustices and the clashes between them and the security forces.
Whereas one would express sympathy with the people of Balochistan for having been neglected during British Raj, and also after independence by the federal and provincial governments for decades, but Baloch sardars are to blame in equal measure for the lack of development and the sad plight of Balochis. To blame Punjabis for their suffering and discrimination is travesty of the truth. Punjabi teachers and professors have been performing their duties in educational institutions in Balochistan, yet dozens of teachers and professors were killed by the Baloch Liberation Army, as claimed by the BLA after every gruesome incident. Dissident Baloch sardars should accept the offer for dialogue by the government, come to the negotiations’ table and participate in the forthcoming elections. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has emphasized the need for free, fair and impartial elections in Balochistan, and asked the government to provide a leveling field to them, as this is the only way to bring the dissident Baloch leaders into the mainstream politics.
By Mohammad Jamil
The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.
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