By Khalid Aziz
February 24, 2012
ONE wonders when the
agony of Balochistan — and the rest of Pakistan — will end. This country of
ours seems to have attracted the evil eye.
The recent resolution
in the US Congress on the question of freedom for Balochistan is construed by
Pakistanis as an unfriendly act. On Feb 16, the subcommittee on oversight and
investigations — part of the powerful US committee on foreign affairs — convened
a meeting for an exclusive discussion on the gravity of the situation in
Republican chairman of the committee Dana Rohrabacher focused on the target
killings and human rights abuses in Balochistan alone and termed it a matter
requiring urgent attention. Had this subcommittee confined itself to a
discussion of the situation in Balochistan, it would perhaps not have caused
such a strong reaction in Pakistan.
However, it was the
subsequent resolution in support of the “right of self-determination of the
Baloch people, for being victims of human rights violations and oppression
despite being the largest province”, that fed into the suspicions of a large
number of Pakistanis that have been harboured by many ever since the conflict that
led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
The Urdu press has
gone overboard in its characterisation of the situation as a calamity. The US
embassy in Islamabad has tried to douse the flames by remarking that
Balochistan is Pakistan’s internal matter. Rhetoric aside, one would like to
see what stance the committee on foreign relations takes on the Rohrabacher
The assertion made by
the congressman is not surprising to many Pakistanis as they have become
familiar with the pain Balochistan has been suffering for many years.
As a matter of fact,
it was the spirit of the deceased Nawab Akbar Bugti that ended Gen Musharraf’s
regime. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was pressurised by him to not inquire
into the cases of missing persons in Balochistan and the rest of the country,
as this would presumably uncover the killings of many persons in the murderous
intelligence war that has been under way in this country since 2001. The latter
is not just ongoing in Balochistan (though the incidence is highest here) but
also in Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country.
According to a recent
statement by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED),
established by the interior ministry on the directions of the Supreme Court, 25
out of 203 missing persons were traced in 2011. Around 92 new cases were registered.
There are 55 cases of missing persons from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 47 from
Balochistan, 15 from Punjab, 13 from Sindh, three from Azad Jammu &
Kashmir, two from Islamabad and three from Fata. The commission plans to take
up 17 cases of missing persons in Karachi.
The break-up of
missing persons shows that such violation of human rights is not confined to
the unfortunate Baloch only but also includes other ethnicities and provinces
How did Mr.
Rohrabacher miss this in his resolution? I do not believe in conspiracy
theories but this raises the question of whether the motive is really honest.
Or was the resolution an attempt to open up additional avenues of pressure on
Is it because
Balochistan has abundant natural resources and minerals that are in great
demand by wealthy corporations who use US foreign policy as a tool for the
capture of these resources? Is this something that one should be seriously
today is in the grips of different sorts of hazards and a variety of agendas.
In Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of Punjab, the aftermath of the war
triggered by 9/11 is still being played out.
It is linked with the
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban and the proliferation of
associated warlords who are now controlling territory in Fata and parts of
Recently, the Frontier
Corps and the military launched an opportunistic attack on Mangal Bagh’s
Lashkar-i-Islam in support of the Zakakhel tribe, one of the largest of the
It had mobilised after
LI activists kidnapped Maulana Muhammad Hashim, a respected Zakakhel cleric, on
March 21 and later killed him. At the same time, there is a battle of attrition
under way between the Pakistan military and TTP bands entrenched in central
Kurram and the Mamozai region of Orakzai around the Jogi mountains. The place
is important as it forms the axis for militants to move their fighters between
Tirah, Darra (Kohat) and Orakzai to North Waziristan Agency and the Pak-Afghan
They can also reach
out to the Sultan Khel area in the lower Orakzai region and thus come close to
the flank of Bara in Khyber and threaten Peshawar. If Pakistani forces obtain
dominance and are able to retain it, the capacity of the militants in this
volatile region will be severely degraded.
However, the problem
in meeting the challenge is the weak investigative capacity of the state.
Repeated failure to bring militants to justice has led to the introduction of
draconian legislation such as the infamous ‘in aid of civil power’ regulation
that permits the indefinite detention by the military of a proscribed person.
More transparency in
such detentions may improve the situation relating to militancy-related
detainees. However, this will not improve the situation in Balochistan where a
serious counter-insurgency war is going on. That can only be dealt with
politically, and the sooner this is done, the better.
Matters before the
Supreme Court indicate the need to keep a strict watch over the activities of
intelligence agencies and the applicability of the new regulation in aid of
civil power that is part of the problem in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The writer is the chairman of the Regional Institute
of Policy Research in Peshawar.
Source: The Dawn, Karachi