June 01, 2007

Pakistan : Baloch sardars are still active

By Khalid Khokhar
Fri, 1 Jun 2007, 12:06:00

THE plight of 84,000 undernourished and starving poor Balochis clearly indicates that militant activities by the rebel sardars (tribal chiefs) in Balochistan are continuing unabated. According to the recently conducted research study carried out by independent think-tanks and Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Bugti militia have carried out 403 terror attacks in Balochistan during the year 2006 alone, killing 277 innocent citizens and injuring 676 others. The miscreants' main targets as usual have been gas pipelines, check-points, rail tracks, bridges and governmental buildings. Out of 75 tribes, only three tribes are opposing the Government - Marri, Mengal and Bugti. Marri and Bugti tribe are fighting militarily. These two tribes have challenged the writ of the government and taken the law in their own hands. They have large standing private armies equipped with latest weaponry of Indian make and model. The Marri tribe is led by 5 sons of Khair Bux Marri and BLA is said to be under his control. Kohlu has more than 30 terrorist training camps, which are engaged in military training in guerrilla warfare.

Despite Government's concerted efforts to enforce the writ, nefarious activities appear to be on the rise in frequency and magnitude.

The death of Akbar Bugti may be an event which triggered militancy but allout support from Great Balochistan National Conference (GBNC) based in Europe has been the sole factor in financing the supply of arms and ammunition to the local groups. Baluch "diaspora" in Europe is playing a negative role in the Baloch uprising.

GBNC has its headquarters in Oslo with Secretary General Ehsan Arjumandi Baloch of Pakistani origin who is responsible to feed the Norwegian government as well as European Union (EU) for reporting of human rights situation on regular basis.

The other political aspect is to keep Pakistan under pressure by demanding independence and also to raise the issue at international level. GBNC aims to motivate and mobilize all the isolated groups in entire Europe and Scandinavian countries to highlight the so-called miseries of Balochis and Baloch issues. This may be the sole reason of regrouping of the terrorist element.

Frédéric Grare in his article, "Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baloch Nationalism," analyzed that the conflict in Balochistan is essentially about three issues. First, the Balochis have been denied a fair share of their natural resources' revenues. A major demand of the province is that funds for its development be allotted on area basis and not on population basis. The National Finance Commission (NFC) is a mechanism to distribute federally collected financial resources between the federation and federating units; Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan.

The formula in vogue is based on the population figures of the four provinces. Now, it is realized that population-based formula is a bit skewed due to resource-wise uneven provinces of Pakistan, therefore, it should be based on a multi-factor formula involving population, poverty, revenue collection and inverse population density as parameters for sharing the resources.

About increase in Gas Development Surcharge (GDS), the royalty on gas is paid by the centre as a recognition of the ownership right of the province, while the GDS is determined on the basis of the cost of exploration and the stock of assets. The royalty on gas is fixed at the rate of 12.5% of the gas sold and valued at the well-head price.

Balochistan province demands 100 per cent of the Gas Development Surcharge (GDS) amounting to Rs 14 billion, because the resources are generated in Balochistan. Second, the Balochis are demographically marginalized as manifested in the construction of the Gwadar port, the absence of technical schools and colleges in the region, and acquisition of land around the Gwadar port by Pakistan Navy and Coast Guard at a minimal, below the market price.

This calls for setting-up of "capacity building" training schools. This will ensure that the local labour force acquires enough capacity of becoming competent skilled and non-skilled labour in the months ahead so that the investors give preference to the Baloch over the non-local workers in the development of Gwadar and other mega projects.

Third, the feeling of dispossession and colonization of Balochistan by Punjab through a predominantly Punjabi army has been reinforced through the 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. Political observers say that by establishing cantonments in the tribal belt, commerce, industry and business activity will take a boom and will have a 'civilizing effect'.

It is not the question of militarizing the area but to create secure and safe environment which is an essential ingredient for the development.

The Government has tried to pour in massive funds for development of the area, but that is not likely to yield immediate impact on the standards of common people because the benefits of development will take a long time to trickle down.

The immediate need lies in the empowerment in political and economic development as the fear of the Balochis is rooted in their longstanding political and economic development.

The need is for affirmative action to bring the local people politically and economically at par with the people of remaining provinces of the country. Despite having taken effective developmental projects, the province remains in the grip of unrest. The people of Balochistan are not ready to trust and appreciate the government's efforts to remove their inequities and instead are blindly following the corrupt and stubborn sardars.

The reason can be seen in a "political dialogue". The creation of trust and meaningful negotiations will diffuse military confrontation of BLA. Therefore, a constitution of a commission comprising local philanthropists, scholars, politicians, and civilian experts in development, social psychology, political sciences and regional strategic studies with a task to reassess the situation in Balochistan on the basis of demands of nationalist forces, academicians and senior Baloch bureaucrats will bring fruitful results.

This galaxy of intellectuals can persuade Baloch leadership to demonstrate its commitment to move towards a "meaningful dialogue" with the district administration for addressing present and all the pending issues. The Government should negotiate with the Baloch middle class, which is more political and ideological than the Sardars who are more concerned with the preservation of their tribal influence.

The government must negotiate with part of the representation which is in the provincial assembly and hope that these people will convey the message down to what is the real leadership of the movement. For the past 60 years, the Sardars have kept the territory in a medieval state. In order to open the area for modernization and progress, the press should rise to the occasion and shake-up the intelligentsia towards the process of modernization of the whole region. There is no hope of leadership coming out of the present sardari system.

© Copyright 2003 by The New Nation


momal malghani said...

well the last interview of Brahamdagh says that boycot the products of punjab so i am being a baloch not using them as my sardar told me , from now on words am not weARing clothes as cloth is made in punjab , i have left my university as my v.c was punjabi , i dont use shampoo or soap as it is made in punjab , as my house is made by the workers who are punjabis so iam throwing bomb in my house , as iam baloch my father goes for hunting and he threw away his guns and kartoos as they are made in punjab... i ve burnt my books as papers are made in punjab , i dont eat ata , daal and rice as they come from punjab , i eat the things of jews because they are our spiritual leaders from now who were involve in the killing of Nawab Akbar bugti , i like them i am not bpycotting their products kyunki Brahamdagh ne sirf punjabio ke products boycot karne ka kaha hai , from now on words i dont like Zulfiqar Ali bhutto , Nawab Akbar bugti and Benazir Bhutto , i started liking zia ul haq and musharaf who worked with americans to kill our these 3 leaders .,... IN short Brahamdagh ke kehne pe i left my balochge

mahab baloch said...

well i agree with what momal said here... ya surely we ll leave our balochge this way , acting so hatredly....