February 14, 2009

Baloch Issue and the Obligation of International Human Rights Organizations.


News Type: Event — Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:18 AM ESTworld-newsMunir MengalYes the act of kidnapping of an innocent man is a condemning act. This is what the lesson we get from the idea logy of Philanthropy. This is what a common man who has a sense of humanity knows and strongly supports. Yes dear I am cent percent sure that a common man with his all consciousness certainly has consensus addendum.

Then dear what happened to the idea logy of these Human Rights Organizations i.e. UNHCR, HRCP, ICRC, Amnesty International etc. for the abduction of Balochs including children, females, and old age citizens. As the Interior minister of Pakistan himself claimed that thousands of Balochs are under there illegal custody. Why all of us are silent where is our humanity and philanthropy.

Why all of them kept silent on the killing of innocent Balochs by the Pakistani Islamofacist Army Bombardment. Why these organizations kept silent on the displacement of thousands Balochs from their homeland Dera Bughti. As the Pakistan govt. it self claims that nearly Eighty Thousand only Bughti Tribe Balochs have been displaced. Why all of us are silent where is our humanity and philanthropy.

We have seen hundreds of Balochs who were released by the Pakistan Army after being kept incommunicado for years were physically and mentally paralyzed. But what these so called human rights organizations have done for them. Certainly the answer is nothing. Why…..?????

As these organizations kept there eyes close due to the following reasons.

i) They wanted to keep the Pakistan Govt. happy in order to get the Government support for their organizations. So, they kept silent and kept their eyes off on the human rights violation by the Pakistani Islamofascist Army in Balochistan.

ii) As the Pakistan was the so called ally of America in the fight for against terrorisim and enjoying billions of dollars aid from America so it was impossible for such organizations to say something against the Pakistan Army. Therefore they kept their eyes off from Balochs blood shedding.

iii) And most of employees working in such organizations belong to either Punjabi community or are Islamic fundamentalists. So, it is impossible for a colonialist Punjabi or a hard core muslim fundamentalist / Pakistani Taliban to say something against the acts of Pakistani fascist army.

I still remember the words of ICRC head; “he told me that they have got permission from the Pakistan Govt. to visit the prisoners of war in the Balochistan jail”. Which means the talibans etc.So, hundreds of Balochs appealed to them for the human rights abuse by the Pakistani fascist forces but they did nothing for any one.

Few days earlier a friend who was working in Amnesty International Karachi Office told me on phone that it is impossible for any organization in Pakistan to work without getting the confidence of islamofascist intelligentsia i.e. ISI, MI, CID etc. He said that once Angelika Patrika was coming to visit Pakistan so she also was having plans to visit Balochistan. But an Army officer came to our Office and told us that “they have the news that Angelika has plans to visit Balochistan. So, if she went to Balochistan then no one of you will be live”.

Yes dear this how the human rights organizations with the collaboration of Pakistani Islamofascist Army have done with the Balochistan and Baloch people otherwise today the situation of human rights in the Balochistan would have been different.

Today we see that Asian Human Rights Organization has given the report of Baloch Females salavery by the hands of Pakistani Army. But until now what these so called human rights organizations have done practically for these Baloch Females. Untill now we do not see any sort of report from such organizations for the hundreds of Baloch females held incommunicado by these fascist forces.

On the other hand we see that the net work of these organizations is well established and working for human rights in the rest of the world including, Sudan, Phalistine, Sumalia, India, Srilanka, and Afghanistan etc….

We see the reports and actions taken by these organizations for human welfare even in Punjab and Sindh but what they have done for Balochs and for Balochistan…???

But how all of us can claim that UNHCR has not been a party directly or indirectly in the Baloch conflict by keeping its eyes shut on the genocide and other inhuman acts of Govt. of Pakistan.

Dear we shall analyze that for the last sixty years what UNHCR has done for the Balochs? Certainly they have done nothing. Why?

By this act of UNHCR we have lost our thousands of lives.......yes we love our loved ones same like that of the lovers of John Soleiky.

The Thousands of Baloch mothers, fathers, sisters , brothers and wife’s of Balochs are waiting unconsciously same like that of John Soleiky….But we are waiting for our loved ones for years and you are waiting for him just for few days…..So who is the worst victim of these fascist and inhumane acts.

So, all of us including the western world must think for the causes and for the solution of such causes that why Balochs have been forced to do such act if they have done it.....?

Otherwise we would be compelling an injuired nation to do more dreadfull acts......? and in the mean while we would be supporting and appreciating Islamofascist Pakistani Army to kill and abduct more Balochs?

I appeal from you all and from all the role playing organizations that they must analyze the ground realities of Balochistan, History and idea logy of Balochs. We shall not compel them to become Talibans in order to support Pakistan on the basis of religion as the Pakistani Islamofascist Intelligentsia is already doing there.And certainly all of us shall focus on human rights violations by the Pakistani Army with its depth analysis and subsequent causes for doing so,

Otherwise as the UNHCR and its parental organisation UNO has been keeping its eyes shut on the Genocide of Baloch Nation, bombardment, arrests and tortures, public hanging and the loot and plunder of Baloch resources. Then how we can support such an Organisation and doing the same means closing our eyes from the Balochistan and Baloch People.

Dear Mr. John Soleiky is an Human rights activist. So, we can find thousands of Examples that such activists have sacrificed their lives for the humanitarian activities so, this would be very honorable and humanitarian act if John Soleiky sacrifices his life for the raising the voice and issue of millions of Balochs.As until now thousands of Balochs have sacrificed their lives for the voice of the Balochs.

As untill now Balochs from all fields of life have tried to raise their voice for the life safety and and safe retun of John Soleiky. Because this is what our customs and traditions teaches us for the humanity and now it is moral obligation of these Organizations that they shall also avail this opportunity to make Balochs their real friends by raising the voice of Balochs and Balochistan and urge the international community for the Solution of Baloch Problem.

Certainly if a Baloch Freedom Fighting Organization has done it. Then we shall not forget the lesson that the cause of an Act is more important for us to drill down the reality then the act itself.

February 13, 2009

Baloch terrorism trial "not guilty" verdict

Baloch terrorism trial "not guilty" verdict

Jury acquits defendants framed by Musharraf regime

Defendants Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch vindicated

London – 11 February 2009

Baluchistan human rights activists, Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch,
have been acquitted of terrorism charges today, 11 February 2009, at
Woolwich Crown Court in London.

Mr Baluch was acquitted of all charges. Mr Marri was acquitted of
three charges, with the jury unable to come to a verdict on the other
two charges.

Mr Marri is a former Balochistan MP and government minister. Mr Baluch
is a human rights activist. Both are exiles based in London.

"All the evidence suggests that Marri and Baluch were framed by the
Musharraf dictatorship to silence their highly effective campaigning
against Pakistan's human rights abuses in Balochistan," said human
rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who stood bail for Mr Baluch.

"This case began with Musharraf's regime orchestrating fabricated
charges of terrorism against Mr Marri and then pressing the UK
authorities to arrest him.

"It appears that the British government was blackmailed into arresting
the two defendants. Musharraf's agents reportedly issued an ultimatum
to the UK authorities: arrest these men or we will halt all
cooperation in the war on terror. The government apparently caved in
to these demands. It decided the defendants were expendable for the
so-called 'greater good' of anti-terrorist cooperation with the
Pakistani regime.

"The police and security agencies in the UK initiated the terrorism
charges based on evidence provided to them by Musharraf's dictatorship
– a dictatorship that the defendants campaigned against.

"Our government has ignored the fact that Musharraf's men in the
Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, are notorious for framing
political opponents, especially Baloch nationalists and human rights

"Although Musharraf is no longer President, his supporters and allies
still hold key positions in the Pakistani military and intelligence
services. They continue to persecute and frame Baloch nationalists,"
said Mr Tatchell.

Below are copies of:

1) The post-verdict statements by the two defendants in the Baloch
terror trial at Woolwich Crown Court
2) Peter Tatchell's statement as a political ally who campaigned
alongside the defendants and who stood bail for Mr Baluch

The defendants have authorised the release of the statements below.

Best wishes, Peter Tatchell 0207 403 1790

Commenting on the "not guilty" verdict in the Baloch terrorism trial
at Woolwich Crown Court, the defendants, Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz
Baluch, have issued the following statements:


Hyrbyair Marri, the former Balochistan MP and government minister, said:

"My faith in the British people has been vindicated. The 12 jurors
upheld the values of justice and recognised the Baloch people's right
to self-defence. They decided that we were no more guilty of terrorism
than Nelson Mandela and the heroes of the anti-Nazi resistance in
occupied Europe.

"The people of Balochistan will be delighted that the British courts
have ruled that campaigning for democracy, human rights and
self-determination is not a crime.

"The police and prosecution never had a credible case against us. It
was based on a malign misinterpretation of purely circumstantial

"All their evidence against us had an innocent explanation. The jury
agreed. That is why they found us not guilty.

"The police have wasted possibly millions of pounds on these
pointless, unfounded
allegations of terrorism.

"I believe the British government was blackmailed by Musharraf's men.
They threatened to cut off all cooperation with the UK in the war on
terror unless we were arrested.

"The whole case originated with the false allegations of terrorism
that were concocted by the Musharraf regime in a bid to stop our human
rights campaigning.

"The new democratic government of Pakistan opposed our prosecution and
confirmed that the terrorism charges against me in Pakistan, which led
to our arrest in London, were fabricated by Musharraf's henchmen.

"What is truly shocking is that the British government bowed to
pressure from the Pakistani dictatorship and had us investigated and
put on trial. This is a gross abuse of the anti-terror laws.

"I am tremendously grateful to my legal team of Henry Blaxland QC,
Rajiv Menon, and Jim Nichol. Their superb efforts have won us our
freedom," said Mr Marri.


Faiz Baluch, the Baloch human rights campaigner, said:

"This is a great victory for British justice and for the people of
Balochistan. The jury defended our right to campaign for the freedom
of our homeland. They decided we were innocent, lawful human rights
campaigners and that the government and police case against us was

"This prosecution arose out of the British government's appeasement of
the dictator General Musharraf, in order to win his cooperation in the
war on terror. The jury has implied, by their not guilty verdict,
sympathy with the suffering of the Baloch people. The terrorist who
should have been in the dock is Musharraf. He is the one who inflicted
terror attacks on the people of Baluchistan.

"Our acquittal brings to a close a 15 month nightmare. I spent eight
months on remand in Belmarsh prison for a crime I did not commit.

"I want to thank my legal team, Lady Helena Kennedy QC, Hossein Zahir,
Gareth Peirce and Sajida Malik. They did an amazing job," said Mr


Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, who campaigned for
Balochistan rights with the defendants prior to their arrest, and who
stood bail for Mr Baluch, said:

"Marri and Baluch were set up by Musharraf's agents because of their
highly effective exposure of Pakistan's war crimes and crimes against
humanity in annexed Balochistan.

"This view is reinforced by the acting Interior Minister of the new
democratic government of Pakistan, Rehman Malik. In late 2008, he
announced that the terror charges against Mr Marri in Pakistan have
been dropped; stating that the case against him was flawed and had
been politically orchestrated by the Musharraf regime. This discredits
the whole basis on which Marri and Baluch were charged in London.

"During the trial, the defence showed that the British government
collaborated with the illegal, unconstitutional regime of Pervez
Musharraf, which overthrew the democratically-elected government of
Pakistan in 1999.

"This collaboration included arming the illegal Musharraf regime to
enable it to prosecute an illegal war in Balochistan, where the
Pakistani armed forces have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against

"During the trial, the judge accepted the Baloch people are an
oppressed minority, and that they have been victims of war crimes and
crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Pakistani military, police
and intelligence services. These crimes include the indiscriminate
bombing of civilian areas, extra-judicial killings, disappearances,
torture, detention without trial and collective punishments such as
the destruction of villages, crops, livestock and wells – all of
which are illegal acts under international law.

"Despite this persecution and terrorisation by the Pakistani state,
the judge suggested that the Baloch people do not have the right to
use violence to defend themselves and that anyone who supports or
condones armed resistance groups in Balochistan is endorsing
terrorism. Even the mere political or moral approval of armed
self-defence is now a criminal offence under UK law.

"Marri's and Baluch's arrest came just a few months after Musharraf
demanded that the British government arrest Baloch activists in
London. In exchange, Musharraf offered to hand over Rashid Rauf,
implying that action against the Baloch activists was a precondition
for surrendering Rauf to the UK, as reported in The Guardian on 28
March 2007.


Rauf is wanted in the UK in connection with the 2006 terror plot
involving liquid explosives on trans-Atlantic airliners, which
resulted in the conviction of three men in London in September 2008.
He is also sought in connection with a murder in the UK.

"The arrest in London of Marri and Baluch took place two weeks after
Pakistani government agents assassinated Marri's brother, Balach
Marri, a prominent Baloch nationalist leader.

"Prior to Marri's arrest, Musharraf's regime made repeated
representations to the UK government that he was wanted on terrorism
charges in Pakistan - charges that have now been dropped by the
Pakistani authorities.

"Soon after Musharraf met Gordon Brown at Downing Street in January
2008, he held a press conference for Pakistani journalists in London
where he allegedly denounced Marri as a terrorist and praised the
British government and police for cooperating with his regime.

"Claims of connivance are credible. For nine years, the UK's Labour
government supported Musharraf's dictatorship politically,
economically and militarily, despite him having overthrown Pakistan's
democratically-elected government in 1999. Labour sold him military
equipment that his army uses to kill innocent Baloch people. The US
supplies the F-16 fighter jets and Cobra attack helicopters that are
used to bomb and strafe villages.

"Marri is an unlikely terrorist. He is a former Balochistan MP
(1997-2002), and was the Minster for Construction and Works in the
provincial assembly in 1997-1998. He fled to Britain in 2000, fearing
arrest, torture and possible assassination by Musharraf's men.

"One of his brothers is Mehran Baluch. He is the Baloch Representative
to the UN Human Rights Council. He was the subject of an attempted
extradition plot last year by Musharraf's regime, on trumped up
charges, as exposed by The Guardian on 28 March 2007.


"The arrest of Marri - together with the murder of one brother and the
attempt to frame and extradite another brother - looks like a
systematic attempt to target his family and crush three leading voices
of Baloch dissent.

"A former self-governing British Protectorate, Balochistan secured its
independence in 1947, alongside India and Pakistan, but was invaded
and forcibly annexed by Pakistan in 1948. The Baloch people did not
vote for incorporation. They were never given a choice. Ever since,
Balochistan has been under military occupation by Islamabad. Baloch
demands for a referendum on self-rule have been rejected.
Democratically elected Baloch leaders who have refused to kow-tow
toPakistan's subjugation have been arrested, jailed and murdered.

"The Asian Human Rights Commission reports that Pakistani army raids
have resulted in 3,000 Baloch people dead, 200,000 displaced and 4,000
arrested. Thousands more have simply disappeared," said Mr Tatchell.

Briefing on human rights abuses

Details of Pakistan's human rights abuses in Balochistan are well
documented by Pakistani and international human rights groups,

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Asian Human Rights Commission

International Crisis Group

Amnesty International

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Human Rights Watch

Watch this TV interview by Peter Tatchell with Mehran Baluch, the
Baloch representative to the UN Human Rights Council:

Further information:

Peter Tatchell – 020 7403 1790


Rim Jhim Gire Saawan

Rim Jhim Gire Saawan...beautiful song by Kishore Kumar and picturised on Amitabh Bachchan and Maushmi Chatterjee

Ignoring India

by J. Peter Pham


As President Barack Obama surveys the geopolitical landscape that his predecessor bequeathed him, he will find at least two areas where American foreign policy is in relatively good shape and, in fact, stronger than it was when George W. Bush took office. One is Africa, where a whole host of new humanitarian and other assistance initiatives—including, among other programs, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)—as well as the launch of a new Pentagon structure, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), has left America more engaged with the nations of the continent than ever across the full spectrum of diplomatic, development and defense activities. The other is India, where the Bush administration succeeded in reaching a deal on nuclear cooperation that opened the way for its successor to forge wider and deeper bilateral ties with an emerging power, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described in testimony at her confirmation hearing as “the world’s most populous democracy and a nation with growing influence in the world.”

Yet there are some worrisome indications that, notwithstanding the reassurances proffered two weeks ago by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that “the President believes that obviously the U.S. and India are natural friends and natural allies,” the nascent strategic partnership being given short shrift—if it is not being subordinated outright to short-term (and shortsighted) preoccupations. This comes despite the fact that, as noted in new report from the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. Policy towards India, “the compatibility of our values, our strengths, and our global visions offers a unique context for us both to craft an ambitious agenda for the years ahead—for, unusually among two powers, we have no intrinsic conflicts of interest.”

First, the new administration seems to have signaled that its approach to south Asia—insofar as it can be said that it even has a coherent policy towards the region—will be focused predominantly on Afghanistan and Pakistan. After thrilling them with his election in November, President Obama almost immediately turned around and raised the hackles of India’s chattering classes by omitting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the list of the two dozen or so world leaders he reached out to, even though Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari received one of the courtesy telephone calls. Then, two days after the inauguration, came the appointment of former–U.S. ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three weeks later, the announcement remains prominently displayed on the homepage of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi where its presence contrasts starkly with the absence of any word on a successor to Ambassador David C. Mulford who, like all political appointees of the Bush administration, submitted his resignation on January 20.

Second, even more disconcerting, especially to observers in India, is the Obama team’s apparent acquiescence to a moral equivalency between India’s control of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan’s support of jihadists across the entire region—a perspective that fundamentally misreads the realities on the ground. In the 2007 Foreign Affairs article outlining his foreign policy, the then–junior senator from Illinois pledged that he would

encourage dialogue between Pakistan and India to work toward resolving their dispute over Kashmir and between Afghanistan and Pakistan to resolve their historic differences and develop the Pashtun border region. If Pakistan can look toward the east with greater confidence, it will be less likely to believe that its interests are best advanced through cooperation with the Taliban.
On the very eve of his election, Barack Obama repeated this argument and raised the possibility of appointing former-President Bill Clinton as a special envoy to deal with the Kashmiri question, causing Asia security expert Selig Harrison to observe last month in a Washington Times commentary that:

President-elect Barack Obama has made his first big foreign-policy mistake—pledging U.S. intervention in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. While the Kashmir issue “is obviously a tar pit diplomatically,” he announced, one of the “critical tasks” for his administration will be “to get a special envoy in there to figure out a plausible approach.” . . . The rationale for intervention is that fear of India requires Pakistan to strengthen its western front in Afghanistan by supporting the Taliban. But the reason for Pakistani support of the Taliban and jihadi forces in Kashmir is that its military and intelligence agencies are riddled with Islamists.
Appearing last week on Karan Thapar’s widely-watched India Tonight news program, Indian National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan blasted Obama, saying the U.S. president was “barking up the wrong tree” for thinking that “there is some kind of a link between the settlement on Pakistan’s western border and the Kashmir issue.” Moreover, if the Obama administration’s concern is Afghanistan, then, as I noted here six months ago before the November attacks in Mumbai, New Delhi’s interests in combating Islamist extremism and stabilizing Afghanistan align more closely with Washington’s than Islamabad’s ever will. After all, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist groups have been aided by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, while India was raising the alarm about them long before anyone else could be bothered. Moreover, India is currently one of largest bilateral donors to Afghanistan with more than $940 million committed.

Third, while President Obama, to his credit, has picked respected centrists for key positions on his economic team—even naming Ronald Reagan’s chief economic advisor, Martin S. Feldstein, to the new Economic Recovery Advisory Board—the fact that his presidential campaign pandered to populist fears about outsourcing and free-trade agreements raises concerns that the administration will use the current crisis as a pretext to slow down or even roll back the progress being made in trade talks by the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, established in 2005. (Currently the United States is India’s largest trading partner, with bilateral commerce worth some $41.6 billion in 2007. America is also the largest source of foreign investment in India.) Indeed, one of the most egregious protectionist elements in the stimulus bill making its way through Congress, the ban on using imported iron and steel in infrastructure projects, is already being interpreted in India as a swipe at two of the country’s largest firms, ArcelorMittal and Tata Steel, respectively the world’s largest and sixth largest steel producers.

Fourth, although no prejudicial steps have yet been taken in this direction, no one has forgotten that then-Senator Obama was the author of a “killer” amendment aimed at eviscerating the historic 2006 Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act, which cleared the way for India to buy U.S. nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use. While the subsequent “123 Agreement” signed last fall by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee opens the door for American and Indian firms to participate in each other’s civil nuclear-energy sector, it remains to be seen how easy it will be to get licenses from Obama’s appointees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (There is presently one vacancy on the five-member panel with the terms of two other commissioners expiring within the year.) This task will be further complicated if the United States ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (a step which the president has promised to see done) and India, as is likely, does not yield to pressure to sign the accord.

Given the incredible progress that has been made in U.S.-India relations over the course of the last decade, it would be absurd to declare that an irreparable breach has been opened up. Furthermore, President Obama is just settling into the White House and the Indian general elections, which may well bring a new occupant to the South Block of New Delhi’s Raisina Hill, are due by May. Thus, there is a narrow window during which it will be possible to quickly put aside the new administration’s rather awkward first interactions with India, without any great damage done to the foundations underlying the geostrategic partnership. This rare opportunity to smooth tensions and recalibrate our approach is one which President Obama and his foreign-policy team would be well advised to avail themselves of.

J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University and a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

China's defense: The view from Taiwan

By Cheng-yi Lin

Beijing published the 2008 edition of "China's National Defense" (hereafter White Paper) on the cusp of US President Barack Obama's historic inauguration on January 20.

The past three editions (2002, 2004, and 2006) of the White Paper were all published in the final month of every other year, but this time Beijing purposely delayed its release for almost three weeks. An incident wherein Beijing exhibited similar behavior was in July 1998 when it released the 1998 edition of the White Paper on the same day that ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF), a landmark security dialogue among mainly Southeast Asian states, were meeting in the Philippines.

The meeting coincidentally called on its members to have more transparency in their defense planning. On both occasions, it is clear that Beijing deliberately chose the timing of the release to indicate its intention to accept the common practice of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Asia-Pacific and project an image of a responsible stakeholder.

Although the White Paper argues that China "is still confronted with long-term, complicated, and diverse security threats and challenges," leaders in Beijing believe that "China's security situation has improved steadily". The White Paper mentions that "China's overall national strength has increased substantially, its people's living standards have kept improving, the society remains stable and unified, and the capability for upholding national security has been further enhanced".

Most importantly, the White Paper reveals that Beijing's threat perception in the Taiwan Strait has been greatly reduced. The White Paper, however, explicitly said that China's military capabilities will continue to grow even as the Taiwan issue thaws, verifying that a Chinese national security strategy looking beyond Taiwan is taking shape.

What is said and not said
Beijing harps that the new White Paper provides previously unreleased information and reflects new changes to the previous editions. For instance, the current edition includes developments in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Army, Navy, Air Force and the Second Artillery Force organized by separate chapters rather than grouped into the same chapter like previous editions.

Some notable developments in each branch of the Chinese armed forces highlighted by the White Paper include: acquiring capabilities of high mobility with three-dimensional assault in the army; integrated sea-air capabilities for offshore defensive operations in the navy; integrated air-land capabilities for both offensive and defensive operations in the air force; and surface-to-surface missile equipment system comprising both nuclear and conventional missiles with different ranges in the Second Artillery Corps.

Most importantly, the White Paper describes when and how China plans to use its nuclear weapons. The White Paper outlines three different operational scenarios (ie, under peacetime, nuclear crisis and nuclear attack) for nuclear escalation. The nuclear missile force of China's Second Artillery Corps will go into a state of alert when facing a nuclear crisis to deter the enemy from using nuclear weapons against China. Beijing's leader will then use nuclear missiles to launch a counterattack against the enemy when it comes under a nuclear attack. The conventional missile force of the Second Artillery Force is responsible for conducting medium and long-range precision strikes against key strategic and operational targets of the enemy.

While building a modern military, China continues to skip doing certain things in the process of mechanization (ie enhancing hardware and acquiring more advanced operational platforms) and strives to achieve leapfrog development in key areas. Therefore, it adopts a policy of composite development of mechanization and informationization (ie digitalization of weaponry, information system network, and integration of battle elements, particularly applicable to military command, control, and communication). The PLA is also transforming a strategy from winning a local war with the condition of high-technology to winning a war under the condition of informationization. By 2020, the PLA will accomplish the goal of mechanization and make major progress in informationization.

Even though PLA experts have known the geographical locations of the three fleet commands, the 2008 White Paper was the first to explicitly identify Qingtao as the site for the North Sea Fleet, Ningbo for the East Sea Fleet and Zhejiang for South Sea Fleet. Nevertheless, the White Paper, as usual, did not provide any details on the new Chinese destroyers, frigates, submarines and warplanes that have made the PLA Navy more capable in projecting its power in the region. Reports on the building of aircraft carriers were also not confirmed in the White Paper.

The White Paper fails to address concerns over Chinese missile deployments targeting Taiwan and US forces stationed on bases surrounding Taiwan. Moreover, Beijing avoided the chance of explaining its anti-satellite (ASAT) test in January 2007, which remains a major sticking point in Sino-US political-military relations, as well as the decline of a port visit by the USS Kitty Hawk to Hong Kong in November 2007. To soothe US security concerns, the White Paper did, however, acknowledge that China and Russia jointly submitted in February 2008, a draft Treaty to the Conference on Disarmament on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects.

Beijing cautions in the White Paper that China is facing "the superiority of the developed countries in economy, science and technology, as well as military affairs." More importantly, China "also faces strategic maneuvers and containment from the outside". While not pointing a finger at the United States, it is indirectly condemning the United States as its major adversary. China has publicly warned the United States for its arms sales to Taiwan and claims that this will cause "serious harm to Sino-US relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits".

Beijing suspended its military exchanges program with the United States in response to the $6.5 billion arms sales package that the Bush administration sanctioned in October 2008, but with the new Obama administration, the resumption of a military relationship is expected to take place soon.

In addition to the United States, Beijing lists separatist forces such as those supporting "Taiwan independence," "East Turkistan independence" and "Tibet independence" as threats to China's "unity and security." The White Paper claims that Beijing has succeeded in thwarting "Taiwan independence" from seeking "de jure Taiwan independence," therefore, the situation across the Taiwan Straits has taken a significantly positive turn.

Beijing believes that cross-Strait relations have improved because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) have resumed negotiations on the basis of the "1992 Consensus." The White Paper, however, did not reflect the policy articulated by Chinese President Hu Jintao on December 31, 2008, concerning cross-strait discussion of military CBMs between Taiwan and China through increased military contacts and exchanges.

In the White Paper, China indicated that it has formulated a military strategic guideline of active defense for the 21st Century. This active defense guideline include four components: winning local wars in conditions of informationization; emphasizing the prevention and deterrence of crises and wars; enhancing the capabilities to counter various security threats; and setting up a logistical mechanism of military mobilization and civilian-based economy, science, technology, information and transportation mobilization.

In different chapters of the White Paper it mentions that the PLA, like the United States, is focused on the new task of its armed forces in handling the challenges of military operations other than war (MOOTW) in areas such as counter-terrorism, stability maintenance, emergency response, peacekeeping, emergency rescue and disaster relief.

The PLA Navy is also committed to developing a capability of countering non-traditional security threats in distant waters, which explains Beijing's decision to dispatch a mini-fleet to the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea for protecting its national surface ships from piracy.

The White Paper disclosed the trend in defense budget increases throughout the past three decades. For example, the average annual increase of defense expenditures in the 1978-1987 was 3.5$, 14.5% in 1988-1997 and 15.9% in 1998-2007. Arguably, the increase reflects its rapid economic growth but also exhibits its need to meet "the requirements of the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs)".

From 2006 to 2008, the PLA's defense expenditure grew even more significantly. The defense expenditure was 297.938 billion yuan (about US$38 billion) in 2006 and 355.491 billion yuan (about $45 billion) in 2007, up 20.4% and 19.3% respectively over the previous year. In a longer time span, Chinese defense spending has risen sharply - from about 16.7 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) in 1978 to about 417.7 billion yuan (about $60 billion) in fiscal year 2008, roughly a 25-fold increase.

The official figure, however, is much lower than the estimations by different Western defense-related organizations. For example, the White Paper claims that China's defense expenditure budget in 2007 was around 1.38% of China's GDP, but the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculates that the real figure might be around 2.1% of GDP.

Overseas concerns
In the 2006 White Paper, Beijing's leaders was more concerned over the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) under former President Chen Shui-bian for pushing a pro-independence agenda, such as the name rectification campaign and constitutional reform. Then, Beijing warned that political developments in Taiwan remained a challenge that "must not be neglected", and that the "struggle to oppose and contain the separatist forces for 'Taiwan independence'" poses a "grave threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

As demonstrated in President Hu Jintao's end-of-year "six-point proposal" toward Taiwan, Beijing is far more confident now about the prospect of eventual unification than it was during the past eight years. The new political climate after the 2008 Taiwan's presidential election greatly altered Beijing's threat perceptions in the Taiwan Strait.

Although Taiwan's defense ministry shunned away from making a public statement on the 2008 White Paper, experts in Taiwan argue that there is little new information revealed in the White Paper. While Beijing continues to warn the United States over its arms sales to Taiwan, the Obama administration has no urgent need to consider providing Taiwan with new weapons after the Bush administration announced $6.5 billion in arms sales to the island.

The Ma Ying-jeou government, restrained by the economic downturn and pressure to preserve the political gains from cross-Strait rapprochement, might find less economic and political imperatives to request more advanced US defense hardware including the F16C/D and diesel submarines. Taiwan has long had proposed CBMs with the Chinese military, such as making defense information more transparent, limiting military deployments, establishing communication channels, and setting up verification measures. Although the 2008 White Paper fails publicly to endorse the future direction of cross-Strait CBMs, it is likely that think tanks in Beijing and Taipei will have more opportunities to talk on issues to "stabilize cross-strait relations and ease concerns about military security".

Speculation in the Chinese media continues that Beijing might consider removing or freezing the numbers of its surface-to-surface missiles targeting at the island. The new scenario, however, could pose a security dilemma for the Ma Ying-jeou government and the Obama administration, because Beijing will fully take advantage of this dramatic gesture to weaken justifications of future US-Taiwan military cooperation.

Two days after the publication of the White Paper, President Ma spoke to Taiwan's military and urged them to combine hard with soft power to safeguard the island's security. Ma argued that through military readiness, Taiwan could deter a war in the Taiwan Strait. Ma also proclaimed that "resolute defense and effective deterrence" is always the goal of Taiwan's defense. Nevertheless, both Ma Ying-jeou and Barack Obama will face one chilling reality - that the military balance in the Taiwan Strait is tilting in favor of the PLA.

Compared to Taiwan's low-keyed response to the White Paper, the Japanese media have been much more vocal. In an editorial of the Asahi Shimbun it expressed disappointment because the White Paper "said nothing about China's reported plans to build new nuclear-powered submarines equipped with ballistic missiles and aircraft carriers" and its "silence about these projects has only increased international unease." The editorial furthers its critique by commenting that "the report didn't refer to any review of China's military capabilities in response to the improvement in relations with Taiwan".

In the White Paper, Beijing toned down the pronouncement of its security concerns over Japan's military modernization compared to its 2006 edition. Japan, however, is particularly concerned that the PLA is building a blue water navy that will pose a security challenge in the overlapping territorial claims over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Taiwanese and Japanese concerns are not exceptions. In a Senate Armed Service Committee testimony on January 27, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates identified the threats of Chinese military buildup by stating that "the areas of greatest concern are Chinese investments and growing capabilities in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, submarines, and ballistic missiles". Gates believes that "modernization in these areas could threaten America's primary means of projecting power and helping allies in the Pacific". The United States, however, stated that it has "the capability in place to deal with any Chinese threat for some time to come".

Even with further reduction of tension in the Taiwan Strait, China has decidedly maintained its rapid pace in building a high-tech and digital armed force with the ability to counter conventional and nuclear threat or to handle complex issues related to human security. Beijing has shown that its defense planning is already beyond Taiwan's capability and could potentially challenge Japan and the United States in the Western Pacific.

Undeniably, Beijing has made progress with each different edition of the White Paper since 1998, but it still conceals a great deal of defense information that shrouds its intent. Japan as well as the United States, and to a lesser extent Taiwan, are not reassured by Beijing's latest Defense White Paper. By keeping its strategic planning from being completely transparent, it could strengthen China's psychological defense vis-a-vis its potential adversaries. Partial revelation of China's defense information to meet the minimum standard of CBMs, while playing up the role of a responsible stakeholder, appears to be the strategy and intent behind the publication of China's 2008 National Defense White Paper.

(This article first appeared in The Jamestown Foundation. Used with permission.)

(Copyright 2009 The Jamestown Foundation.)

February 12, 2009

China’s Defence White Paper – 2008 -- An Indian Perspective.

By Bhaskar Roy

Sharing a 4000 kilometre-long disputed border with China and having suffered a military attack from China in 1962, India cannot but be highly concerned about the aggressive military development in its immediate environment. China Defence White Paper – 2008 (hereafter referred to as Paper – 08) have some grave messages for its Asian neighbours which this paper intends to discuss.

China started publishing Defence White Papers from 1995 in response to Western demands for transparency in its military developments. Since then it has come a long way. The Paper-08 allows a much deeper look to the outsider into China’s thinking. What one sees does not inspire hope for an Asian age according to the “five principles of peaceful co-existence” and region of equality and stability.

It would be interesting to go back ten years and have a brief look at the Defence White Paper-1998. The approach was less aggressive than in 2008. It was the time that China’s top leader Jiang Zemin had just shifted the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to top gear in Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). The PLA had entered the informalization age and was striving for much greater mechanization.

In 1998, China was behaving under late Deng Xiapoing’s dictum of “hide your strength, and bide your time” while developing allround strength and capability to emerge as a nation capable of standing upto the United States. Deng, the architect of modern China, concluded after the 1989 students’ uprising that the US would not allow the Chinese nation to challenge America’s sway. Following the “July 4” 1989 incident which confused the country Deng told a visiting African leader that the turmoil was instigated by America’s “peaceful evolution” operation i.e. promoting democracy peacefully by overt and covert means of propaganda and agent provocateurs.

Although the 1998 White Paper castigated India for its nuclear tests and squarely blamed it for lifting the nuclear lid in South Asia, it also noted the 1996, Confidence Building Measures (CBH) agreement in the military field along the LAC between the two countries positively. Positive developments with the United States that year were also noted, especially in the military and strategic bilateral issues.

Going by Deng Xiaoping’s advice, the then pre-eminent Chinese leader, President Jiang Zemin, who was also the Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commissioner (CMC), subordinated military development to economic development and made a case for a peaceful environment to focus on economic construction. China, of course, had graduated to the doctrine of “active defence” or “forward defence” to protect the “motherland”, took note of “hot spots” without specifically naming any, and declared that “local wars” were within the realm of China’s security threat perspective.

The 2008 Paper makes some adjustment from its 2006 edition, claiming to have become more transparent. It must be noted that it was only for the second time that this annual White Paper was delayed by about three weeks from the usual time of publication during the third or early fourth week of December. The reason is not far to see. The message was to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, who was confirmed on January 20. The basic message: China was now a great power though still behind the USA in military might, but its economic clout gave it the strength to work with Washington to stabilize the global economic melt down. In spite of policy short comings and other drawbacks it cannot be denied that China has emerged as an economic power house with an important say in World economy.

It would be important, especially for China’s neighbours, to try and interpret its military doctrine. Its military doctrine is not a single postulate but several doctrines with “Chinese characteristics” i.e. how exactly they suit China’s conditions at that particular period of time. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the basic doctrine was one of purely defence. Following international outrage over the brutal suppression of the student revolution demanding transparency from the government, an end to corruption and rights for the people to criticize wrong doings by the Communist Party and government bureaucrats and leaders, Deng Xiaoping came out with the theory/policy of “hide your strength and bide your time”. Deng was of the view that the US was sabotaging China’s development through “peaceful evolution”, i.e. surreptitiously encouraging democracy in a Communist country. China will be alert about “peaceful evolution” for a long time, but as recent reports from the Chinese media indicate, demands for freedom to express one’s opinion is increasing from the Chinese people and, even, the officially controlled media.

In the phase above, China had a high threat perception. It was in self-conflict whether the US in the Asia Pacific region was good for them or a threat. The late Deng Xiaoping laid down that the US was the most important country for China and hence it was in China’s interest to avoid confrontation with Washington as far as possible. It was decided the US would be a balancing force in the region, despite its East Asian alliance and special relations with Taiwan. Deng’s chosen top leader of China, Jiang Zemin, read the American mind very well. He advised that the Chinese leaders should ignore whatever US Presidents say during their electoral campaigns.

Jiang was right. Bill Clinton called the Chinese leaders “butchers of Beijing” during his election campaign, but was with them in bed during his Presidency. George W. Bush turned Clinton’s description of China as “strategic partner” to “strategic competitor”, but it was business as usual. Not much change is expected during Barack Obama’s term because it simply cannot be done. In fact, Obama’s foreign policy discarding “regime change” operations and inclination to avoid military backed policy initiatives like in Iran may get two countries together. But there are also major strategic issues between the two countries, especially given the fact China may be signaling a kind of a Monroe doctrine, stretching to parts of Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

The mid-1990s and 2003-2004 period was one of consolidation of relations with neighbours and more mature dealings with the US with, of course, doses of nationalism. The 1998 White Paper noted India’s nuclear test in May that year with severe disapproval while viewing Pakistan’s tests as only a reaction to India’s. But it also recorded, as stated earlier, the 1996 Sino-Indian CBM agreement on the borders. A 1996 event hardly has a place in a 1998 annual report, but was brought in for a message. During this period, relations with Russia was recast, even going to the extent of renegotiating the border demarcation treaty on the eastern part of the Sino-Russian boundary on Russian insistence. Jiang also settled relations with Japan to a great extent, disturbed temporarily by his successor Hu Jintao’s visit in 2008 before the Olympic games. The Beijing leaders, at that time, were on an aphrodisiac high.

Under President Hu Jintao, who is also the Communist Party head and Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) which makes defence policies, the Chinese leaders began to feel power. An officially sponsored debate questioned the relevance of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of continuing to hide China’s strength any longer since they were the third most powerful economic power in the world getting closer to the second position, and a military power with a nuclear strike force which could deter a US strike. Hu Jintao’s political and strategic advisor Zheng Binyan proposed the “Rise of China” theory, which had to be pruned down to “peaceful rise of China’ because of alarm mainly from South East Asian neighbours. The damage, however, was done. Questions over China’s growing might is an issue among its South East Asian neighbours.

The Defence White Paper of 1996, 1997 and 1998 have incrementally projected China’s growing capabilities. A commentary published in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) publication, the ‘Military Digest’ (2008) titled “Phase of Exercising Restraint in National Defence is over” explained that CCP General Secretary (Sept. 2007) declared China will strike to “occupy a well matched military position in the world while striving to become the third economic power in the world. Recent Chinese reports claim it may have become the second economic power.

The Military Digest comment indicated that soon after taking over the leadership of China in 2002, Hu directed that military power must grow in tandem with economic power. This was a major doctrinal shift, rearranging Deng’s “four modernization” (agriculture, industry, science and technology) order of priority to an over all two modernization “economy and national defence”. Hu late made it clear that economy and defence (national security) could not be delinked – without economic power there would be no military power, and without the military providing security there could be no economic development.

Hu Jintao’s strategic vision was simple: if you do not have military power no one will respect you. He demolished the theory of soft power working alone. Some Indian experts have been bandying the theory that soft power succeeds by itself, giving the examples of Germany and Japan. They clearly avoid mentioning that both Germany and Japan are under NATO and US military and nuclear umbrella, and both the countries have quietly built formidable military capabilities.

“Active defence” remains the basic doctrine of China’s conventional military strategy, with its ambit increasing as the country’s Comprehensive National Power (CNP) increases and interests abroad expand. National security is no longer limited to defence of the borders but also screening political, diplomatic and economic interests overseas. China is short of hydro carbon energy and basic raw materials to keep its economic growing at an average of 8% to 9% at least.

Active defence, also referred to as ‘forward defence’, means holding on to territories gained. In plain terms it would mean control of land or maritime territories. In a political sense it could also reflect in winning over governments and people. While the USA has used military power for regime change abroad, Beijing seems to be using its military and economic power in favour of regimes/governments to keep them in its fold.

A review of China’s military development would, however, suggest that active defence is a much larger and integrated concept. Scientific and technological development work closely with military development. Informationization warfare has replaced “high technology warfare under modern conditions” to win local wars. Mao Zedong’s people’s war concept has undergone sophistication to dovetail civilian structures and activities mainly for logistic support to the military. Tackling terrorism, separation and splitism, and non-lethal challenges like national disasters such as floods and earthquakes have been added to the active defence concept, too.

The PLA expects informationalization of a high degree by 2020, and claims it will have basic mechanization of its special units by 2010. Information warfare and mechanization have implications for China’s neighbourhood especially those considered “hot spots”. The Sino-Indian boundary is one “hot spot” along which China has upgraded roads and other infrastructure in recent years. It also plans to extend the Tibet railway from Lhasa to the Sino-Indian border.

The 2008 Papers gives a lot of emphasis on the navy or PLAN. It says that “in line with the off-shore defence strategy, the navy takes informationlization as the orientation and strategic priority of its modernization drive, and is endeavouring to build a strong navy”. The navy embarked on its blue water task sooner than expected, deploying its advanced destroyers to the Somali coast last month for anti-piracy operation. Expectedly, its ships came face to face an Indian navy submarine which was photographing and recording the signals and other characteristics of the Chinese warships. This is not abnormal. In December 2006, a Chinese submarine spooked the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk near Japan. One can expect more Chinese naval vessels plying the Indian Ocean and using Pakistan’s Gwadar deep sea port, built by the Chinese. A port or berthing facilities in Myanmar could be a reality in the near future.

China’s nuclear doctrine of no first use, and not using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and nuclear free zones, still remain opaque. The 2008 Paper says its nuclear forces will go into a state of alert and get ready for a counter attack if China comes under a nuclear threat. Further, it will launch a major counter attack if it comes under a nuclear attack. This is questionable, however, and has to be read with various statements made by Chinese military leaders. Chai Yujiu, Vice Principal of the Nanjing Army Command College had told a Hong Kong newspaper that the “policy of not to use nuclear weapons first is not unlimited, without conditions, without premises”. Others have made it clear that no first use was not a passive concept. Hence, one cannot assume that in case of a conventional war, China’s no first use of nuclear weapons is an absolute principle.

A study (August 2008) by the China Institute of International and Strategic Studies (CIISS), the PLA’s prime think tank, argued that in the new situation of the “no first use’ doctrine, maintaining a small number of nuclear weapons as deterrent had become obsolete. It also suggested a large nuclear arsenal of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) espoused by the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Chinese experts have also been studying the recent nuclear up-gradation plans of both the USA and Russia.

These observations from Chinese officials and think tanks are not idle, and not taken lightly by most of China’s neighbours like Japan and disputed Taiwan. Japan has a huge repository of plutonium, and technology to fabricate nuclear weapons very quickly. Its front line aircraft can be wired to carry nuclear weapons, and its missile capability has been demonstrated. It is said Japan is one screw driver turn away from making the bomb. When it does so will depend upon what China does. The huge trade relations between the two countries is not a deterrent for Japan to prepare itself against a military eventuality.

Testifying before the Senate Arms Services Committee (Jan. 27, 2009) US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, identified the threats of Chinese military modernization by stating that “the area of greater concern are Chinese investments and growing capabilities in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, submarines and ballistic missiles”.

The Chinese claim they have the right to build their military for self-defence and this sophistication should be commensurate with their threat perception. At the same time it has to be responsible enough to take into consideration the threats other countries feel from its military modernization especially those who have territorial disputes with China. The major ones would include Japan, the five south East Asian countries which have claims on the Spartly group of Islands in the South China sea, and India.

Cyber and space war capabilities are two other areas of concern. When China shot down one of its defunct satellites with a ground based missile in January 2007, the international community went into frenzied calculations. It was not a secret that China was working on space warfare including satellite based weapons and orbiting bombs using micro and nano-satellites against enemy satellites. The scope of such warfare is huge and can debilitate enemy communication and civilian cyber work.

It is established that Chinese hackers have attacked and defaced cyber network and websites in many countries including India, Japan, South Korea and the USA among others. The Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has not been spared either. If these are practice sessions during peace time, it can be imagined what China could do to the network of fledgling cyber powers during confrontations-local wars under informationalization.

It is evident from the 2008 Paper and its activities and role in the international stage that China is not shy of demonstrating its capabilities and confidence against threats. Justifiably, therefore, it has focussed only on the United States as a partner and competitor. China’s concerns over USA’s increased “strategic attention to and input in the Asia Pacific region, further consolidating military alliances” and other activities were recorded carefully. Although relations with Taiwan have opened under the KMT Ma Ying-Jeo government, the suspicion still remains in Beijing that Washington will continue to arm Taiwan so that it remains a de-facto independent nation. US decision to sell 6.5 billion dollars advanced weaponary to Taiwan is a case in point, along with the US Congress Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) which calls on the US government to protect Taipei if attacked.

Taiwan is an issue of sovereignty for China as are Tibet and Xinjiang (which the Uighur separatists call East Turkistan). China sees the root of international support to the Dalai Lama coming from the USA, and suspects India is also supporting a restive Tibet for independence. They also suspect some US led support to the Uighur separatists. But with its new confidence, Beijing has declared a virtual war on anything that is even slightly perceived as separatism.

The 2008 Paper does not mention India in any form. It does not need to. China has elevated itself as a Great Power and sees India in alliance with the US to encircle and restrict China. This is actually a deceptive strategic propaganda. China’s problems is that a strong India in Asia would be competition along with Japan, especially with a new and growing India-Japan friendship. To Beijing’s dismay, Japan side stepped the nuclear issue deftly and avoided opposing India at the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) at Vienna last year. China reads this not only as a US brokered India-Japan deal, but Japan’s own policy on possession of nuclear weapons.

Some of India’s neighbours look to China as a support against this so-called “big brother” India. Pakistan is a special case. But recent statements by visiting Chinese dignitaries to Nepal assuring Kathmandu of securing its sovereignty and territorial integrity is a serious unfriendly act. Such statements encouraged Maoist hardliners in their anti-India tirade, and has created a crisis among political parties in Nepal.

There is no doubt that the People’s Republic of China has emerged as a major power. But it still has a long way to go. Perhaps prematurely, it is trying to force a unipolar Asia regime down the throats of other Asian countries. With its new capabilities China may be overstretching itself. It is becoming, if it has not already become, the single most destabilizing factor in Asia. Ask the South East Asian countries except, perhaps, Thailand whose leaders are now increasingly of Chinese origin.

(The author is an eminent China analyst with many years of experience of study on the developments in China. He can be reached at grouchohart@yahoo.com)

February 08, 2009

Baluch rebels claim kidnap of American in Pakistan

BLUF claims responsibility for JOHN SOLECKI’s kidnaping

A relatively new organization calling itself the Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF) has accepted responsibility for John Solecki’s kidnapping. The organization is demanding the release of around 6000 missing Baloch people who have been arrested by the Pakistani army intelligence agencies along with 141 Baloch women.” We demand a resolution of the Baloch issue via Geneva Conventions,” said Shaik Baloch, a spokesman of the BLUF.

Solecki, the Balochistan head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), was kidnapped on February 2 when he was on his way to the office located in Quetta’s Chaman Housing Society. His driver, Syed Hashim, was killed by the kidnappers.

” The reason it took us five days to claim responsibility was to make sure that we reach at a safe place before claiming responsibility,” said the spokesman: ” We are at a safe place now”.

The spokesman said his organization had no links with other Baloch armed groups but supported their cause and it would continue its operations in the future. ” If the UN does not meet our demands, we will kill its official and the onus would lie on the UN itself,” he warned.

The spokesman said John was absolutely fine. They could kill him at the first place but did not do so because they are peaceful people struggling for a just cause. However, if the UN takes their demands lightly then they will be obliged to kill the UN official.

“John is safe and sound in our custody,” said Mir Shahik Baloch, the spokesman of the BLUF, who telephoned various newspaper offices in Quetta via satellite phone from an undisclosed location. “We have kidnapped John to highlight the plight of the Baloch people in Pakistan who are being treated by the State worse than slaves. If the UN does not intervene and ensure the release of 6000 missing Baloch people, including 141 women and resolve the Baloch issue according to the Geneva conventions, we will kill John,” warned the spokesman.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and resource-rich province has been going through a deadly insurgency for the past four years where the ethnic majority, the Balochs, are fighting against the federation of Pakistan for maximum autonomy and ownership on their vast natural resources. The Baloch have been accusing the Pakistan government of using the American weapons, which were given to the former to fight the war against terrorism, to crush the Baloch insurgency.

Soon after the abduction of the American UN official, speculations went on the direction of the Baloch insurgents and the Talian operating in the area. But both the groups, including the top-most Baloch armed group, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) disassociated itself from the kidnaping of the US citizen.
It is the first time the BLUF has emerged on the surface.

By Malik Siraj Akbar


QUETTA, Pakistan (AFP) — A shadowy ethnic Baluch rebel group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of an American United Nations employee in Pakistan early this week.
John Solecki, head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the provincial capital Quetta, was abducted at gunpoint and his driver killed when his UN vehicle was ambushed Monday.
"We have abducted John Solecki. We have taken this step to seek the world's attention towards the excesses being inflicted on (the) Baluch Nation," a spokesman for the Baluch Liberation Front said in a call to the local Online news agency.
The man who identified himself as Shahak Khan said they wanted Washington to use its influence on Pakistan for the redemption of their political and economic rights.
"America should pressure Pakistan to release Baluch political activists, including women, and to resolve the Baluchistan problems in accordance with the Geneva Convention."
Pakistan has condemned the kidnapping as a "dastardly terrorist act" and offered a reward of one million rupees (12,610 dollars) for information leading to Solecki's rescue.
Baluchistan, in southwest Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan and Iran, is rife with regional insurgency, sectarian violence and attacks blamed on Islamist extremists, making it difficult to pinpoint the kidnappers.
During a visit to Islamabad on Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Pakistan to do everything possible to secure Solecki's release.