Army’s Progressive Role in Balochistan
In the recent past, Supreme Court, federal and provincial governments were taking serious notice of the deteriorating law and order situation of the Balochistan province. While taking advantage of the phenomena, in connivance with the Baloch separatist leaders who have taken refuge in Swizerland, Sweden, US, London and some other western countries, external hostile elements such as NGOs, human rights organisations and media accelerated their false propaganda against Pakistan’s security agencies, especially Pak Army regarding human rights violations like kidnappings, dumped dead bodies, extrajudicial killings, death squads, missing persons etc. In this context, with the Indian support and other foreign elements, every year, anti-state Baloch insurgent groups launch a protest demonstration in London against Pakistan, and country’s security agencies, raising similar allegations of human rights violations in the province. In this respect, arrangements for the pre-planned rally in London which was executed recently, made on larger scale by anti-Pakistan forces, particularly India.
Besides rallies in some western countries, in 2012, a demonstration was held outside the United Nations in Genva on the occasion of the 19th Session of UN Human Rights Council. The demonstrators accused Pakistan intelligence agencies and Pak Army of extrajudicial killings. Apparently, the demonstration was organised and led by Mehran Baloch, Balochistan’s representative at the UN and Noordin Mengal, but, in fact, it was arranged by the anti-Pakistan NGOs, human rights groups and Indo-Israeli lobbies with American covert help.
The fact behind human rights violations and aggravated law and order situation of the province is that foreign-supported militant groups like Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and other similar outfits which have been fighting for secession of Balochistan gets arms and ammunition from American CIA, Israel Mossad and Indian RAW. These insurgent groups kidnapped and massacred many innocent people who included teachers, professors, lawyers, Shias and the security personnel in the province. Many persons in Balochistan have also been killed in suicide attacks and bomb blasts, planted by these outfits. On a number of occasions, these militant groups claimed responsibility for their criminal activities. So these groups and foreign secret agencies are responsible for human rights violations in the province.
Notably, besides other top civil and military officials of Pakistan, last year, during his visit to Balochistan, even former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, while hinting towards US, India and Israel including insurgent outfits disclosed that there were some external and internal forces involved in creating unrest in Balochistan.
But, it is our misfortune that while speaking in the tone of external entities and while ignoring the fact that the former seek to dismember Pakistan as part of their clandestine designs, as Balochistan has ideal geo-strategic location—replete with mineral resources, our own internal elements like some political leaders, so-called NGOs, human rights groups and media anchors spread disinformation, creating sensation by implicating Pak Army and intelligence agencies for the deteriorating situation of Balochistan including human rights violations.
In this respect, observing the critical situation, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the former Justice Javed Iqbal visited Balochistan in 2012. Afterwards, Justice Javed Iqbal remarked that NGOs exaggerated figures of the missing persons, but failed to provide details about them. He elaborated that these NGOs were just spreading sensationalism.
While pursuing the false accusations of the foreign enemies, our internal entities have also neglected the reality that a majority of the disappeared individuals are also in the detention centres (Farrari Camps) which are being run by Baloch feudal lords (Sardars). With the assistance of US-led India and Israel, these Sardars are fighting for their so-called prestige, status and influence, and want to continue old system of feudalism in the province.
However, it is most regrettable that Pakistan’s internal entities have ignored the progressive role of Pak army regarding development of Balochistan.
In the recent years, Pak Army has made strenuous efforts to develop the infrastructure in Balochistan by providing the people employment opportunities to bring the Balochis in the mainstream of the country. For the purpose, army has not only established schools and colleges in Balochistan, but also set up technical and industrial institutes in the province, besides giving military training to the youth. In this context, while addressing, the passing-out parade in Quetta on October 11, 2011, the former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani pointed out various efforts of the Pak Army in alleviating the people of Balochistan. He appreciated Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Kayani for ensuring best possible training to bring the youth into the national mainstream.
In fact, Gen. Kayani took keen interest in Balochistan’s affairs to uplift the economic standard of Baloch people. Hence, he allotted 10,000 vacancies for youth of Balochistan in 2009-2011 and announced additional 5000 vacancies for enrolment in 2012. In the last three years, total 10,082 youth of Balochistan have joined Pakistan Army as officers and soldiers. In addition, Pakistan Army undertook special projects to enrich the people of Balochistan with quality education and to boost the provincial economy.
Various development projects and progressive works, undertaken by Army in Balochistan are Military College SUI Balochistan, Balochistan Public School at SUI, Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences, Gwadar Institute of Technology, Chamalang Beneficiary Education Program, Balochistan Institute of Technical Education, Army Institute of Mineralogy, Assistance to Ministry of Education Balochistan, Baloch Youth Enrollment in Pakistan Army, Dera Bugti Development Projects, Development Projects Kohlu and Nasirabad Division, and Pakistan Army Assistance in Development of Road Networks including Assistance to Ministry of Education Balochistan, Provision of Free Gas & Water, Construction of 50 Bed Hospital at SUI, Chamalang, Musa Khel & Dukki Coal Mines, KASSA Hill Marble Project, Dates Farming at Panjgur, Garrison & Musa Sports Complex, Free Medical Camps, Earthquake 2008 and Pak Army Relief & Rehabilitation Efforts, Flood 2010 and Pak Army Relief & Rehabilitation Efforts, and many other similar projects and provision of services.
It is due to the progressive works of Pak Army that a division has been created among the militant groups’ leaders in Balochistan. Besides other insurgent outfits, rift has especially been widened between the leaders of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and United Balochistan Army (UBA). In this regard, UBA leader Zarman Marri was more active on media for projecting Balochistan issue and was less inclined towards militancy, while Harbiyar Marri who wants full total control over BLA and favours militant activities rather than popular politics, strongly opposed Zarman’s stand. Recently, while rejecting Harbiyar Marri’s stand and other extremist Baloch groups in wake of threats by their death squads, President of Balochistan National Party (BNP) Sardar Akhtar Mengal returned to Pakistan, and decided to participate in the coming elections. He is a changed man who has put his past behind on a positive note.
Nevertheless, army’s positive steps will increase income of the Baloch youth and reduce their dependence on sardars who are working on the agenda of some foreign powers. Now patriot Balochis have come to know that Pak Army is neither mercenary nor occupying force; while external-backed insurgency has hampered the growth and development of the province. They also know that the province lacked engineers and skilled workers. In this respect, measures of Pak Army have been ensuring local enterprise, local manpower and local skill among the Baloshis.
In 2011, I had visited Balochistan along with other journalists. I saw a number of institutes, set up by army, and these were providing especially technical training to thousands of Balochis. I had also a trip to far-flung areas of the province and witnessed various mega projects and mineral sites. I was greatly surprised that no military operation is going on in Balochistan as propagated by the foreign elements. People told me that some subversive events are taking place by the minority separatist elements so as to create instability in the province.
No doubt, army’s progressive role through numerous schemes and projects for the development of Balochistan will change the fortune of the Baloch people very soon, which is likely to castigate the foreign conspiracy against the province.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs