Baluchistan At The Cross Roads
28 July, 2006
By Farzana Shah
Pakistan is increasingly becoming a focal point of the regional economy with the development of Gwadar Port and other mega projects in its Baluchitsan province. This coupled with its strategic location is the main reason for getting the attraction of the world and regional powers. Its critical importance can be gauged from the fact that the port of Gwadar could provide the ‘window’ to monitor the entire Persian Gulf, which according to the analysts is being used by many countries of the West, Middle East, Far East, China and India.
Due to the ever increasing needs of energy resources the world powers are watching keenly and looking for ways and means to control the oil and gas supply from Central Asia, for which Gwadar again could become a major outlet. However, Chinese interest and presence in the region has not only caused great concern to them but also to our next door neighbour – India.
A political turmoil causing unrest in Baluchistan could serve their designs to a great extent, where by funding and arming the rebels and miscreants could provide them with the foothold in the region. Baluchis being mostly a feudal and tribal society, the task of misleading them against the legit authorities becomes easier as only a handful of their tribal chiefs (Sardars) are to be inculcated. The media war, seminars, discussions at various fora of the world and similar other ‘intellectual’ activity is a pre-requisite to lend credence to such insurgency and ‘freedom’ struggles.
In this regard the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) United Kingdom arranged a seminar on Baluchistan province of Pakistan in collaboration with the so-called Baluchistan Rights Movement on 27th June 2006 in the House of Commons, London. It was highly disappointing as it was abashedly a one-sided cheap propaganda rather than discussing the real situation. By a mere look at the panel of the participants of the seminar one could easily figure out that it consisted of only anti-Pakistan elements and some self-styled activists advocating terrorism in the province. There were no representatives from government of Pakistan or even from the elected provincial government of Baluchistan in the seminar. It is just unfortunate that the Foreign Policy Centre which is expected to present fair suggestions to the British government to engage a country of their concern for important issues, indulged in such a blatant one-sided propaganda against Pakistan through the said seminar.
The seminar seemed to focus only at propagating the views of the rebels and miscreants active in Baluchistan at targeting the civilians and vital government installation to halt the development projects in the province.
It certainly put the credibility of the Foreign Policy Centre in doubt, although Hugh Barnes who chaired the event claimed FPC to be an ‘independent’ think tank committed to holding events of such nature with speakers and audience members from each side of the debate. He fell much short of the claim as in the said seminar there were many sides missing and only those opposed to the government advocating the cause of the miscreants were invited to it. Had there been any representative from the Government of Pakistan or from the elected government of Baluchistan, the centre would have been justified in its such claim.
FPC’s credibility becomes further questionable when one finds Pro-Israel Stephen Twiggs as its chairman and influencing its activities cleverly. He joined the Foreign Policy Centre as Director in August 2005. He is involved with the FPC from its conception in 1998 and since then as a Member of the Board from 1998 to 2006. He also chairs the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) a Westminster based pro-Israel lobby group working within the British Labour party. It is considered one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks by the Labour MPs. The committee wields considerable influence in Westminster and is also consulted routinely by the Foreign Office and Downing Street on matters relating to the Middle East. Tony Blair is known to consult its members over Middle East policy.
Very strangely, according to one Mir Azad Khan Baluch, at his blog http://governmentofbalochistan.blogspot.com, the Baloch Diaspora in April 2006 established the newly formed "democratic, liberal and secular" Government of Balochistan (GOB) in Exile in Jerusalem, Israel.
The address of which is as under
The World Baloch Jewish Alliance Building
PO Box 5631
No wonder the formation of the above GOB confirms the anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam role of the chair of the FPC, in misleading the British government and the audience through such seminar.
An other speaker, Dr Naseer Dashti, a relatively unknown entity of Baluchistan mostly delved at maligning the non-Baluchis and trying to convince the British audience that if the UK sided with the miscreants fomenting trouble in the province, all the problems will be solved there. Interestingly he had altogether negated the entire ideology of the country
and that of Balochis. No one in Pakistan is in any way against the lifestyle of the Baluchs or their languages or culture as propagated by Dr Dashti.
Senator Dr Sanaullah Baloch, one of the anti-government elements in Pakistan, mostly focused on spitting venom against Pakistan Army through baseless allegations. Putting a cursory look at his comments one can only shake his/her head in disappointment as he even did not spare the development projects initiated by the government of Pakistan for the uplift of Balochs.
Similarly the speech by Mehran Baloch of the Baluchistan Rights Movement was one-sided opinion of an individual mainly focused on advocating insurgency in Pakistan just to benefit few Sardars for subjugating the common Baluchs.
Mr Laku Luhana, World Sindhi Congress was also no different from others only focusing on criticism of the Army. Although an ethnic body’s head has nothing to do with the situation in Baluchistan, however he was being given chance to speak and add to hatred against Pakistan.
Ryszard Czarnecki, a member of European Parliament from Poland, also spoke against Pak Army. He said “Pakistan came into existence through restrictive voting and is being ruled by the Punjabi army. Baluchs are a distinct ethnic group and not part of Pakistan.” It is laughable as every province of Pakistan has the population consisting of different ethnic groups. Does it mean that all the provinces are not part of Pakistan?
All the above speakers seemed to have been assigned the task of speaking against the army and none of them for once mentioned the atrocities being committed by a few (read only three) Sardars against the common Baluchs.
None of them even mentioned how Nawab Akbar Bugti has subjected his own very people to torture and humiliation. He has not even spared his own relatives who are against his arbitrary rule. He expelled the Kalpars and Masuries (Baluchi) tribes from their own land compelling them to live in Punjab until the army restored peace in the province and they could return to their ancestral homelands. The FPC should have noted the fact that very recently about 600 commanders of Nawab Akbar Bugti surrendered voluntarily to the government. Bangan Khan Bugti, one of his commanders, is on record to have clearly revealed that Nawab Bugti had used all the funds provided to him by the government of Pakistan for his own personal interest and for buying the arms to wage war against the government and to subjugate his own tribesmen.
If these Sardars were so interested in the welfare of the Baluchs, why did not Nawab Akbar Bugti carry out any development in the province when he was the Chief Minister of Baluchistan? What stopped him from doing that?
Did the FPC try to peep into hundreds of ‘Farari’ camps established by the Sardars and Nawab Bugti which were being used as torture cells committing great Human Rights violation against the common Baluchs. Why did Mehran Baloch the great Human Rights activists over looked it?
Daily attacks by scores of missile were a routine matter during the last year and the beginning of this year against the common Baluchs and the government installations by the terrorists, mainly comprising the Bugti terrorists and the so called Balochitsan Liberation Army which, incidentally, has been banned recently by the British government as a terrorist Organisation, which is indeed a commendable step.
However, despite the fact that terrorism is the biggest concern for the western world and insurgencies and political struggle in Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine have been condemned and dubbed as terrorism, UK had led FPC to hold such a seminar wherein supporters of the trouble makers were advocating terrorism in the name of so called liberation urging British government to side with the terrorist against Pakistan.
An institution like FPC is expected to work towards education, information and better awareness about political and foreign policy issues to help them resolve and not to provide prestigious platform for one-sided propaganda, hateful speeches and misinformation against a sovereign country.
Solution to the turmoil in Baluchistan lies in dialogue, greater democracy at grassroots level, and end to the aged-old primitive tribal system where powerful Sardars hold their private armies, have prisons, hold subservient courts and dispense justice as they wish. Unfortunately the selected participants in the seminar never addressed such any such issues and mainly seemed bent upon supporting the Sardari rule.
In the Pakistani mindset a feeling already exists that Balochistan trouble is being fomented from outside with help and funding from western sources to destabilise the Pakistani state, to thwart Chinese strategic investment in the area, to compel Pakistan to co-operate in (the ensuing) operation against Iran and to divert attention from India’s problems in Kashmir. Such patently unbalanced and flawed seminar panels only add to such suspicions.