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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Usman_Khalid
Full Name: Brig (R) Usman Khalid
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Balochistan News Letter – May 2013

This is a brief Talk of the Town Report compiled for those interested in Balochistan. Significant developments are listed hereunder.

 

http://www.rifah.org/site/balochistan-news-letter-%e2%80%93-may-2013/

 

 

 

Former British Baluchistan which has 70% of the population of the province, 75% of which is Pashtun. That is why the name of the province is misleading.

 

 

1.    Law and Order Situation, 1-10 May. Gas pipeline was blown up near Dera Bugti. Teachers declined to perform election duties because of threats from Baloch/Brahui insurgents. Imran Khan announced if his Party comes into power he will stop ‘military operations’ in Balochistan. It did not matter to him that there have been no Military Operations in Balochistan since 2006. His statement was taken to be an effort to curry favour with Baloch- Brahui insurgents. May Day was observed in Quetta with rallies but no untoward incident took place. A grenade was thrown at the PML(N) election office in Quetta, injuring 6 men. Another 9 men were injured when a rocket landed on JUI (F) public meeting in Harnai, which is a Pashtun area but only a few miles away from Marri area. A rocket was launched at BNP(M) candidate’s residence in Khuzdar causing some material damage. Caretaker CM declared that saboteurs and terrorists were enemies of Balochistan who were supported by foreign powers. A police team which was sent to Islamabad to arrest former President Mussharaf for Nwab Akbar Bugti’s suicide-murder in August 2006.  Two workers of JI were injured when a bomb was thrown at their election office in Quetta. Gas pipeline was blown up near Dera Murad Jamali. Maulvi Fazur ul Rehman has given a fatwa that voting for Imran Khan is ‘haraam’ but it was just laughed at by the people. The motorcade of Sarfraz Dombki, an independent candidate, was attacked on 5 May killing four of his workers. The same day FC raided a hideout of militants near Bhag killing 13 and recovering huge quantity of explosives and weapons.  Two FC soldiers also killed in the shootout. Bomb attacks took place at JUI(F), PML(N) and NP election offices in Kharan, Quetta and Turbat. A Shia Hazara shopkeeper was gunned down in Quetta in his shop on 5 May. Militant Baloch/Brahui groups announced boycott of elections and threatened those who voted to be killed. Quetta and many small towns in Southern areas of the province remained closed under threat of militants. Army moved between 6 and 8 May in the interior of the province. Three soldiers were killed in a shootout with militants near Mastung.

 

2. Seat Adjustments, 1-10 May. PML(N) party leader Mr Sanaullah Zehri and PML(Q)’s Nasir Mengal have agreed to seat-adjustment. Both are former opponents but belong to mainstream national parties whose candidates are being attacked by insurgents. PML(N) President Mian Shahbaz Sharif visited Quetta and met with ethnic parties’ heads. Election campaign started in earnest all over the province except in some Baluch-Brahui areas where election offices were attacked mainly in Kharan, Noshki, Kalat, Khuzdar, Panjgur and Mekran.

 

3. Election and Aftermath, 11- 30 May. The militants had been threatening violence if people went for polls. They threatened some newspapers and government employees to prevent them from election duties. But their efforts were largely ineffective as their aggressive statements remained limited to sit-ins and press briefings. Except for a few killings, rocket attacks and sporadic disturbance, elections were held in a fairly peaceful atmosphere. The presence of the Army was welcomed in Baloch/Brahui areas. This showed the small base of support for the militants who were unable to sabotage the election in the presence of the law enforcing agencies. Awaran, although a district headquarters in the interior, some 200 km southwest of Khuzdar, which is merely a village with small and scattered population, was the only area where the turnout was really very low  - less than 2000. The rest of the province had more than usual voters’ turnout. Security forces remained alert and no serious disruption occurred. PKMAP, PML(N), NP emerged as the winners with initially up to 8-9 provincial seats each. The PPP was routed; JUI (F) got only 6 seats compared to 18 they won at the last Elections’. BNP(M), led by Akhtar Mengal won only 2 provincial and one federal seat. Akhtar is defiant and blaming the ‘establishment’ for his party losing other seats. PTI did not win even one seat. Aslam Raisani, former CM, did not take part in Election. His brother, Lashkari Raisani, contested the elections on the ticket of PML(N) and lost. The losers, other than PTI, were quick to blame the establishment for their defeat and continued some sit-ins here and there. The Election Commission stopped result of 2 NA and 7 PA seats ordering recounting/re-polling. From Bugti- Marri areas, Khuzdar, Panjgur, Las Bela and Mekran, where Baloch/Brahui agitation had flourished in the past, pro Pakistan candidates have won. PML(N) has emerged as the party with the largest number of seats with PKMAP as a close second. They have joined hands with the National Party (NP) of Hasil Bizenjo to form a coalition government in the province. Nawaz Sharif was given the authority to name the next CM. Three contestants, Dr. Malik from NP, Chengez Marri and Sanaullah Zehri from PML(N) are in the field - each carries some adverse attributes. PML(Q) has disappeared as the leftover of its members have joined PML(N). Provincial head of JI, having lost the Election, resigned in protest against rigging. Baluchistan Assembly has been summoned on 1 June. The coalition partners have nominated joint candidates for Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Dr Abdul Malik of NP is expected to be endorsed as the leader of the house and the next Chief Minster.   

 

4.    Law and Order Situation, 11-21 May. On 13 May, a vehicle with  1000 kg explosive was detonated in a suicide attack aimed at the cavalcade of the IG of Police. The IGP was unhurt but 8 persons were killed and nearly 90 persons injured. Buildings within one km radius were damaged and the city was shaken. Police arrested two Police officers for having links with banned outfits. Salahuddin Mengal, former Advocate General, kidnapped on 4 April was released on 21 May on payment of ransom, reportedly Rs. 30 m.

 

5. Caretaker PM and CM Create New Districts/Campus, 22 May. The caretaker PM and CM raised the tehsils of Sohbatpur and Lehri in their home-towns to the levels of districts. There are now 32 districts in Balochistan; all except Quetta are sparsely populated and very poorly administered despite huge funding from the federal government. The caretaker PM also inaugurated Nasirabad Campus of University of Balochistan in Sohbatpur, a large village which was made a Tehsil headquarters only a few days ago. This is some 50 km east of Jacobabad-Quetta highway and linked to it with a single track pot-holed road.

 

6.  Poor Administration, 1-31 May. The government-jobs are highly coveted in the province as employees remain absent in very large numbers often without leave. Some of them get unauthorized leave ‘sanctioned’ for months on sifarish or through threats but keep getting pay. Some sub-let their job and send unqualified replacements called ‘Eivzee’ (in lieu) and are given pay without questions. The 5,000 contract employees of Aghaz-i-Haqooq-a-Balochistan hired 2 years ago, went on strike and the provincial government quickly ‘regularised’ them. Teachers, even at university level, clerks and junior officers in administration, members of the Police force and Levies, and employees of Gas and Electricity corporations are the worst culprits. They are supported by their senior colleagues, sometimes even by top level political office holders/bureaucrats. Appointments, transfers and promotions are made only through bribes or sifarish in blatant violation of merit and transparency. Gas and electricity theft and non-payment of bills are at an all time high. The result is that every department, especially education, power, gas and roadways, has become dysfunctional.

 

7.   Law and Order Situation, 22 - 31 May. Two persons were kidnapped from Dera Murad Jamali area and four were killed in Dera Bugti area due to a fight between clans, apparently not related to insurgency. Three Hindu businessmen had been kidnapped ten months ago from Kalat. One of them was released a month ago and one was released on 27 May after payment of ransom. One of them still remains missing. An IED was detonated in Sariab area, Quetta; a Police truck was the target. 14 policemen were killed and 10 injured. Two dead bodies of unidentified persons were recovered from Turbat area. The Police dismissed one SHO and 7 other police officials for aiding the escape of criminals from custody in Quetta. A bus was looted near Khuzdar. A shopkeeper was killed in a grenade attack in Sariab area, Quetta. Power shortage is resulting in almost daily protests, especially by farmers whose livelihood depend on tube-wells; they frequently block the main highways to protest against outages often running for 22 hours a day. In Kharan and the interior of the province three persons were killed and a Levies party attacked. 6 terrorists surrendered in Sibi area. FC seized mines and weapons from near Kohlu on 28 May and arrested 4 foreigners from Zhob area with huge cache of weapons. Two bullet riddled bodies were found near Turbat. A Bugti militant along with 20 accomplices, claiming to belong to so called ‘BRA’ surrendered to FC in Sui on 29 May. The Bugti tribe’s elders were also present at the ceremony. A young girl was killed and six persons wounded when she stepped on a landmine near Dera Bugti on 30 May, allegedly placed by Brahmdagh Bugti’s men. Brahmdagh is living in Geneva under the protection of MI6/CIA and directing insurgency from there.

 

Comments

 

The Elections on May 11 was the most important event of the month.  The elections dispelled many doubts and demolished many popular myths pertaining to Balochistan:

 

a. It established that this province is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial land; it was wrongly named as Balochistan in 1970 due to ignorance of its history and demography. Baloch/Brahui alone cannot represent it or rule it or declare ‘independence’ despite CIA/RAW having extended patronage and support to rebels belonging to three small tribes - Marri, Bugti and Mengal’s – over several decades.

 

b. It was shown that the Baloch/Brahui militants/insurgents sponsored by RAW/CIA are very small in numbers. They could attack soft targets and explode IEDs while the PPP regime looked the other way but ran away when security forces were deployed even in small numbers. They were not willing to risk their lives to disrupt the election which were conducted largely in peaceful atmosphere; the total number of election related causalities was less than 20 dead.

 

c.  Akhtar Mengal has very limited following and yet his brother Javed Mengal, who is  leading a band of insurgents, failed to intimidate him.

 

d. The so called ‘Angry Baloch’ are supported by a small minority as a large number of pro Pakistan Baloch/Brahui contested the elections and won even in Mengal, Marri, Bugti areas. In Mekran and central Balochistan, Dr. Malik and Hasil Bezanjo’s NP emerged as the biggest political force in Baluch-Brahui areas winning 9 seats.

 

e. The PKAMP, which remained obscure for 5 years after boycotting elections in 2008, has emerged as the main representative of the Pashtun in Baluchistan. That it won 11 seats and its leader – Mahmud Achakzai – displayed alacrity and wisdom to joining the coalition government with NP and PML(N), augurs well for the province and the country.

 

f. The PML(N), which  won outright majority in national election, has won 18 seats in Baluchistan Assembly, and emerged as the largest party, shows that support for anti-Pakistan Baloch/Brahui leaders has eroded and they are a small minority in the province.

 

g. The religious political parties are not the favourites even among the Pashtun in Balochistan anymore. JUI (F) was not only defeated, no other party is willing to accept its 6 MPAs elect in a coalition - something they had been doing since 1970. The JI and PTI did not win any seat.

 

h. Talal and his son Shazain Bugti might have been favourites of CJSC but they could not even visit Dera Bugti for fear of their lives and announced boycott of the elections to save face, one night before.

 

i.     The PPP, which mis-ruled the province for 5 years with only 6 seats in a house of 65, buying every MPA, making everyone a minister, was completely routed. This showed that bribes – however large and attractive – have limited appeal for the electorate even in Baluchistan.

 

Balochistan has given a mandate to national-level party PML(N) and it  has been joined by NP and PKMAP to form a coalition. This augurs well for national cohesion and will put to rest separatist ambitions of ‘angry Baloch’ nurtured by CIA/RAW’s strategic designs in the region.

 

Some rigging of elections did take place but it is now accepted that it was not organized by a state apparatus. Local officials may have been influenced but they were victims of local dynamics and not willing participants in low level rigging. EC has withheld results of 2 NA and 7 PA seats and intends to hold re-Election. That notwithstanding, majority accepts the remaining results. The agitation and protests by various political parties involve very few people – often nor more than a dozen or so persons.

 

If the next government can espouse merit, re-establish the lost writ of the government, bring peace and carry out some development, the people will accept it as genuinely ‘people friendly’ administration. However, if they are out of step with the desire of the people for peace and fail to bring militancy under control, insurgency will re-erupt with a vengeance.  

 

The question of the selection of the CM is perhaps is a thorny one. There are three contenders for the post - Dr. Malik of NP, Chengez Marri and Sanaullah Zehri, both of PML(N). Three of the Marri brothers are still leading insurgency under the patronage of CIA/RAW and live in London and Geneva. Their father Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri is a staunch anti-Pakistan zealot, who lives in Karachi rather than his tribal land – arid and mountains of Kahan. Sanaullah Zehri is a ruthless Brahui sardar engaged in several blood feuds including the murder of his elder step brother Rasul Bakhsh Zehri. He has lodged FIR against Nawab Marri, Attaullah Mengal, Akhtar Mengal and many others for attack on his cavalcade which resulted in death of his son, his brother, a nephew and two guards. He would try to settle blood feud with his enemies if he becomes the CM. Dr. Malik thus appears to be the best candidate except that he does not belong to PML(N) and belongs to Mekran, a corner of the province. The redeeming fact is that all 3 parties have agreed that Mian Nawaz Sharif may nominate anyone as the CM. And there will be ‘opposition’ in the Provincial Assembly after 5 years of ‘accommodation’. !

 

Regardless of who became the CM, it’s the conduct demanded but the new PM which would decide the shape of the things to come in Balochistan. This province needs firm and assertive handling to curb the rampant crime which spread due to last CM and his ministers’ connivance and apathy. President Zardari and his two PMs are equally responsible for that CM and his government of ‘all ministers’ to continue.

 

Insurgency is now a lesser menace than the rampant crime. However, both would have to be addressed quickly. The writ of the government will have to be re-established before peace can be restored and development projects started. Teachers and professionals who have left the province due to threats need to be induced to return.

 

The administration of the province is in very poor state due to massive politically-motivated inductions and appointments disregarding merit. The large scale Zardari-inductions through Presidential order must be reversed by the same method. Where 2-4 persons would be sufficient there are 40-50 all drawing huge salaries with no work, creating continuous discipline problems.

 

Balochistan is ethnically, racially and politically fragmented. The CM alone cannot establish the writ of the government. CM in Balochistan can only be as assertive as the Federal government demands. The weight of responsibility rests on the PM and his federal ministers to oversee that Balochistan government starts functioning as a responsible state-organ and is held accountable for every facet of governance.

 

The 18th Amendment must be revisited to make it relevant to Pakistan’s political temperament and resources. Departments like Education and Health should be brought back on Concurrent List. The tenure of assemblies also needs to be reviewed. Had the last PPP regime left a year or two ago, the situation would have been far better. The power of governors and president to dissolve assemblies also needs to be restored. Balochistan PA was not willing to unseat the CM and kept reposing confidence in Aslam Raisani when he was beyond redemption.

 

MPAs/MNAs must be restricted to being lawmakers and not the overlords of the bureaucracy. Postings, transfers, appointments and promotions must not be in the hands of ministers. Their role be restricted to political matters; administration must rest with bureaucracy.

 

As a dismal example of caprice and impropriety which has been the hallmark of political leaders, the caretaker PM and CM Balochistan created two new districts in their ancestral areas. The PM even opened a University Campus in his village Sohbatpur rather than in Dera Murad Jamali which is a divisional headquarters and situated on the main road Quetta-Jacobabad. He ignored the fact that the University of Balochistan is short of teachers and his village is tucked away in a remote area with no civic amenities and is out of bound for Jamalis. If an 85 years old ex judge can be so brazen in exercise of authority when holding political office, it is time to consider how to restore ‘political neutrality’ of civil servants. Only an independent bureaucracy can bring Balochistan out of village-level politics, backwardness and poverty. 

 

 

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