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User Name: Usman_Khalid
Full Name: Brig (R) Usman Khalid
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Balochistan News Letter – August 2013

September 2, 2013

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

Brahamdagh Bugti, Harbiar Marri and Akhter Mengel - three insurgent leaders with three different strategies but one aim. Is the present govt. cleverer than their handlers. If not, talk to the handlers, not them!

1. Law and Order Situation, 1-5 August. Two oil tankers were destroyed near Mastung. The police arrested two kidnappers and recovered a 12 years old boy from their custody from the outskirts of Quetta. FC arrested 21 criminals with weapons and explosive from near Barkhan, Marri area. Police announced that 529 CCTV cameras will be installed in Quetta, very soon. A woman and a child were wounded in a bomb blast in Chaman. Militants torched a container near Mastung which was going to Karachi. CJP visited Quetta on 5 August to hear cases but the lawyers went on strike protesting that he had appointed very junior and incompetent advocates as the new judges. Four more electric pylons were bombed near Mach reducing the power supply to less than 30%. A team which went to repair the towers after getting security clearance from the government hit a mine, injuring an Engineer. The work was stopped and remained so till 25 August.

2. Law and Order Situation, 6-11 August. During night 6/7 August, five buses going to Punjab were stopped at gun point by some 100 militants near Mach, 60 km away from Quetta. After checking the ID cards, 14 passengers belonging to Punjab were kidnapped beaten up and then killed. Their bodies were thrown from a cliff onto the road. Levies/FC was able to intercept some of the killers next day and in a fire fight, reportedly 6 militants were killed while the rest made good their escape. Similar incidents have taken place a number of times in the same area. On 8 August, a Police officer was ambushed and killed in Quetta. That afternoon when almost the entire senior leadership of Police was gathered for the funeral prayers in the Police lines, a suicide bomber attacked killing 28 Policemen/senior officers and 10 civilians. Some 50 persons were also wounded. The suicide bomber later turned out to be a Policeman himself and Imam of the mosque was arrested for interrogation. On 9 August, during the Eid prayers militants shot and killed a former PPP minister Ali Madad Jattak due to political enmity. While Jattak escaped, 13 men died and 20 were wounded which included guards of Jattak and some innocent bystanders. A grenade was thrown at a flower shop owned by a settler. An explosion near FC vehicle on Quetta’s Western bypass injured two FC soldiers. Near Khuzdar two men were killed by unknown persons. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali and CJP visited Quetta but no plans were announced for countering terrorism. The CJP, as usual, took Sue Moto notice of the worsening situation in Balochistan. The Interior Minister blamed past regimes for 13 years’ of insurgency but he had no plan to counter it. Similarly, the CM looked dumb incapable of any reaction but he said he would not bow to militants. A landmine killed one injuring 3 near Dera Murad Jamali.

3. Law and Order Situation, 12-20 August. FC arrested 12 militants and recovered arms and ammunition from Bolan Pass in a search operation while 4 militants were killed in exchange of fire. Some suspects were also arrested by FC from Sariab area and handed over to the Police on 12 August. The Independence Day was celebrated on 14 August mostly in cantonments, civil administration participated, there was no untoward incident. The CJP summoned Secretary Interior on 15 August to Quetta but he did not turn up and earned criticism from the CJ who is staying in Quetta, his home town. He also repeatedly kept talking about the ‘missing persons’ for whom he blamed the FC and intelligence agencies. As during the PPP rule, he has no observations regarding the connivance/failure of politicians. Three persons were injured in Baloch/Brahui area of Quetta by unknown gunmen. On 16 August, Jaffar Express, on its way to Rawalpindi, was stopped in Bolan Pass near Kolpur and attacked by rockets and machine guns killing 4 and injuring 23. The FC chased the attackers with helicopters who arrived within an hour of the incident. The attackers were detected while escaping on horses through the ravines. Four were killed and eight arrested. Unknown gunmen shot down a man in Sariab area of Quetta. Two Bugti groups headed by Akbar Bugti’s sons/grandsons, clashed in Nasirabad and one man was killed. On 18 August, militants attacked an FC check post killing two soldiers. In retaliation, one attacker was killed and one-wounded arrested. Near Mangocher, an oil tanker was attacked and damaged by miscreants. Transporters have established a camp near Quetta and are protesting against the failure of the government to ensure security on highways. After a lapse of two weeks, the government has now provided security to re-erect electric pylons destroyed by militants in Bolan Pass. Baluchistan HC rejected appeal to transfer the case of Akbar Bugti to Islamabad. The Anti Terrorism Court issued arrest warrants of former President, Governor, Interior Ministers, the then DC again and has asked the police to contact Interpol for their arrest. A dead body of a policeman with bullet wound was found in Quetta Cantonment. Two NATO containers were fired at near Sibi. FC recovered 100 tons of explosive-material from Satellite Town, Quetta and arrested 8 persons, amongst them, Maqbool Lehri, a former Mayor of Quetta.

4. Law and Order Situation, 21-25 August. A bomb exploded at Chaman Railway station when the train for Quetta was about to leave, killing two and injuring 15. The FC arrested eight persons in Quetta suspected of militancy and crime. A bomb went off near Mastung when a FC vehicle was passing by. The vehicle was undamaged but a passing by motorcycle was hit, killing one and injuring one. An unknown motorcyclist shot dead a man in Dalbandin. Three dead bodies were discovered in Karachi on 23 August. They had identities on them which showed they were reported-missing from Balochistan some months ago. Baloch leaders criticized agencies for their deaths. FC seized yet another 8 tons of explosive material from a store on Mission Road, Quetta. No arrests were reported. An attempt to explode a bomb on 24 August when FC vehicles were passing on Sariab Road was foiled and two persons arrested. The Balochistan Government withdrew application by the erstwhile caretaker government seeking transfer of Akbar Bugti ‘murder’ case to Islamabad. The CJ of BHC had allowed it while the ATC fixed 4 September for the next hearing requiring former president Mussharaf being produced. A bomb was diffused near Dera Murad Jamali and a policeman was shot and killed in Sibi by unknown persons. A container was torched near Mastung.

5. Law and Order Situation, 26-27 August. On the plea of two sub-national political parties a shutter-down strike was observed in Baloch/Brahui areas and in parts of Quetta to commemorate death of Akbar Bugti on 26 August 2006. A rocket was fired at FC in Kohlu area but no one was hurt. Two natural gas wells were damaged by explosives in Dera Bugti area. A Police party was fired at near Dera Murad Jamali injuring the DPO. Federal Minister for Railway changed the name of Quetta Express to Akbar Bugti Express which was received with mixed feelings. Akbar Bugti is seen as a hero by some but a scoundrel and terrorist by others. CJP started hearing of recent terror activities including Ziarat Residency’s destruction; killing of Punjabis travelling in buses going for Eid; Police-lines suicide bombing and Eid day’s killings. However, his focus shifted to ‘missing persons’ and as always, the target of his wrath was DG FC, Advocate General and the intelligence agencies and he demanded that the missing persons’ be produced. He termed it ‘great violation of human rights’, while he ignored the recent death of over 60 persons at the hands of BLA, LeJ and other terrorists. Beside injuring some 100 persons, these terror activities have created an atmosphere of insecurity and fear. The CJP has been severally criticized by people in general; even his constituency of lawyers ridicules him now. His visits and hearings have now become a joke. He gave time of two weeks to FC and Police to recover the ‘missing persons’ and had nothing to say for countering insurgency or controlling crime. On 27 August, the FC recovered three abductees and arrested the kidnappers from Pishin area. The FC also recovered explosives and arrested 10 persons from Mach area. Militants killed the driver of a truck and wounded two, when they shot at the truck near Mach. A man was killed by unknown gunmen in Sariab area of Quetta.

6. Law and Order Situation, 28-31August. CM Balochistan, on the floor of the PA, has sought the help of the Federal Government in negotiating with Baloch insurgents. He was shy of asking for the use of force and did not mention the menace of growing crime. He reported that 78 kidnapping rings were operating in the province and was pained by the unrest which has led to closure of schools depriving 70,000 children of education. in Baluch areas. Akhtar Mengal and Kalamati finally took oath and took their seat in the PA on 28 August. Mr Mengal emphasized his ‘loyalty to Balochistan’, criticized law and order situation and the role of federal agencies. A toy bomb killed a child in Sariab area, Quetta. On 31 August, militants fired at the FC convoy near Mand, Turbat area. 10 militants were killed in fire fight and some wounded were arrested. Two hand grenades were hurled at the house of BNP(M) leader Akhtar Mengal in Quetta but no damage was caused. He was quick to blame the ‘Agencies’. However, most people felt it was the work of his tribal rivals. Former minister Nasir Mengal and his son have house in the same area which were bombed some time ago and Akhtar and his insurgent brother Javed Mengal were thought to be responsible. Or indeed it might have been a drama staged as a part of a Baloch/Brahui political game. An abducted employee of Afghan Consulate was released in Quetta, possibly after payment of ransom. Balochistan Home Ministry has announced that 141 NATO containers have been looted, seven drivers killed and many wounded in about 6 years, mostly while passing through Khuzdar, Mastung, suburbs of Quetta, Kuchlak and Qila Abdullah areas. However, truckers place the number much higher. An intelligence agency has reported that TTP has planned to attack former President Mussharaf when he is produced before the ATC in Quetta. IG Police Balochistan has said that drastic changes are needed in existing policing system.

7. Administrative/Other Issues, 1-31 August. The Eastern belt of Balochistan has been receiving monsoon rains. The rains and floods have killed 17 persons. The CM is making efforts, unlike his predecessor, to alleviate the sufferings of the affected. When draft 18th Amendment was being debated, Dr. Abdul Malik, now the CM, was most aggressively demanding that Education be removed from the Concurrent List. He has now ordered teaching up to primary level in local languages, which are several in Balochistan. Paradoxically, he has also requested Chairman HEC to send a special team to Balochistan to evaluate and promote higher education. That the sustained killings of professors/teachers mostly from Punjab, even females, by BNP(M) and BLA has drained all educational institutions of qualified staff, he seems to ignore. The CM said he would take ‘stern action’ against absent bureaucrats. A large number of officials overstay all types of holidays, especially on Eid. By-elections were held all over the province on 22 August without any major violence. ANP and PKMAP, both Pashtun parties clashed in Chaman killing one worker. Candidates of PKMAP and PML(N) won. Abdul Wasey, JUI(F) leader of Opposition raised uproar in PA complaining that even after three months the Balochistan Cabinet had yet to be formed. The CM attributed this to the indecisiveness of PML(N) and the PM. The PA also condemned PIA, PR and NHA for failing to complete their uplift plans, poor service and high fares of PIA. PM announced Gadani Power Project of 6600 MW which will run on imported coal. CM Balochistan sought equity in the Project.

Terrorism, insurgency and crime has increased. Fear and insecurity in Quetta and Baloch/Brahui areas are much worse than in the previous month. Pashtun areas which had traditionally remained peaceful during the previous three Baloch/Brahui insurgencies have now started becoming targets of Baloch/Brahui and TTP terrorists. Crime is spreading rapidly all over Balochistan. The contributing factors is the pacifist policy of the new CM/PM, who are seen to be unwilling to deal with insurgents with resolute will. The geo-strategic environment has turned out to be different to what they expected and hoped. India’s aggressiveness on the Line of Control, impending withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan and frustration of US/Karzai with Taliban, have all added to the uncertainty and increased insurgency in Balochistan. Baloch/Brahui insurgents are fully supported by Afghanistan, India and the USA, the UK. gives implicit support. The insurgents’ training camps are located not only in Dasht, Bolan Pass, Awaran and Mand areas but even in Afghanistan. One camp is known to be in Spin Boldak, only 16 km away from Chaman.

The insurgency/militancy in Balochistan must not be considered simply as a reaction by the so called ‘angry Baloch’ to Akbar Bugti’s death which occurred in 2006. The stories of exploitation and deprivation spun by TV anchors and other journalists are found to be without substance on proper examination. The insurgency in Balochistan is a part of a plan conceived in 1997 by neo-cons which started to be implemented in 2002 by the US with the help of India, Israel and Afghanistan. The objective of the plan was to undermine national solidarity, using surrogates to spread outright lies to in the Pakistani and international media erode the respect people have for their armed forces creating doubts about the usefulness of the nuclear deterrent and the efficacy of military power to defend Pakistan. The idea was to prepare Pakistan for self destruction by internal insurrection aided and abetted by sectarianism and weird cults. The security of Pakistan is the responsibility of the Federal Government, This includes security against internal as well as external enemies. The geostrategic environment of Pakistan is characterised by great opportunities and serious threats. In the new type of war, the external enemy depends on the internal enemy for its success. The federal government must take a lead in formulating and implementing a counter insurgency effort in Balochistan in tandem with diplomacy. The CM can act as an instrument of this strategy but on his own, he just cannot handle the enormous challenges even if he was assertive and an effective administrator, which he is not. The spreading crime wave is eroding the writ of the government and it must be crushed ruthlessly.

Akhtar Mengal taking his seat in the PA after three months is no guarantee that he will now try to curtail insurgency. His own brother is still leading a militant outfit. His father was the first to carry out Ethnic Cleansing in Balochistan as the first CM in 1972. He is openly anti-Punjab, anti-Army and blames ISI for every dead body of a Baloch/Brahui. While he demands no terrorist be killed even if he is shooting at FC/Police, he never once has condemned the killing of Punjabis and law enforcing agencies. His role is to be a link between the insurgents and the government – a role in which he has always been on the side of insurgents thus giving them credibility and space at a time when the populace of Baluchistan is really sick and tired of decades of insurgency and has discarded the leaders in exile so openly supported by forces hostile to Pakistan.

Much of Balochistan (95%) is ‘B area’ in which there is no police; the area is policed by the Levies which have completely failed. The Levies worked well during the British rule when the sardar who provided them was hanged when a crime took place in his area. Now the sardars continue to recruit the Levies and they enjoy their loyalty even though their salaries are paid by the government. But the sardars have now become MNAs, MPAs, Senators and ministers of government. Sardars are no longer ‘stipend holders’ of the government; they are the government. They are not the conduit for the salaries of levies; they are in control of not just the levies but also the police, the FC and even the military. Clearly, the allegiance of uniformed personnel to any one other than the state is unacceptable. All of Balochistan must be declared ‘A area’ and placed under the Police like in other provinces of Pakistan..

The Police in Baluchistan is not well equipped. The loyalty of many policemen and even civil servants is doubtful because of their tribal or sectarian affiliations. That is why services of civil servants and policemen from other provinces has had to be resorted to. But of late those from other provinces have been systematically ousted or killed. The local Baloch/Brahui personnel, even if patriotic, are often forced to side with the insurgents due to fear. A large number of policemen and other officials must be inducted in Balochistan government from other provinces to offset the ill effects of ethnic cleansing. Police needs to be equipped with modern equipment to fight militancy and crime.

The FC, who are mostly pathans of Baluchistan, have been successful in recovering explosives/arms and ammunitions despite being targeted by militants. Heavy losses notwithstanding, the FC is bravely fighting the militants and regularly making arrests. However, FC is not organized to fight insurgency being sponsored by major foreign powers. FC must be reinforced and augmented to enhance its intelligence, firepower and mobility. It must have components of PAF and the Army dedicated to its support to accomplish the task of locating insurgents’ camps, laying a siege and striking hard preventing escape. Striking insurgents escaping after an attack has often led to failure. The location of insurgent camps are known and theses must be destroyed before the federal or the provincial government enters negotiations.

The politicians like negotiation’ because it puts them in control and make them look good as magnanimous statesman. Pakistani politicians often cite example of IRA insurgency. But the IRA was a unified body, without foreign masters with a proper military and political wing under one leader. Insurgency in Balochistan is being led by six to eight Baloch/Brahui young men, all with different agendas dictated to them by their foreign handlers. None of them is prepared to accept any other as the leader. Besides their kith and kin, who are loyal to Pakistan, do not want them back in their barren tribal lands as the leaders where they have at long last found political space. It would surely be better to ‘negotiate’ with their foreign master!

The role of CJP and judges leaves much to be desired. CJP often seems to be the sympathizer of the militants and hostile to the FC. He takes pleasure in calling the DG of FC to Hearings and accusing him of excesses while he totally ignores the failure of governance and political disinterest. After months spent demanding the whereabouts of ‘missing persons’ who do not want to be found, all he has achieved is to lower FC morale and the military becoming reluctant to undertake operations in aid of civil power. The people are now waiting for his retirement after which they hope the dispensation of justice might improve.

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