and Army men assess the damage to Sui Gas Plant
Army Invade Balochistan as per the NIC-CIA Plan
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
January 29: It seems that our rulers, having learnt no lesson,
stand condemned to repeat the same criminal blunders that converted
Pakistan's most populated province into an independent state following
the surrender of the Pakistani generals to the Indian army. That
was December 1971.
34 years later Pakistan has drifted into a similar situation in
its biggest province. We had then, as now, a power drunk general
heading an equally obdurate military coterie that would not listen
to voices of reason, pleadings of political and saner elements
for a democratic settlement according to the electoral verdict
of the majority. Rest is history.
Balochistan today is facing a similar military operation as of
erstwhile East Pakistan. President General Musharraf has cast
the die. Not only a full-fledged military operation with all its
fire and fury has been launched though denied by his media minions,
the most deplorable rape of a doctor allegedly by army personnel,
seems to have plunged a proud people into an irreparable and irreversible
grief and a struggle that would be bloody with horrendous consequences.
when I sat down to write this piece I had before me four disturbing
but relevant news items. The first one was the blasting of gas
pipelines taking natural gas from Sui to the city of Lahore and
many more around it. It was the second major blow to the infrastructure
after the bombing of the plant in Balochistan.
second item was regarding bombing of a rail track by terrorists
near the Mushkaf Railway Station, about 85 kilometers from Quetta
on Thursday, delaying all trains to and from Quetta. The latest
attack came a day after the military authorities announced a plan
to set up a cantonment in the area to protect gas installations.
the railway authorities had stopped all train movements at night
in the Balochistan after a railway bridge was blown up. An explosion
on Saturday had hit the same track. According to the official
version, some terrorists had initially opened indiscriminate firing
to create panic and harassment in the area and then exploded the
bomb. Now the authorities have also deployed armed personnel at
all important bridges and tunnels to protect train tracks and
to ensure a safe train travel in the province.
a related development, a rocket landed near an electrical grid
station in Sibi, about 150 kilometers from Quetta late Wednesday,
but there was no damage. However, independent sources claimed
that they had heard three blasts.
third news item relates to the statement of the Chief of the Jamhoori
Watan Party Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. He has ruled out any possibility
of talks on the Sui crisis unless the issue of assault on a lady
doctor is sorted out since, according to him, the atmosphere is
not conducive for talks at that hour. Nawab Bugti told newsmen:
"Such incidents do not take place in our land. It has become
a matter of deep concern for the Baloch people."
also accused the authorities of making attempts at various levels
to hush up the rape probe while not registering the FIR against
those involved. He pointed out that it was only after the ugly
incident, which angered the local people, that the Sui gas field
return, Nawab Bugti alleged, the government bombed the area, killing
five people including women and children and leaving 32 wounded.
Bugti does not hope much of truth to come out of the government
inquiry. Bugti disclosed that he and his people were in "a
semi-war like situation imposed on us by the center".
asked if other local tribes would side with the Bugtis in case
hostilities broke out, the Baloch leader said: "Only time
will tell". As regards government's move to set up a military
cantonment in the Sui area, Nawab Bugti believes that the people
would resist such an 'occupation' of their land. He said that
like the people of Kashmir and Palestine, the Baloch people were
seeking their legitimate rights.
fourth news items, in the same context, is the statement of the
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani. He has
demanded convening of a joint session of the Parliament to discuss
what he said the 'grim and volatile situation' in Balochistan.
In his statement Mian Raza Rabbani asked the ruler to heed the
writing on the wall and not take the situation in Balochistan
lightly. The regime must find a political solution through dialogue
rather than hurling threats and warnings like it is not 70's.
"Brute force has never solved complex political issues. Hurling
threats will only exacerbate an already volatile situation."
Besides demanding a debate before the Joint Session of the Parliament
both the major political parties, the PPP and PML-N, have conveyed
their refusal to attend the so-called all parties conference convened
by the MQM. They believe that it is a veiled attempt by a government
coalition party to subvert independent movement to save Balochistan
from becoming yet another victim of the oppressive military rulers.
writing on the wall is crystal clear. It spells doom and disaster
especially when the military establishment is hell-bent on creating
a law and order situation to enable it to establish army cantonments
in a province that is being described by it as the last of terrorist
Pakistani generals religiously believe that by setting up new
cantonments they can get a foothold for their operations in a
particular territory. Besides that, they get an excuse to acquire
local expensive lands to establish the cantonments that include
housing complexes for the generals and officers doled out to them
at throw away prices.
up new cantonments obviously is the part of military establishment's
brainchild of converting Pakistan into a garrison state. Recent
developments including increasing acts of sabotage owned by the
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has confirmed military plans
to build one of three new bases in Balochistan at the massive
Sui gas fields. This decision has added fuel to the already simmering
fire of discontent in the province and its tribal leaders and
militant nationalists are reacting angrily.
They have been forewarning that the inferno that is being ignited
by the military will spread and become a bigger conflagration.
The bombing of railway tracks and other growing acts of subversion
in which the insurgents have been using rockets and heavy gunfire,
targeting the Pakistan Army and strategic installations, are attempts
at disrupting infrastructures in the area and to warn Islamabad
of their capacity to indulge in more serious violence.
Besides that, Balochi militants want to convey to General Musharraf
that they are not "Bingos" (Bengali Muslims) who had
no traditions of taking up arms or knew using them as compared
to them when their child learns to wield the gun much before he
gets his teeth. It may be recalled that just three weeks ago Pakistan's
overconfident President General Musharraf had warned them much
in the similar jingoistic language that General Yahya had used
when declaring war against the Bengali population in East Pakistan.
had warned the Baloch militants they would not know "what
hit them" unless they stopped fighting. This warning has
seen a chain reaction starting with the ferocious mortar attack
on the security forces at the Sui Gas fields/installations. These
clashes lasted several days and led to massive disruption of supplies
to industries and homes. Many areas in Pakistan still have rationed
supply of Sui gas despite the fact that the army was immediately
moved in to secure supplies and protect installations.
political elements in the Musharraf government are seized of the
gravity of the situation and they have tried to hold sort of talks
with the recognized Baloch leadership, of course without success.
The Baloch leaders do not like the way Islamabad wants to militarily
handle the situation. They would like to sit across the table
and hold dialogue with the government but
not at the cost of their own interests or pride.
are absolutely justified in demanding that the military posing
as an occupation force should withdraw from their area, cancel
and cease building the planned cantonments. Only then, tribal
leaders say, can both sides discuss the Balochi nationalists'
demands for more autonomy, a greater share of the wealth from
the province's rich mineral reserves and more investment in development
a student of history what is disturbing me is the adoption of
that diction for discussing Balochistan by the columnists and
media commentators in Pakistan that is used mostly in dealing
issues such Kashmir and Palestine. I find the term "confidence
building measures" now being excessively used to urge for
a dialogue between Islamabad and Balochi leaders, conceding by
implication, that the two parties represent two independent states.
used to get some feedback on the war in 1971 from a friend working
in a senior position in Rawalpindi's Inter Services Public Relations
Department. His answer to my "how is the situation"
question used to be "Don't worry, everything is going according
to plan". When it was over, I realised that everything had
happened "according to the plan".
Generals had planned it that way and so it happened. It is another
story that my friend in the ISPR who was definitely more honorable
than others, could not take the humiliation. He died soon after
brings out of me the apprehension: are our military rulers working
on an a similar agenda or something that has been laid out for
them in the various assessment reports over the years by the National
Intelligence Council (NIC) in joint collaboration with CIA. It
was poor Miraj Khalid who as interim prime minister in early 1997
had dared to confide to the Pakistanis that CIA had forecast Pakistan's
denouement by the year 2015.
the previous edition of its Global Futures assessment the NIC
report cast a dark shadow on Pakistan's future five years ago.
It said that by the year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state,
ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and
a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and its complete
Talibanization. It had predicted, "Pakistan will not recover
easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive
policies, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction.
democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition
from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties.
Further domestic decline would benefit Islamic political activists,
who may significantly increase their role in national politics
and alter the makeup and cohesion of the military, once Pakistan's
most capable institution.
a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the central government's
control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and
the economic hub of Karachi."
General Musharraf's "good governance", his "democracy",
his "achievements", his war against Islamic terrorists,
his handling of Kashmir issue, his voluntary surrender of the
UN granted right of self-determination and his packing off Dr
AQ Khan and Pakistan's nuclear program for which Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto preferred martyrdom, his support to Mullas to become a
formidable parliamentary force, are feats performed by him in
his line of duty as blueprinted in above quotation from NIC Report.
before in the history of Pakistan did we have so much of sectarian
violence as during the last five years. Inter-provincial rivalries
are bursting at their seams on the water issue. There is widespread
discontent in Sindh. Now Balochistan is asking for its fair share
in the revenues from its natural gas and the Praetorian establishment
is about to launch a genocidal operation to teach the proud Balochs
NIC has released its new report recently. It devotes to the global
threat posed by terrorism and the dangers associated with proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction. It, perhaps, has a role for Osama
Bin Laden since in one of its future scenarios it seriously discusses
the possibilities of the re-establishment of the Islamic Khilafah
has forecast the possibility of the next Indo-Pakistan war and
probable use of nuclear weapons in that conflict from boom to
doom. It has made interesting observations about the future growth
of both India and China and their global role.
the context of Balochistan, one would like to refer back to the
2015 NIC report. It forecast a Yugoslavia-like fate for Pakistan.
The military operation that has been put in motion would further
distance Baloch people from rest of the country. That perhaps
is the plan. This brings me to an interesting observation in a
book by Abul Maali Syed "The Twin Era of Pakistan-Democracy
and Dictatorship" (1992). The caption of his First Chapter
is 2006 and its opening para is as follows: "Who would have
believed that Balochistan, once the least-populated and poorest
province of Pakistan, would become independent and the third richest
oil-producing country after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait".
cannot but appreciate and acknowledge the insight of AM Syed and
his premonitory observation. The entire chapter is devoted to
what he describes as an independent state of Balochistan. In the
light of his detached view (Syed was in Canada at the time of
writing his book and I believe his book is banned in Pakistan)
and the events that have taken place in the country since 1992
and what is being unleashed on Balochistan by the military, one
can only pray, with no disrespect to Syed, that his academic premonition
does not come true.
there are many observers who look confident in predicting Pakistan's
future as a foregone conclusion but being a proverbial optimist
I believe that though late the situation can still be retrieved.
The ongoing crisis of identity confounded by the Mullah interpretations,
need to be buried deep down by reverting back to Quaid's dream
of a secular, democratic and federal
Praetorian establishment shall have to be told enough is enough,
its concept of unity of command can be good for the military ranks
but not for the working of a democratic society with complete
freedom for dissent and socio-economic justice for all.
Balochistan issue must be debated in a joint session of the Parliament.
There is the utmost urgency to sort it out through negotiations
and dialogue and at no stage should the military be used. When
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto could resolve the tricky issue of the quantum
of provincial autonomy in 1973 and give the country a consensus
constitution, why cannot it be done again?
That being the least, relations with Iran heating up and with
Pakistani military likely to get a substantive role in Bush's
future anti-Iran operations, General Musharraf needs to be advised
to seek broad based national consensus with genuine political
leaders like Benazir Bhutto to collectively steer the country
minimally scathed from a situation where even angels shall fear
tread. To meet outside challenges, we have to forge internal unity.
The writer is a former Pakistan
High Commissioner to UK