The situation in Balochistan


Special Report by Brig. (Retd) Usman Khalid: Law and Order Situation, 1- 6 Feb. Bodies of two missing persons belonging to Turbat were found near Karachi. A taxi driver kidnapped from Quetta was released after his family paid ransom. One man each was shot dead, in Quetta and Turbat, for unknown reasons by unknown killers. On 6 Feb two men were killed in Quetta by unknown assailants. A bomb exploded near Brewery Road. A rally was taken out where tribal elders said that Quetta was ruled by killers, thieves and dacoits. Dr. Malik of National Party said that good governance was not possible without strict accountability. Yaqub Nasir, former minister PML(N) a Pashtun of Duki, and former Senator Mohabat Khan Marri from Kohlu admired the Army and judiciary stating that the nation had pinned hopes on these institutions and condemned 5 years corrupt rule of PPP. A mutilated body of a local man was found near Panjgur. A blast near Police Station Kuchlak killed one man.

Apex Committee Meets, 6 Feb. The Apex Committee headed by Governor Magsi, comprising Commander Southern Command, IGFC and civil bureaucracy met on 6 Feb and noted that the crime rate had dropped in the province. Civil bureaucracy was reshuffled, again.

Law and Order Situation, 7- 10 Feb. A rocket killed two FC personnel near Turbat on 8 Feb. A dead body was found near Dera Bugti. Commander of Southern Command, Lt Gen Alam Khan Khattak, visited Loralai along with IGFC; addressing the tribal elders he emphasized that the Army endeavours aimed at welfare and prosperity of the people with assistance in various socio-economic projects. Political/religious leaders expressed their concerns in a seminar on 10 Feb, over sectarian killings, target killings, terrorism and over all poor law and order situation. Anti-polio campaign has been halted in 25 out of 30 districts of the province due to attacks on the polio-teams.

Election and Governor Rule, 1- 28 Feb. Although many parties who were beneficiaries of being in the government are unhappy on the imposition of the Governor Rule, but it is the JUI (F) which appears to be really very angry. Maulana Sherani keeps meeting various party leaders and demanding removal of even this benign, easy going Governor and bringing the criminal gang of MPAs back in control. The ANP is also very vocal demanding reinstatement of their minister who has been hauled up by NAB for massive corruption. The Governor promulgated an ordinance enhancing compensation to victims of terrorism. Fazalul Rehman, the leader of JUI, has been accusing the government and agencies of exploiting sectarian elements. He is also advocating start of negotiations with the TTP. Mahmud Achakzai, Chairman PKMAP, has said a united Pashtun Province is his partys objective. He desired that the provinces be drawn on ethnic/racial boundaries for progress. By end of the month, PKMAP, which remained silent over the ethnic cleansing of Punjabis and massive corruption in the province, was making statements that partisan Caretakers would not be acceptable to them.

Law and Order Situation, 11 15 Feb. Two rockets were fired on Quetta city injuring 7 persons, including 4 children. A local mullah was killed in Kalat by unknown persons. One person was killed in Khuzdar area and one abducted. FC recovered a cache of arms and ammunition from smugglers near Gulistan, killing one man in a shootout. Another large cache was recovered in an operation by FC near Quetta on 12 Feb.

Kirani Road Carnage Against Shia-Hazaras, 16 Feb. Nearly a ton of explosive hidden in a water tank was driven to Hazaras-Shias market at Kirani Road and exploded when the market was full of shoppers, mostly women and children. 95, including 25 children and 36 women died besides injuring over 180. Government announced mourning for a day and removed the IG and DIG Police. An air force cargo plane flew more seriously injured to Karachi for treatment. Shias started their sit-in demanding targeted operations against the known persons of Sipah-e-Sahaba (SS), now called Jamat-ahl-a-Sunnat and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. After 3 days, the PM allowed FC to undertake such operations. Some 117 suspects were arrested within 2-3 days mostly from Baloch/Brahui areas from the south of Quetta, including the master-minds of present as well as previous massive attack on Hazaras. However, defunct SS supporters took to the streets after their 4 of their activists were killed in a shootout with FC. 7 activists were also shot by unknown persons. The provincial government tried to appease the SS by registering FIR against the FC. The dead bodies were buried on the 3rd day. However, this time the Hazaras were more furious and threatened to take law in their own hands if the government persisted in its passive attitude. The incident drew nationwide condemnation and sympathy for Shias. Even the Secretary General and Mr. Putin, President of Russia, sympathized with the victims and condemned the attack on Shias. Several Shia and national leaders, including the entire Sindh Assembly, also demanded that the Army should be given control of the administration of the city. However, the CJ of SC who had taken suo-moto notice said he would never consider calling in the Army, but he wants a cleanup operation in Balochistan. He keeps inviting various functionaries to report to him as to why do these attacks go on but ignores the performance of federal/provincial governments in the past 5 years where lawlessness was promoted by the CM, his ministers and even the PM and the President. It has since been reported that the explosive used in Kirani Road blast was about 10 kg but the explosive-power was enhanced by use of certain chemicals to equal to 1000 kg blast.

Law and Order Situation, 17-19 Feb. The FC continued carrying out targeted operations against criminals in Kharan and Mangocher and not only arrested some persons but also recovered incriminating arms and ammunition. However, the Baloch political parties leaders wasted no time in condemning the arrests. Their oft-repeated chador-n-chardewaris violation and calling such operations anti-Baloch action is quickly aired and the media dutifully prints it, lest the goons attack the offices of the newspapers. Dead bodies of two missing persons were found near Khuzdar.

Shazain Bugti Released by Court, 20 Feb. Shazain Bugti, son of Talal Bugti, grandson of Akbar Bugti, along with his accomplices was released from Jail. He had been arrested, in the presence of IG Police and IGFC under live coverage by TV channels some 6 months ago near Quetta while smuggling arms and ammunition worth Rs.140 million from Chaman in 16 smuggled vehicles. His release is said to be due to close relations of CJ of the Supreme Court with the Bugti family. The CJ used to be the lawyer of Akbar Bugti who had then appointed him as a Judge of the High Court. The CJ keeps visiting Talal Bugtis residence whenever he visits Quetta. Without yet hearing the case of Akbar Bugtis death, the CJ has already said it was the worst political murder of Pakistan. Talal and Shazain both are claimants of the Throne of Dera Bugti and want to contest it with weapons and violence on the massive bonanza of Rs.200 million annual rent from Sui gas field.

Law and Order Situation, 21- 28 Feb. Annual Sibi Mela started on 20 Feb and continued without any violence till it ended 4 days later. 5 Pashtun labourers belonging to Zhob working in Pasni were gunned down by unknown gunmen. Strong statements were made by local Pashtun leaders. The Governor announced a million rupees each as compensation for the victims families. A bullet riddled body was found from suburbs of Quetta on 26 Feb. 3 dead bodies of kidnapped persons were found from Qila Abdulla area. Shutter down in Panjgur continued for the 4th day against checks by FC and arrests of suspects. A landmine injured two men in Dera Bugti. Prosecutor General of Baluchistan High Court was kidnapped while travelling from Zhob to Islamabad.

Gwadar Ports Handover to Chinese Company 18 28 Feb. Gwadar Port was officially handed over to a Chinese company on 18 Feb which has drawn mixed response from home and abroad. India has loudly expressed its anxiety calling it a threat due to its proximity to Indias sea lines of communications. Foreign media opined that China will use it for military purposes which were promptly denied by China. Militant Baloch/Brahui leaders, especially those living abroad residing under the MI6 and CIAs protection, including Akhtar Mengal, have condemned the handover while Hasil Bezanjo and other pro-Pakistan Baloch/Brahui leaders have appreciated it calling it a good step for the development of the area. However, domestically, the move was welcomed by politicial parties as well as the media in Pakistan.

Zardari Visits Quetta, 28 Feb. President Zardari visited Quetta for two hours on his way back from Iran. He met Hazaras delegation and reassured them. In the Governor House he inaugurated a dam in the Governors home district some 300 km away. Then he was busy listening to MPAs who want the Baluchistan Assembly to be reinstated. He visits Quetta rarely and the security measures cause disruption and pain to the citizens as the entire area was blocked.

Comments

Despite the Governors Rule, criminal activity has continued all over Balochistan more or less as before. It has now extended also to Pashtun areas as lack of governance in the province during the last 5 years has encouraged anti-social elements to become bold and more active. Afghani adventurers also now commit crime in Pashtun areas and escape to Afghanistan. However, the so called BLA and various other militant anti-Pakistan groups seem to have gone in hibernation. The anti-Pakistan and anti-Army/Punjabi wall chalking are no more visible. The militants statements now emphasize fighting for Baloch Rights not independence. Handing over of Gwadar Port to a Chinese company has dampened the spirits of those who had been waiting for US Forces to walk in any day and liberate Balochistan.

Election and favorable-Caretakers are now the politicians agenda. JUI is most restless and it keeps demanding the end of Governor Rule, reinstatement of PA and provincial government. It seems it is eager to lay its hands on huge sums of allocated to MPAs for Development which is now stuck up in gravy train that has come to a halt. However, there is a general feeling that the entire PA must first be scrutinized for corruption and their connivance with criminals investigated. Indeed, many, including the CM are blamed for direct crimes. Zardaris two-hours visits was more focused on bringing back the PA so that a favourable Caretaker set up can be agreed upon.

The Apex Committee meets periodically with senior provincial officials and Army brass but the Army is vociferously being criticized by the public for doing too-little and too-late. The Army is accused of looking the other way leaving the internal and national security matters in the hands of totally corrupt and incompetent politicians. The PPP regime has been allowed to create and spread anarchy in Balochistan; A areas were reverted back to B Areas; target killings of Punjabis/Hazaras continued without check. Out of the budget of 172 billion Rupees, the federal government doled out of 168 billion which has been looted by the CM and the MPAs (all of who have been ministers or advisors) with no accountability. The 18th Amendment has effectively converted the Federation into Confederation further promoting fissiparous tendencies. The patriotic majority expects the Army to take responsibility, at least now, for bringing in patriotic, non-partisan Caretakers Administration to carry out strict accountability of elected persons who are again ready for a come back in the next elections, now far richer and stronger. Political polarization has peaked. Elections have become a very high stake game. Should the PPP regime and the Friendly-Opposition be allowed to form a Caretaker set up, it will be contested by those who would find it partisan. Violence and bloodshed would follow.

The CJ has become highly controversial and is criticized the most. He does not want the Army and insults in public the FC and Army, is a great admirer of democracy, wants elections on time and yet expects anarchy be controlled and peace prevail. With the Army and the FC demonised, he does not explain who will deliver? The police that is scared and unsupported by political masters? He visits Talal Bugtis house periodically and saw to it that his son who smuggled a huge cache of arms and ammunition is acquitted and released from jail. He allows the trial for murder against former President Musharraf, the federal Interior Ministers, the then Governor and Home Minster of Baluchistan and many more who had nothing to do with Akbar Bugtis death. Recently, FIR was registered against the FC when four suspected murderers were killed in a shootout with FC while courts routinely release criminals. FCs operations against religious fanatics and criminals enjoy publics general approval but now militant Sunnis are now gearing up to oppose and resist arrests of their maulvis. Murder of five Pashtun labourers in Baloch area is first such case which confirms that foreign elements are still trying to create ethnic clashes. Both developments point towards serious sectarian and racial/ethnic conflict in Baluchistan.

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