Special Report by Brig. (Retd) Usman Khalid: This is a brief Talk of the Town Report compiled for those interested in Balochistan. Significant developments are listed hereunder
1. Law and Order Situation, 1- 4 Nov. Two men were killed on the first day of the month, one at Mastung and the other in Hub. Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, the only MPA in Opposition in Balochistan Assembly, appeared before the SC to get relief from the BHC sentence of life term. On orders of the SC, he was arrested, and bailed out the next day. He claimed that the CM had falsely accused him of a murder as they had old enmity. On 2 Oct, a Brahui shopkeeper in Khuzdar, selling Iranian smuggled petrol in drums was shot and killed due to tribal enmity. The firing set the petrol drums on fire resulting in the death of 18 persons mostly women and children, and many more were injured. TPPs statement to invite the nationalist and separatist parties in Balochistan to continue struggle in an Islamic way was prominently published by local papers. Senator Mohabat Khan Marri stated that the so-called missing persons are actually working as foreign agents busy in terrorism. In two incidents of mines explosion one woman and a child were killed in Dera Bugti area. On 2 Nov, the PM announced in the presence of CM the continuation of subsidy for agricultural tube wells in Balochistan, endorsing the CM against the orders of the SC. 7000 tents reportedly arrived in Jaffarabad for the flood affectees. However, 5 million people are reported to be affected. On 4 Nov, three Punjabis travelling from Iran were killed near Mand, Turbat, and three persons were killed in Quetta by unknown killers. There has been some reduction in crime in Quetta. IGFC attributed it to Police-Powers given to FC in the City.
2. SC and Provincial PPP Regimes Tussle, 1-30 Nov. Due to the failure of the provincial government to enforce law and order, the SC through an interim order on 12 Oct had declared that the PPP government had lost constitutional authority to rule Balochistan. On 2 Nov, during a hearing where the CM, a few of his ministers and the Interior Minister Rehman Malik appeared, the SC upheld its Interim-Order of 12 Oct and ordered the stoppage of development funds amounting to Rs.24 billion to the Govt of Balochistan. The Federal Govt as well as the CM seemed adamant to defy the SC order. Rehman Malik tried to downplay the gross lack of law and order in Balochistan and accused TTP, BLA and Jundullah having a nexus resulting in anarchy. Some MPAs/Ministers of the PPP and ANP have taken position against the CM while most of them are still supporting him. CM Raisani called on the Punjab CM on 3 Nov but no sympathetic statement appeared. HRSP demanded governors rule in Balochistan while Jamat-i- Islami demanded immediate polls. Governor Magsi summoned the PA while the Speaker Bhotani was against it due to SC Interim Order. The Governor apparently sided with the Federal Government and then left for Karachi on leave. As Acting Governor Speaker Bhotani cancelled the meeting on 13 Nov. However, the Deputy Speaker Mattiullah from JUI called the session of the PA. On 13 Nov, some 64% members showed up and reposed confidence in the CM. CJ was criticized for trying to employ now-defunct article 58-2B for dismissing the PA. However, Speaker Bhotani said that the Government of Balochistan had lost Constitutional authority to rule. On 20 Nov, the CJ expressed great appreciation for Parliamentary Democracy and said, that he did not slate the PA; his judgment was against the Provincial Govt. He ignored the fact that every member of Balochistan PA was either a minister or an advisor. He gave a new date of 5 Dec for hearing the Balochistan Anarchy Case. By the end of the month, the CM was still the C and the CJ seems to be looking the other way. Federal Govt including the senior Army Command in Quetta are publically supporting the CM but the province now appears to be run more by the CS and HS rather than the ministers, in a kind of semi-governor rule without saying so.
3. Statements of COAS and the CJ, 5 Nov. Two statements made by the COAS and CJ on 5 Nov have become the centre of nation-wide discussion. Army Chiefs statement was interpreted by many as the last warning for the SC, the government and the media to realize the gravity of the national environment and stop demoralizing the Army which is fighting a war against insurgents supported by major adversaries. CJ declared the judiciary was the ultimate power to which all must submit. A debate has started with many feeling that the judiciary wittingly or unwittingly has become yet another instrument of Pakistans enemies who have been trying to revile the Army and the ISI. There is disquiet among officers and men who feel that their sacrifices are being sidelined in the power-play in which the SC and the government are indulging in against the Army. The animosity of CJ, Nawaz Sharif and the PPP regime against the Army, albeit for different reasons, is destabilising the country. All three are trying to discredit the Army and humiliate its leadership by regularly questioning the integrity of senior Army commanders, some long after their retirement. The Media, long suspected to be under foreign influence, is the vanguard of the vilification campaign even though its integrity is regularly being questioned. Even those against Martial Law are now saying that a national government by eminent non-politicians rather than the election is the need of the hour. Otherwise, the four forces in conjunction with USA and India would undermine national cohesion and security. The CJ is now a loud voice in that campaign. Media anchors and column writers regularly accuse the Generals and the military mindset to be the cause of all the problems of the country and the failure of democracy. Even some ex-servicemen have joined the campaign. A retired Lt Col practising law in Rawalpindi filed a case against the service extension given of the COAS which the Islamabad High Court promptly accepted. On 15 Nov, the Bar Council of Rawalpindi gave an extremely offensive statement against the Army demanding reduction in number of general officers while raising slogans in favour of the CJ. On 20 Nov, a columnist writing for Jang newspaper opined that the CJ is preparing ground for dismissing the COAS. CJ is making daily statements saying constitution is supreme and that every institution should work within its boundaries.
4. Law and Order Situation, 5-7 Nov. IGFC distributed cheques amongst 400 families of FC Martyrs (Shuhada) in Quetta, all belonging to KP while eulogising the sacrifices of the force. Three men, two of them Shia/Hazaras were killed in City by unknown assailants riding motorcycles. The same day, three men were killed in Turbat area. On 6 Nov, three more Shia/Hazaras and a passerby were killed in Quetta. The CM and the PM announced continuation of subsidy for agriculture tube-wells thus addressing unrest in Zamindars. The Doctors strike being observed against the abduction for ransom of their colleague kidnapped 22 days ago continued. Commander Southern Command, Lt Gen Alam Khan Khattak along with IGFC visited Dalbandin on 7 Nov and addressed the Baloch/Brahui elders. While highlighting the services of the Army and FC he also made it clear that anti-Pakistan law breaking elements would be dealt with severely. Federal Minister Umar Gorgej presented welcome address. In the last five years, this is the third visit of the Commander Southern Command and his first visit to Baloch/Brahui areas. The re-election of President Obama was viewed with disinterest. President Obama has been sucha disappointment that even the insurgents looked after by CIA/MI6 were disdainful of the US elections.
5. SC Hears Petition Against Media Accused of Maligning Armed Forces, 6-Nov. A Three Member Bench headed by the CJ heard a petition accusing the media of maligning the armed forces and demanding regulation and implementation of PEMRA laws. The SC postponed further hearing without giving notices to the anchors accused in the petition.
6. Law and Order Situation, 8-16 Nov. Three men, two Shia/Hazaras were killed on 8 Nov in Quetta. The PM visited Gwadar on 8-9 Nov and along with CM inaugurated a new road. He emphasised unity but ignored the SC verdict of the provincial government having lost the constitutional right to rule. On 10 Nov, three Shia/Hazaras were killed in Quetta. Hazaras blocked the roads for some time in protest. A Madrassa student from Zhob, who was killed in Karachi, was buried on 11 Nov. Zafarullah Jamali, the former PM accused Sindh for diverting rain water and causing flood in Balochisatn. Ahmadan Bugti, MNA from Dera Bugti was attacked and injured by a small bomb hidden in his shoe. BRA (indeed the BLA, which uses different names) headed by Brahmdagh Bugti claimed responsibility. Two days later, a son of the spokesman of BRA was killed in Noshki. On 12 Nov, three Shias were killed in Mach. Two more persons were killed one in Turbat area and the other in Quetta. Two oil tankers were torched near Mastung. Talal Bugtis house was surrounded by FC and Police for a few hours. However, other than a protest by Talal, nothing has been reported. On 13 Nov, a remote controlled bomb was exploded when FC convoy was passing on Air Port Road; two were killed and seven injured. At least 16 persons were injured in a grenade attack on the bus stand in Hub. PPP Balochistan has declared provincial government unconstitutional. The next day the PM summoned the PPP BA member. Pillion riding has been banned. On 14 Nov, Home Secretary visited Dera Bugti, a first visit by a senior civil servant in several years. On 15 Nov, 1st Muharram, motorcycles and cell phones use was stopped in the province. Three persons, one in Panjgur who was a school teacher, one each in Uthal and Quetta were killed probably by militants as no complaint or protest was made.
7. Law and Order Situation, 17-21 Nov. Two FC soldier were killed in Zhob in a bomb attack. IGFC lauded the sacrifices of the FC for capturing a huge cache of arms and ammunitions from Zhob. Pillion riding has been banned in Quetta. Ulema and students of Madrassas in Quetta took out a huge procession to commemorate the death anniversary of Hazrat Omar Farooq. This is a new trend to match the Moharram processions. The Doctors strike against kidnapping of Dr. Saeed, almost a month ago continues. They even refused to perform duties during Moharraum. A journalist of a private TV channel was killed in Panjgur on 19 Nov. No one claimed responsibility. The press club of Panjgur was closed for an indefinite period. Some 60 Doctors on strike were arrested and jailed after several hours of fight with the Police. The Provincial Government borrowed 40 doctors from the Army to run emergency services. Four rockets were fired by militant Marri tribesmen on FC check-post in Barkhan. A large number of weapons were also reportedly missing from Police armoury in Barkhan. Bombs were recovered from Dera Bugti area by FC.
8. Law and Order Situation, Attack on Childrens Bus/Army in Quetta, 21 Nov. A roadside IED was exploded with remote control when Staff College Bus carrying children and female teachers from schools in the city was returning in the afternoon. The full force of the explosion was absorbed by the army guards open pickup leading the bus. 3 soldiers and 2 civilians were killed while 28 were injured. The School bus was undamaged and was driven away giving an impression as if it was not the target. The explosion took place near Killi Ismael which is inhabited by Baloch/Brahuis. No Baloch/Brahui leader condemned the attack. The so-called BLA claimed responsibility. Police/FC also did not carry out the usual search and arrests in the area, possibly due to Moharram commitments.
9. Doctors Strike and Armys Help Through CMH Quetta, 21-30 Nov. Civilians deprived of the medical support due to the doctors 36 days long strike took to streets in Quetta while the courts were processing bails of the arrested doctors. On request of the CM, CMH Quetta established Emergency Cell for civilian patients and started providing round the clock free medical services. During the first 24 hours over 1,000 patients had been treated and 100 had been admitted. However, no private TV channel mentioned this even in passing. The CM announced stoppage of salaries of striking-doctors. Doctors working at private hospitals were stopped and in the process several unauthorized hospitals were discovered. CMH is now overcrowded by patients from the civil. CM also visited the CMH on 27 Nov while Emergency Wards in Civil hospitals started working. On 28 Nov, Dr. Saeed who had been kidnapped some 43 days ago was released by unknown kidnappers who were paid ransom by unknown persons. CM visited Dr. Saeed to sympathize with him. Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Young Doctors did not call off the strike as they feel the GoB has done nothing to improve their security. Meanwhile the CM is pressurizing the doctors to vacate their official residences. The strike continues.
10. Law and Order Situation, 22-27 Nov. Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) at Sibi sentenced 4 terrorists to death who had set a bus at fire near Sibi killing 12 including women and children. This is the first such punishment awarded for terror related crimes in over 5 years. On 23 Nov, FC intercepted a vehicle coming from Chaman laden with explosives. An IED was defused near Sui. A man each was killed by unknown gunmen in Quetta, Dera Bugti, and Pasni and Nasirabad area. On 10 Muharram, 25 Nov, Quetta and small towns of province were brought to a standstill through blockade of roads, closure of shops and official holiday. Motorcycles use was banned and cell phones blocked for 3 days. Ashura passed peacefully. IGFC addressed the officers and soldiers and praised their efforts for maintaining peace, especially in Quetta. PKMAP, a Pashtun nationalist party, has been protesting that armed Baloch/Brahuis have been threatening Pashtun contractors and workers in Baloch/Brahui areas. This is the first public protest of the kind where serious conflict is now visible between the Baloch and the Pashtuns, the two major ethnic/racial groups.
11. GoB Buys an Executive Jet Plane for CM; Senate Demands Accountability. The GoB, which barely collects revenue of Rs.4 b per year, has purchased a new executive jet for Rs.1.6 billion which seats 8. The stories of gross corruption in GoB are very common. However, after 18th Amendment, the provinces are truly autonomous, i.e. they have no checks and balances other than the PA, which itself is corrupt and incapable of ensuring checks and balance. Accordingly, the Senate Standing Committee for Finance had asked for review of Balochistans Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) from 2002 to 2012-13 on 5 Dec. The CM has termed it unconstitutional interference in Provincial Autonomy and refused to send anyone for the hearing. The impact of Rs.162 billion budget, huge jump from usual Rs.70 b, is not at all visible in Balochistan. Every penny of the taxpayers money spent during PPP rule must be audited.
12. Law and Order Situation, 28-30 Nov. An Apex-Committee headed by the Governor and attended by CM, Commander Southern Command, IGFC, senior Army/Police officers, the CS and HS met to resolve Balochistan problems. This is the second such meeting in the wake of the SCs Interim-Order, in about a month. In GoB, the CM now seems to be under the Governor and Army high command in the province is visibly present. The Meeting announced special concessions and incentives for militants. Two Turkish nationals, on their way to Afghanistan, were kidnapped near Quetta on 29 Nov. The same day a grenade was thrown at a shop in Quetta but no causalities took place. Two rockets were fired at FC check post in Mashkay, West of Khuzdar. Despite the ban by BHC, wall chalking continues unabated. On 30 Nov, two children were injured while playing with a toy bomb in Quetta city. Jamaat-as Sunnat-wal-Ahle-Hadis, a new religious party which has lately become very visible, took out a peaceful procession in Quetta to protest against kidnapping of the principal of Salfia College, which it runs.
Law and order situation continues to be dismal although some reduction in crime and insurgency/militancy is visible. Baloch/Brahui insurgents are continuing to kill pro-Pakistan Baloch/Brahuis, Punjabis, FC, Policemen and soldiers. None of their leaders condemn it. BLA with various names keeps claiming responsibility for sabotage and terror activities. Men and women in Balochi dress almost daily sit in Press Club with placards condemning killings of Baloch by Agencies and demanding recovery of missing persons. While there is continuous propaganda against Pakistan and Army/FC, only IGFC, CS and HS try to counter it in that order. Politicians are quiet.
The reduction in anarchy and militancy seems to be due to disappearance of ministers from governance, a semi-governor rule, bureaucracy running the province, FC using Police-Powers in Quetta operating efficiently and the Army Commanders becoming visible again. Other reasons may also include induction of civil officers from KP, possible direction from CIA/MI6 to insurgents/militants to go slow in view of the Afghan situation and Moharrams tight security. However, peace and rule of law is still a distant dream.
The CMs tussle with the SC and the Senate reveals serious flaws in the constitution. The 18th Amendment has converted the country into a Confederation with little federal control over the provinces. Balochistan, collecting only about Rs.4 billion in revenue has a budget of Rs.162 billion with no one to check the legitimacy of expenditure. Buying an executive jet for nearly half the total revenue of Balochistan is as seen as criminal breech of trust. The PA members being the beneficiary themselves are incapable of appropriate checks. The Federal government is no different; it is helping sustain anarchy in Balochistan.
The method of no-confidence motion to remove the CM in Westminster style Parliamentary Democracy does not work in a tribal/feudal culture where the elected persons are purchasable and opposition does not exist. The SC after deliberations had declared the CM and his government to have lost its right to rule due to gross inefficiency. However, the federal government ridiculed the CJ and the judgment failed to remove the CM and his government. Indeed, the PA as well as the PM has brazenly supported the CM thus committing contempt of SC. The CJ should hold all members of the PA, the CM and PM in contempt.
Unless drastic steps are taken, the status quo will continue. The same MPAs will get elected in next election due to tribal culture, sardari system, lack of education, abject poverty and election-rigging. Another CM may be in chair but poor governance would continue because absence of ethics and accountability. In such an environment a more corrupt PA will emerge which will promote even more corruption. Without assertive governance insurgency/militancy and crime will continue. The people of Balochistan demand no election until accountability process is completed and the constitution is suitably amended.
The CJ with the support of a Full Bench and the Army can take another suo motu notice, hold the PM, CM and entire PA in contempt and order an interim government to be run by technocrats for three years. There are reasons also for similar arrangements nation-wide. There is growing feeling that the system be changed by a referendum to introduce Presidential system and to impose tight control over GoB expenditure. Without such fundamental changes, corruption and anarchy would continue to prevail. The Armed Forces should support, even champion, such changes in the interest of national security.
The mother of all problems in Balochistan is lack of good governance. There is no enforcement of law and order by the government. There is no attempt at countering insurgency/militancy. Merit, justice and fair play are absent. Huge funds provided by the federal govt are squandered by the CM and MPAs on themselves. Courts are helpless, lower courts are like the civil bureaucracy, corrupt to the core and afraid of the retaliation by the criminals in positions of authority or heading a tribe. Insurgency has been met with constant appeasement and begging the terrorists sponsored by CIA, MI6 and RAW to come down from the hills, while they are enjoying in urban areas and foreign countries the largess of Western countries. Even telephonic addresses and wall chalking promoting anti-Pakistan drives have been allowed by the provincial govt. Pakistan flag has been disgraced. Racial/ethnic/sectarian amity is eroding fast.
Education, medical and civic facilities have been grossly degraded. Cheating and proxy exam-taking have become common. Teachers from other provinces have been killed or have left. Most locals are incapable of teaching being political appointees and fake degree holders. The socio-economic future for Baloch/Brahui areas is dark. Under PPPs rule, as before, all government employees/labour keep agitating or going on strikes for one reason or another, often demanding unwarranted concessions. No public servant is punished. Those punished even years ago, have also been re-instated. Appeasement, corruption in money and decision-making has become the scarlet-thread of governance and administration in Balochistan.
The Balochistan Issue so commonly debated and the pain of which is felt acutely all over the country, is understood by so few. The pain being felt by the people of Balochistan and shared by every one in the country can disappear in a matter of weeks if the governance and administration can be efficient, effective and fair.