Thursday, December 29, 2005

Azad Baluchistan?

Pakistan continues to sponsor acts of terrorism in India. The bomb blasts in New Delhi in October and today's incidents in Bangalore only confirm that. India will now need to resume its earlier policy of supporting Baluchi and Sindhi nationalists in Pakistan as an effective counter to that country's Punjabi dominated military establishment.

There has been significant unrest in Baluchistan in recent months unreported in the international media. Baluchistan, a province of 134,050 square miles, has a population of 7 million. It constitutes 43% of the land area of Pakistan. The British colonial authorities had annexed Baluchistan in 1887. Jinnah coerced the Khan of Kalat to accede to the Pakistani union in 1947. There have been four armed revolts in Baluchistan since then. The first guerilla campaign was in 1948 and did not last long. Its significance however lay in Afghanistan's territorial claim to Baluchistan. The second rebellion occurred in 1964. The third uprising took place in 1974. 15,000 Baluchis fought 80,000 Pakistani troops. 10,000 people had died in that insurrection that ended with the rise to power of General Zia-ul-Haq.

The fourth and as yet low key revolt spear-headed by the Baluchistan Liberation Army started with attacks on the gas fields of Sui in January, 2005 where 15 Pakistani military personnel were killed. The unrest had been triggered by the military-mullah nexus underpinning General Musharraf's power base, one that had alienated the traditional tribal leadership and the emerging urban middle class in Baluchistan. The Pakistani authorities immediately moved in the military to quell the unrest.

There were rocket attacks on a military camp on December 14, 2005. An attack on a military helicopter the very next day injured one Pakistani army general. The Pakistani military launched helicopter air attacks on two Baluchi training camps on December 22. The rebels in turn fired rockets on three military garrisons in retaliation. There were attacks on rail lines, oil and gas fields and on government buildings. The Pakistani army killed 20 Baluch tribesmen and injured 80 on December 24, 2005 in Dera Bugti, the hotbed of the Baluchi insurgency. Rebels blew up a small stretch of the gas pipeline of Sui on December 27. There was also a complete anti-Government shut down in Baluchistan on that day. Reports suggest that 200 people have been killed in the crackdown on Baluchi separatists in recent weeks. There were protests in the North West Frontier Province today on the proposed Kalabagh dam which would deprive Baluchistan and Sindh of much needed Indus water while submerging a wide tracts of land in the NWFP.

India should capitalize on this and openly support the cause for Baluchi independence. It might inadvertently have the support of both Afghanistan and Iran in this regard. It is time to neutralize the threat from Islamabad once and for all, American interests to the contrary notwithstanding. As one Baluchi elder had remarked "I have been a Baloch for several centuries, a Muslim for 1,400 years but a Pakistani for just 58 years". Baluchistan in open revolt would make the case for unrest in Sindh all the more feasible. Tit for tat.

12 comments:

cynical nerd said...

Excellent post Jaffna. I wrote a comment on the last post by PR. I wholehearted agree with you. It is time to take sides and support our Baloch and Sindh brothers and sisters. The Afghans too will support their fellow Pashtuns in NWFP. The remaining Pak-Punjab can be demilitarized and placed under UN control till it is pacified a la Japanese.

India should aim for nothing less than a complete Balkanization of what is today called as the artificial entity of Pakistan. We should'nt aim to take away any territory except POK which is rightfully ours.

btw, has anyone seen the instrument of accession signed by the Kalat. It is said that he wrote on that he was forced to sign on that paper. It will be interesting to get this confirmed.

Primary Red said...

On the other hand, is it really in India's interest to support seperatism in our neighborhiid as a concept -- won't that hurt India's "map making is over" position?

Not sure if this is as clear cut as we might want to be.

Thoughts?

Best regards

Jaffna said...

Primary Red,

I would argue that the "map making is over" position only entails to viable states. Not to Tibet, not to Baluchistan and not to Sindh. One can not be conservative nor cautious when the opportunity presents itself. The Indian Union will remain a cohesive entity given the imperative of the free market and resilient democratic institutions.

For example, Puerto Rico will never opt to leave the United States commonwealth for similar reasons.

Cynical Nerd: Many thanks. I agree with you.

Best regards

cynical nerd said...

I am shocked at the silence of international media on this. General Musharraf who till few days was crying for more choppers for quake aid is diverting some of them to conduct aerial bombardement in Baloch. All this to satisfy the water requirement of the Punjabi feudal lords. Shame on them.

PR: The Chinese are building a warm water port in Gwadar. It is a chance for Indians and Americans to work together against this. This will give the US access to CAR (via Afghanistan) while encircling Iran. Remember that Iranians too joined the Pakistani Army in crushing the Baloch rebellion (in the 70s). Now, if only bin Laden is caught ...

nukh said...

ladies and gentlemen:
while reading jaffna's piece and your comments, i was reminded of the caveat - be careful what you [we] wish for, lest it come true.

now is not the time to attempt the dismemberment of pakistan. and it is a job, which india is ill-suited to handle alone.
a more sensible strategy in my opinion would be to encourage the balochi/sindhi/pakhtoon insurgency, only so far as to engage the pakistan army for the next couple of decades. a la kashmir.
interim, india brings kashmir under control and continues to grow economically
and then someday, maybe, just maybe when the stars [u.s., israel and india] are aligned, we carve out new nations from the abomination called you know what.

Nitin said...

I'm inclined to agree with PR and nukh; not so much for reasons of principle, but because the collapse of Pakistan is dangerous for India.

I have previously argued that more than post-Pakistan Balkanised states, India will be better off with a stable, democratic, internally reconciled Pakistan. The collapse of a nuclear armed, unstable Pakistan will most likely lead to more than one nuclear armed, unstable successor states; they are likely to easily fall prey to warlordism or fundamentalism or both. Such an outcome cannot be in India's interests.

But this does not mean India should not raise the profile of the Balochistan issue. Human rights of course is a concern, and India can hardly be forgiven if thousands of people are killed in its neighbourhood without it even raising a concern. Also, if raising Balochistan puts pressure on Musharraf to tone down his Kashmir rhetoric then it is well worth doing it.

Jaffna said...

Let me reword my point. India should lever the unrest in Baluchistan and in Sindh (if the latter were to take place) to neutralize Pakistan’s persistent and repeated efforts to destabilize India.

If Pakistan were to unravel, it is not India’s role to pre-empt that. A “stable, democratic and internally reconciled Pakistan” is a contradiction in terms – much like a “democratic Soviet Union”. It is unlikely to ever materialize since that nation is an artificial construct to begin with much like the former Yugoslavia.

Pakistan was founded on the premise of a homeland for Muslims in the Indian sub-continent. But 2/3rds of the Muslim population now lives outside Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh questioned the very premise of Pakistan’s existence. The latter should have then transformed itself into a nation that represented the peoples living along the Indus. It failed in this regard as well where the national identity remains an elite consensus unreflected in the Baluchi, Sindhi and increasingly the Pathan rural hinterland as well. The Mohajirs had been in the fore front for the establishment of Pakistan. They have now been sidelined.

I do not think that Pakistan will unravel anytime soon. The United States will prevent that. Pakistan will legitimize its crackdown on Baluchi separatists as part of the “global war on terror”. The United States administration, given its intellectual dishonesty, would support that position in contrast to its own denunciation of China’s crackdown on Uighur separatists and Russia's suppression of the Chechens that rely on the same flawed argument.

The unrest in Baluchistan might have the support of Iran though. There might well be an evolving tacit congruence of interests between Iran and India in this regard. This is not to be shunned. The Shah helped Pakistan to crush the Baluchi rebellion in 1974. But the Shah is no longer there and the current Iranian administration is no longer as committed to Pakistan as he was.

So my point, is that India need not fear the break up of Pakistan (the nuclear issue notwithstanding since this would then become an international priority. Fear should not dictate foreign policy; far sighted resolve should. Remember India Gandhi in 1971. She literally pushed the envelop in the face of the US 7th Fleet.

cynical nerd said...

Nitin: Even the Pak leadership does not want your wish of 'stable, reconciled and democratic' Pakistan. As long as the feudal Punjabi elite continues to hold power using the Military and Mullah, it will neither become democratic nor reconciled, unless the change it comes from outside.

- encouraging unrest in Baloch and Sindh will spread thin the Pak Army away from LOC. Jihadis entering without protection from pak army can be sent to jannath more easily.

- Pak has been justifying its arms purchases (read begging) by saying it is to protect itself from the Big Bad India. Now the whole world should see how it is using the same weapons against its own people. Uncle Sam should be made ashamed to stop arming the terrorist state.

- Point (1) will make sure that any more attacks like the Parliament will ensure swift rebuttal irrespective of Uncle Sam giving satellite images in advance.

Now if only Indian leadeship have some testosterone to play the Great Game ...

Imran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Imran said...

well well well...

you guys seem to have it all worked out down to last details.. good job done!!!

you may also recollect the very recent failure of RAW in Srilanka and analyze what brought this huge embarrasement for the Indian government sponsored LTTE...

You might also like to consider seriously the credentials of RAW involvement with the Bugti's and Hindus dressed up like clerics in Swat.. which were handed over to your prime minister in Egypt ...

soon the entire world will see the true face of the shining and secular india ... the same country which failed to stop the FUNDAMENTALIST BJP from destroying Babri Mosque;; the same india which could not provide justice to thousands of muslims of gujrat after an ethnic cleansing not possible without state patronage...

so much for secularism or may be it is defined as hinduism in hindustan

Anonymous said...

pakistan was created in the name of islam ,so keep trying sukkers!!!!! pak army and people of pakistan know what u r up to and we r ready for you indian extremists ....please have a look at your poverty levels and human rights record before you plan to distroy millions of peoples in other countries which u will never succeed in doing ...

Anonymous said...

pakis should look at their economic conditions better a bankrupt nation , a military+militant barrack,pakistan is nothing more than a gang of anti INDIA elements .

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