Asif Haroon Raja
Dr. Sadia Ali has timed her article titled “The poor daughter of Baluchistan” in The News dated August 17, 2016 with Narendra Modi’s diatribe on the occasion of India’s Independence Day on August 15. She has lent strength to Indian ongoing propaganda onslaught drumming up the sufferings of the people of Baluchistan who in their view are oppressed and given a raw deal by Baluchistan and Federal Governments. Dr. Sadia is a women’s rights activist and she works in Baluchistan. She has presented a depressing picture of Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), child mortality, literacy rate, poverty and healthcare, asserting these are near absent in resource rich Baluchistan. She says that 83.4% children in the province suffer from malnourishment. She says the entire generation in Dera Bugti and in Baluchistan cannot afford a proper meal.
This article might have been read with interest in normal times since the theme of our writers has all along revolved around socio-economic grievances of people of Baluchistan, some being genuine and others self-perceived. Contents of Sadia’s article tend to validate the pronouncements of Modi and Indian propagandists duly reinforced by Pak media, NGOs and human rights activists on Baluchistan. This coincidence has certainly raised eyebrows about her hidden motive, whether she has written it to earn kudos from the people of Baluchistan for highlighting the miserable plight of the women, or to strengthen the case of India and please Modi. To make her story appear more appealing, she names the female patients who have suffered on account of lack of medical facilities while delivering a child.
Why can’t Sadia hear the shrieks of Kashmiri women gang raped in thousands, feel the pain of young widows, cries of half-widows who do not know whether their missing husbands are dead or alive, the anguish of mothers in whose arms their sons riddled with bullets breathe their last, sighs of grief stricken orphans and systematic elimination of the youth in fake encounters. I wish she had the moral courage to write an article on the suffering of Kashmiris at the hands of pitiless Indian security forces, devoid of basic rights and social facilities and the way the children are being killed or blinded with rubber pellets. There is curfew, complete media blackout, mobile services clamped and human rights activists disallowed to enter Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) since July 8. This is the 3rd generation of Kashmiris wading through blood filled streets in IOK. I am sure Sadia must have seen countless pictures of the injured victims whose faces and bodies are pock marked with pellets and well over 100 have lost their eyesight or are fast losing it. Tragically, India has rejected Pakistan’s offer to treat the injured since India doesn’t have facility to treat pellet wounds. While India keep parroting that IOK is integral part of India, it has deployed 7, 50000 security forces equipped with special powers to keep it integral by use of brute force.
Volcanic eruption of protest movement in IOK in the aftermath of brutal killing of freedom fighter Burhan Wani on July 8, and wholehearted love expressed by Kashmiris for Pakistan has dumbfounded Indian leaders. Pakistan’s principled moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris in distress has peeved them. Curt reply of Ch Nisar to visiting Indian Home Minister Jagnath Singh, expounding that Wani was a freedom fighter and not a terrorist, that resistance movement in IOK is a freedom movement and not terrorism, and that Kashmir issue is disputed and must be resolved in accordance with UN resolutions, further miffed them. As the world began to take notice of gross human rights violation in IOK and Indian deception to hide their crimes didn’t work, Modi lost his sense of balance.
He stated that people of Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) had thanked him a lot in the last few days for “raising issue of atrocities against them, and it has given me great joy”. This was a skewwhiff response to the affectionate outpouring of the Kashmiris for Pakistan in the face of guns and bayonets and their hatred for India as was once again amply demonstrated on the occasions of Pakistan and India’s independence days on August 14 and 15 respectively. While former was celebrated with fervor, the latter was observed as black day in IOK.
In his exuberance, Modi let the cat out of the bag and further reinforced Pakistan’s claim that India’s RAW is fully involved in Baluchistan and is also behind Balwaristan movement in GB and is now trying to penetrate AJK where recently all political parties took part in fair and free elections and PML-N won comprehensively, and which acts as the base camp for freedom movement in IOK. Modi must not forget that large scale separatist movements in 14 States of India, of which the Naxalite movement, Kashmiri movement and Khalistan movement are the most dangerous, expectantly look toward outside help to rid them from the yoke of India. Hindu Dalits, treated as Maleechas (untouchables) by the Brahmans have also for the first time picked up courage to protest against inhuman treatment meted out to them.
Modi has come under severe criticism within India for his senseless prank which has damaged India’s stance on IOK as its integral part. This is the second time he has committed a blunder. Earlier on, he had made a confession in Dhaka last year that India had played a key role in liberating Bangladesh in 1971 by fully supporting the Mukti Bahini and that like many Indian soldiers, he had also physically participated in the insurgency.
Pakistan has already provided tons of proofs of RAW’s subversive activities in the three conflict zones inflamed by foreign agencies to the UN. Arrest of Indian serving Naval Commander Kalbhushan Yadav in Baluchistan last March and his startling revelations that he had been operating RAW network from his base in Chahbahar since 2003 to destabilize Baluchistan and Karachi has left no doubt about RAW’s deep rooted involvement. RAW has been making use of the soils of Afghanistan and Iran to indulge in proxy war in Pakistan and utilizing its proxies in the form of TTP in northwest Pakistan, BLA, BRA and BLF in Baluchistan and MQM in Karachi.
India complements its covert operations with propaganda war and psychological operations to undermine and discredit Pakistan. With regard to Baluchistan, aim of Indian propagandists is to not only equate Baluchistan insurgency with Kashmir freedom movement, but also to portray former as freedom movement launched by the Baloch against oppression and deprivation of their rights, and the latter as terrorism. A willful campaign was launched to discredit the Frontier Corps by blaming them for missing persons, mutilated bodies and mass graveyards. Pak security forces fighting the foreign paid terrorists in Baluchistan are projected as ‘repressive occupation Army’. Destabilised Baluchistan helps in scuttling Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and Gwadar seaport.
There is no comparison between the two since Baluchistan is integral part of Pakistan and is open to all. About a dozen of rebellious Baloch leaders are stationed abroad and are puppets in the hands of host countries. They are highly unpopular in Baluchistan and cannot face their respective tribes since they have sought the intervention of India, US and UN to make Baluchistan independent. Great majority of people of Baluchistan including the Baloch are highly patriotic, they love Pakistan, Army and paramilitary forces, and have full confidence in the provincial government. Conversely, Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of Partition, it is jugular vein of Pakistan, and is under illegal occupation of India since October 1947 and the dispute is awaiting resolution by the UN since 1948. IOK is barricaded and has been turned into an open prison, where no outsider or investigating team is allowed to enter. Right of self-determination has been given to the Kashmiris by the UN but denied by India. The entire political leadership of Kashmiris is based in Kashmir and they love Pakistan.
I will not disagree with Sadia that Baluchistan is way behind other provinces in terms of development and education, and that successive governments didn’t pay desired attention to remove its genuine complaints. But none can deny that the Baloch Sardars who have been in the driving seat took little interest since they are anti-development. They remained more immersed in retaining perverse Sardari system by converting 90% of territory into B Area where the police has no writ, and only 10% as A Area. They have been misruling the province, mostly engaged in inter-tribal rivalry, pocketing development funds to enrich their coffers and denying education to keep the people illiterate and enslaved. Incidence of women buried alive and fed to dogs have occurred. With regard to Dera Bugti, why does Sadia feel shy of mentioning the historical facts as to what the so-called popular leader Nawab Akbar Bugti had done for his home town? Was he not a tyrant and an exploiter? Was he not maintaining an armed militia and private jails and had he not expelled the whole lot of Kalpar and Masouri tribes from Dera Nawab and now the two tribes have been fully resettled and rehabilitated? Were the people of this area better off then or now?
Sadia must not forget that while great majority of Baloch are patriotic and love Pakistan, a small disgruntled segment in Baluchistan is prone to rebellion and has been picking up arms against the state to gain independence since 1948. These misled Baloch rebels have always been provided safe haven and support by Afghanistan, former Soviet Union and India. This trend is still continuing and needs elimination.
When Gen Musharraf tried to remove the inequities of Baluchistan by way of launching mega projects including Gwadar port and construction of road infrastructure in the interior, improving education and healthcare, the Sardars of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes ganged up and at the behest of foreign powers started an insurgency in 2004 which later on turned into a separatist movement.
Development of Gwadar port by China was unacceptable to USA and India and hence the insurgency was stoked to scare away the Chinese. Despite the insurgency, development works in Baluchistan continued and the current nationalist government backed by federal government is making sincere efforts to defeat foreign abetted terrorism and improve the education and socio-economic conditions of the province. Back of the separatist movement has been broken and hundreds of rebels have come down from the hills and have surrendered arms. Completion of dozens of dams, Gwadar port, opening up technical and cadet schools/colleges and CPEC will surely change the complexion of Baluchistan.
However, Sadia says that Baluchistan is constantly sliding down in all human development indicators. She measures its development from the yardstick of MMR only and compares it with war torn Somalia and Liberia. She conveniently overlooks India, which prompted her to write this article, endowed with worst human development indicators including MMR but keeps harping that India is shining. Sadia and her ilk never talk of weak areas of India but leave no stone unturned to glorify it and shame Pakistan. This sort of article which adds fuel to the injured feelings of dissatisfied segment in Baluchistan helps India and others in their propaganda war. Can anyone in India dare write such an article highlighting pathetic conditions of minorities in India?
Sadia laments the lavish arrangements made on the occasion of Independence Day celebrations in Baluchistan and gives a sad touch to it saying that music, and the noise (Pakistan Zindabad chants) was so loud that it muffled the cries and anguish of the women in labor pain. She tantalizingly repeats “resource rich Baluchistan”, but doesn’t mention that foreign powers eying at these resources have led the handful of greedy Sardars up the garden path that resources will be theirs. Their eyes have not opened even after seeing the plunder of mineral resources of Iraq and Libya. After passage of 18th Amendment and grant of provincial autonomy to the provinces, the oft repeated allegation of exploitation by the Centre or Punjab is no more applicable.
Sadia go the extent of saying that socio-economic indictors of war torn Afghanistan are better than Pakistan. She and her well-read types are the ones who fan misgivings, frustration, despair and hatred among the people of smaller provinces. The so-called intellectuals and secular writers at the behest of RAW had played a big role in feeding fictitious statistics, in making false comparisons between the two wings of Pakistan and in inciting hatred among the Bengalis against West Pakistanis. Even now, there are quite a few toadies of India in Pakistan ever ready to sell their souls for money and to augment Indian propaganda against Pakistan and to cover the crimes of India in IOK and several parts of India and to glorify the cause of separatists in Baluchistan. One example of this is Hamid Mir’s TV program on Geo soon after Modi’s rants. He posed a question to the guest speakers whether the Baloch insurgents were terrorists or freedom fighters.
It is now a well-established fact that Baluchistan is a target and Indo-US-Afghan-US nexus has been conjointly working since 2002 to destabilize, secularize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan. Map of Balkanized Pakistan published by US/western think tanks and Lt Col Ralph Peters indicated Baluchistan and Pushtunistan as separate states. India has targeted Baluchistan so as to use it as a card to checkmate Pakistan in Kashmir. Indian defence minister had stated last year that in case Pakistan doesn’t lay its hands off IOK, it should be prepared to lose Baluchistan. He has now termed Pakistan as hell and accused it of violating human rights violations in Baluchistan. The fact is that the wale of Kashmir popularly known as paradise on earth has virtually been turned into hell.
If Baluchistan suffers from inequalities, which part of Pakistan doesn’t? Is whole of Punjab prosperous? May I ask learned Sadia as to which country in the world is free of inequities and which country has equally developed states/provinces? In USA, 99% people are poor and only 1% are dirty rich. 22 States of the US want to go their way because of socio-economic grievances and wrong policies of the state. In India, 37 insurgencies are raging in different parts of the country and there are separatist movements in 14 states, all suffering from injustices and socio-economic deprivations and fed up of four-fold caste system.
The writer is retired Brig, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre and Director Thinkers Forum Pakistan. He delivers talks and takes part in TV talk shows. [email protected]