Posts Tagged ‘Quetta’

Tacstrat Analysis: The Haqqani question

March 1, 2013

Tacstrat Analysis

Many analysts have taken up various positions on the subject of the United States, Pakistan and the controversial Haqqani Network. Tough calls have demanded that Pakistan be declared a rogue state, all aid suspended to the country and sanctions imposed. Others digress and say sanctions on Pakistan did not really work. Not only did Pakistan successfully test its nuclear capabilities, the economic toll of the sanctions nearly led to the breaking up of the small state. Unemployment rose exponentially, political tensions led to the overthrow of a democratic government and resulted in a military leadership that ruled over the country for another 9 years. Setting aside the age-old debate on whether sanctions really do work, one must accept the fact that sanctions, in Pakistan’s case, are not a pragmatic option.

As recently as March 1, the United States government has flexed its muscle over the Iran-Pakistan pipeline deal and implied, with strong undertones, that Pakistan should avoid any activity that would invite sanctions. Realistically speaking, the United States in unlikely to impose any such sanctions, over Iran OR the Haqqani Network.

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Show solidarity with your Shia brothers and sisters

February 20, 2013

FOR PAKISTAN

I request/urge/recommend/plead/ask you to show solidarity with your Shia brothers and sisters. Please take similar photos of yourself and remind these oppressors that we stand as ONE … that they are not eliminating Shias…but merely increasing their strength.

I’m not concerned about the Government that sees nothing…I’m not concered with the Media that says nothing…and I’m not concerned about the Judiciary that hears nothing…I am concerned with the Soul that feels nothing. I am ashamed not that my Pakistani brother pulled the trigger… I am ashamed that my life goes on…

I strongly protest the killing of innocent SHIAS!! Before becoming a Shia or a Sunni…one has to be a Muslim…lets just keep it to that.

If being a Sunni means to love the Prophet (SAW) then there is and was no bigger Sunni than Hazrat Ali (RAH)…and…if being a Shia means to love Hazrat Ali (RAH) then there is and was no bigger Shia than the Prophet (SAW) himself.

The Balochistan quagmire: Where does the answer lie?

July 12, 2011

Nadeem Syed

QUETTA – If the 60-member provincial cabinet of mostly Baloch ministers, an all-powerful, multi-layered security apparatus and a sprawling bureaucracy of mostly Baloch people cannot come out with a healing touch for the troubled province, then “who can?” is the question agitating most Baloch minds, as the insurgency in Balochistan rumbles on with all its murky overtones, creating a rift between state institutions and the local population.

Add to this apathy the neglect shown by the federal government, which appears to have already forgotten Balochistan after showing little concern in its early days. Nobody from the Centre has time for the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package anymore, with most not knowing where the reforms package stands, let alone progress on its implementation. Interestingly, it seems all stakeholders engaged in Balochistan are engaged in a zero-sum game, having an axe to grind in keeping the existing volatile equation alive and making hay while the sun shines. The plot only thickens once the international factors come into play. We see all dirty tricks an espionage thriller has for readers, a bloody history, national interests, deceit and treachery; and live and let others die for personnel gains.

But the zero-sum game continues no matter how big a loser the Baloch turn out to be. We also have the presence of foreign spooks on Balochistan soil, which is of great importance to big powers strategically and its vast natural resources great enough to fetter the attention of others. No wonder, nobody is interested to get done with Balochistan’s problems or feel the urgency to untie the Gordian knot. The provincial government also lacks the mandate to reverse the bloody equation in Balochistan, the biggest province of Pakistan with ports and unbound mineral wealth.

The threat perception varies from one area to another. Narrative changes as visitors enter the Pashtun areas of Balochistan. Here the ideals and goals of Baloch nationalists have little acceptability. Here they are considered spoilers, wasting whatever little opportunity the province has for development. The Centre of gravity of the insurgency is mainly Baloch areas, about 20 districts, followed by nine districts where Pushtuns call the shots. Even provincial capital Quetta – where the Pastuns outnumber the natives and which usually appears normal with routine hustle and bustle – has its own share of problems, the lurking insecurity being the foremost. “Punjabi or other settlers need to cover their flanks here, they have to think twice before setting business in these areas,” an official at the Quetta deputy commissioner office said. The main cause of the insecurity is the insurgency haunting all those who inhabit this troubled province that has long history of instability. It was this factor that brought the nationalists and state institutions, led by military establishment, face to face. The long-term problem is the way this clash is creating a rift between the state institutions and tribal system, which the local population values deeply. The tribal chiefs and heads, especially of the Mengal, Marri and Bugti tribes, are making things difficult for security institutions.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), built around the Baloch Student Organisation (BSO), is a group of assorted left wing students in Quetta and other parts that lend their hands to nationalists by being their militant arm, queering the pitch for the security agencies by fanning the revolt, which otherwise has little chance of success. No wonder the disappearance of Baloch youth and activists – having extreme, ultra nationalist views being imposed on others through violent and non-violent means – has become a cause for concern for the locals. The nationalists played it smart by making their cause a collective one, making others believe them, much to the embarrassment of law enforcement agencies that get all the blame for the missing persons and dead bodies their families receive.

Already, haunted by the phenomenon of missing people, the Baloch population is almost oblivious to their bread and butter matters and other issues that need urgent attention to improve the quality of life. Life for an ordinary Baloch is hard. According to nationalists, a over 10,000 people have disappeared. However, Voice for Missing Person’s chief Nasrullah Baloch gave a moderate figure of between 1,000 and 12,000. But the provincial Home Department recently put the figure at 49, however, local journalists said the real figure could be around 2,000 and 2,500. Baloch nationalists alleged that the security agencies were behind all the disappearances and subsequent killing. The HRCP also pins the blame on security agencies.

These are the days of tit-for-tat response in Balochistan, if not carrot and stick, it seems. We see the security apparatus on the offensive, claiming to have beaten back the militants in four to five districts. The buzzword right now in Balochistan is “kill and dump operation”. So far, 169 bodies have been found of those gone missing, some in the recent past, while others as far back as when Musharraf launched a military operation in Balochistan. “Only four to five percent come out alive after surviving the brutalities at the hand of security agencies,” a senior journalist said. A senior politician, while giving his perspective on the operation “wipe out”, said: “The army came into action soon after the Baloch militants killed 10 Punjabis last August after verifying their identities from their ID carsds. The men later turned out to be security personnel. Since then, the kill and dump operation has continued.” Security and Frontier Constabulary personnel do not mince words while branding the dead as terrorists involved in anti-state activities. The allegation is partly backed by the Pashtun population. “Some seven to eight bodies have been found from Pisheen of late. They were all involved in terrorism,” said another local politician “Many nationalist groups are being supported by the military to bring grief to the ones fighting against the establishment,” he claimed, spilling the beans further.

Taking cues from the British Raj, the military is banking on the policy of divide and rule and throwing goodies at nationalists ready to play ball. And there is a good number of them, it has been learnt. Each time a person is kidnapped the whole tribal hierarchy gets the heat as the aggrieved family takes up the issue as high as possible, which in Balochistan’s case is the tribal head, minister or chief minister. It here the whole tribal values clash with the law-enforcement agencies.

“The main problem with Balochistan is that nobody respects the tribal leaders and their values. Giving them respect it is the only way to move ahead,” a local politician said. He said even ultra-nationalists like Marri and Mengal could be won provided authorities gave them respect. Can the military that has arrogated to itself the role of preserving national interests in the province turn its back on Balochistan, as demanded by nationalists and politicians alike?

Not in the near future probably, but it can definitely change its approach and rope in the provincial government, which is ultimately responsible for maintaining law and order. Most local politicians believe the ultimate solution lies with politicians who know the tribal values and how to deal with the monster from within. PPP senior leader and Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani probably is the man who knows the pulse of the general public.

He even knows the sentiments prevailing in non-Baloch areas. Knowing his limitations, he is going slow but steady and in an effective manner. Education seems to be his passion, as evident from his focus on the development of educational sector in his own constituency of Mastung district. He has already pumped over Rs 45 crore into the district for various welfare projects, with education being the top priority. “Development is his answer to the growing disaffection among people that forces them to take up arms. He is leading by example,” on of his colleagues said. In this dry and tense environment in Balochistan, humour is the only factor that keeps one sane. The chief minister probably knows that and cracks jokes every now and then to make headlines. “That is how he wriggles out of a tense situation that sometimes crops up in a cabinet meeting,” a senior official said.

And if giving respect to tribal values is the solution, there is hardly anyone who knows the art better than Raisani. More importantly, he is acceptable the political class around him, as he conducts himself like first among the others. “We support Raisani, not the PPP, and will continue the support even in the future” commented a cabinet colleague not from his party.

He is even acceptable to the other leaders of national stature. Recently, he persuaded PML-N top leaders, both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, to show large-heartedness towards the smaller provinces in the future distribution of resources under the NFC Award. The formula later devised was quite the one pleaded by Balochistan. Now the financial managers of the province are upbeat about spending the extra resources on the well being of the Baloch people.

Human resource development, infrastructure and investment seem to be the priorities of Raisani’s provincial government. More importantly, he is convinced that militants will be defeated sooner or later, fighting it out among themselves. His conviction has some background, officials say. Given his vision for Balochistan – that its future is within Pakistan – and his political and tribal background with intimate relations with other tribes, even those that matter in the present scenario, Raisani should be given the mandate to lead from the front.

Balochistan not to make Kharotabad report public

June 29, 2011

The Nation

QUETTA – Judicial Tribunal formed to investigate the murder of five foreigners, three of them women, in Kharotabad in the outskirts of Quetta, has submitted its report to Balochistan government.

Five foreigners, including four Russian and a Tajik national, were allegedly shot dead by Frontier Corps and police personnel near an FC picket in Kharotabad on May 17.

The police and FC alleged that they were terrorists and wearing suicide jackets and possessing explosives. However, neither suicide jackets nor explosives or handgrenades were recovered from the suspects.

Official sources said the Balochistan government had received the report consisting of 100 pages from the judicial tribunal. However, the government had not made the report public so far and officials were avoiding to comment by saying that it would be premature to pass any remarks.

Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani had appointed the tribunal after residents of area and media raised questions about killing of the foreigners. The tribunal comprising a judge of Balochistan High Court Justice Hashim Kakar after holding a month-long hearing completed its report. The tribunal recorded the statements of 28 witnesses, including police, FC officials and private witnesses.

A photojournalist Jamal Tarakai also produced a film of the incident during the probe. The court also sought footages from TV channels in which the victims were shown lying injured near the picket while one of the women raising and waving her hand presumably as a gesture of surrender.

The key witness driver who brought the victims from Kuchlak to Quetta had retracted from his statement twice and in his final statement he told the judicial tribunal that he was intimidated by police officials and he gave the first statement under duress.

He said he saw nothing except cloth, bottles of shampoos and books.
However, police had produced detonators recovered from the suspects.

The Police Surgeon Dr Baqar Shah who conducted autopsies of the bodies had also refuted the claims of police that five foreigners had died due to explosion caused by a handgrenade explosion. He told the tribunal that all the victims died of bullet wounds and a pregnant woman of seven months was among the dead.

Key witnesses, journalist Jamal Tarakai and police surgeon had been allegedly tortured by police personnel soon after they recorded their statements before tribunal.

Monitoring Desk adds: The Balochistan government has decided not to make public the report submitted by the Judicial Tribunal after completing the inquiry into Kharotabad incident. Sources told BBC that the reason behind not to make the report public is govt’s fear that media will wrongly project the outcome of the inquiry.

Kharotabad incident: Driver says his statement was coerced

June 13, 2011

Geo News

QUETTA: The driver of the foreigners killed in the Kharotabad incident said Sunday that his statement to the inquiry tribunal was not correct and he was forced by the police to make this statement, Geo News reported.

The driver Atta Mohammed said this during proceedings of the fact-finding mission chaired by the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. In his earlier statement the driver had said that arms and explosives were recovered from the luggage of the foreigners. He added that the police had told him that if he made this statement he would be promoted otherwise he would be at risk.

On May 17, five foreigners were killed by Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel and police in the Kharotabad suburb of Quetta. They were alleged to be in possession of explosives and wearing suicide jackets.

Terming the killing of five Chechens in Akhrotabad, Quetta, last month as inhuman, the NA Standing Committee on Human Rights, on June 08, formed a fact-finding committee and directed it to submit its report within two weeks.

The committee set up a five-member fact-finding mission headed by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokar and Kishwar Zehra, Farah Naz Asfahani, Raheela Baloch and Araish Kumar as its members.

Pak newspaper claims hundreds of pro-India, pro-Israel CIA agents operating in country

March 3, 2011

Lahore, Mar 2: Hundreds of especially-trained CIA contractors who worked closely with the Indian external intelligence agency RAW and Israel’s Mossad in the Middle East, Asia and Africa over the last two decades, are covertly operating across Pakistan these days, a Pakistani newspaper has claimed.

The Nation quoted “well-informed sources”, as saying that in 2010, the Obama administration deployed over 400 pro-India and pro-Israel CIA agents in Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi, the country’s biggest cities.

“Sources believed that the American spies with pro-India mindset had been deployed in Quetta to fuel militancy in the largest but poor province of Balochistan, while the US operatives who worked with Israeli agents before 9/11 had been sent to the country’s insurgency-hit region bordering war-torn Afghanistan,” the paper said.

“The Foreign Intelligence Estimates (FIE) cell of the CIA, which is responsible for training, brainwashing and recruiting individuals to launch intelligence networks outside the United States, had awarded special contracts to those security companies where the Indian and Israeli lobby is very strong,” it added.

Washington hired these contractors from private security companies like LLC, Xe services or Blackwater, claimed the paper, adding that leading Indian and Israeli tycoons have been “secretly and heavily funding such companies to carry out clandestine operations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa as per their interests.”

Attributing to sources, it said the US government had sent hundreds of Cobra operatives to Pakistan on a secret spy mission after the Indian and Israeli lobbies in Washington strongly recommended to the Obama administration that ‘these guys are quite fit to operate in the Af-Pak region.”

The paper further claimed that most of the CIA contractors were double agents, as on the one hand they were hired by the American spy agency, but on the other hand, they were undercover personnel of the Indian and Israeli lobby and assigned with special tasks in different regions.

“Obviously, they (the CIA agents) are here to safeguard the interests of their masters. They are here to look after the interests of the enemies of Pakistan,” the paper quoted an intelligence official, as saying during a brief chat. (ANI)

One day we all will be terrorists!

January 15, 2010

By Dr Haider Mehdi

“Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.”

– Chris Hedges (in an article of the same title)

My generation grew up in a different Pakistan. A different Lahore, a different Karachi, a different Peshawar, a different Quetta, a different Islamabad and an entirely different country.

In Lahore, people sat in Pak Tea House and Coffee House and talked about politics, poetry, religion, culture and friendships gave birth, on a daily basis, to youthful romanticism of our times: the mutual seduction of kindred spirits within the confines of our cultural values and the gentleness of Urdu poetry, songs, geets (lyrics) and the Lahori humour. We celebrated basant (the kite-flying festival), maila-charagha (the festival of lights) and Urs Data Gung-Baksh (the festival of a saint). We observed Muharram with great reverence.

Karachi used to be alive 24 hours a day all year round. It was a city of “lights”, “fashion”, hustle-bustle of a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. Ethnic diversity and tolerance was the hallmark of this city.

Peshawar was a beacon of hospitality, a tribute to human gentleness and an affirmation of a rich community life.

Quetta’s apple-laden trees decorated its roads everywhere and the Balochis colourful existence found its spirit in its music, songs and even in its cuisine. Moreover, Pakistan’s rural society existed in purity, simplicity and the zealousness of hard working people.

Pakistan was a different country then: we lived in relative peace, tolerance and mutual harmony. A delicious puri nashta cost one rupee, petrol was Rs 2.50 a gallon, schooling was cheap, sugar and food were plenty, and a round-trip by PIA from Lahore to Karachi was Rs 250.

The majority of Pakistanis were poor even then, but there was no mass starvation, deprivation suicides, forced prostitution, massive collective depressive communities, agonising socio-psychological conditions, economic collapse, and no one knew of crippling demoralising inner fears. We did not know of institutional violence and extensive state terror – though police brutality and legal system atrocities were common, bureaucracy was horribly cruel, corrupt, inefficient and unbelievably powerful vis-à-vis the citizenry, commerce thrived on black marketing and the political class wholly and completely indulged in vested interests, inappropriate use of political power and mismanagement of state affairs.

Even though we lived with a million vices as a nation, but strangely enough, life was not as painful as it is in today’s democratic Pakistan. Neither was the entire nation, every one of its citizens, gripped with such forceful, depleting and paralysing fear – a fear that the management of the survival of this country has gone out of control. A fear that we all may be blown away from existence the next moment, if not literally then at least in a metaphorical sense!

Do you realise the seriousness of our contemporary political crisis?

The present state of our deplorable existence is the work of our decade long political leadership inclusive of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship and the incumbent political dispensation in the country.

The fundamental failure of our national policy is this country’s ruling elite’s destructive all time political-economic-military alliance with the US and its allies (now India included).

Even at the time that I have described as the “golden days” of Pakistan’s past, our ruling elite was fully and comprehensively politically engaged with the US and its allies. However the US was in a different political mode then: it was fighting its own self-invented “demons” – the communist ideology and the communist nations (though communism was not a threat – it was a political experiment to solve mass poverty). The objective of American foreign policy was global political-economic and military domination.

In the present day world, the policy objectives of the US and its allies remain same: worldwide imperialist hegemony and exploitation by the west’s multi-national corporations.

However, in the contemporary equation, the west’s enemies have been redefined: Now we are the “demons”. They have declared a war against Muslim nations, their people, their faith, their culture, their traditions, their values and customs, their history and even against their existence as we know it today. Huntington in The Clash of Civilisations warns that if we do not transform our civilisation to a western model, then we must be prepared for an ultimate obliteration through successive wars at the hands of the west: we are given no choices.

Seven hundred Pakistani citizens died in American drone attacks in 2009 alone. It is not accidental!

What the US and its western allies do not understand is that their present war is not against an economic-political ideology (communism). This war is against a people, a faith, a history, an existential reality, an entirety of a civilisation, an actual formidable historical presence and an enduring spiritual entity. They, the US and its allies (which include collaborating political elites in Muslim countries), cannot win this war. Indeed, they can unleash havoc, a wave of destruction (as they are doing now), but they cannot and will not win!

Coming back to the context of Pak-US relations, consider the following most plausible scenario in the immediate future:

Through covertly managed organised violence, collaborations, propaganda, bombings and political manipulations, the US succeeds in destabilising Pakistan to an extent of complete political chaos, limited anarchy and a near civil war situation. Under the pretext of threat to international security, American and NATO forces are moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Pakistan’s nuclear assets are seized, a puppet regime is installed: Pakistan is de-nuclearised, India (the newest US ally) becomes a dominant regional power, Iran is contained, China-Russia growing political clout is checked, the US/west’s historical global dominance is achieved – the world is saved!

Is that what the Pakistani nation wants and deserves?

Imran Khan’s perspective on Pakistan’s foreign policy and domestic priorities is correct: we need to politically-militarily disengage Pakistan from the US/west’s global objectives. We need to immediately end this so-called War on Terror against our own citizens. We need to negotiate peace with political dissidents in NWFP, Balochistan and in every corner of Pakistan. We must appreciate the fact that political dissent is not terror!

We ought to, by engaging our own citizens and political dissidents, quietly and secretly do a complete “cleansing” of the foreign elements and local collaborators involved in organised violence in our country. This can only be accomplished by a determined, independent, nationalist and highly efficient political leadership that can make the national policy without American influence and interference. And this is the ultimate requirement of our times.

At last, Mian Nawaz Sharif said something right the other day: the public in Pakistan needs to think in revolutionary ways now.

Allow me to go one step further: what we need is a revolutionary political leadership in this country. We deserve a change in the political mindset and political conduct of this nation’s leaders. We need fresh leadership in Pakistan.

We all do not need to be politically loyal to our contemporary political dispensation or to our present political allies. We must completely reject a global political system of US/west’s dominance.

We all ought to be political dissidents! After all, dissent is a vital element of the democratic political process. It is a duty of an engaged citizenry!

One day we all might be considered terrorists by our western “friends”.

Never mind. So be it!

The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert.
Email: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com