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Monday Mar 4, 2024, Shaban 23, 1445 Hijri

Bleeding Balochistan

24 June, 2013

By Dr Shahnaz Khan

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A nation in turmoil cannot progress and people in deep depression lose their will to fight, thus strengthening the forces that are creating chaos and anarchy, which is perhaps their main goal. This seems to be happening in Balochistan where truth is buried in the deep secrets of the state and classified files of the foreign powers. Thus, the only way to understand this is in the context of historical and current events, globalisation of capital and a review of the international media reports. Balochistan has always been in turmoil since the inception of Pakistan that can be, mostly, traced to economic inequalities and social injustice, whether real or perceived.

Causes of deprivation and exploitation of the masses are complex, but can be attributed to: a) Local tribal leaders, who have kept their people poor and destitute. This is evidenced by comparing Human Development Index (HDI) reports. Dera Bugti, home of the slain leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, has one of the worst HDI in the country; b) Power holders in Islamabad, who connived with the local elite for political expediency and personal gains. For example, the royalties from the gas have been handed over to the tribal chiefs, rather than spent on the welfare of people; c) Even though it has become fashionable to blame "Punjabis" for the woes of "Balochis", let's be clear that it is not the Punjabi masses oppressing the Balochi masses, but the power holders on both sides oppressing the masses on both sides; d) The army has been blamed as if it is a separate entity. In reality, it is part and parcel of the ruling elites. Here again, the rank and file soldiers have been used to serve the interests of the top brass. Various ruling class groups are interconnected through marriages, business interests and political associations.

Now let's review the international situation. In one of his major works in 1998, "The Grand Chessboard", Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote: "It is imperative that no challenger emerges capable of dominating Eurasia…....A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's advanced and economically productive regions….... control over Eurasia would automatically entail Africa's subordination…....About 75 percent of the world's people live in Eurasia and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in enterprises and under its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources."

After the fall of USSR, America became the uncontestable leader of the world till China's growing economy's hunger for energy forced it to challenge the US hegemony. This quest to become the dominating power of Eurasia and the unquenchable thirst of global capital for natural resources can explain the escalation of conflict in many parts of the globe - pushing the world towards neo-colonialism and thrusting innocent people into perpetual war, exacerbated by the arms industry's insatiable craving for profit. Looked through this lens, many of the recent events - invasion of Afghanistan, demise of Saddam Hussain, lynching of Gaddafi, turmoil in Syria and now invasion of Mali can be easily explained. In fact, some parallels can be drawn between French assault on Mali and the bloody game being played in Balochistan.

In 2006, Beijing hosted the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation", which resulted in billions of dollars assistance to African countries and exponential increase in the trade between them. To counter this, USA set up AFRICOM in 2007. Mali, endowed with abundant natural resources, was invaded by the French forces earlier this year as a result of this battle between imperialists to monopolise its riches. Roger Annis, in "Global Express", wrote: "France and its allies are now working at the UN Security Council to cobble together a Haiti style military/political occupation mission in Mali. Ground soldiers will be African as much as possible, but the overall direction will be firmly in the hands of the US and Europe."

Could this be their aim in Balochistan? To bypass the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, the main route for transportation of oil originating in Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is under de facto control of USA, China built Gwadar Port in Balochistan. This will facilitate overland oil transport. Thus, there is a tug of war between the imperialist forces for control of the resources and geostrategic dominance in the region. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the Saudi/Qatar/UAE versus Iran conflict.

Tony Cartalucci says: "Since Saudi-Qatar geopolitical interests are intertwined with Anglo-American interests, both the 'investment' and 'return on this investment' are clearly part of a joint venture." Local opposing groups are used as tools, as they are supported financially, politically and technologically, and innocent civilians as fodder, for this brutal war machine. Needless to say that poverty and lack of job opportunities does not help the situation much. In "The Daily Rising Kashmir", on April 6, 2012, D. Suba Chandran, Director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, writes: "A section within the US considers Balochistan strategically important for three specific reasons: an independent Balochistan would give access to Afghanistan and Central Asia from the port of Gwadar; the second reason is that the USA fears that Gwadar may become a naval base for China; the third reason could be that an independent Balochistan could give the USA a space against not only China but also Iran."

Thus, following conclusions can be drawn: a) Imperialists want to establish their ascendency in the region for its natural resources and geostrategic location oblivious to the human misery and bloodshed; b) It is happening with the collaboration of the Balochi and Pakistani elite; c) The reason for the failure of the state institutions and intelligence agencies in curbing this terror is because there is collusion between various foreign and local interests who are at odds with each other.

Will an independent Balochistan end this bloodshed? I think it will make it worse because it will be dominated by a more ruthless force. And where will you draw the lines of this new territory? Balochistan is inhabited by not only Balochis, but also by other ethnic groups. Balochis don't just live in Balochistan, but in all other parts of the country. Will people be shoved across this new border in both directions? Will the mixed ethnic families be torn apart? Will friends become enemies? Will there be a re-enactment of the bloody drama of 1947?

The bottom line is that it is a class issue both at national and international level. Destiny of the masses of Pakistan is tied together and their salvation is in unity, not in divisions. People of Pakistan have to rise above their ethnic, linguistic, national, sectarian and religious divides. But then, this is even a bigger challenge than fighting the mighty force of imperialism. Are we up to this challenge?

Courtesy: The Nation

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