Musharraf's Diagnosis, Treatment Destined to Kill the Patient
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
February 5: Events in Balochistan are a manifestation of unfolding
changes in the region in and around west of Pakistan. Pakistani
rulers have been repeatedly urged to wake up from their deep slumber
and sickening apathy towards a situation that was advertently
developing into rendering our beloved homeland into a failed state
on the verge of becoming yet another Yugoslavia.
the saner warnings, appeals and protestations seem to have fallen
on the stony ground and Pakistan under military heels is sliding
towards a tragic denouement, especially when General Pervez Musharraf
instead of curing the disease wants to kill the patient.
the head of the institution that should have learnt a lesson from
the tragedy of former East Pakistan on the basis of once bitten
twice shy, he seems to be more power drunk than General Yahya
Khan when he warned Pakistani Baloch compatriots that they would
not know "what hit them" in offering solutions to their
piled up grievances that include military cantonmentisation of
the province and a sense of deprivation emanating from continued
step-motherly treatment by
student of history should be able to tell the Pakistani rulers
that when a country ceases to manage itself, its borders also
cease to exist. Islamabad's supposedly all-wise and all-knowing
military establishment has rendered Pakistan into the "sick
man" of the region, its waters are perpetually troubled and
offer open invitation to all who want to catch the fish or claim
their pound of flesh.
being one of the most strategic pieces of the 21st century jigsaw
of the great game as being packaged in the new gift wrap of Pax
Americana, we are naturally getting embroiled in ominous circumstances
that tempt many other powers in the region to seek some piece
of territorial share that an ultimate Balkanization in our region
would offer them as well.
independence has been rendered into a myth once again much in
the same manner as it was done in the days of Ayub Khan allowing
the United States to have bases in northern Pakistan that were
used to fly its spy planes over the erstwhile Soviet Union or
for that matter Pakistan under Zia when he sold the country for
American "peanuts" to become Washington's frontline
state in its Jihad against the Russians.
we are a frontline state for American jihad against those very
jihadis who were waging Jihad for them in the eighties. In the
process our own writ has ceased to exist, American agents man
country's entry and exit points, our land has become a big base
for their American military operations. Pakistani troops directly
help US military fire at suspected terrorists hideouts inside
Pakistan - a fact loudly appreciated and acknowledged in Washington
by Colonel Cardon B. Crawford, the Director of Operations for
the US military command in Afghanistan.
letting its troops help American fire has been described as "a
huge step forward" in the fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban
suspects hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border. While Washington
has minced no bones about this "huge step-forward",
Pakistan's Interior Minister has maintained Pakistan would only
share information with the US relating to terror targets in tribal
areas of the country but the US forces deployed in Afghanistan
would never be allowed to hunt terrorists inside Pakistan.
to reporters recently, the minister said as a leading partner
of international alliance against terrorism, Pakistan had to share
all information with the US-led peace force to destroy terrorist
network in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas.
the worsening situation when one does not know whether one is
coming or going and in the light of various observations made
by Pakistani and foreign geo-strategic experts about the lengthening
shadow on Pakistan's future, one had expected that our military
rulers who have been a parasite to the country, would realize
sooner than later, that if something God forbid happens to Pakistan,
they would lose the body on which they gloatingly feed themselves.
best attuned to the commando-instinct of survival as they are,
they should grasp the gravity of the lethal Balochistan situation
and get down to serious business of resolving it before it gets
beyond them. They must know that they can buy some time for themselves
by being pawn in the new great game but once their utility is
over, they would be deposed to the dustbin of history as General
Ziaul Haq was. For the time being they are much needed since Iran
has to be sorted out, Afghanistan has a long way to go to stabilize,
Iraq and Middle East continue to be on the boil.
failure to handle Balochistan as a domestic problem emanating
from its sense of deprivation and exploitation has converted it
into a bigger bone of multi-nation contention. Leading Pakistani
analyst Dr Jaffer Hussain believes that the United States is latently
opposed to "significant Chinese presence" in Balochistan
and in future if an operation is conducted by the United States
against Iran, (inevitable in the recent observation of Seymour
M. Hersh, New Yorker January 24, 2005), it would have a safe haven
back line in Balochistan.
the other view Pakistani scholar Zia Haider currently at the Stimson
Center in Washington, believes that both Iran and India look at
the Gwadar Port with disfavor and suspicion. They see it as a
rival to Iran's Chahbahar Port that was built with Indian assistance
and was meant to serve as Central Asia's conduit to warm waters.
Gwadar would be a gateway to making Pakistan a new Center of trading
activity among the energy-rich Gulf, Central Asia, Afghanistan
and China, as well as provide the Pakistan Navy with strategic
depth along its coastline.
will also enable China to diversify its crude oil import routes
and extend its presence in the Indian Ocean. Besides that, Haider
believes Gwadar port fuels bitter discontent among local Baloch
nationalists who believe that the benefits of the project will
bypass them and who maintain longstanding grievances against Pakistan's
port also presents a potentially irresistible target to Al Qaeda
as payback for Pakistan's cooperation in the US-led war on terror.
While Pakistan and China believe that the port will deliver significant
economic and military gains, India, Iran, and the local Baloch
view it as a potential threat to their economic interests and
security, and Al Qaeda presumably rejects it as Pakistan's steppingstone
to becoming a stronger, more prosperous state.
reminds me of the days of late Shah of Iran when Iran-Pakistan
enjoyed extra-ordinary relations since the inception of the country.
They got consolidated during General Ayub's time to the extent
that Iran served as Pakistan's strategic depth in those days.
It is said that Pakistan Air Force's F-104s had found bases in
Iran as a safe haven during 1965 war with India. We also received
lot of spare for our planes from Teheran when Washington had imposed
an embargo on supplies.
Shah was believed to be wary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's ambitions
to make Pakistan self-sufficient in oil and other resources. He
did not like Bhutto signing oil exploration deals with the Soviet
Union to explore oil and gas reservoirs in Balochistan. Besides,
he did not support Bhutto's idea of stronger OIC and ZAB's historic
advice to the Oil producing Arab states to use oil as a weapon.
led to the absence of the American policeman in the region at
the famous historic Islamic Summit held in Lahore in 1974. Later
his support to General Ziaul Haq following Bhutto's overthrow
showed how annoyed he had been with ZAB. This fitted in the overall
conspiracy against Bhutto who had staked his life to make Pakistan
nuclear powerful and self-sufficient in oil etc.
a province as strategically placed as Balochistan with abundance
in untapped natural resources, Islamabad's attitude towards it
should not have been colonial and imperialistic. There is a consensus
among commentators on the affairs in Balochistan that its alienation
been to the fact that it was not only treated as step-motherly
but also kept out of the decision making process.
no other province has been subjected to so many ruthless military
inventions as Balochistan. The Balochs have reasons and past as
a proof, to believe that they are being exploited, that they are
being denied full economic benefits of their explored resources
and that they are kept backward by design and policy.
the Senate debate even Treasury Senator Munim Khan Baloch reiterated
that harmony between the Center and provinces had never existed
as Islamabad had always been imposing its decisions on the federating
units. Such policies, he recalled, had resulted in the dismemberment
of East Pakistan.
and again voices were raised to implore Islamabad to do something
that could heal the Baloch wounds before it was too late. The
fire was simmering over the years and now it has exploded into
an inferno that threatens not only Balochistan but also the entire
is in the grip of an armed insurgency. Pakistani newspapers are
full of headlines every day of the bomb blasts, attacks on trains,
military and other vital installations. Pakistan military is also
out there to prove the warning of General Musharraf-hitting the
people hard with its firepower. The Baloch rag tag self-styled
Balochistan Liberation Army, so far treated as a big joke by the
Pakistani military, is gaining in sinews of war and firepower.
Analysts commenting on their successful acts of subversion apprehend
that they must be having some support from somewhere to make them
stronger and more effective by the day. Dr Shirin Mazari believes
that their "acts of sabotage are clearly not random but have
careful planning behind them -- as well as a certain level of
technical sophistication. And of course there is the very important
financial aspect. All these indicators prove the strong external
linkages to what is happening in Balochistan." Her views
can also be taken as the views prevailing in Islamabad's corridor
consensus is bitterly opposed to military action; dialogue and
reconciliation are supported as the best exit routes. This was
also the considered view expressed in the Senate when a debate
was initiated on Balochistan on Thursday (Feb. 3). No doubt the
Opposition senators lashed out at Islamabad's handling of the
Balochistan crisis, they also showed the way out through political
dialogue for conceding greater provincial autonomy and handing
over of all
provincial resources to the government of the province.
the efforts of the parliamentary committee for reconciliation
and solution of the Balochistan crisis, the main hurdle seems
to be lack of trust and confidence between General Musharraf's
government and the Baloch representatives. Latter have reservations.
They charge that while there is little progress towards dialogue,
every move is being countered by more emphasis for seeking a military
the General was sincere, he should stop blowing hot and stop accumulating
troops in Balochistan. The consensus view among the Senators is
that the claims made by the President, the prime minister or the
military spokesperson that no military operation had been launched
in Balochistan are false. In fact, Balochistan is being subjected
to a full-scale military operation.
needs to be buried deep down. Balochs are our brothers and they
should not be treated step-motherly. In their prosperity lies
greater national prosperity. They are too few in number and their
needs can be satisfied fully with honesty of purpose. And it can
be said with confidence that whatever is in excess of their needs
can be used for the good of the rest of the country. In conclusion,
if something untowardly happens to Balochistan, it would be a
fatal blow to Pakistan. Let the people understand that by saving
Balochistan they are actually saving Pakistan.