TIME FOR A FINAL PAYBACK IN BALOCHISTAN


Politicians in Pakistan blithely gloss over their own army’s many wanton excesses in Balochistan and elsewhere, not to speak of the wholesale slaughter of three million Bengalis in 1971, infamy reminiscent of the Holocaust. Yet they persist in abusing and vilifying them legitimately elected prime minister of India as the ‘butcher of Gujarat,’ after the abrogation of Article 370, without the foggiest notion of ground realities. Both the US and Europe imposed exemplary punishment on fanatical Nazis for gassing six million Jews to death, but surprisingly safeguarded the most depraved bunch of humans in khaki from the consequences of their horrific crimes against humanity.

Paradoxically, these two power blocs, the so-called ‘defenders’ of liberty, never tire of raking up the alleged suppression of human rights in Kashmir, masking their blanket protection of the rogue state with bogus rhetoric of ‘free speech’ and ‘democracy in danger.’ At the same time, they have wilfully shut their eyes to decades of aerial attacks and artillery bombardment of Balochistan, devastated by unspeakable atrocities and mass executions. Pakistan, an entity deviously carved out by the British to keep India weak and divided on religious grounds, will never relent on inflicting a thousand cuts to bleed the Republic, in its avowed pursuit of Bharat’s Balkanisation and Ghazwa-e-Hind. Nor will the Rogue State, in its implacable hostility, be softened by countless gestures of goodwill made by New Delhi, in its futile quest for peace.

Having gained enough experience with surgical strikes in Myanmar and LoC and the air raid on Balakot, the political dispensation, held hostage by vote banks, must now break free of their stranglehold and act resolutely against Pakistan and Jihadi excesses and support Baluchis. After all that has happened, an unrepentant ISI is waiting to unleash a still greater number of terrorists across the LoC. At least 500 at the last count, according to reports, in sheer violation of UN norms, to disrupt life in J&K and prey on Indian soldiery, which has always borne the brunt of such depredations. Islamabad will tell the world that all this is an outcome of the Kashmiri anger against oppression, flatly denying any involvement, even though its signature is clearly visible behind these acts.

The Army must junk its dependency on light weapons to eliminate jihadis, which may not be particularly effective against houses and buildings where they are usually holed up during counter-terror operations. It must follow the example of U.S Army in flattening such structures with mortar or artillery fire and stamping out every vestige of resistance, which will help minimise Rashtriya Rifles casualties. The Army takes great pains to avoid collateral damage, unlike terror groups which are seldom restrained by such humanitarian considerations. But then the ISI still paints India as a global villain, allegedly victimising its Muslim minority and propagating intolerance.

These falsehoods readily find many takers, including the likes of the Guardian, the New York Times, the Independent, rights groups, think tanks and anti-national elements, etc.

Who would have suspected the use of GPS enabled drones, operating below the radar, to dispatch lethal weaponry, ammunition and currency notes to Punjab, in a bid to trigger a fresh round of mayhem by the Khalistanis. The ISI might have succeeded in its nefarious game plan but for the timely detection by alert intelligence agencies. Yet it still leaves India vulnerable to drone attacks which recently destroyed half the global crude supply at Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the world’s largest oil production facility, despite the cover provided by the US Patriot Missiles. Drones have suddenly emerged as the scariest and most cost-effective option to threaten military and industrial installations, conveniently bypassing the prohibitively expensive security systems protecting them.

Now the latest reports quoting intelligence inputs have unfolded the sheer audacity of the Jaish-e-Mohammed is planning to target PM Modi, home minister Amit Shah and NSA Ajit Doval, in a ‘sensational’ attack to ‘avenge’ the abrogation of Article 370. The latest acts of deception and desperation defines ISI’s diabolical nature, which can sink to any depths to demonise the Republic. Unfortunately, India is still fumbling to get its act right, in the larger strategic context, which still remains a crippling bane of statecraft, even as the military brass and the MoD babus, with their proximity to politicians in power, are at loggerheads over many issues.

Adding insult to injury, the Labour Party delegates, directly backing Pakistan, have now passed a controversial resolution in London, advocating the right of self-determination for Kashmiris “fighting against occupation (by India).” In a strong rejoinder, Manoj Ladwa, who headed the Party’s Indian Community Forum, alleged that “a coalition of left extremists and Jihadi sympathisers” had taken over the Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had tweeted on August 11 that “the situation in Kashmir is deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable.” Alas, if only the Party had expressed similar sentiments for the genuinely aggrieved Baluchis, the victims of one of the worst pogroms, then it should have at least sounded truthful, instead of parroting a spurious narrative on Kashmir.

Britain, a country notorious for doublespeak and deviousness since the days of the East India Company, should have been the last to be commenting on Kashmir. Especially after Jallianwala Bagh, where Gen Dyer slaughtered hundreds of peaceful protestors, including innocent women and children, without a warning shot. Churchill too touted as a global icon for taking on Hitler’s might, escaped scrutiny for his role in dispatching the entire grain output of the undivided Bengal to feed the British Eighth Army in North Africa, practically engineering the starvation deaths of four million Bengalis.

While Pakistan and its fifth columnists in India have been making the loudest noises over so-called oppression in Kashmir, has any of the international watchdogs or media ever questioned Islamabad’s forcible annexation of Balochistan and summary executions of innocent civilians and mass burials in the most militarized zone? Either these watchdogs are oblivious of the existing realities or have been skilfully managed by the ISI, to target and malign India. The agency, unfortunately, can still outwit its Indian counterparts in the undercover game. More so after inimical forces within the country disbanded the Army’s cutting edge Technical Support Division, amid a welter of unsubstantiated allegations. Unfortunately, India has lost the only agency that could have frustrated ISI designs.

The Baloch leadership has also warned stakeholders like India and the West that the war against radical Islamic terror could never be won by ignoring the Baloch sentiments or its aspiration for regaining independence. Accordingly, New Delhi must promptly orchestrate a global campaign to divest Pakistan of the UN membership over the forcible annexation of Balochistan, because it is violative of Article 2, sub-article 4 of its Charter, which restrains member states from resorting to force against the sovereignty of any state. India should approach all the forums and platforms to expose Pakistani army’s diabolical role in the mass killings and abductions of tribals, besides brutal clampdown on the Baloch.

The task could be facilitated by the diplomatic missions and the great Indian diaspora, which commands considerable respect in the western world. The recent ‘Howdy Modi’ extravaganza in Houston showcased the political and economic might of the non-resident Indians, whom even President Donald Trump, holding the world’s most powerful office, honoured with his presence. Who knows that as the most influential and the wealthiest segment of US immigrants, they could probably decide the fate of the next US president? These groups could act as a force multiplier to unmask the real face of Pakistan with their soft power and open the doors for the Baloch leadership to negate Pakistani propaganda on international platforms.

Questions have also been raised by Baloch leaders over Pakistan’s championing the cause of liberty at the UN when it remains the biggest violator of human rights itself. PM Modi did refer to the people of Balochistan in his 2016 Independence Day speech, recognising their struggle for justice against a brutal regime which sent their hopes soaring, but it turned out to no more than hollow rhetoric. Baloch leader Hyrbyair Marri told a financial daily that the specific statement alarmed the Pakistani Army into committing even more atrocities on the Baloch, mounting several military operations since then. Many more people have just disappeared.

However, it can be said in the prime minister’s defence that circumstances were quite different then, almost midway into his first tenure, when he sought to negotiate his way around the Luytens zone and its labyrinthine complexities. But then after being re-elected with an overwhelming mandate this year, which virtually decimated the opposition, Modi and Amit Shah did what nobody could have ever conceived of in his or her wildest dreams. They abrogated Article 370 with lightning speed, as a stunned political class and the nation gaped disbelievingly at the developments, undoing 70 years of duplicity and intrigues that mocked at the sovereignty of India.

The unprecedented political act marks a watershed in the history of free India and has emboldened the oppressed groups, such as the Baloch, Pashtuns and Sindhis to protest even more forcefully against Pakistan’s occupation and plunder of their scarce resources. The prevailing policy of passivity, post-Balakot, too, has been dealt a death blow. Now is the time for a real payback, never mind Islamabad’s sham nuclear threats. India must seize the opportunity to act against Islamabad and strip it of every vestige of falsehood and duplicity built into its DNA. The Republic should take up the cause of Baloch by the virtue of its sterling role and record in the Non-Aligned Movement, where it unhesitatingly supported countries fighting to overthrow their rapacious colonial masters.

In this context what Jamal Nasir Baloch, who heads the Foreign Affairs Department of Free Balochistan Movement, told opindia.com, an online news portal, becomes significant. It spells out the high stakes for India in the region. “The Baloch national struggle,” he pointed out, “can effectively reduce the territorial size of Pakistan into half and can also provide India with potential long-term influence from Chabahar to Strait of Hormuz in a post-regime Iran. It will also strengthen the pro-Indian democratic forces in Afghanistan because there is already an understanding among Afghan and Baloch to see the region free of Pakistani backed terrorism. An independent Balochistan would (also) pave the way for the total elimination of fake state Pakistan,” he added.

Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, top leader of the Balochistan Liberation Front serves as a living testimony to the Pakistani army’s brutality and bestiality. He recalled the slaughter of 45 members of his family, including two siblings and five nephews, at their hands, which abducted his sick wife and infant daughter and bombed his home town relentlessly, something unheard of in civilised societies. These atrocities are compounded by the deafening silence and hypocrisy of the western world, which goes out of its way to magnify the killing of terrorists in Kashmir as ‘excesses’ committed by the Indian Army. “It’s a shame that the champions of a secular and liberal world have failed to extend a helping hand to the Baloch, the only people in the region successfully resisting religious extremism,” Allah Nazar added.

Baloch leaders especially fear the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would reduce the native populace to a minority, devastating to their identity and self-esteem, besides relegating them to the status of vassals in the new set-up. “China is settling more than half A first-day cover and stamp issued by Pakistan in 1955 truthfully shows the state of Jammu and Kashmir as part of the map of India. Hence it must drop all pretence and claims on Kashmir.

A first day cover and stamp issued by Pakistan in 1955 truthfully shows the state of Jammu and Kashmir as part of the map of India. Hence it must drop all pretence and claims on Kashmir.

million of people in Gwadar. (Similarly) Punjabis will bring their five million people here,” elaborates Allah Nazar Baloch, “which are bound to cause a major demographic change in the area. China has already seized Saindak’s gold and copper project in Balochistan.” He also warned that the whole world will suffer from the consequences of the colonial act of China in building a naval base in Jewani near the Strait of Hormuz.
However, not all seems to be lost. The CPEC has virtually ground to a halt after multiple attacks by the Baloch resistance and reports of massive corruption among Pakistani policymakers, according to a Sunday Guardian report dated September 21. Quoting multiple sources in Balochistan, the weekly newspaper said CPEC projects in that area were abandoned or incomplete. The gigantic corridor embraces 18 major energy and five infrastructure projects and includes steps to operationalise Gwadar port. The weekly quoted a former Baloch provincial government spokesman as saying that CPEC was a dead project. “Land has been taken for Gwadar airport, but no work has been done on it. There is stagnation at Gwadar port too. I think the project is almost gone,” he said.

On 12 May this year, Baloch nationalists dealt the CPEC a crippling blow by carrying out a lethal attack on Zaver-Pearl Continental hotel, the most zealously guarded in the strife-torn region and its only five-star facility. The hotel, the centrepiece of the CPEC, is also the haunt of the project’s Chinese functionaries and Arab investors, overlooking the Gwadar port from a hilltop. In the engagement lasting more than 40 hours, three Baloch armed with assault rifles and plenty of grenades, killed five Pakistanis, before being eliminated by the security men, who also relied on choppers, according to the official version. The attack came barely weeks after another Baloch group gunned down 14 people, including 11 army personnel, according to a BBC report.

However, the Pakistani claim has been hotly disputed by Allah Nazar Baloch. “I can say with authority that the number of Chinese and Arab nationals who died in the attack was almost 80,” he told The Sunday Guardian. His statement has the ring of truth as the army had cordoned off the area, clamping down on potential leaks in order to conceal the actual number of deaths and dismiss the attack as ineffectual. “These attackers told their friends, till the time they were communicating… that they had killed a large number of Chinese and Arab nationals who were staying in the hotel,” the leader added.

The attack has severely jolted China’s intent to invest more in CPEC, casting serious doubts over Pakistani army’s competence to defend its assets in the ravaged zone. “The Pakistani military had convinced China on several occasions that CPEC was a security-proof project. Yet, their convoys, even now, travel under the protection of gunship helicopters. The attack on Pearl Continental made it clear that the Pakistan army cannot ever subjugate Balochistan. This attack played a final role in ending the project,” a Gwadar-based journalist told The Sunday Guardian.

Hyrbyair Marri, who dismissed Pakistan as a “by-product of British colonial shenanigans,” played a sterling role in initiating underground protests against the Rogue State in 1996, which within three years, grew into a full-fledged nationwide resistance against Pakistani jackboots. Significantly, Kashmir experienced a relative calm when Baloch resistance happened to be at its peak, according to balochwarna.com. But then the ISI is unabashedly playing the religious card to steamroll its way into greater acceptance by the Islamic enclaves.

The Punjabi occupiers, having seized the region’s vast mineral wealth, comprising gas, gold, copper, uranium, copper and silver reserves, are also sitting on Reko Diq goldmine, worth USD 100 billion. They are employing disproportionate military might with Chinese help to retain their stranglehold over the area, besides keeping it mired in extreme poverty, illiteracy, poor health and backwardness. The Baloch, steeped in a radically different culture and values, a strong sense of identity, are equally relentlessly fighting for survival peacefully or with guns.

If the current political dispensation has taken a number of bold steps in the pursuit of the national agenda, unmindful of the Lutyens Zone rabble-rousers, then it can logically take the process forward and grant citizenship to the likes of Brahumdagh Bugti, who had founded the Baloch Republican Party and others. The gesture would considerably strengthen their hands and place Pakistan on notice. After all, their cause is genuine, unlike that of separatists and pro-Pakistani elements based in Kashmir. There is no reason why it cannot be done, when India granted citizenship to the Dalai Lama in open defiance of Chinese dictates, on humanitarian grounds. India has every justification to ostracise and shame the Rogue State, posing an existential threat to its very survival, besides employing every trick and stratagem to keep the Kashmir pot burning and coveting the state’s strategic location and its huge water resources. Secondly, as India has always been at the receiving end of the never-ending cycle of low-cost proxy war, foisted by the Rogue State, should it not reserve the right to obliterate terror camps, proliferating like malignant cancer cells and secure its borders and citizens. Is there any other way? Already the jihadis have killed more than 4,000 soldiers and some 40,000 civilians in murderous acts and bomb blasts, more than all the wars fought by India, besides tying down a large part of the Army and swallowing up huge resources.

Indian agencies trained LTTE cadres initially to help them resist the alleged Lankan brutality, which featured as a report in a leading national mainstream magazine decades ago. Then what is holding it back from supporting the Baloch with arms, munitions and supplies. Can their legitimate right to defend themselves be denied? Did not the US create an army of mujahideen with ISI facilitation to oppose Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and uphold ‘liberty.’ Would the countries which always point fingers at India, ever countenance such attacks on their own soil? Why apply such double standards to India alone? India must now seize the opportunity to tell Pakistan that this is the limit and it should be prepared to bear the responsibility for the ensuing consequences. Or India could continue to be bled from a thousand cuts until life ebbs away.

 

Sudip Talukdar is an author and strategic affairs and science columnist. This article first appeared in the Indian Defence Review, Print Edition, Oct-Dec 2019 and is available at http:/ / www.indiandefencereview.com/ news/ timeforafinal-payback

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