Interesting aspects of Balochistan and Insurgency in Balochistan

Introduction: Located in the southwestern region of Pakistan, Balochistan is the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan in terms of land area. The region has a very dry desert climate and has an abundance of natural resources which has kept the Pakistani government very much interested in it. Its provincial capital and largest city are Quetta.

balochistan insurgency

There are two very interesting aspects of Balochistan:

  1. The region shares its borders with Punjab in the northeast, Sindh to the East and Southeast, the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north and northwest. The ethnicity that Balochistan comprises of makes it very interesting as the Iranic Baloch and the Pashtuns live hand in hand. Both these ethnicities believe in achieving a free Balochistan despite their differences.
  2. The second being the Balochistan insurgency which is happening in the region. This conflict has kept many countries interested in the Balochistan; as it speaks of the mistreatment of the Baloch by the Pakistani government. Due to this, two characters who always stay in the loop with Pakistan are India and Afghanistan. The three countries monitor each other’s activities very closely in Balochistan.

The Balochistan Insurgency

The insurgencies fought by Baloch nationalists have been fought in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63, 1973-77 and the insurgencies which have started occurring since 2003 have been regarded as one of the strongest ones to be witnessed by the Pakistani army. However, the insurgencies have been on a decline recently as the Baloch militants have begun killing their own commanders due to some fallout issues. The insurgents have been seen exchanging their weapons for some reconciliation offers from the government of Pakistan. The insurgency is definitely on a decline now as described in an article titled “The End of Pakistan’s Baloch Insurgency”.

The whole conflict started when the rulers of Khanate of Kalat, which was a princely state under the British rule, but when they left, this state didn’t want to join Pakistan. In March 1948, the Pakistani government sent troops to annex Balochistan, but a treaty was signed by Yar Khan, the then ruler of Kalat that there would be negotiations done on that front. Yar Khan couldn’t convince his population and they still continued to fight, triggering the first conflict between the Balochi Rebels and the Pakistani Army. After the rebellion was put down, the crisis erupted and there were four more conflicts which followed and the people of Balochistan made it very clear that they wanted independence from Pakistan. This put Pakistan in a very tough spot as Balochistan is a very strategic location, if observed carefully; Balochistan can have its borders infiltrated by a lot of the “enemies” of Pakistan. Also, Balochistan is home a goldmine of natural resources and holds a very major significance to the economy of Pakistan. China has invested a sum of $62 billion in Pakistan and plans to keep Balochistan in its future plans.

In the recent past, the Baloch insurgents have been seen to go on the decline as they are suffering economically. In some interviews they claim to be saying that they don’t even have the money to feed themselves, how are they expected to fight a war? It’s a very common site in Balochistan to see the civilians raising their voice against the “unjust” government but it is also very remarkable to see how the Pakistani government has totally contradicting views about them and their issues. They have branded the Baloch insurgents as “terrorists” and don’t even seem to acknowledge the existence of the Baloch leaders. The Baloch leaders haven’t been taken seriously whenever they’ve tried to reach out to the government, on many occasions they’ve been severely humiliated. Times have changed now; the realization of the importance of Balochistan in the Pakistani government has been on the rise. In recent times they’ve seen embracing the Baloch leaders and trying to mend ties with them.

The Indian Connection

There is a very interesting Indian aspect to the insurgencies which are being caused in Balochistan. The primary aim for the Baloch insurgents is to get a free Balochistan and Naela Qadri Baloch has appealed to the Indian government in doing the same. She has the vision that the “new” Balochistan would be “nuclear-free, terror-free, secular, democratic, pluralistic and gender balanced.” There have been claims that India could intervene and make Balochistan a separate State like it did with Bangladesh but in this case, there are way too many complications. Pakistan won’t let India interfere as it has already had a lot of problems with them and they have been skeptical about India interfering with their problems and rightly so.

The Pakistani Oppression

When the Pakistani government offered a “helping” hand to the Baloch, it was very frowned upon by the World and the Baloch themselves. The Pakistan government has been repeatedly accused of engaging in systematic repression and marginalization of Balochs. Islamabad has reportedly been accused of detaining Baloch nationalists on the basis of no evidence, denying them positions in the military as well as the government and further even assassinating their leaders. The government has even stooped to a level where they allegedly backed the Taliban in the general elections to counter the Baloch leaders. They have even been fueling religious radicalization using religious schools as a medium. This all looks very skeptical as the Pakistani government doesn’t allow any form of media inside the so-called “conflict zone”. There are even allegations that the ISI has been deporting journalists and even physically assaulting them.

Naela Qadri Baloch, an activist, understands that Pakistan has essentially “waged war” on Balochistan; and the human rights violation in the cold desert has reached the level of genocide. These are seriously alarming rates and it is very shocking to comprehend that there are no international humanitarian organizations which are adhering to the problem here. She further alleges that there is a “kill and dump” policy which is being followed by Pakistan to suppress this issue. The Pakistani Army has indiscriminately killed a lot of Baloch nationalists and raped women in torture cells.

The Conclusion

All in all, it may be seen that Balochistan is an issue that may not be resolved in the near future as there are too many parties which are involved. Pakistan has to come up with a solution that restores Balochistan’s faith in them again and India has to be trying and do something about the issue as the Balochs are counting on its government to come up with a solution. The people of Baloch want freedom; Pakistan isn’t exactly ready to give them their freedom so it would be very interesting to see how India and Pakistan come to an agreement on this or if they don’t.

References

“Insurgency in Balochistan.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Oct. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurgency_in_Balochistan.

“Insurgency in Balochistan.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Oct. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurgency_in_Balochistan.

“The Balochistan Conflict: 10 Key Points.” The Times of India, Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd., 13 Aug. 2016, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/the-balochistan-conflict-10-key-points/listshow/53688031.cms.

AlJazeeraEnglish, director. Balochistan: Pakistan’s Other War. YouTube, YouTube, 4 Jan. 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4aTxF3xjWA&t=210s.

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