Pak Army trying to control Balochistan by force: ICG report

November 14th, 2007 - 2:42 am ICT by admin  
The killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006 was followed by the imprisonment of Akhtar Mengal on terrorism-related charges without due process of law since December 2006, according to the report.

Law enforcement agencies are also said to have detained thousands of Baloch nationalists or those believed to be sympathetic to the cause.

Many have simply disappeared. With the nationalist parties under siege, many young activists are losing faith in the political process and now see armed resistance as the only viable way to secure their rights, it says.

Relying also on divide-and-rule policies, the army still supports Pashtun Islamist parties such as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in a bid to counter secular Baloch and moderate Pashtun forces, the report says.

The Taliban is undermining the state-building effort in Afghanistan by using Balochistan as a base of operation, sanctuary and recruiting from the JUI’s extensive madrassa network, it adds.

At the same time, US and other Western countries support for Musharraf is alienating the Baloch, who otherwise could be natural partners in countering extremism in Pakistan, the ICG says.

The ICG notes that although the military has retained control through force, it is fast losing the campaign to win hearts and minds.

According to the report, the insurgency in Balochistan now crosses regional, ethnic, tribal and class lines. President Pervez Musharraf appears oblivious to the need to change course if the insurgency is to be contained and political stability restored.

Islamabad has yet to implement any of the recommendations on Balochistan’s political and economic autonomy made by a Senate committee in November 2005, it says.

The ICG says that the federal government has also disregarded the Balochistan provincial assembly’s unanimous resolutions against unpopular federal development plans.

The government’s inadequate response to the cyclone and floods that devastated the area in June and July 2007 has increased local alienation, it adds.

Although, the crisis in Balochistan is assuming threatening dimensions, it is not irremediable provided the national and provincial elections are free and fair. The restoration of democracy would reduce tensions between the centre and the province, empower moderate forces and marginalise extremists.

In the absence of a transition to meaningful democracy, however, the military’s “strong-arm tactics” are bound to further fuel the insurgency at great cost to the Baloch people and Pakistan’s enfeebled federal framework, the report warns. (ANI)

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