Baluchistan ….. Significance in Pakistan
Map showing Marri tribal areas in Balochistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The province of Baluchistan has different languages, cultures and ethnicities and the province has rooted traditions, customs and norms. The tribal and ‘Sardar’ system is the uniqueness in the culture of Baluchistan and the people stick to their values at any cost. Unfortunately before the creation of Pakistan the people of Baluchistan were deprived of their basic rights and the province was considered backward and recessive. After the partition of Sub-continent it was thought that the residents of Baluchistan will get their basic rights and the government of Pakistan will address their grievances and complaints.
To identify that the whether the grievances of Baluchistan are just merely the fault of Government of Pakistan and other provinces or there is something wrong internally in the province.
Are the social, economic and political grievances of the people of Baluchistan justified?
Politics in Baluchistan:
There is no doubt that the people of Baluchistan have been deprived from their rights which is clearly reflected in the province’ budget, law and order situation in terms of five military operations and deprivation of the province with its resources. As the Baluchis are restrained from main stream politics as we can see the recent example of Sardar Akhtar Mengal who was considered as one of the prominent separatist leader in the province, but when he wanted to join the main stream politics every tactic was made to stop his party from using their democratic right to contest the elections. Even in past Governments used the language of military operations instead of dialogues.
Ownership of Resources:
English: Map of Districts of Baluchistan, Pakistan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The ownership of resources is another problem for the unrest in the province as the nationalists demand major ownership of the resources of Baluchistan. Baluchistan possesses 36% of total resources of Pakistan like copper, natural gas, aluminum, oil and gold.As Baluchistan and Sindh are biggest producer of gas in Pakistan with 94% of production. Baluchistan is the province with the population of 7,914,000 which is almost 4.5 % of the population of Pakistan. Whereas in gas production province produces 25% of the total gas production but the province is not given any special royalty on gas and oil whereas Punjab with producing just 4% and spending almost 42% of the total gas enjoys the same rates as Baluchistan and Sindh.
Role of Establishment:
Military operations have been another reason for the unrest and anxiety in the province as there have been five military operations in the province in 1948, 1958, 1963, 1973 and 2004 which is still going on. Just in the time of the recent military operation from 2004, 3679 fatalities have taken place. Main areas of the conflict are Sui, DeraBugti and Makran and the major tribes involved in the conflict are Bugti, Marri and Mengals. Although in some of the areas of insurgency, Army is doing its best to control the situation but the role of intelligence agencies have never been constructive in the province. Missing persons is again a big problem faced by Baluchis as well as by Government of Pakistan. These military operations also led to sectarian conflict which resulted in the killings of Shias, killing of government officials by nationalists and religious parties. As according to the data by South Asia terrorism organization the highest number of deaths took place in province were due to nationalists’ attacks and then in sectarian attacks and state operation which were 488 and 285 respectively.Taliban hide outs in the province are another cause for sectarian violence which ultimately leads to the need of military operation. Recently killing of Hazara Shias, which is still going on ultimately led to the need of military operation. But this is a fact that Army is not for ‘peace’ whereas Army is meant to maintain peace by fight but you can maintain peace in your own country by killing people, otherwise this will lead to the situation of East Pakistan in 1971.
Nationalism in Province:
“Rule the Punjabis, intimidate the Sindhis, buy the Pashtun and honor the Baloch”
This is the principle being followed by some of the nationalists of Baluchistan who demand for a separate country named ‘Greater Baluchistan’. Although in the province the nationalist parties and organizations are quite strong but they completely oblige the law of Pakistan and completely respect the writ of the state. There are only few nationalists’ leaders like Brahamdagh Bugti and khair Bakhsh Marri who just to gain their personal goals, exploit the people of Baluchistan and with the help of hostile countries try to harm Pakistan. Although there demand is not even the voice of their own tribes, as Changez Marri son of khair Bakhsh Marri is the MPA in Baluchistan Assembly and currently Contender for the chief minister of Baluchistan. Other prominent leaders Talal Bugti and Shah Zain Bugti of Bugti tribe are Pakistani politicians and fully participate in the state’s matters. There is another reason that the demand for a separate country is not justified that the nationalist leaders demand for People republic of Baluchistan but their geographic location does not allow them to do so. It will be practically impossible to run a country surrounded by Islamic republic of Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic republic of Afghanistan. Moreover 60% of the population is not Baluchi, only 40% of the population is Baluchi speaking and even among that it is just a very small number which demands for a separate country.
Tribal System in Baluchistan:
Another reason for the grievances of people of Baluchistan lies within the province for last many centuries which is the tribal system or ‘Sardar’ system. Leaders of big tribes like Bugti, Hooth, Lashari, Malkani, Qaisrani, Rais and Marri have been exploiting the people of Baluchistan since before the creation of Pakistan. Leaders of those tribes themselves are well educated but they always discourage any new development in the field of health, education and infrastructure because they think it will lessen their rule on deprived people of Baluchistan
Industrial Development in the province:
Another unjustified reservation of the people of the province is the industrial development in the area which particularly includes Gwadar port, Gwadar-Khuzdar Highway and Kachhi Canal. Government of Pakistan is spending PRs. 52.92 Billion only on Gwadar related projects just to address the grievances of the people of Baluchistan. The main reason of the reservation on these projects is concern about their social, economic and political future in Baluchistan. People of the province think that with this foreign involvement development will be on the cost of culture, traditions and heritage of the province.
The issues and grievances of people of Baluchistan.
Much research has been done on the crises of people of Baluchistan but this paper focuses on few themes such as political, economic and social reservations including independent Baloch Sardars causing resistance to the state interference, ethnic culture, resource exploitation, Industrial development in the province and development lag, religious extremism in Baluchistan. Although the literature presents the historical background but the focus is on current deprivations of people of Baluchistan.
During 2005 the attacks in Baluchistan on natural gas pipeline and including various attacks on army chief Pervaiz Mushraf during the visits was the start of gloomy time in province and it is more than “law and order” situation because of the response of the central government to the growing violence—which has included the introduction of 36,000 government forces and the alleged use of attack aircraft 88 in result of growing violence.
Root of the problem underlies in the tribal and Sardar system a “Baloch Sardars have resisted state interference” mainly due to their projected interests in wealth and influence. This gave birth to provincial autonomy and “self-administration”demands. However on the other hand the resource exploitation is the setting of sun. The unavailability of natural gas and “the gas industry’s well‐paid managers and technicians were almost invariably drawn from outside Balochistan” factor has hurt Baluchis much to demand “self admnistration”. The complaints of Balochi people about health, education “lowest ranking in the Gender Parity Index (GPI)”, transport are genuine and very few development projects are rooted according to “National Economic Survey (NES)”.
The Social Policy Development Centre 2005 report discovered that the percentage of the population living in a high degree of deprivation stands highest in Baluchistan as compared to the other provinces [88 percent in Baluchistan, 51 percent in the NWFP, 49 percent in Sindh and 25 percent in Punjab]. According to poverty‐related reports, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line stands at 63 percent in Baluchistan. This again, is the highest among all other provinces [26 percent in Punjab, 29 percent in the NWFP and 38 percent in Sindh].
Dr. Waheed Baloch said while giving his view about the current situation in Baluchistan, that the province (Baluchistan) has been deprived of the basic development needs for more than 60 years.
Sardar system which originated in 15th century during the reign of Mir Chakar Khan made its roots strong and the people of Baluchistan are crushed between state and sardar. Furthermore the lack of education, sense of deprivation and poverty has caused the people of the province turned into religious extremists causing civil war including external enemies.
Balochi people view the picture in another way they blame the central government exploit the natural resources as mentioned above and negligence of Baluch populace but on the other hand central government claims that Baluchis are led by the nose by some tribal Sardars.
To analyzes the ethnic dimension of the conflict in order to know how and why Balochi local people have been mobilized to take up arms against central government. Some nationalists complain that Baluchistan has its unique identity and when they are not given proper representation the people from different ethnic groups feel ignored on national levels and they resist new ideas and developments in the province.
Various factors which have increased the strategic significance of Baluchistan—the Global War on Terror, the deep-sea port in Gwadar, and the regional dynamics of Southwest Asia—in order to highlight how these events have led to a change in policy and of existing tensions.
One of the objectives for such interference is to destabilize Baluchistan by stimulating insurgency and creating violations for its detachment from Pakistan.
The social problems of this province stem from the warlord dominated society that does not let any solutions to be implemented. The political problems of this province are because of its due share of attention whether it is a dictatorship or a democracy as the people of the province are never welcomed in the main stream politics. Solving the economic issues of this province is by far the easiest bit; as all we need to do is give the common man a share of the this resource rich province. However some of the claims are not valid on part of people of Baluchistan such as the tribal system of Baluchistan itself does not allow people to be politically, socially and economically sovereign and be prosperous. Also the ethnic and religious groups do not let people to free themselves from this trap.
A Ray of Hope
The solution to the problem of Baluchistan lies within itself, as the problems of the province are quite clear unlike the problems like extremism and terrorism. The first and foremast step towards a stable Baluchistan is to minimize the role of intelligence agencies, Frontier Core and Army in the province. Government of Pakistan and Army should be very careful in the matter of Baluchistan, God forbid this situation might end up as it happened in the case of East Pakistan. Although the initiative of NFC award was a better stop towards addressing the grievances of the province but equal allocation of resources must be done on technical basis. These can also be solved by introducing high literacy rate among the people which would integrate the various tribes hence allowing them to take collective action another most important step which should be taken by the Government of Pakistan is to continue dialogues with all the separatist leaders and should let all the Baluchis enter in the main stream politics. Baluchistan has always been the back bone in the development of Pakistan and it will always be a precious asset for the country.