Army’s Anti-Baloch Operations Helping TTP?

Dr Manan Baloch

TTP suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polio vaccination centre in Quetta today. At least 15 people are killed, with many more injured. This is the third suicide attack in Quetta so far this year, but represents only a one part of the violence that is taking place. While FC personnel are facing constant threat from Taliban militants, they are also fighting Baloch separatists who are considered as anti-state and a threat to the CPEC. Last week, security forces killed separatist leader Dr Manan Baloch. Some will term this as a successful operation, but it could also be seen as a set back for security in the region. There is no question that Dr Manan is involved in separatist activities. However there is the question whether killing him was intelligent strategy.

The killing of Dr Manan reminds of the larger conflict in Balochistan.

A 20 September 2015 press statement from the Interior Ministry of Balochistan states that law enforcement agencies have killed approximately 204 “militants” in operations, and 29 have been injured. However, the State has remained tight-lipped about the identity of these militants which law enforcement agency has undertaken the killings and arrests.

In the press conference, the Minister also stated that 8,363 Balochis were arrested over the span of 9 months, and 1,800 targeted operations were conducted in the Province between December 2014 and September 2015.

Next, in a 31 January 2016 press statement, the Interior Ministry of Balochistan notes that security forces conducted 239 intelligence-based operations in Balochistan over the past two months, in which 22 militants were killed and 14 others injured.

Actually, Dr Manan joined the separatists after witnessing so many killings by security forces.

Dr. Manan, 48, was a physician by profession and a senior leader of the proscribed Baloch Liberation Front (BLF). He joined BLF after he began having to confront many dead bodies of those who had earlier been disappeared; these bodies had torture marks on them. He was a committed nationalists and he joined the movement for the independence of Balochistan.

Similarly, eight years ago, on 3 April 2009, the ex-President of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, along with two other Baloch political activits, were abducted from their lawyer’s office at Turbat, at gunpoint by security officials. Six days later their mutilated and smashed bodies were found at Murghaab, 35 km from Turbat. The killing of this Baloch leader drew international condemnation.

Dr. Manan was widely respected for his tireless work for those internally displaced as a result of military and paramilitary operations in Balochistan. According to media reports, more than 178,000 persons from the Dera Bugti area – which has substantial deposits of natural gas, known as Sui gas – who were displaced as result of military action in 2005, are still not allowed to return home by the Frontier Corp. And, this is in direct violation of a Supreme Court order.

Anti-Baloch operations are the number one recruiting tool of separatist militants. Extra-judicial killings, especially of respected people like Dr Manan, gives the Baloch a feeling that they are not Pakistani, rather they are like the Bustard being hunted to extinction.

While more and more anger and resentment builds against Pakistan security forces, security forces must build capacity to carry out more operations. This means there is less capacity that can be paid to TTP terrorists who use the chaos to carry out more attacks against innocent Pakistanis.

The strategy from certain quarters is that defeating Baloch insurgency will free up the resources needed to defeat TTP, but this is backwards thinking. Rather we should be seeking a political solution in Balochistan that addresses the complaints of Baloch citizens. TTP terrorists cannot be negotiated with because they are only interested in replacing Pakistan with their own rule. Baloch separatists are not interested in taking over Pakistan, they are interested in the welfare of their own people. Till date they have been made to believe that their welfare will not be met as Pakistani citizens and the response of killing and detaining so many Baloch has only confirmed this incorrect belief. To defeat TTP, our forces must concentrate all resources on this fight. To do that, we must end our self-defeating strategy in Balochistan first.

How much would it take for you to kill your mother?

pkr

Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel said this week ethat terrorists are externally funded and internally facilitated. This statement might satisfy for some why it is always foreign adversaries that are blamed for terrorist attacks but Pakistanis who are arrested for them but, it also presents certain problems and actually raises new questions.

Such statements allow us to psychologically externalise the problem of terrorism by viewing it always as a situation where we are the victim of some foreign enemies. It is not unthinkable that foreign agents are involved with anti-Pakistan activities, but we have little control over the actions of foreign powers.

The question we need to be asking is why so many Pakistanis are willing to destabilise and terrorise their own country?

The answer is always that foreign agencies are paying these Pakistanis to work against the country. However in no cases are there claims that anyone is getting rich. So they are doing it for some small sums? You would not take any sum to kill your own mother unless you truly hated her. How much must people hate their own country to destroy it for peanuts?

We are facing an existential problem that is not being forced on us from outside powers. Even if foreign powers are taking advantage, they are taking advantage of a weakness that already exists in our society. Foreign funding is not the real problem either because for that to matter, someone must already be willing to do the terrible deed. And based on arrests, that number is staggering. Over 100,000 Pakistanis have been arrested under counter-terrorism laws, and yet terrorist attacks continue.

If we are going to save this country, we must start looking inward and solving this question: Why are so many Pakistanis willing to kill and destroy this country? Once we have solved that problem, our enemies will be able to come with all the funds they can but not be able to find any buyers for their evil schemes. Only then can we start to find peace.

Blaming Foreign Hands, Arresting Pakistanis

Bacha Khan Attack Suspects

Investigation are beginning to result in hard evidence about Bacha Khan University attack, and a familiar picture is emerging. Hawaldar media went into over drive to spread the story that India was behind the deadly terrorist attack. Foreign Office summoned Afghan envoy to register concerns about terrorists crossing the border into Pakistan. If terrorism is a foreign problem, though, why are so many Pakistanis involved?

Army already announced arrest of five facilitators, and now ‘Terrorist A’ has been arrested as well. Once again, he is not a foreign national and he identified other the terrorists who were also Pakistani.

According to the sources, the suspect said he had brought with him two attackers while the other two were already with another facilitator, Riaz, in Charsadda. He identified the four attackers, including an Afridi, one from Orakzai, one from Swat and one from South Waziristan.

This complicates our complaint to Afghanistan about terrorists crossing into Pakistan because it means that even when terrorists are training and coordinating in Afghan camps, they are first traveling to those camps from Pakistan. In other words they are crossing Pakistan border into Afghanistan first!

There are two important conclusions. First is that we need to stop blaming foreigners for trying to destabilize the country and try to figure out why so many Pakistanis are working to destabilize and terrorize their own country. Obviously something is terribly wrong and if we continue to ignore it it will only grow worse.

Second is that before we complain to Afghanistan about securing the border on their side we need to secure the border on our side to prevent militants from traveling into Afghanistan. Yes, that means that we can no longer turn a blind eye to militants who want to join the Afghan jihad, but we can no longer pretend that it is a one-way door. The price is too high.

Divisions In Security Incidents Reflect Divisions in Society

Rangers attack PIA workers

Talk of uniting the nation is pleasing, but recent security incidents provide a mirror to deep divisions in our society. The first incident we should examine is the terrorist attack in Charsadda. As jihadi militants stormed Bacha Khan University, many students were left helpless except for the courageous response of Lecturer Syed Hamid Husain who died defending his students with his 9mm pistol. One might ask why a Chemistry teacher was armed with a 9mm pistol, but wasn’t this the security plan for schools since APS massacre?

While teachers are carrying weapons to defend their students, KP government is launching a new special police force to protect VIPs.

The police official said, “These men would be deployed in addition to police commandos.” He stated, “These policemen will be armed with modern weapons; it is a multi-task highly trained and professional force.”

So some in society are not only deserving of protection by commandos, but even another special security force also.

However, if teachers and students are abandoned, at least they are not targeted. The same cannot be said of poor workers who are attacked by their own armed forces.

Two protesting workers of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) lost their lives and at least 18 others were injured during a clash with Rangers and police at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Samaa reported.

Water canon was used to disperse the employees who are protesting against proposed privatization of PIA.

Reports said Rangers resorted to baton charge and fired teargas shells after stone-pelting by infuriated workers, leaving dozens of them injured.

Are these not divisions that we see every day in black and white? No expense is spared in protecting elites of society, children are abandoned to their own fate, and anyone who dares to question the elites feels the full force of the state come down on their heads.

It is understood now that military action alone cannot make the country secure, and more people are beginning to understand that we must also defeat the extremist mindset. For Pakistan to reach its natural greatness, though, we must also remove these divisions in our society.

Video exposes Husain Haqqani…but what is he saying wrong?

The following video has been going around exposing Husain Haqqani for anti-Pakistan conspiracies. Such pieces are nothing new, but this one in particular caught my attention for one simple reason: What is he saying that is wrong?

Nothing Haqqani says is against Pakistan. He is actually giving some advice for how to strengthen Pakistan. What is the harm in this? Shouldn’t we be proud that a Pakistani was invited to speak at such a forum? If certain groups are upset that he is not following the right script, why can’t they get their own people invited to such forums? It should also be noted that this video appears to be several years old. Why is it being sent around now?

After watching the video meant to ‘expose’ Husain Haqqani as against Pakistan, I am actually wondering if anti-Pakistan elements are the ones so desperate to defame him!