by Ali Ahsan
In recent years, we have seen Balochistan become engulfed in a multi-layered conflict in Pakistan’s increasingly complex Post-9/11 predicament.
From separatist militancy (or the struggle for freedom, using the Baloch nationalist discourse), history of military operations, FC (Frontier Corps of Pakistan army) heavy handedness, human rights abuses, deliberate purging of ‘settlers’ (mostly of Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi and Urdu-speaking backgrounds), we have also seen an increasingly dangerous aspect of an apparent Shia genocide that has plagued the rest of Pakistan too.
One can easily say that amid violence and chaos in Balochistan, there is even more chaos and intrigue that goes far below the surface too.
One aspect is the role of the anti-Shia terror of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) as well as its “allies” or “mentors” in the rebranded Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (formerly Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) in Balochistan.
Initially when the reports of target killings of Shias including Hazara and non-Hazara Shias, began in the last decade in Quetta, the usual suspects, thanks to mainstream stereotypes, were the Pashtun-dominated Taliban and their LeJ-ASWJ-SSP allies whose presence in Pashtun parts of Quetta and Pashtun districts of north-east Balochistan became the talk of town.
However, the increasing intensity of the Shia genocide in Balochistan has taken a disturbing twist: a careful analysis of available information (news reports, videos, demographics) would reveal that while some acts of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terror acts in Balochistan are caused by radicalized Pashtuns or Punjabis, most are done by local radicalized Baloch. While the masterminds may be based in Jhang or Rawalpindi, the actual footsoldiers happen to be the newly emerging sectarian breed of Balochs.
This author spoke briefly with various senior journalists from Quetta (whose name he would prefer not to disclose) many months back, and he was surprised when almost all the journalists and reporters revealed that majority of LeJ operations and planning is taking place in Baloch-concentration areas.
It was also revealed that whenever local police attempted to do search operations in wake of Shia killings in Quetta, their information almost always led them to raid the Baloch areas of Sariyab Road each and every time – and some of the killings of Shias have also taken place in that very area.
Now it is also apparent that areas like Sariyab Road are considered a hub of Baloch nationalist-separatist activity, but the LeJ dimension of Sariyab Road adds another twist in the tale.
I know that this blog (LUBP) sympathises and supports Baloch struggle for separation/freedom, however, it should also consider that anti-Shia sectarian militancy is also making inroads in Baloch nation.
A viral video has made rounds online where a Quetta bus carrying Shia pilgrims was stopped by masked terrorists in Mastung (September 2011), and where all Shias (including Hazara and non-Hazara Shias) in the bus were rounded up and shot dead in cold blood. Upon closer inspection of that video, it turns out that the killers of those Shia pilgrims were not speaking Pashtu or Punjabi – as the common stereotype is – but Brahvi mixed with some Balochi. Brahvi speaking people are an integral part of the Baloch nation.
In recent times the Baloch city of Mastung – an traditional stronghold of Baloch politics – has become a hotbead of anti-Shia killings and many deadly acts of terror have been carried out against Shias in and around Mastung where the local language is both Brahvi and Balochi.
This surprising new dimension made the author approach some local Bangulzai people of Mastung (names withheld), and even they confirmed that yes, LeJ terror acts are carried out by local radicalized Baloch militants. They even said that the Mastung streets are now littered with anti-Shia wall chalkings in many localities.
The recent bold show of Muhammad Malick on Dunya with Amir Mateen talking about Shia Genocide in Balochistan also revealed that LeJ was taking hold in otherwise secular Baloch nation; he also the names of the LeJ activists roaming free and carrying out their dirty deeds – all of the names were Baloch (e.g., Saifullah Kurd and Shafeeq Rind who escaped high security anti terrorist jail in Quetta cantonment with the alleged connivance of the security agencies).
Listen to Amir Mateen in the above video at 04:30 “All of the sectarian terrorists nabbed in Balochistan are 100% Baloch. Religious extremism is being spread in the otherwise tolerant Baloch nation.”
Such revelations from diverse sources, mixed with careful examination of news reports of Shia Genocide in Balochistan, and a bit of independent research makes the Baloch-dimension of the killings become a real shocking and disturbing aspect of the country-wide Shia genocide taking place in Pakistan, right from Quetta to Gilgit and from Karachi to Parachinar.
As earlier stated, Mastung is a Baloch city and that is a LeJ-ASWJ-SSP stronghold now. Of course, several of such radicalized anti-Shia Balochs are working as mercenaries in Saudi-Bahrain suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain. Some of them are also aligned with Jundullah, have racist tendencies against entire Iranian nation (instead of Iranian ruling elites) and mourn when Jundullah terrorists were nabbed by Iran. Baloch Nationalist Front (BNF) and others officially declared mourning for the execution of Abdul Malik Rigi, who was Iranian version of Pakistan’s Malik Ishaq or Iraq’s version of Abu Musab Zarqawi, in hatred and murder of Shias. Here are two of several incidents of Shia genocide conducted and claimed by Jundullah: 32 Shias were killed on Imam Hussain’s birthday in Zahidan in July 2010, and another 38 were killed in December 2010 in an attack on Imam Hussain Mosque.
Balochs have been very tolerant to Shias and other minority groups. Hindus have lived most peacefully in Balochistan.. Baloch-Brahvi society always been heterogenous, all-welcoming. I knew plenty in real life, they are lovely folk. However, radicalized Balochs do not represnt all Balochs; same way a few Punjabi/Pashtun degenerates do NOT represent all Pashtuns and Punjabis. I am NOT judging whole of Baloch nation as “sectarian monsters” as I dont judge Pashtuns Punjabis either.
Ahmar Mustikhan is a journalist of longstanding from Balochistan. He wrote many anti ISI articles on different news sites and also delivered anti-Pakistan speech in UN.
He is among those few Pakistan haters, Who even believe 9-11 was done by Pakistan :
In his news report , Ahmar MastiKhan, mentioned Former communist Zaffar Baloch :
Ahmar Masti Khan further states:
The two Indian moles, who allegedly got as much as $2 million apiece from R.A.W. over the last decade, have been accused of supporting violence and terrorism in Balochistan.
At least one Virginia-based man, who is nephew of a former Pakistan ambassador and who sometimes says he is Sindhi and other times says he is a Baloch, also got a big bite from the R.A.W. monies.
QUETTA, Pakistan – In Pakistan’s conflict-torn Balochistan, boys as young as 11 are being paid $20 to carry out bomb attacks by a militant separatist group that’s been fighting the government for years.
Pakistani authorities discovered a network of child bombers after a 14-year-old was caught with a bomb in a shopping bag in March in Balochistan, a resource-rich province bordering Iran that has been wracked by violence for decades.
The boy, Sabir, who was only identified by his first name, was apologetic and asked for forgiveness after he was caught.
But others are defiant. Saddam Lehri, also 14, lost a leg after a bomb he planted in the grounds of a small, private hospital in the city of Quetta went off earlier than he expected. The blast last month injured another 17 people.
“I know very well I was planting a bomb and it’s dangerous, but it is necessary for an independent Baloch motherland,” he said. “We are in a war. I have no regret that I lost my leg. My life is for a free country.”
Sabir and the others, aged between 11 and 16, were found in a farmhouse outside Quetta.
All admitted to planting bombs and said they were paid 2,000 rupees (roughly $20) for each “successful” bomb attack. Police said they have been able to link 14 attacks in the past four months to this group of boys.
The adults in the house – believed to be the boys’ handlers – escaped after a firefight.
“Baloch militant groups are now using children to explode their bombs,” Quetta City Police Chief Mir Zubair Mehmood said. “All these children are from poor families, and all have confessed that they were involved in planting bombs around Quetta.”
Pakistani police — not known for displaying particular sensitivity when it comes to cases involving children — paraded the gang of boys before the media after the raids.
They stood quietly while photographers jockeyed for position and camera flashes popped. The younger boys took in the scene, wide-eyed. Some of the older boys crossed their arms and waited for the spectacle to finish.
Sabir spoke haltingly, hands clasped in his lap, head lowered, refusing to make eye contact.
Saddam Lehri, 14, lost a leg after a bomb he planted in the grounds of a small, private hospital in the city of Quetta went off earlier than he expected. The blast last month injured another 17 people.
He asked for forgiveness, acknowledging his actions had hurt and killed people.
He said planting bombs was not about the money. His father, a police officer posted for long stretches away from his family, earns a good living. Sabir is the oldest of six children, three boys and three girls. All attend school.
He said he was also not motivated by the hashish — supplied by their handlers — that he said many of the boys used regularly.
Instead, he made repeated references to the Baloch motherland, the struggle for independence, and “the war” against Pakistani government forces.
My close relative Naseer Bungalzai is fighting against the Pakistan Army and lives in the Qabo mountains. He inspired me to fight for the Baloch motherland,” Sabir said. “He also helped me to meet a militant commander, Shoaib, who lives in Kili Geo, Quetta.”
Sabir said Shoaib had trained him how to set timers on the bombs, carry them in nondescript shopping bags, and plant them as close as possible to potential targets.
“When I was fully trained, Shoaib gave me a bomb, and told me to leave it in Wahdat Colony near a police post. I left it near a house wall,” Sabir said. “The time was set for 9:15. I left the site at 9:05 and after 10 minutes, the blast went off.”
According to news reports from the time, four people were injured in that attack in Quetta on Dec. 8.
Authorities say Shoaib, believed to be in his mid-30s, is affiliated with the United Baloch Army, one of several separatist groups operating in the region.
Another similar group – the Balochistan Liberation Army – earlier this month claimed responsibility for a devastating grenade-gun-and-IED attack on one of the historic residences of Pakistan’s late founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Pakistan flag atop the building was burned in the attack, and replaced with the BLA’s.
Experts say young boys growing up in Balochistan – long underfunded and underdeveloped by Pakistan’s federal government — are increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by separatist organizations.
Security forces have been accused in recent years of carrying out a string of kidnappings and brutal murders of local men, the vast majority of which are not investigated.
Jalal Faiz, originally from Balochistan, recently conducted field research across the province as part of his doctorate at the University of Westminster in England.
He said students in Balochistan “think their culture, their language, their history” is overlooked in high school.
“They grow up believing the state does not care about them, that the state wants to control them, that the state does not consider them as equals,” Faiz said. “Even if they aren’t actively doing something to support it, they all support the Baloch independence movement.”
Daanish Mustafa, an associate professor at Kings College London who spent years conducting research in rural Balochistan, which is home to 70 percent of the province’s population, said part of the problem was a breakdown of the traditional Baloch way of life and the failure of the state to fill the void.
He said communities were falling apart, leading to a militant form of juvenile delinquency.
“The separatist movement has been there for the longest time,” Mustafa said.
“There used to be a set of moderating influences on children,” he added. “You remove those, the social constraints – not just parents and family but a society where everyone was dependent on each other – you break it apart and now you have these sort of autonomous family units. And then you expect these young men to not get up to trouble?”
ISLAMABAD: Balochistan has been bleeding since 2004. Successive governments tried to stem the bleeding – but to no avail so far. Government and intelligence officials believe some foreign forces are also stoking violence in the province, where ethnic, political, sectarian and militant lines have criss-crossed to further destabilise the province.
Baloch nationalists were earlier reluctant to buy this claim. However, veteran Baloch politician Sardar Akhtar Mengal on Sunday admitted to the presence of “death squads sponsored by Pakistan’s neighbours and foreign powers”.
In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Mengal also condemned the deadly violence perpetrated by Baloch separatists in the province. A medley of separatist groups – especially Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Republican Army and Baloch Liberation Army – have upped their insurgency ante since the killing of Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation in 2006.
He acknowledged that Baloch insurgents have been targeting non-Baloch settlers, mainly those from Punjab, in Balochistan. “However, some government officials also want the settlers to flee the province and sell their properties at throw-away prices,” he added.
It is perhaps the first time that Mengal has openly condemned the activities of Baloch insurgents — not easy to do since his younger brother Javed Mengal and two of his nephews – Nooruddin Mengal and Bhawal Mengal – are also allegedly involved in insurgency.
For his part, Sardar Akhtar Mengal – the head of his own faction of Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) – said his party has from the beginning renounced violence as a means to achieve political and economic rights of the Baloch people.
Mengal ended his four-year self-imposed exile and returned to Pakistan on March 25, 2013 to lead his party in the May 11 general elections. All separatist groups are opposed to parliamentary politics.
Mengal spoke about his predicament. “The Baloch militants consider me a traitor while the security establishment also treats me as an enemy,” he said. “I’m being targeted by both.”
Asked if he was willing to mediate between the insurgents and the government, Mengal said: “Both [Baloch insurgents and security establishment] speak through the barrel of the gun. They cannot understand my language.”
Instead Mengal reiterated that the six-point formula he had spelt out before the May 11 elections to stabilise the situation in Balochistan was still workable. “My six-point formula is within the parameters of the Constitution,” he said. “We are willing for a debate with anyone who thinks my six points are against the interest of Pakistan.”
Mengal also strongly criticised the security establishment for targeting ‘Baloch political workers’. He alleged that ‘death squads’ backed by intelligence agencies were eliminating critics of the establishment’s policies. “They [death squads] are killing and kidnapping people because they have been given a licence by the establishment to operate against anyone,” he added.
Asked by bloodshed perpetrated by Baloch insurgents, he said: “State agencies should not behave like militants. There should be a difference between the conduct of the state and of militants.”
Mengal’s party fared badly in the May 11 elections which he claimed were massively rigged. “The elections were rigged by the establishment to stop my party from coming to power,” he alleged.
Mengal, who is in the federal capital, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif besides attending a book launch. He is confident that Nawaz can resolve the Balochistan issue.
“I had detailed discussions with Mian Sahib on all important issues after the general elections. “Mian Sahib assured me that he would do all he could to steer Balochistan out of crisis,” said Mengal. “I will try to meet him on his return from China.”
Mustung, Balochistan, June 24: Locals witnessed heavy clashes between the two rival groups where the Baloch Musalah Defah Tanzeem(BMDT) a pro Pakistan militia led by Haibatan Mengal cleaned the district Mustung from Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and hoisted the national flag right in front of the Parrari camp used by BLA militants on Monday, signalling the wipe-out of militants from their stronghold.
A statement issued by Haibatan Mengal the commander of B.M.D.T group said that the district Mustung was cleaned from anti-Pakistan elements after a successful ambush by the BMDT. “We announce the patriotic people of Balochistan that the task of cleansing Mustung district from terrorists has been successfully completed which was once occupied by Foreign funded criminal group. We muslims shall never allow anyone to work against the unity of Pakistan in the name of freedom, we warn terrorists to immediately stop their activities as they are not supported by patriotic Baloch people,” said the statement.
Some 43 terrorists from BLA clan have been reportedly killed in the clash including the 2 local commanders of BLA Babo Baloch and Qadir Baloch.