The Balochistan province of Pakistan is prone to environmental hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, heat waves, cold waves and droughts. A number of quite devastating calamities have hit the province in the recent past. Some of the ruinous events have been as follows: tsunami in 1945; floods in 1950, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2012; cyclone in 2007; and drought in 2000. Some of these, e.g. the 1935 Earthquake and the 1945 Tsunami, were phenomenally devastating.
On September 24, 2013, Awaran district of Balochistan was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale with five aftershocks on September 28. Awaran district is home to nearly 300,000 people. Of them, some 125,000 were affected by the earthquake. According to the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority’s (ERRA) estimates, 375 persons were killed and 825 got injured and about 25,000 houses were destroyed. With just about 3.3 % of its total land under cultivation, Awaran is one of the most underdeveloped districts of Balochistan. Awaran district makes a lopsided triangle on the map between three important highways: the RCD Highway, the Coastal Highway, and the (projected) Motorway (M-8). With 12 hours of travelling time, Karachi is the closest city from Awaran.
Like earlier such calamities, Pakistan Army, along with the Frontier Corps (FC), promptly acted as asked for by the government.
Even though the FC components located in the area were themselves struck by the earthquake as much as was the civilian population, yet they were the first ones to respond to the situation. The Army units were moved from Khuzdar and Karachi. Initially, the Army and FC troops distributed their own rations (about 500 tons), tents, blankets, sleeping bags, mattresses, bed sheets, clothing, cooking utensils, bathroom items such as buckets, medicines, and other commodities of common use. Later, collection points were established in Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The relief work continued even during the Eid days. About 2,500 Army personnel and 1,000 FC personnel are part of the relief efforts.
The Army has a good interface with the provincial government, the ERRA, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), and Pakistan Air Force (PAF). By the end of the Eid holidays,
24 relief sorties of C-130 and 240 helicopter sorties had flown, completing over 526 flying hours. The Army has established a field hospital in Awaran and six mobile medical camps at far-flung localities. Over 8,000 local patients have been treated, 7,000 tons of food items delivered and 37,000 tents have been distributed by the Army besides thousands of school books, stationery items and sports gear.
This makes a colossal relief effort spread over an area of 182 kilometres. As a matter of fact, Pakistan Army has transformed into an impressive and inspiring nation-building force, which remains on call of the nation for defence against external threats, security against internal threats, and human security against non-traditional threats including the environmental disaster from Attabad Lake and Gayari in Gilgit-Baltistan to floods in Thatta and Badin, and earthquake in Awaran district.
Sadly, the relief effort has been politicised and even “militarised” – all to the disadvantage of the affected populace. The militants, their collaborators, and the hostile countries and agencies have started fervidly opposing the relief activities by the Army and FC, both through a war of words and a war of weapons. The militants repeatedly attacked the security forces personnel during relief work. During 20 such attacks, six security forces personnel embraced ‘shahadat’ and 12 were seriously injured.
As for information narrative of the militants and their collaborators, a number of news items, op-eds, social media feeds and media interviews bear testimony to the fact. The threads of the militants’ narrative, though a mix of falsity and half-truths, are as follows: (1) The Army is conducting military operation against the militants; (2) The Army is gathering information about the militant organizations from the residents of Awaran; (3) The Army will stay in the area for a long time; (4) Relief efforts of the other organizations, especially the militant organizations, are being obstructed; (4) The government is not allowing the foreign NGOs and relief organizations.
On the other hand, the government upholds that not even a single soldier is operationally deployed in Balochistan. DG ISPR, in a statement on October 20, said that there was “no military operation in Awaran and Mushke as being propagated by miscreants.” He further stated that the security forces were busy in relief activity only.
Why then the noble acts and activities are being opposed, and the relief workers being attacked with rockets, machine-guns and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by the militants, can be analyzed from many angles.
First, the “no-go area” created and held as such by the militants in Awaran district, wherein the state had virtually lost its writ, seems to have been “penetrated” by the state. This has certainly fractured the narrative of militants’ control and clout over the poor Awaranites, and coercion of the district administration.
Second, the rescue and relief efforts by the Army and FC seem to have zero-sum effects in view of the militants’ pursuits and agenda. While it induces goodwill for the state security forces, the militants lose their appeal and influence over the locals. Whereas the security forces acted to rescue the Awaranites, the militants rather coerced them to rebuff the relief offers and efforts by the state.
Third, the militants fear that the Army could gather sufficient information about them. They also fear that after completing the relief work the Army might start operation against them in collaboration with the locals. This mix of fear and scepticism has led them and their collaborators to start crying foul before that the foul actually occurs.
Fourth, the issue of access to foreign NGOs in Awaran district has two important angles: (1)Under the circumstances when the Pakistani security forces engaged in relief work are “insecure” in the face of militants’ attacks, who would ensure or guarantee the security of foreign NGOs?. What if someone of them is kidnapped? The episode of John Solecki’s abduction for ransom by the Balochistan Liberation United Front (BLUF) on February 2, 2009 (eventually released on April
4, 2009) is still fresh; and (2) in the aftermath of 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, a host of foreign NGOs were given access to the affected areas. What was the consequence? Some recently published books, e.g. The Command: Deep Inside the President’s Secret Army by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, and The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzeetti, and several articles published in such sources as The Telegraph and Foreign Policy have revealed that Raymond Davis like CIA’s secret agents were pushed into Pakistan posing as the aid and construction workers in 2005. What if it recurs in Balochistan, which has already turned into an important square on the geo-strategic chessboard of South Asia? Bear in mind the Indian ingress in Afghanistan as a case in point. India is working on 84 different projects of socio-economic significance in Afghanistan, but all have covert military and intelligence presence for strategic pursuits.
Epistemologically speaking, the militants’ narrative is out of justification and has encountered evidential setback before that it could make some semblance of truth, and thus knowledge. Therefore it is of paramount importance for all segments of the state and society to prefer the humanitarian issues over the parochial interests. The reality of devastation in Awaran is more important than petty rhetoric, sloganeering and blame game.
The writer is a PhD (Peace and Conflict Studies) scholar and author of Human Security in Pakistan (published 2013) Email: email@example.com
Mr Mohammad Ali Talpur is famous on writing only negative and anti Pakistan things in his articles in Pakistan`s English news paper Daily Times.
According to the Ali Talpur the rescue operation is on paper only, and not so much scene on ground, as CM Balochistan Dr Malik and his “mentors” do not seem to be on same page.. BUT
Fact is on ground, Army helicopter used to carry Baloch victims from Awaran to Karachi for medical treatment despite of the attacks of Baloch Liberation front, the so called freedom fighters.
About CM Balochistan, After back from UK, Dr Malik is in Awaran and monitoring the rescue operation with army Pakistan army:
With the reference of BBC once report, Talapur claim that ” Teertej’s people turned them away for good because of hatred for FC and Army ,BUT this photo deny this assumption:
Mr Talpur quote BSO-Azad member and claim that Sarmachars trust people. But actually dawn news quote “When asked why not even a single person responded to Pakistan Zindabad, a young Baloch man replied: “The armymen will leave at some point but we have to continue to live here. The BLF men will harm us.”
Than Mr Talpur tell us the story of Labach village, and again miss this fact:
Rather than thanking CM punjab for donating Rs 100 million cheque, he claimed that this aid will not reach to Awaran victims and twist the thanks into his propaganda by comparing that with an on-going court case. Talpur clearly did not mentioned that Punjab govt already handed over good to NDMA for victims
How Mr Talpur twist CNIC requirement to get help is truly is pathetic. He wrote victims to prove they are Pakistanis to qualify for aid. Strange, if those people hate Pakistan so much, than why they were coming to Pakistani officials to get help? Where is the “gharit” of Baloch than ?
Requirement of CNIC card is procedural step so that more and more people get help without repetition and later for any other schemes of aid, Governament already have the information of victims.
Few BLA cyber team may also do propaganda, that most of the people lost their homes where they bring their CNIC cards? For those people, NADRA mobile team is already working in these area:
Pro Pakistani Tweets From BLA Cyber Team:
Pakistan Army Cheif In Sui:
Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani inaugurated Sui Miltary College In 2011 With CM Balochistan that time Aslam Raisani
Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Sui Miltary College In 2013 With CM Balochistan Dr Malik
Anti BLA Slogans in Balochistan:
Baloch Love For Pakistan Army :
Media show this or Not, But Young Baloch is Watching All This:
QUETTA: The Frontier Corps (FC) claimed to have foiled a major terror bid by seizing more than 100 tons explosives from Quetta, the capital of troubled Balochistan province on Tuesday night.
Commandant FC, Colonel Maqbool told reporters that the forces seized a huge quantity of explosive material during a raid at a warehouse in New Addah area of Quetta.
“Forces recovered 104,480 kilograms of explosive materials from the godown,” he informed.
Maqbool said the explosive material include potassium chloride, aluminum chloride, improvised explosive devices, detonators, circuit wires and other arms and ammunition during the operation.
He said the forces have picked up 10 suspected militants also during the operation that lasted for more than an hour. “All suspects have been shifted for interrogation,” Maqbool said.
Senior FC and police officers are interrogating the suspects picked up by forces.
“For the first time in the history of country, such huge quantity of explosives have been seized,” the FC commandant said, adding that the forces deserve to be appreciated for their efforts.
He said the miscreants had made secret rooms and planted explosive materials in five rooms to carry out subversive activities in Quetta, plagued by sectarian violence and attacks by Baloch separatists.
Maqbool said the same explosive material was used in Hazara town bombing on April 16, which had left more than 100 people dead. “These explosive materials could be used in suicide jackets as well,” he added.
All explosives were shifted to an unknown location and the bomb disposal squad was called in to sweep the area. Extra FC troops were also called in the area to maintain the order.
The operations were carried out after a series of bombings in Quetta that claimed scores of precious lives. Balochistan in general and Quetta city in particular are under the grip of rocketing, bombings and targeted killings for last more than a decade.
Tahira Baloch is a Journalist, affiliated to Pakistan’s first Balochi Channel, the Bolan Tv Network. You can contact her dircetly at her Facebook Group.
I stepped towards the stadium, hands in pockets, wearing uniform and field cap. I looked at the banner. Big khuzdar stadium board and a football competition banner was there. The slight sight of football event was vivid . I looked at Major Changaiz who had some how agreed to my proposal, but still carried sign on the face. We both entered. One of kalat team player dodged n kicked the football. The kick entirely missed the target. It never got attention of people as most of the spectators looked at two Army guys standing in uniform, few feet away from side lines watching the match with full attention. It was for few moments and eventually people focused attention on match but still we cud feel eyes on us. Players were good and game was on. The sky was plain n evening was near. Havildar amjad approached major changaiz and asked for permission “Well yes tell them around , distribute pamphlets”. He saluted and in few moments he had a small circle of young men around. The moment words reached people. Few of anxious one started approaching us too . It was a friendly smiling talk . I told smiling group of young men, we are here to disseminate info about the BALOCH recruitment. Its out of routine , we have been allotted seats for recruitments of sepoys and we are trying to desiminate info. They asked Questions, which were answered. It was all lighter talk when I realized the circle is growing more and more and may turn disturbing to players and spectators “ well we are out , when you are finished from match come out , get a chit and know all the procedure” .
It was moments after ,when that empty road outside khuzdar stadium was crowded with people, smiling, anxious, few passer buys , children , aged ones . I always had a different circle. It was not my duty I had just entered the tour on my own to be part of some thing good and so my group always had chit chats , Questions , interactions . From madrassah guys on cycles , to national footballers , to small child carrying english newspaper to anxious young men interacting. My circle grew more. Few asked for taking pics together, few asked for numbers, few were given advices, few told about recruitment process. It was friendly tone that were all over. Khuzdar team lost that day to Kalat but not us in our mission. We had disseminated to a lot of people.
While going back I recalled the few days I had been out on this thing. Going to each school. Meeting students , interacting with teachers, going far off in the villages, sitting across the streams in cave things, interacting with old fellows. Standing with children at cricket pitches with all kinds of their talks.I learned many things, made many friends, helped few in their things, saw and came to know of real Khuzdar and surroundings.
The drums beating and loud word of command made me come out of that thinking, those old memories just rushed back to corners pleasantly. I looked at captain Faisal commanding the parade and behind him stood those 200 BALOCH recruits whose passing out was being conducted. The ones I had been part of, few months back.I smiled looked at the surroundings arena, all filled with guests, flags, and then force in the middle.
Khuzdar was like ever with clear skies and gliding winds. In just few months these civilians, village and city guys, had been moulded to a fine soldiery things and its customs. They stood firm and resolute. Their actions on word of command were terrific and in total resonance with each other. I felt proud. When the Pakistani flag came to front and when each recruit uttered oath on top of voice. When words of faith, country, service and loyalty echoed. I felt sparks inside me. I just looked at my side and there I could see few officers repeating it silently in hearts with lips moving. It was an emotional burst. I looked at waving FLAG n got too emotional,the march past took place. Their zeal was evident, their tone spoke it, their march depicted it. The slogan of Allah o akbar had a total manifestation.
Later function was not a concern to me. Speeches amidst had happened which I didn’t care that much yet I just listened .The real thing had happened.
On going out from the seating place, I looked at the young BALOCH soldiers , smiling , proud n confident , standing in stiffed uniform with their family members aside. Few among them that I had interaction looked at me ,smiled. We had celebrations together few nights ago. I smiled back and returned the salute.
200 men that day earned a future, out of their common life they chose to make a destiny. Their worthy decision to hold this green flag and serve nation gave them the realization of their identity and opportunity to prove their selves. Such like men are still there, few as a nomad, few in universities, colleges,schools, out in market, out spending a common man lives.The area holds opportunities, people have talent, life, big hearts, smiling notes , energies, aspirations yet talents is not being translated out . Money is going to looters, few separatist orgs coercing their thoughts with tools of fear, terror, tricks and propaganda. I wish these few understand that coercing their thoughts such is unethical, their actions not approvable by religion and damaging to young men in particular, to common man and to society
I wish one day wen I move out , I see every common man educated , enlightened and prosperous . I wish I see in their eyes the same sparks , same smiles , same determination to be a good part of society as I saw in the BALOCH soldiers that day. I hope to see a far better environment and radiant tomorrow .i hope to see it one day and to tell you , those young BALOCH SOLDIERS are a good part of that prosperous , gleaming tomorrow and shall ever b inshallah
Also Read,Two Young Baloch: Jahangir Marri And Safar Khan Qambrani