WASHINGTON: The United States has made it clear that it does not support the idea of an independent Balochistan and respects Pakistan’s territorial integrity.
The question of the alleged US involvement was raised at the State Department briefing on Tuesday afternoon where spokesperson Jen Psaki said she had seen media reports suggesting that “we had been engaged with Balochistan” and promised to release an official statement on the issue.
On Wednesday, the State Department issued a statement, making it clear that “the United States respects the territorial integrity of Pakistan. It is not the policy of the administration to support independence for Balochistan.”
The question raised at the briefing also referred to a recent statement by a Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, suggesting that the United States should help Balochistan become a separate state.
“We are aware of Representative Gohmert’s comments. Members of Congress express a wide range of views. Such comments do not in any way imply US government endorsement,” said the State Department while distancing itself from Mr Gohmert’s position on the issue.
In a recent interview, Mr Gohmert suggested that to resolve the Afghanistan crisis, it’s better to have a separate Balochistan carved out of Pakistan.
Mr Gohmert’s statement followed President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last month, emphasising the need for US disengagement from Afghanistan.
The Republican Congressman interpreted the speech as an admission of defeat in Afghanistan and proposed a two-point formula for turning this possible defeat into victory: supply more arms to the Northern Alliance and a new state within the borders of Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD – Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani on Saturday said that evidence regarding involvement of India in Balochistan unrest had been presented to New Delhi and it should move ahead for dialogue process rather than indulging in bale game.
Talking to reporters here after attending a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, foreign secretary said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised this issue with Indian Premier Manmohan Singh in their New York meeting.
“Pakistan also presented the evidence of foreign hands in Balochistan violence before the relevant forum,” he said, without naming the forum. “We have provided the evidence to whom it was needed to be provided,” he said, adding that this evidence has already been presented before the Senate of Pakistan.
The secretary said Pakistan would continue raising all the issues including Kashmir, water and terrorism with India at all forums. But, he stressed that there was dire need that all issues with India should be resolved through dialogue. “There is no option other than dialogue to resolve all issues,” he said, adding that Pakistan wanted negotiated settlement of all outstanding issues with India including Kashmir.
He opined the issue of terrorism could not be resolved through blame game and both countries should make efforts to get rid of it. “Terrorism is as serious concern for Pakistan as that for India,” he said. He urged India to come to negotiating table instead of making hue and cry and levelling baseless allegations against Pakistan.
To a question, the foreign secretary said the prime minister would raise the issue of drone attacks during his upcoming meeting with US President Barack Obama and the issue would be raised at all other relevant forums as well. Pakistan considers that drone strikes are against its sovereignty and integrity, and the same sense prevailed within the UN against the drone attacks, he said. He informed UN Secretary General Ban Ki Mon had recently expressed his concern over drone attacks.
ISLAMABAD: Recently retired Indian Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh has admitted that India sponsored bomb blasts in Pakistan and doled out money to the separatist elements in Balochistan, a disclosure downplayed by the Indian media so far.
Buying silence of Kashmiri leaders in Indian held Kashmir and phone tapping inside India were also part of the sensitive report.The ex-army chief reveals this in an inquiry report prepared by India’s DG military operations shining light on activities of an army unit raised after the Mumbai attacks.
VK Singh last month announced a political alliance with BJP leader Narendra Modi who was responsible for the massacre of the Muslims in Indian Gujarat.A portion of the explosive report indicting the former army chief of terrorist activities inside Pakistan was downplayed by the Indian media that largely used ‘neighboring country’ as a reference and instead highlighted its parts relating to his activities of phone-tapping inside India and buying silence of politicians in Indian-held Kashmir through loads of cash.
The dirty tricks sanctioned by the top Indian general were carried out by Tactical Support Division (TSD), an Indian army unit raised after Mumbai attacks on the directives of the Defence Minister and National Security Adviser Shev Shankar Menon in order to “perform a particular task to secure borders and internal situation in the country.”
TSD consisted of six officers, five JCOs and 30 men and operated out of an unmarked two-storeyed building within the Delhi Cantonment dubbed the ‘Butchery’, that was a refurbished slaughterhouse of colonial times, The India Today reported.
“The division was headed by Colonel Munishwar Nath Bakshi, a tall, flamboyant intelligence officer in his early 40s, better known by an unusual nickname, ‘Hunny’,” it said.As the inquiry body was set up to investigate, Col Bakshi, a confidante of Gen Singh, got himself admitted in a mental hospital pretending that he was under serious mental stress.
Former Army Chief VK Singh allegedly used TSD, a clandestine collective of handpicked military intelligence personnel, to settle scores on both sides of the contentious Line of Control (LOC) between Pakistan and India, reported The India Today, in its October 7 edition.
Between October and November 2011, India Today reported this month, TSD had claimed money “to try enrolling the secessionist chief in the province of a neighbouring country” and “Rs1.27 crore (Indian currency) to prevent transportation of weapons between neighbouring countries”. In early 2011, TSD claimed an unspecified amount for carrying out “eight low-intensity bomb blasts in a neighboring country”, according to this weekly Indian magazine.
The Hindustan Times earlier reported about the covert operation inside Pakistan by TSD and quoted its former official stating it was assigned to nab Hafiz Saeed of Jamaatud Dawah but didn’t mention TSD’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan as has been revealed through inquiry board.
Since there was no explicit mention of Pakistan, it didn’t emerge on the radar of Pakistani media. The News spoke to different journalistic sources in India privy to details who confirmed that it was about Pakistan.
India’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, who headed a Board of Officers’ inquiry under the direct orders of Gen Bikram Singh, current army chief, to review the functioning of the TSD submitted the report in March this year to the Indian government. While report is not being publicised, however, TSD was closed in December 2012.
An RTI request filed for the copy of this report was also denied, stating that sharing this information was prejudicial to national security and can harmrelations with the neighbouring countries.
“In so far as your request for supply of order regarding setting up of ‘TSD’ and enquiry etc, is concerned, it is regretted that the same cannot be supplied in terms of Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act,” the ministry said in reply to an RTI query as quoted in an Indian paper.
“The section bars disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence,” it further stated.
The inquiry report on TSD started leaking after former army chief’s disclosure in a TV interview that the army had “transferred funds to all ministers in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947”. His comments triggered a firestorm of indignant counter-allegations all the way from Delhi to Srinagar. The payouts, he insisted, were not “bribes” or for “political purpose”, but part of the larger initiative to promote stability in the insurgency-ridden state.
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.
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?”