Balochistan: a hotbed of proxy wars


WEB DESK: The long, sun-drenched Makran coast is both a blessing and blight for Balochistan, as its largely uninhabited mineral-rich broad expanse. This blessing is yet to be benefited from by its people, but its blight remains ever handy to be exploited by others. In the past, it attracted foreign interference – quite a bit of it in the name of ‘Greater Balochistan’ and ‘warm waters of the Arabian Sea’ – but now it is the Gwadar port, projected to provide sea access to China through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that rankles in many a heart east and west of Pakistan.

But surprisingly, even when foreign interference is so much in evidence it has not being raised with the offenders of international law with due diligence. At the most a few dossiers have been passed on to the United Nations and some concerned powers, and this hasn’t worked at all. It is time that the government raise the issue at all possible levels so that the people of Pakistan know whose proxies or ‘sons-in-law’ these are. Whatever the cost, the culpable foreign powers must be exposed.

At the same time no less lamentable is the fact some of Balochistan’s own so-called sons of the soil agree to play pawns in the hands of their foreign masters – some of them under the rubric of an ‘Independent Balochistan’ and others in furtherance of sectarian divide that has bedevilled the region around the Gulf for centuries. Addressing a seminar on ‘Prospects of Peace and Prosperity in Balochistan’, the Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, said, “our foreign adversaries have been more than eager to exploit any opportunity to destabilise Pakistan by harbouring, training and funding dissidents and militants.”

Consequently, Balochistan became such an intense hotbed of intrigues and proxy wars for regional and global powers that support terrorism through their proxies. These proxies are externally supported and internally facilitated, a job that gets done with much ease given the problem of securing the long, porous borders with Afghanistan and Iran.

The forces can and do fight these proxies, but only with use of force, which in the words of General Raheel Sharif, “brings nothing but destruction, distress and suffering often to those who have no part in it”. Rightly then he has beseeched people of Balochistan and state institutions to come forward and do their part. As to why some people get trapped to act violently or become facilitators there are quite a few causes, most apparent being abject poverty, poor educational and health facilities, rampant unemployment and outsiders’ capability to widen ethnographic and sectarian fissures.

If these inhibiting factors are taken care of, the foreign-hosted and foreign-funded separatist leaders, at home and in so-called exile, would become irrelevant. One would have no beef with Chief Minister Zehri’s decision to send Senator Mushahid Hussain to persuade the self-exiled Baloch leaders to come to the negotiating table. But that has been tried a number of times and did not succeed. If the forces are on the front fighting terrorists and extremists, the civilian leadership too is earnestly committed – unlike the times when the chief executive of the province could not cut short his honeymoon furlough and join the freezing night vigil of Shia mourners in Quetta.

It bodes well for national harmony that Chief Minister Zehri praised Punjabis who kept their cool even when 5000 of them were killed and 100,000 banished from Balochistan. But he complained that “we began getting targeted when we raised our voice over their killing”. That indeed is a measure of the challenge that he and other Baloch leaders have to meet.

Source: Business Recorder