Pakistan army raising and patronizing Sipah Sahaba Taliban in Balochistan: Baloch lawmakers

Source: Pakistan Today, 31 December 2012

ISLAMABAD – Baloch members of the National Assembly and Senate have warned of emergence, re-organization and rise of the Taliban in Quetta, Mastung and other areas. They also feared that upcoming polls could not be held free and fair in the presence of army and hurdles in the way of Baloch leadership could be erected.

Expressing their concerns, they denounced the rise in sectarianism they have termed that situation for Shias in Balochistan is identical to that of Malakand and Swat. They also pointed out that abysmal education and health sectors in the province need efforts on a war footing.

During a research exclusively conducted by Pakistan Today, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, former Senate chairman Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, National Assembly ex-deputy speaker Sardar Wazir Ahmed Khan Jogezai, Senator Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Hasni, Senator Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi, Senator Daud Khan Achakzai and Senator Hamayun Khan Mandokhail were interviewed

On the issue of re-emergence and reorganisation of the Taliban in the province, the Baloch lawmakers were of the view that the Taliban do not exist in the Baloch strongholds as a force, adding that they exist in the shape of splinter Deobandi groups such as the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Former Sipah-e-Sahaba). They said further the Taliban and extremist operatives are reorganizing in Quetta, Mastung, Kharotabad and in the remote areas and are coming into position to pose an open threat to the Baloch nationalist leadership.

In future, they said, the growing extremism and radicalisation of locals could worsen the present law and order situation, destabilise local governments and could hold the politics of Balochistan hostage.

Senator Hamayun Khan Mandokhail said, “In Pashtun belt there is no movement for the separation or there exist no separatists. However, now the Taliban are emerging and are getting themselves established in the Pashtun areas.”
The influence of Pashtun leadership is at stake as the Taliban are tightening their grip over the 45 percent Pashtun population of the province, being replaced by the religious groups such as various factions of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, including JUI-Nazariati and JUI-Fazl, he added.

Religious extremists in Balochistan do not enjoy the strong support among the Baloch, but they are being supported by the JUI-Nazriati, for which they pay back during elections.

Despite being popular among middle-class Baloch youth, the Baloch separatist movements have failed in attracting support from the major Baloch tribes like Mengal, Zehri, Magsi, Lehri and Raisani. The Baloch separatists and dissident leaders have no say in the Pashtun belt of the province, however, Pashtun living in the province have strong sympathies for them. Almost whole political leadership from the province, both Baloch and Pashtun areas, support negotiations with rebel Baloch leaders and to redress issues through dialogue.

A majority of politicians have said that major support for such movements and elements is the foreign financial assistance, that is keeping them alive, however, the non-development from the provincial and federal governments, involuntary or forced abduction of youth, extra-judicial killings, illegal imprisonments, unavailability of reformation for separatists, and atrocities by the civilian militias against them are winning support for them among the Baloch.

The Baloch does not praise the role of police, law enforcers and paramilitary troops and intelligence agencies considering them responsible for mutilated bodies, extra-judicial killings, illegal imprisonments. On the other hand, in Pashtun areas their popularity is getting stained because of their behaviour, attitude and corruption towards general public.

According to the Baloch leaders, the courts have also indicated that intelligence agencies, including the Inter- Services Intelligence, the Military Intelligence and the Frontier Constabulary are engaged in introducing their own decisions and sometimes misusing their powers.

Baloch nationalists also accuse security forces and intelligence agencies of raising and patronising various civilian gangs and militias – who are also indulged in criminal activities. They are of the view that such militias have been armed to counter Baloch separatists and militants.

Almost all Baloch leaders in their interviews condemned Hazara killing and termed it an alarming situation. They demanded that the state establish its writ by curbing such incidents and bringing those behind such incidents to book.
Some of the leaders blamed the law-enforcement agencies for not acting and countering the banned outfits and supporting them in their cause for promoting sectarian hatred against Shias.

Baloch leaders said the situation in province for Shias was worst as compared to that of Swat and Malakand for Hazara, saying not only the Hazaras but people from other sects were being victimized for raising voice against Shia killing.
“The Hazara tribes in Balochistan are currently facing Swat and Malakand like situation. They are being chased, followed and killed everywhere in the province.” Sardar Wazir Ahmed Khan Jogezai mentioned.

It was disclosed that thousands of Hazaras and Shias have immigrated to the European countries, Iran and Afghanistan.
Some politicians also pointed out that Iranian and Saudi influence, especially Saudi petro-money, was an important factor in the continued incidents of Hazara and Shia genocide.

There exists a strong difference among Pashtun and Baloch inhabitants of the province, for which the Pashtun politicians from the province are extremely concerned, and demanded that the government revise the administration based upon recent census.
Leadership from both sides, especially from Pashtun belt of the province, say they have grudges against each other on issue of the chief minister’s slot, representation in the National Assembly, the Senate and the provincial assembly, and position of federal secretaries and present quota system.
Currently, the issue is not at surface but could intensify, causing more hatred and could be turned into law and order disturbance among both communities of the province in coming years if not handled carefully at its initial stages by revising everything, with consensus.
The census on the computerized NICs would not take much time, Advocate Daud Khan Achakzai said, but would assist in redressing the problem. All things, including the representation of Pashtun in parliament and the Balochistan Assembly, depend upon an independent census.
Such differences also act as a factor becoming the reason that Baloch separatists have failed attracting Pushtons in their separation movements.

The Deobandi religious extremists including Sipah Sahaba and Taliban who failed in diffusing into the Baloch strongholds have successfully managed to emerge and to get reorganised in Pashtun areas of the province.

The province direly demands emergency in account of education and health sectors, as major universities and hospitals lack qualified doctors and lecturers because large number of qualified experts have fled to the other provinces due to rise in the incidents of killing and abduction of doctors and lecturers.

There is no security or protection in general for the doctors and lecturers who are exposed to the risks, on the other hand no reasonable budgetary support is present for the education and health sectors in the province.
Former Senate chairman Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali said, “It needs total revamping, as the condition of both sectors is not positive. The people from the other areas are not ready to come to Balochistan to uplift the education and the health sectors. The vacuum created of poor and insufficient government institutions is being filled successfully by the religious seminaries, who also promote intolerance because of their unqualified teachers and clerics.”

The ratio of school dropout, a lack of qualified teachers, poor infrastructure of government schools, large number of ghost schools or one-teacher schools, no financial cover for teachers, unavailability of budgetary support by the government and unavailability of qualified teachers is causing the current provincial education system to breathe its last.
There are wide differences in curriculum of government schools, elite educational institutions and religious seminaries.

A majority of Baloch politicians are convinced that upcoming polls could not be held free, fair and transparent, because they believe the military would not allow it to happen.

Baloch nationalist leaders said the province is in a dire need of effective administration, as the non-serious provincial government has failed in serving the people and is working for the interests of the Centre as well as establishment.

A good number of the Baloch (about 20 percent) does not have computerised national identity cards, following which they are ineligible to vote in the upcoming polls, posing a serious question mark on transparency of the polls.
“Many Baloch are not registered because of multiple reasons. I think the number of those who do not have their national identity cards would be around 20 percent,” said Sardar Fateh Mohammad Hasni.

Rise in the discretionary funds of the members of the provincial assembly has made them so powerful that they are in a position to silence and harass opposition blocking the way for the genuine leadership of the province.

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