Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bangladesh and now Independent Balochistan

Independent Balochistan flag
SYED ATIQ UL HASSAN

First East Pakistan to Bangladesh and now towards Balochistan to independent Balochistan, political reasons may be un-identical but the tale of injustices; ignorance and autocratic behaviour of the establishment and civilian federal bureaucracy remain the same.

In May 1954, Army dictator and then Governor-General, General Malik Ghu¬lam Mohammad appointed Iskandar Mirza as the Governor of then East Pakistan supposedly to maintain peace in troubling East Pakistan. Iskandar’s first step, as a Governor, was put up more than 300 prominent political leaders including Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Yousuf Ali Chaudhary behind bars. Within 4 to 5 weeks more than 1000 arrests were made including professors, scholars and 33 parliamentarians. At that time, Nawabzada Mohammed Ali Borgra was the Prime Minis¬ter of Pakistan who was a close friend of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and a prominent vocalist of Pakistan’s movement.

On 24th of October (1954), General Ghulam Mohammed dissolved Constituent Assembly and declared emergency in entire Pakistan. On the next day (25th of October), Pakistan signed a defence agreement with the United States that US will provide assistance to Pakistan if they face war conflict with any country. From 1954 to 1958 Pakistan went through an unsettled democratic process followed by more than ten years (1958 to 1969) rule by Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The feel of deprivation and ignorance further heated in East Pakistan yet no one in West Pakistan acknowledged the boiling hatred against the establishment that could result dangerous consequences to the sovereignty of the country.

First General Election under the newly formed Election Commission was held in Pakistan in 1970. There were 31,211,220 voters in East Pakistan and 25,730,280 in West Pakistan. There were 300 national assembly seats each in West and East Pakistan of total 600 seats of the National Assembly. Awami League of Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman won 288 seats in East Pakistan nil in West Pakistan. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 144 seats in West Pakistan and nil in East Paki¬stan, 13 seats won by other parties and independents in East Pakistan and 157 seats won by other parties and independents in West Pakistan. Therefore, it was very much clear that Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman of Awami League deserved to be called to form the National Government but the power was handed over to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It was obvious to understand that the military establishment and civilian bureaucracy of West Pakistan did not trust on East Pakistan’s leadership. The biggest dilemma of Pakistan which led to the split in the geography of Pakistan is that the conspirators were treated as heroes and heroes as traitors.

Mujeeb-ur-Rehman was the rising young leader of All India Muslim League during the Independence movement in United India. He joined All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940. The founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah brought him in a leading role in Muslim Students Federation. Mujeeb fought for Pakistan from the Muslim League platform. He was among the pioneers of Pakistan. If we look at the post 1970 election fiasco and the two main contenders of the new government, there was no comparison of Mujeeb with Bhutto as a leader for the nation.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s political life started in hands of Field Marshal Ayub Khan who was Bhutto’s mentor. Bhutto served Ayub Khan and his then newly formed convention Muslim league. Bhutto was the Secretary General of Ayub Khan’s convention Muslim League. Bhutto and Ayub were the pioneers of damaging Jinnah’s Pakistan Muslim League. Yet, the so-called champion of democracy and Jialey (activists) of PPP and many others title Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Quaid-e-Awam and founder of democracy in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the army establishment and civilian bureaucracy treated Mujeeb as a leader of Bengalis not as a leader of Pakistanis. For me, the first black day in Pakistan’s political history was 26th of March 1971 when Mujeeb-ur-Rehman announced the declaration of independence of East Pakistan and the establishment of the sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh. And the reason was one, the army dictator General Yahya Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto preferred army-civil nexus on the solidarity of the country. Eventually, the people of Pakistan had to go through a painful and appalling saga of East Pakistan to Bangladesh in 1971 and the world saw the shameful images — high ranking Pakistani army officers and about 100,000 soldiers surrendered and bowed down in front of Indian Army in December 1971.

Jinnah’s Pakistan came to end when East Pakistan became the Bangladesh. Pakistani politicians and army officials blamed people of East Pakistan as being burden on Pakistan’s treasury. They were called coward and beggars. Today, Bangladeshi economy is better than Pakistan’s. Today Bangladeshi Taka is better than the Pakistani rupee in international market. Today, Pakistan is begging Bangladesh to play cricket in Pakistan with assurance to provide them full security so that the Pakistani image can be restored for holding international cricket events in Pakistan.

The people of East Pakistan were not against the ideology of Pakistan rather they were the founders of Pakistan. People of East Pakistan demanded for separation when they were refused to form the national government despite of the fact that they had majority of seats in the house of the federal parliament.

Balochistan is now on the verge of taking separation from Pakistan. Balochistan is a state full of natural resources. Located at the most important strategic location, Balochistan is 44 percent of Pakistan’s total territory. Balochistan is the only province of Pakistan which has close borders with Middle East, South-West, Central Asia with hot Arabian Sea coast which means if Balochistan is separated from Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan will be on stake.

Having the least population compared to the other three provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan has been providing gas, coal and other natural resources to the rest of the country. On the other hand the basic facilities like drinking water, power, education, health, transport and security in Balochistan are close to none, even in most of the inland people have not been provided gas which they own.

Instead of working for the people of Balochistan and for the development of the province, Pakistani federal powers (army, bureaucrats) and even political leaders when in power made deals with Sardars (Tribal Leaders) paying them ransoms from public accounts for the security of sensitive installations, gas pipelines, electricity grids, railway lines, etc. These Sardars of Balochistan are enemies of their own people. For them the ordinary Baluch are consumable commodity to use them as and when needed to fight against Pakistani forces if federal government don’t pay attention to their demands and take any action against them. They receive millions of dollars from the federal public accounts on the name of peace in Balochistan but they hardly spend any money on the people of Balochistan. So, it is very important to look the background of these Sardars and why and how they became the part of Pakistan.

Before the Partition of United India in 1947, the State of Qalat was an independent State but running like a British Colony headed by Mir Ahmed Yar Khan (under the shelter of UK). Qalat was comprised of about 22 percent of then Balochistan.

Looking into Balochistan mayhem it is very important to remember that in 1947, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan reportedly approached India to be in the dominion of India but then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, refused Mir Ahmed.

Mir Ahmed then joined Pakistan on the agreement that defence, currency, foreign office and finance will be controlled by the federal government of Pakistan. Later, when One-Unit was formed in Pakistan in 1954 Balochistan became the part of West Pakistan.

Khan of Qallat had differences with the other Sardars even within his family on his decision to join with Pakistan. That is why just in a year time - in 1948 – insurgencies against Pakistani army and law enforcement agencies began. They have formed Baluch nationalist movement which was basically structured by Sardars to play double games in case if Pakistani government don’t follow their demands. Brother of Ahmed Yar Khan, Abdul Karim Khan denied the accord with Pakistan. He claimed that the Pakistani government forcibly asked Mir Ahmed Yar Khan to join Qallat with Pakistan. He declared separatist movement in 1948 and launched guerrilla war with his followers against Pakistan forces. Ahmed Yar Khan with other Sardars launched insurgency against Pakistan law enforcement agencies.

Since 1960 the insurgency against Pakistani forces gained substantial increase. Pakistani establishment instead of paying attention to win the hearts and minds of the common Baluch and activists, they engaged Sardars (tribes; Bughti, Mengal, Mari and so on) and tried to make them happy. That is why; the activists’ movement of independent Baluchistan never attracted by the common and poor people of Baluchistan and spread at the grass level. The goals of running these movements are to create insurgency by their paid insurgents and slaves when needed in order to threat and negotiate best deal with the Pakistani establishment.

The tale of Baluchistan’s uncertainty spread over half a century, it is not possible for me to sum-up all those mayhems in this write-up, however, I could boldly say that from 1973 military operation by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to 2005 military operation by General Pervez Musharraf, I found that that these operations were launched supposedly to eliminate the anti-Pakistan movements but basically behind these operations were the conflicts between the federal powers and the tribal powers of Baluchistan. These operations never end any trouble in Baluchistan instead created more hatred among the common Baluchis, at the same time, provided Sardars opportunities to use poor Baluch against Pakistani law enforcement agencies.

The unfortunate saga is that Pakistani army, civil bureaucracy, and selfish politicians are still putting their interest in front of the interest of the people of Baluchistan and the integrity of Pakistan. Today, they are still trying to negotiate with those Sardars (tribal) who have always looked their interest and protection on the cost of the betterment of the common people of Baluchistan. Due to the remote territory, less population and lack of access to the media, Baluchistan political disorder and instability have been hidden from the people of rest of the country particularly from the people of Sind and Punjab.

Today, some sections of Pakistani politics are blaming murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti as the cause of current instability in Baluchistan. Akbar Khan Bugti had been the Governor and Chief Minister of Baluchistan in the past. When in power, he was asked in an interview by Emma Duncan, an international journalist, how many people has he killed by himself as a tribal leader, he replied he did not count. In 2005, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Baluch Marri gave a 15-point agenda to Musharraf’s government. Their demands included greater control of the province's resources and freezing of army bases were total threat to the sovereignty of Pakistan and the actual reasons behind these demands were that Bugti wanted power of Baluchistan and increase in the annual ransoms on name of protection of sensitive installations of the country. At the same time, they made several attacks on military convoys, helicopters and other vehicles killing many army personnel including Inspector and Deputy General of Frontier Corps. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in 2006 during the fight between his militia and Pakistani forces.

Today, Bughti’s grandson, Brahamdagh Khan Bugti has now taken the role. He has stood-up threatening Pakistan’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, the political pundits in Pakistan who are calling him as representative of deprived Baluch must answer how many personnel of Pakistani law enforcement agencies they have already killed and how much damaged they have done to the infrastructure of Baluchistan. Brahamdagh’s and his partners don’t allow Pakistan flag to be waved in their jurisdictions. They maintain their own jails and armed detachments. They do their own policing the people and run their own courts. Brahamdagh himself is now living a lavish life in Switzerland and getting funds for his separation movement from anti-Pakistan elements.

According to reports he is receiving huge funds and other logistic support from India. These Sardars of Baluchistan have very simple strategy. As long as their vested interested are being served by the Pakistani government and establishment stick with Pakistan, as soon as the things are going against their interest, make the freedom movement alive.

Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik announced that he would welcome Brahamdagh and others in Pakistan and withdraw all charges against them upon his returns to Pakistan. I would like to ask Mr. Malik that he should also reveal the list of murders of Pakistani soldiers and other important figures these Sardars have committed before gave them asylum. How long Pakistani establishment and bureaucracy listened to the threats of tribal leaders and make them happy on their demands.

Recently, three US Congressmen passed a resolution for independent and sovereign Baluchistan. This resolution has not value other than that United States want to pressurise Pakistani government against Pakistan’s decision of freezing NATO supply to Afghanistan and banned CIA activities in Pakistan passed a resolution.

There is no question that the situation in Baluchistan is alarming and needs urgent attention. Not attention to the threats and blackmailing of tribal leaders and foreign powers but attention to the needs of poor neglected poor of Baluchistan. Pakistani government should use the cane and carrot policy - canes for Sardars and carrots for the common people. Pakistani government should launch massive development program for the people of Baluchistan, provide extensive security to the ordinary people, build roads and damaged infrastructure, open new education, health and law & order enforcement centres and win the hearts and minds of the common Baluch. At the same time never bow down against Sardars and foreign powers, use full power to deal with anti-Pakistan elements, there should not be any comprised on the sovereignty of Pakistan.

Another important matter is the continuation of democratic process in Baluchistan. Military operation cannot be the solution – Pakistan should not forget what happened in East Pakistan. At the same time, no concession to the anti-Pakistani elements doesn’t matter how Sarar is involved as these Sardar and their system is the biggest hurdle in the development of Baluchistan. And to win the hearts and minds of the people of Baluchistan so that they could feel that their future is with the Pakistan which is linked to the development of Baluchistan and providing basic rights and facilities to the common people of Baluchistan.

Syed Atiq ul Hassan is the Sydney-based journalist and a media analyst, his homepage is http://www.sahassan.com/
First published in The Frontier Post, Pakistan, February 29, 2012