Balochistan needs center’s policies revisited
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July 22, 2011
Chamalang has many historic projections. This area was the scene of a major battlefield between tribal guerrillas and the army in September 1974. Tribal chiefs thought they would be able to crush the army onslaught by gathering their reserves in the rugged mountains of Chamalang. But equipped with traditional warfare skills and lesser arms, Pakistan Army managed to teach these guerrillas a lesson. The survivors of the six-day war that crushed more than 12,000 tribal women, children and guerrillas – mostly Marris, but also Lunis, Mengals and others – later fled to Afghanistan and were allowed to return only after getting a clean chit from the state actors and agencies in the 1990s.

The Marris, who reached an agreement with the army and the Lunis in December 2009 for resuming the Chamalang coalmines, are considered a breakaway faction of the main Marri tribes and are facing pressure from within their tribe to cut their ties with the army. But, so far they are happy and are handling these pressures as long as the army stays there and they get their share from the mines. Chamalang reserves, however, remained untapped until the 1980s when work started to extract “black gold” from these White Mountains, but after initial excavations tribal rivalry halted it. Fighting between the Lunis (Pashtuns) and the Marris (Baloch) claimed 53 lives, as Marris, being the owners of the land and the Lunis being peasants, developed differences over the ownership and profit sharing. The project remained shut for over 30 years. In the post-Bugti scenario, when the army along with the Frontier Constabulary had to enforce Musharraf’s iron-fist policy, they were approached by the locals to explore this ready-to-be-tapped project. Eventually, they forget the past rivalry to cash the future. Finally, in December 2006 a tripartite agreement under the army’s supervision was reached in Quetta and the project started production again in early 2007, allowing economic activity in the area.

The area recently again witnessed a clash. On July 14 and July 15, at least five personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) were killed and several sustained injuries in a heavy battle with suspected militants in Chamalang area of troubled Kohlu district. A group of armed men ambushed a convoy of FC engaged in routine patrolling and opened indiscriminate fire on them, killing four personnel of paramilitary troops. Exchange of fire also left eight militants killed. Confirming the incident, an FC spokesperson said eight miscreants were also killed in the exchange of fire. “Security personnel were on their routine duty in Chamalang when an exchange of fire took place. Four security personnel and eight attackers were killed in retaliatory firing,” he added. Inspector General FC Ubaidullah Khan paid a glowing tribute to those personnel who embraced martyrdom.

“The blood of our soldiers will not go to waste because soon security forces will eradicate miscreants from the area and make the area stable and peaceful,” he added. Baloch Liberation Army spokesman told the media that army gunship helicopters continuously targeted Chamalang. The forces arrested 20 innocent Baloch in these areas most of whom were shepherds and farmers. Hundreds of security personnel were taking part in the recent operation in Chamalang backed by gunship helicopters, he said. Baloch Republican Party, a nationalist party headed by Brahamdagh Khan Bugti, also declared operation as genocide. The party spokesman said that anger was increasingly mounting among the Baloch leaders and people.

The social and economic reality of Balochistan is that it is the most backward province in Pakistan that has always been at the bottom of the list in terms of social conditions compared to the rest of the country. Baloch people never benefited from any mega projects or economic polices.... Expressing their concern over the ongoing situation in Balochistan, responsible circles ask Islamabad to change its policies otherwise national security would be in danger.

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