Auntie Beeb has filed a new report on Balochistan, written by its Urdu service perennial - Zaffar Abbas. Most of what he covers is familiar ground but there are startling new details which have been provided to him, as he acknowledges, by some rather concerned ‘Agency’ boys.
Did I read correctly? The largest trading port in the Gulf (and supposedly the 3rd busiest in world) is Dubai's Jebel Ali. So are we now being told that the bin Makhtooms of Dubai are behind the upheaval in Balochistan?
Senior officials in the security forces say they grew alarmed when intelligence agencies found more than one foreign country was involved in the province's affairs.
The countries were said to be opposed to Gwadar becoming a major trading port for central Asian nations and China.
One official said the biggest shock came when the interrogation of a group of militants revealed they had been trained in a friendly Gulf country, which allegedly feared it could lose its status as the region's biggest trading port.
And so Gwadar is destined to obliterate a now threatened Dubai?
Hmmm…since when does a probable bunch of defective skyscrapers erected by a horde of shady developers, and roads and other public amenities built by corrupt construction mafias, and an infrastructure managed by avaricious and incompetent bureaucrats, make for a throbbing international port city? If that is the case then Karachi should have been a veritable New York by now. Dream on nitwits!
This reminds me of a dubious article from a Turkmenistan website (authored by a Pakistani journalist named Tariq Saeedi) that has been doing the rounds for nearly a year. The article claims to be based on an interview with two retired Moscow-based KGB operatives named ‘Sasha’ and ‘Misha’. In a nutshell, ‘Sasha’ and ‘Misha’ tell us that:
[The Balochistan Liberation Army has been revived by the] Pentagon. With good lot of support from Kremlin. You should keep in mind that reviving such an organization is a tricky task and it needs active support from a number of players. Pentagon and Kremlin would not be able to do much without some help from RAW that has hundreds of active contacts all over Balochistan.And the reason for their involvement?
Americans have two long-term policy objectives in that region: First, create a safe and reliable route to take all the energy resources of Central Asia to the continental United States, and second, to contain China.And wait for it, ‘Sasha’ and ‘Misha’ also embrace two other players into this anti-Pakistan conspiracy – Iran and Afghanistan. Why Iran?
Iran has incurred great expenses to develop Chah Bahar, the port that is supposed to be the Iranian answer to Pakistani ports of Gwadar and Pasni. Iran has also done lot of work to create excellent road link between Herat and Chah Bahar. All this would go to waste if Pakistani route comes on line because it is shorter and offers quick commuting possibilities between Central Asia and Indian Ocean.And why Afghanistan?
There are many influential circles in Afghanistan that are deadly opposed to Pakistan for one reason or the other. While Afghanistan as a country may not be harboring any ill will against Pakistan, it is difficult to rule out the possibility that some power circles would not be inclined to damage Pakistan wherever they can. It is clear from the recent developments that as India, Iran and Afghanistan have made great strides to form some kind of economic, trade and transportation alliance, all efforts have been made to exclude Pakistan from any such deal.So according to these retired KGB operatives US, Russia, India, Iran and Afghanistan have all joined hands to create an insurgency in Balochistan.
Actually this Pakistani/Turkmenistan article is full of as many holes as a sieve. Rather than pick it apart one by one, your Blogger will just provide one fatally damaging example. Dear old ‘Sasha and Misha’ insist on providing us with ‘the real reason’ behind the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
The Soviet Union...wanted a convenient corridor to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.Now every man and his stray dog who has studied the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan ought to know that the invasion was made with reluctant desperation to protect the so-called soft Muslim underbelly of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin was frightened out of its wits that a would-be triumph of Muslim fundamentalism in Afghanistan would destabilize its Muslim soviet republics in Central Asia.
The theory of the Soviet Union coveting a warm water port in Balochistan was a humbug boosted by Zia-ul-Haq and his followers to further frighten the anti-Soviet fund providers - the USA and Saudi Arabia – into adding further billions to the kitty.
In your Blogger’s humble opinion the Pakistani/Turkmenistan article was a clear plant by one of our own intelligence agencies. What we have in actuality is the gospel according to what ‘Sheeda’ and ‘Mahja’ in Islamabad wish us to believe (the names ‘Sasha’ and Misha’ being creations of their particularly inventive imagination).
And, as if USA, Russia, India, Iran and Afghanistan weren’t enough to stir the Balochistan plot, the boys in Islamabad now wish to add Dubai to the list as well.
Whose next I wonder?
After having quoted the Dubai angle, Zaffar Abbas, did display a streak of good common BBC sense, by rounding off his story with the following:
So apparently Islamabad and its supporters would happily blame USA, Russia, India, Iran, Afghanistan and now Dubai for the insurgency in Balochistan. It is a creative example of passing the buck peppered with a heavy dose of wishful thinking.
But no matter what the authorities say about foreign involvement, seasoned Balochistan watchers say the problem is essentially local.
They say the Baloch people can only be tamed through political means, pointing out that this is not the first time they have taken up arms to fight those they see as outsiders.
And, they say, though the might of the armed forces might crush the people of Balochistan, it will never win their hearts and minds.
In reality there is only one and clear logic involved: Islamabad should stop treating the province of Balochistan as its colony. As long as it follows this ham-fisted course of action, there will be continued and prolonged opposition.