Monday, March 13, 2006

Who Killed Them?

Last Friday morning a tractor trailer carrying a wedding party hit an anti-tank mine in north-eastern Balochistan. In the resulting explosion thirty people - mostly women and children of the Masori clan of the Bugti tribe - died. The area, as we know, is presently engulfed in a raging armed conflict between the Pakistan military and Baloch insurgents.

The death of these women and children has opened up a brand new front - this time in the press - between the two warring sides.

Earlier reports from Islamabad kept alluding to the incident having taken place in the ‘Bekar area of Dera Bugti district’. Later these reports proved to be incorrect, but that didn’t stop the military regime from swiftly laying the blame for the landmine deaths on the Bugti tribesmen.

As Dawn reported on Saturday:
ISLAMABAD, March 10: Security personnel have arrested several tribesmen for their alleged involvement in laying mines in strife-hit areas of Balochistan, a senior official of the interior ministry told Dawn on Friday.

The official said that all those detained were members of the Bugti tribe. Now that outlaws’ camps have been dismantled by security forces and Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti has fled the area, he said, “followers of the tribal chieftain” were planting landmines to further their anti-state agenda.

But subsequent reports indicate that the incident in fact took place outside the Bugti tribal zone altogether.

Balochistan government officials later revealed to the
press that the incident had actually taken place in the Rakhni area. This fact was later confirmed in Sunday’s Dawn by the pro-regime Sardar of the Khetran tribe, Sardar Abdur Rehman Khetran, who said that the ‘incident had occurred in the Khetran area in Barkhan district.

According to maps Rakhni lies midway between the town of Barkhan and the hill station of Fort Munro. Apparently the area is inhabited by the Baloch tribe of Khetran, so the Khetran sardar ought to know what he was talking about.

So it did not come as a surprise to learn that the Bugtis were dismissive of Islamabad’s claims. The first Bugti reply came in Sunday’s
Dawn :

ISLAMABAD March 11: Jamhoori Watan Party leader Shahid Bugti…dismissed as baseless the government’s claims that Friday’s landmine blast had occurred in Dera Bugti area or it had anything to do with the Bugti tribe’s struggle for its inalienable rights.

Talking to newsmen at Parliament House, senator-elect Bugti condemned the landmine explosion in which 28 people were killed, contradicting the government’s allegations against his tribe.

He said the incident had occurred in Barkhan district some 140km from Dera Bugti.

Then yesterday Akbar Bugti himself told Dawn:

QUETTA, March 12: Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti has alleged that security forces have planted landmines from Pakeel to Barkhan in areas controlled by them.

Talking to newsmen by satellite phone on Sunday, the Baloch leader expressed deep concern over the death of innocent Bugti people in a landmine explosion in the Kharcha area of Barkhan, saying the blast had taken place in an area controlled by security forces.

What does one make of these conflicting statements? And whose mines really did killed the innocents of the wedding party?

Apparently over the past few months the military has also been busy laying mines to encircle the Marri and Bugti tribal areas in an effort to restrict the movements of the marauding insurgents.

As this mine exploded at a distance of some 140 km from the heartland of the Bugtis – whom the Establishment has decided to blame for the explosion – it is more than likely that this particular landmine was not laid by the Baloch but by the security forces themselves.

Would Islamabad own up if one of its landmines killed a large number of innocent civilians? I leave it to the reader to answer this question for himself.


Gedroshian said...

Please do note that the said mine was on a off-the-main-way, less-travelled road, the ones frequented by Baloch fighters. The mine was there for them.

The main roads are manned by checkposts. The others roads are mined by phaojis.

The other question is who made the massouris travel on this route.

Govt. of Balochistan said...



Mr. B. Raman, Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, India.

Published by:

South Asia Analysis Group

Anonymous said...


What started this militray operation, anyways?

I recall Atimes reporting the someone was returned from exile under American auspices and violence picked up. Do u thinkt hat's true and who?

Anonymous said...

Atimes means Asia times, btw.

Onlooker said...

To my knowledge the military operation against the Baloch was launched partly as a result of Musharraf's massive ego and partly at the prodding of several hawkish generals.

You said you read that 'someone was returned from exile under American auspices and violence picked up'.

In 'our neck of the woods' conspiracy theories will always fly. Therefore I would request you to be wary of all what you read.

However,having said that, I'd be interested in getting a link to this Asian Times story. One never knows what is really going on until one sifts through all available information and seperates the facts from the chaff.

In the meantime I would ask you to read the article on Balochistan from 'The Nation' that I posted today.

Onlooker said...

Concerned Baloch

According to my info Mr. B. Raman is ex-RAW. So anything I read by him, I always make sure I have a bucket of salt handy.

Raman tends to mix facts with fiction and produces a nice Indian propaganda package.

However that does negate the reality. The military regime is definitely trying to discredit the Baloch. All we get these days is nonsensical propaganda from Islamabad in the guise of 'truth'.

Gedroshian said...

anonymous meant that old Sasha/Misha article, which said that Attaullah Mengal came back from UK, and violence picked up.

Anonymous said...


This isn't the same article, IIRC, but is says more or less the same thing about Attaullah Mengal.

Govt. of Balochistan said...


Yes, Mr. B. Raman is ex-RAW, and I do agree with you that his viewpoint on Balochistan is jaded.

However, the fact remains that the Pakistani military dictatorship has waged a war on the Baloch nation who are demanding equitable treatment for Balochistan as a federating unit of Pakistan. But, Islamabad claims that they are dealing with three rogue tribal chieftains and a few Indian/Afghan trained miscreants.

There is a high likelihood that the landmines were laid by the Pakistani armed forces that possess the 5th largest stockpile in the world (according to the “Land Mine Monitor Report, 2005”).

Pakistan has 5th largest stockpile of landmines

by Staff Reporter

Published by:

Dawn (Pakistan)