It becomes increasingly obvious that the simmering rebellion in Balochistan is just not going to go away - no matter what Musharraf & Co have to say on the subject.
Musharraf’s trip to Balochistan this month was met with a complete shutter-down strike in all the Baloch areas of the troubled province and led to a large spate of pre-emptive arrests of political activists.
A statement that he has ‘no regrets’ about killing Akbar Bugti (made in an interview with India’s NDTV network) hardly helped cool down matters.By making this statement Musharrah completely contradicted his previously stated position that that the Baloch Nawab had been killed unintentionally.
And by then adding that the military had to “crush [Bugti]... as you are doing in India” (in apparent reference to battles being waged by Indian troops against insurgents in the northeast, Kashmir and elsewhere) Musharraf has managed to invite ridicule.
As a political commentator noted Musharraf ‘appears to have forgotten that Pakistan has consistently maintained that India's actions in Jammu and Kashmir constitute "massive human rights violations".’
In Quetta the General, for once, actually acknowledged the Baloch rebellion in a backhanded sort of fashion by offering an amnesty to Baloch fighters.
Somehow I doubt if his belated attempt to start a dialogue in Balochistan will get any response. Ironically, as a knowledgeable journalist once told me, Akbar Bugti was the only Baloch leader amenable to negotiating with the Establishment. After villifying and then killing him, there is no one left in Balochistan willing to talk to Islamabad. All one can say is: You reap what you sow
An addendum on Akbar Bugti:
A former Governor of Balochistan - Lt. Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch (the only Baloch general so far) – apparently disclosed that ‘the Bugti area had the highest literacy rate in Balochistan’. This mocks the official version which states that the slain Bugti chief was totally averse to educating his tribes people.
In the meantime the Balochistan issue seems to be getting some international press coverage. Today The Brooklyn Rail, a monthly magazine from New York, gives a lengthy journalistic plug for Suleiman Daud, the present Khan of Kalat.
Excerpts from: A Call to Resistance: The Khan of Kalat Gathers the Tribes
"Khan of Kalat Suleiman’s country is rich in resources that everyone wants to take and he doesn’t have the power to stop them. “We sit on a mountain of gold,” he says, “and the devil sits on us.” His people, the Baluch Nation, are being indiscriminately bombed, arrested, and kidnapped, and he’s powerless to stop it. Journalist Selig S. Harrison has called it a slow-motion genocide and Human Rights groups have called it an ethnic cleansing. “We have 700 miles of coast and oil and gas and gold,” says Khan Suleiman. “We try to do something to have rights to it, we get spanked. We resist every ten years and get spanked every ten years.” For the past few years, he has been in the middle of an unseen war that few beyond the regional press are reporting.
But then something horrible happened and it radicalized his people. In August 2006 the chief of the Bugti tribe, 79-year-old Newab Akbar Bugti, was murdered by the Pakistan Army. “Bugti was buried with three locks on the coffin,” says Khan Suleiman. “They thought his soul might come back and make trouble. So the army put locks on it. None of his tribe was around to see his body. Still they’ve got a guard on his body.” The Baluch people were outraged by the murder, and Khan Suleiman had found his moment, the catalyst he needed. He called a national jirga, a meeting of the tribes, the first in 130 years. He wanted to find out if his sardars, his chiefs, the heads of tribes that have been, on and off, at war with each other for hundreds of years, could lay down personal disputes and unify for a common cause: an autonomous Baluchistan. Khan Suleiman’s allies would be his former enemies. In the way of tribes, his enemies are also his friends. He put out his call."
"Khan Suleiman’s historic jirga was attended by 1,500, including 85 sardars and 300 tribal elders. The Baluch people have always protested the Punjabi-dominated military regime of Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf that has been made rich off the Baluch province but gives so little back in terms of resources and tax revenues that the entire region still lacks the basic services that most consider human rights. The province is rich in natural gas yet only 6% of the Baluch have gas connections, less than half the children get an education, and only 2% of the population have clean water.
The answer to Khan Suleiman’s call for unification and resistance against this state of affairs was a resounding yes."
"There is a problem with autonomy for Baluchistan. As it was with the Native Americans, there are broken treaties involved. The current troubles in Baluchistan date back to the 1947 agreement between Britain and India that created Pakistan. Six million Baluch were forced to become part of the newly created country. But a 1948 treaty, in which the current Khan of Kalat (Khan Suleiman’s grandfather) acceded to Pakistan, delineates that accession in only four areas: defense, foreign affairs, currency and communications. Resource and autonomy rights were not given up, but there is an ambiguity to the language of the treaty that has been exploited by Islamabad."
"The Baluch Liberation Front and the Baluch Liberation Army, along with the more official Baluch National Party are increasingly made up of not just moderate to extreme tribals or politicians, but intelligentsia, merchants, laborers, out-of-work engineers, lawyers, and the new Baluch middle class. The Baluch Student Organization actively stages demonstrations, roadblocks and rallies."