Twenty-First Century Balochistan

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Los Angeles–Pakistan announced yesterday it would not allow the United States to search for Al Qaeda and the Taliban, who may have been involved in Ms. Bhutto’s assassination two weeks ago, on its own soil today. (Speaking of Benazir her publisher is rushing her posthumously finished book onto the shelves as soon as possible. Grizzly death can give profit in the journalistic world!)

The Islamic Republic is very jealous of its sovereignty, and the military has reacted angrily over the rumor that the Bush Administration plans a covert campaign upon its territory. Is the alliance between the U.S. and Islamabad about to crumble?

I am surprised that I am writing yet another article on the “Land of the Pure” so soon after the last one, but eight pro-Government tribal(s) were murdered in Warizstan today (7th). The comments of Balochistan’s Governor last summer in Southern California explain much of how the current crisis has developed, and why the central Government and Armed Services have reacted in the way they have under pressure.

These notes are from a speech that the Governor, Awais Ahmed Ghani, of the Pakistani Province of Balochistan, the largest State (in square mileage) of that nation, but one of the most unstable (after the troublesome Northwest Provinces) in the Islamic Republic — bordering both Iran and Afghanistan and every other Province within Pakistan – a very dangerous region of the earth where Iran supposedly attacked two American destroyers in the Straits of Hormuz this morning), and he has had to contend with a clannish uprising of his own. His speech was given in this city last August before the current emergency had developed. The Governor was invited by an organization that appears to have connections to one of the more notorious rightwing American think thanks. Therefore, I would take his comments with “a grain of salt,” and read between the lines.

Ghani’s talk was more on the so-called “War on Terror” than on Balochistan itself. I choose to revive this talk, because the Western media is concentrating on the urban elite who has similar assumptions as our own to show, instead, the thinking of the ryots in the hinterlands.

It is assumed that Pakistan is on the frontline of the Terrorist War. Yet the rebellion(s) do not fit the pattern of recent Wars for Liberation elsewhere on the earth. Thus, there has been a failure of understanding with whom we are contending. A new term for the reality on the ground has to be manufactured. Terrorism has a Global reach today, but there are two types of Terrorism — local and that which has an international reach. Each type requires a different approach, for it is important for us to respect every methodology of our opponents to successfully counter it.

Pakistan should be prevented from becoming another Afghanistan, and it is in our (their) interest to promote stability in Kabul! Global Terrorism does not require a “Base” [Qaida?]. Terror has dispersed everywhere. There is no frontier! “Osama bin Ladan is no more than an inspiration” at the moment! The President of Pakistan has recently stated that we are not “…particularly looking…for bin Ladan as there is no proof that he is here.”

Advances in our intelligence gathering will lead to success against the adversary rather than military might. Along the Durand Line, the tribal rebellion is localized. Yet, “We are losing [their] hearts and minds” there.

Ghani tends to put all of Islamabad’s pressing problems upon Afghanistan because, as he claims, it possesses a “failed” government. Therefore, for him, that nation has to change its attitude and establish a firm strategy to operate cohesively.

The Governor has questionably bragged that Quetta has decreased its Opium production to zero [sic!] while the worldwide narco-mafia has joined up with the Afghanistani militants. The narcotic traffic is the principal destabilizing force over the Hindu Kush. Narco-Warlords have even infiltrated the Afghani central and peripheral governments!

On the military side, NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) has completely waged its campaign against the Taliban amiss. At this point, “They would have to slaughter half the population of the country to win their War!” The European and North American soldiers across our (their) borders have a subverting consequence on Pakistani society.

The historical conflicts above Pakistan of the past thirty years have to be reversed in the Mountains. In 1975 there was the Communist Coup overthrowing a liberal monarchy that glued the various Afghan ethnic groups into one realm. After 1979, the “mighty” Soviet Army blitzkrieged through the topography of the hills to solidify their fellow ideologies in their small imperium as a satellite State to Moscow, and revived the old Great Game aiming to go through Pakistan to the Sea. These change of events scattered their ethnic elites across the Planet, and then, “The religious scholars took their places” up there. The traditional elites have recently come back to reunite the various tribal societies. “All Afghanistan’s groups are obliged [to form] political cohesion,” again. The continuing conflict in Afghanistan will not halt until all the traditional established ethnic groups can make peace amongst themselves.

Curiously, during the Russo-Afghani War of the 1980’s “their support mainly came through the Khyber Pass…and the Muhajadeen were fighting for their Peshawar allies’ freedom,” as well, for, if the Soviets pacified Kandahar et al., Karachi would have been the next target.

The struggle against the Muscovites has lead to the terror of our times (and I might especially mention the recent murder of Benezar Bhutto and the New York massacre of September 11th 200l, for, after the “Holy Warriors did our dirty work against the Soviets, we abandoned Afghanistan to a five-way civil war, and the rest is history! This is the root of the War on Terror!) His Excellency claimed much of it has landed upon his Province that lies in a precarious position between Afghanistan, Iran (who, also, have a Baloch dominated Province across their boundary — not to mention the proximity to the rugged Northwest Provinces within the Islamic Republic of Pakistan itself).

Awais Ahmed, mimicking his President Musharaff, “Pakistan is a responsible global member,” (the word Global and the concept of Globalism seem to dominate Ahmed’s concept of the world and his style of governance,) but its “Extremism [within] is serious” business. “It is going to be a long term effort” to suppress it. “We must stop the violence,” but he feels what all the countries in the region have to do is simply stop the narco-crisis over the Afghan geography. (This is no more than naivety, and reflects back to the post-1989 mistakes. What Kabul needs is Development; jobs and hope for its young people that can largely be achieved through a modern progressive education that must be attained through an evolved yet traditional Islam.)

Mr. Ghani admits, “Pakistan needs a successful Afghanistan.” We require a stable, friendly environment around us for our own development. We want a political solution with our neighbor across the Durand Line. “We need to get back on the political highway” with them again, but we must not let our military options down, for they must be there if our diplomacy fails!


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