Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Summer for Baloch Insurgents

So I mentioned Balochistan in the first ever post I ever wrote for this blog. There was an obvious reason. Balochistan is the shortest natural gateway to Central Asia from the sea. The Baloch though have a serious problem. There are only about fifteen million of them, and on all sides, aside from maybe immediately East, they're surrounded by seriously dangerous ethnicities. North East of the Baluch, are the Punjabi Muslims of Pakistan, numbering 85,000,000. Directly North of the Baloch, are the 40,000,000 Pathan, 25,000,000 of whom are in Pakistan, the remaining 15,000,000 in Afghanistan. And to the West, the Persians, with 35,000,000 all concentrated in Iran. South of the Baloch is the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf, and it's sharks. Just across the Gulf are the myriad micro petro emirates of the gulf where a sizable Baloch diaspora works and remits money back to their family homelands.

Living/Caught between the Punjabis, Pathans, Persians and Arabs, and living on land that has seen invasions from Alexander the Great's time onwards the Baloch have developed a well deserved reputation for toughness.

You know the Gadsden Flag? The one that says "Don't Tread on Me"? The Baloch live that. In fact they're living that right now.


The Baloch are waging two independently fighting insurgencies in two different countries, that up till this moment are not bothering to co-ordinate (as far as Pakistani and Iranian intelligence can determine and then leak to their respective presses for propaganda purposes) for their rights. Some within and without these insurgencies can call them secessionist, but their real purpose is fighting for simple rights in Iran and in Pakistan trying to control their own natural resources whilst dealing with a demographic problem in their own home provinces. There is a lot of background, but the arrest (and subsequent execution) of the purported leader of the Iranian Baloch insurgency has bought up some really quirky questions.

Like who the hell started him out?

Why does he have so little co-ordination with the Pakistani Baloch insurgents across the border in Pakistan, who are heavily active?

Is it because Pakistani Baloch pursue an avowedly secular nationalism, whereas Rigi's Baloch outfit mixed Baloch nationalism with sectarian ultra-Sunnism/anti-Shiaism?

Did his ideological brew make him attractive to various Taliban factions and even Al Qaeda, and possibly Pakistani sectarian organisatons?

Did the fact that he was opposing Tehran give him allies in the form of the United States and possibly Saudi Arabia as well?

He may be dead, but the Baloch sense of deprivation lives on in both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan.

Monday, March 15, 2010

LOL. How to stop violence in Pakistan.

So on Five Rupees Blog there was a post on the new and true metrics of success in this strange war (a terrorist campaign disguised as an insurgency) we're fighting in Pakistan.

So I left a response to Mr Ahsan's post. Sorry if it sounds arrogant. Or cynical. We've all seen a lot in Pakistan.

Here's what I wrote:

I'll clarify with Ahsan on this. Look Ahsan, stopping the attacks on Pakistani citizens by fanatics will be a problem. It's always been a problem because going back till even 1977 (the Nizam-e-Mustapha days) and if you want to go back to the first ever Martial Law declared in Pakistan in 1953 over the Lahore Anti-Ahmedi riots, Pakistani society is configured to produce religiously fanatical, socially unstable people in life threatening quantities.

Let me repeat that: Pakistani Society, in conjunction with the Pakistani state, are hard wired to produce a set number of religious fanatics every year. It hasn't reached state threatening quantities (although with the pattern of jobless Madrassa graduates openning their own Madrassas, maybe this will change and things will get more "interesting").

But any way, we can refer back to that documentary you linked to with Mosharraf Zaidi in it in which a US based Pakistani woman said that the Government education system is the largest Madrassa system of all. Then there's the ubiquity of religious propaganda in our society. There's also the situation where religious fanaticism intersects with social justice or class conflict like it did in Swat, or does so in Jhang. Preventing the murder of Pakistani citizens goes beyond the security forces. They need good intel of course amongst the areas known for harbouring religious nut jobs, but local police every where needs to be reformed into police forces, as opposed to the current day mob control agencies they are; as well as telling the security forces to stop stashing or recruiting fanatics amongst the general population or any where outside North Waziristan (which by the way, anybody notice, we've totally ceded to the Afghan Taliban AND US air power to duke it out).

I would also like to remind Ahsan, that our security institutions have no real regard for the lives of Pakistani's outside their own ranks (and sometimes extending this disregard to their own rank and file), thus could not give a tinkers damn if any non-officer is killed in pursuit of their "strategic" agenda/s.

Lastly, I also will have to remind Ahsan (sorry, using that phrase too often) there were at minimum three breakouts of violence in the wake of our last "triumph" (Pyrrhus anyone?) in Afghanistan, which were resolved by the actions of democratic governments:

1) The outbreak of violence in Karachi and Urban Sindh.
Resolved by Military Action instigated by both the PPP and PML-N.

2) The outbreak of Sectarian assassinations in Urban Pakistan.
Resolved by a program of assassinating Sectarian militants instigated by the PML-N

3) The outbreak of the Afghan Civil War at the fall of the Soviet Afghan Regime.
Resolved by the PPP by sponsoring the rise and consolidation of the Taliban regime.

You will have noticed that I added how each episode was resolved.

And I added a plug for democratic governments cause it was THE mainstream parties which put the political pedal to the metal to finish of these conflicts.

The point being (and maybe one that Ahsan touched on but didn't fully continue on when he mentioned our military establishment) is that our vaunted security agencies do not have the political will, sense, vision or imagination to resolve an evolving closure to the Afghan imbroglio, that would give Pakistan both a modicum of peace and some sort of worthwhile strategic prize, or a gain, or at least not a total sense of Pyrrhic victory.

For that, our political parties will have to present some sort of vision or idea on Afghanistan, more evolved than what the generals are capable of articulating.

So yeah.

1) Pakistan needs to stop producing fanatics.

2) Then Pakistan has to prepare to confront various militants.

3) Pakistan's political parties need to lead on this

4) Pakistan's PPP and PML-N need to present a co-operative combined vision of a peaceful post-conflict Afghanistan.

I think I'll go to sleep.

How to stop violence in Pakistan. LOL.