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Talks an Excuse for Pak to Sidestep Domestic Woes

Published: 15th August 2015 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2015 03:52 AM   |  A+A-

Talks

Over the past six months, the Pakistan army establishment, led by army chief General Raheel Sharif, have gone on overdrive, with allegations of Indian involvement in terrorism in three of Pakistan’s four provinces—(KP) bordering Afghanistan and in Karachi, the capital of Sind. These allegations have been echoed by the otherwise soft-spoken National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who has threatened to even take the issue to the United Nations. In any case, Aziz is scheduled for talks on terrorism with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi soon.

India’s concerns on Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism are well documented and widely acknowledged internationally. We have to analyse the internal security situation in Pakistan to understand why the army, backed by the political establishment, have now taken to finding fault with others, for the predicament they have landed their country in. The prime source of Pakistan’s tensions is the situation in Baluchistan, where for over 50 years, the country’s Punjabi military establishment is fighting a bloody conflict against Baloch tribesmen, who have serious grievances against the discrimination and exploitation they face.

The bitter conflict in Baluchistan arises from the fact that despite possessing vast natural resources including natural gas, the Baloch people rightly complain that their entire natural resources are plundered by the Punjabi-dominated army and they have been left impoverished and backward. In the bitter military conflict that has engulfed Baluchistan over the past 10 years, Baloch activists claim arbitrary arrests, detentions and extrajudicial killings by the army and paramilitary forces have led to the recovery of 6,000 mutilated bodies, with 21,000 missing and believed dead. Politically, the Baloch have always held that Jinnah obtained their accession to Pakistan fraudulently. The hereditary ruler, the Khan of Kalat, who lives in London, established a “Council for Independence” in 2009, with widespread Baloch tribal support.

In KP adjoining Baluchistan, the army has launched a massive military campaign against the same Pashtun tribals it had used against the Soviet Union and later to instal Taliban protégés in Afghanistan. This will have serious long-term consequences as around 25 per cent of the army is Pashtun. The ruthless military operations involving artillery and air strikes on towns and villages has led to the displacement of nearly one million Pashtuns, with little prospect of early return and rehabilitation. There are also problems posed by members of the Pakistan Taliban, held responsible for the attack on Malala Yousafzai, operating from across the Durand Line, against Pakistani forces.

Yet another ironic development is the animosity between the army and the ‘Mohajirs’ in Karachi, represented by the MQM party led by Altaf Husain, living in self-exile in London. These are Pakistanis from India, whose forefathers joined Jinnah’s Muslim League for the creation of Pakistan. They are now being labelled and targeted as Indian agents, armed and trained by the R&AW!! The Army has also targeted and killed the leader and cadres of the Lashkar e Jhangvi, an armed anti-Shia group in Punjab, enjoying the support of Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League.

These developments suggest that for the foreseeable future, Pakistan will remain a hotbed of sectarian and provincial tensions. Aziz will be coming to meet Ajit Doval, primarily to divert attention from his country’s domestic woes. He should be told that we have no land borders with Baluchistan, the KP province or Karachi. It should be noted that Pakistani allegations about our consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar fanning violence in Baluchistan and KP lack credibility, given Rawalpindi’s’ cozy relationship with the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul, together with the Americans and Chinese. The dialogue on terrorism will inevitably be sustained and prolonged, if mutual concerns are to be addressed. We could, for good measure, note that unlike Pakistan, there are no sectarian Shia-Sunni tensions in India!! dadpartha@gmail.com

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