The establishment understands quite well that without turning Gwadar and large parts of Balochistan into a joint Chinese-Pakistani cantonment, they will not be able to move an inch
Passengers are relaxed in a cruising airliner all dreaming of their cherished destination and the pleasurable environment they would be in when suddenly the captain’s anxious voice breaks the calm. He says, “Ladies and gentlemen due to unavoidable circumstances a change of plans has been necessitated and we have been diverted to an uninhabited island. However, there is good news and bad news; which do you want first?” All demanded the bad news first. He said, “The bad news is that there is nothing to eat there except horse dung but the good news is that there is plenty of it.”
The situation in Pakistan is not much different; there are horse dung islands instead of promised destinations and, above all, the good news is always that there is more of bad news. There are unending atrocities against the Baloch, loot of their resources, injustices against Sindhis, carnages against Hazaras, intensification of attacks against Shias, discrimination against Hindus and Christians, persecution of Ahmadis, neglect of displaced persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Dera Bugti. The list is far from complete and the establishment continually not only adds to it but also increases the perniciousness of prevailing problems.
In the first five months of this year 84 people were disappeared, whereas 79 disfigured bodies were recovered from different parts of Balochistan; the toll of the dead is over 700. Whilst unabated atrocities, abductions and dumping of the Baloch persist, the establishment prepares to further antagonise them with the so-called economic projects essentially detrimental to Baloch interests because of the demographic changes and increased economic injustices these will entail and naturally be a prelude to increased state atrocities against them who naturally will resist to preserve their rights.
Continue reading Good news, bad news — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
THE problem with a head-in-the-sand approach to fighting militancy is that the rest of the body is left exposed. For a while now the TTP has been an enemy of the Pakistani state but there is hardly a faction within that umbrella organisation that at some point over the years has not been in the good books of the army-led security establishment. But the good Taliban/bad Taliban dichotomy never made sense to begin with and as time has gone by, the contradictions have become apparent. The TTP in all its forms has always been bad news for this country’s internal stability and external relations. Just how bad has been underlined in recent days with two foreign news services reporting that the TTP has claimed to have sent men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Arab nexus, including links to Al Qaeda, has always been apparent in the arc of the TTP’s relatively short history. Unlike, say, the Afghan Taliban who by and large have hewed to a purely domestic agenda, ie ridding Afghanistan of foreign ‘invaders’, the TTP’s overall agenda has leaned more towards the concept of a global jihad. In the past, that has meant offering sanctuary to foreign militants who arrived in Fata for training or to escape more hostile environments in their home countries. Eventually, however, a resilient TTP was always likely to seek to contribute directly to so-called jihadist struggles outside the Pak-Afghan region. As with all things, TTP claims made by various commanders take time to be established but if the Syria claims are verified, it would mark an alarming new phase in the militant network’s existence.
Syria may be an epic mess on its own, but other countries that could be potential destinations for the TTP’s battle-hardened cadre of fighters will surely be alarmed by the possibility. Pakistan is already fairly isolated in the international arena because of its inability to systematically curb the activities of non-state actors on Pakistani soil and this latest development will only add to the pressure. But it is in the domestic arena that the repercussions will be the most severe. The TTP has proved to be far more resilient than originally thought, though perhaps that is in no small part aided by the lack of a coherent strategy on the part of the state to fight militancy. If the TTP is confident enough to be sending fighters abroad, does that mean the network believes it has enough resources locally to successfully fend off the Pakistani state? That is an enormously worrying possibility.