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Why the fight

The military cantonments planned at tribal districts like Gwadar, Dera Bugti and Kohlu are viewed as outposts of repression, not development.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 18:58 IST
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Neither the Baloch grievance nor the insurgency is new.

According to Hindustan Times correspondent Aditya Sinha, what is new this time is that the due to political mismanagement by the military government in Islamabad, two strands of rebellion have come together—

First, the tribal sardars who are trying to preserve their sardari system of rule and the other is the democrats.

Still, let's look at the main issues that have been a cause of unrest in the restive province:

• The Government of Pakistan has continuously suppressed the nationalist aspirations of the Balochis.

The Baloch alienation dates back to 1948. Islamabad's various "one nation, one people" policies have failed to integrate the Baloch into the Pakistan mainstream.

The first two Constitutions did not recognise them as a distinct national group.

The 1973 Constitution granted Balochistan the status of a province, but the 1973-77 insurgency put paid to hopes of reconciliation.

• The lack of economic development in the province despite the fact that its gas fields, which sustain the economy of Punjab, are a major source of revenue.

The Baloch have always complained that their resources were being exploited by Punjab.

For a long time after discovery of natural gas deposit in Sui in 1953, Balochistan did not get any gas, while Punjab and Sindh drew heavily.

Sui gas has never benefited the people of Balochistan. Huge royalties are paid to Sardar of Sui, but they fail to reach the poor of the area.

The federal government earns billions from gas in the province but gives only a fraction of that back for development.

Despite repeated appeals, the Baloch share of royalties has been elusive.

• The continuous failure of the Pakistan Government to give to the provincial administration.

By sidelining the mainstream PPP and PML-N parties and others in favour of the Mullahs of Jama'at -i-Islami and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, General Musharraf, it is said, has alienated the old non-religious tribal leadership as well as the new secular urban middle classes of Balochistan.

By undermining the cause of provincial autonomy at the altar of local and federal government, the militia has threatened the roots of the Constitutional Consensus of 1973 enshrined in the Baloch consciousness.

• The non-association of the provincial authorities in the construction of Gwadar port and the Saindak copper mines with the assistance of Chinese.

The project can bring in half-a-million non-Balochis in the immediate future, reducing the local population to a minority.

Also, as far as the US presence is concerned, locals fear that their presence would bring a new political repression as the Pakistani army can persuade outsiders that their nationalist movement is linked to terrorism.

• The military cantonments planned at tribal districts like Gwadar, Dera Bugti and Kohlu are viewed as outposts of repression and control, not development.

The Frontier Corps is thoroughly hated and despised as a federal instrument of oppression by the Balochis.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 21:18 IST