By | Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, The Home Minister of Balochistan.
Unlike the other provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan, which is roughly equivalent to the size of France, has faced two different types of insurgencies. The first is a decade long low-level insurgency by separatist outfits like Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Balochistan Liberation Front, etc. The other insurgency is led by fringe religious groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi (LJ-A), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat ul Ahrar (JuA), etc that are influenced by a distorted version of Islam.
Since the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Balochistan has faced five separatists-led insurgencies. Since 2008, in addition to the separatists-led insurgency, the province has also witnessed the rise of terror activities carried out by the terror outfits that falsely accuse Muslims of committing apostasy, and use it as a pretext for their convoluted aims. Since 2006, both type of insurgencies have caused more than 5000 fatalities and wounded nearly 10,000 people in Balochistan. Apart from 15,000 casualties, they have also carried out attacks on gas pipelines, oil tankers, power pylons, power transmission lines and railway tracks.
My own constituency, Dera Bugti, was once considered as the primary base for the separatists-led insurgency. Akbar Bugti, the former chieftain of Bugti tribe, was responsible for killing innocent Baloch people and security personnel. Because of his heinous acts, he was denounced by various sub-clans of Bugti tribe. It is also important to mention that the military operation against Akbar Bugti and his proxies was launched at the requisition of then Balochistan Provincial Government. Even now, Brahamdagh Bugti, son of Akbar Bugti, is responsible for killing thousands of innocent Baloch people through his terror outfit, the Baloch Republican Army.
Fast forward to present day, the security situation of Balochistan is changing with each passing day. Dera Bugti, which was once considered as a no-go area, is now accessible to any Pakistani. From Quetta to Gwadar, and Chaman to Hub, the people of Balochistan have fought back against the menace of terrorism by giving their blood and flesh for the country. Some hundreds of individuals were misguided by propaganda and fell in the trap of foreign hostile intelligence agencies, who exploited the existing grievances of the local population. However, the overwhelming majority of people residing in the province remained loyal to Pakistan, and disavowed any group who resorted to violent means against the state.
Since 2011, over 1000 separatists were killed in various counter-separatist and intelligence-based operations.Balochistan Peace Programme, launched in July 2015, has also been a successful effort in bringing separatists back to the national mainstream. More than 2300 separatists, including senior commanders, have laid down their weapons under this initiative. The success of this program can be gauged from the fact that until now only eight separatists (0.35 percent) have re-joined separatist outfits.
Apart from counter-terrorism measures, development initiatives have been launched throughout the province. The CPEC has increased the importance of Balochistan in the regional geopolitical scenario. With CPEC, whose prime beneficiary is Balochistan, the socio-economic conditions of the local population will improve considerably. Out of the 40 early-harvest projects to be completed under CPEC, 16 projects are related to Balochistan. Kachhi Canal Project, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi last month, is just one of the many developmental programs launched in the past few years. It should also be remembered that the main reason why the Balochistan could not witness development was that terror outfits like BLA and BRA proved as a detrimental force for all the plans that could uplift the infrastructure of the province. With the increasing development in different sectors, the capabilities of civil law-enforcing agencies shall increase that will further help in decreasing the intensity of terrorism in the province.
Despite successful joint civil-military efforts in Balochistan to counter terrorism, there are issues which are being addressed to consolidate our gains. The porous border with Afghanistan is a major concern for the overall security situation of the province. 40% of Afghan territory is not under the writ of government resulting in the free movement of terror outfits in those areas, which happens to border Pakistan. In this regard, fencing of Pak-Afghan border has been done to block cross-border movement of terrorists.
Safe havens of BLA, BRA, TTP, JA, LJ-A in Afghanistan is also a cause of concern for the Balochistan. Unless and until these safe havens continue to operate from Afghan soil, with the support of NDS and R&AW, law and order situation in the province cannot be stabilized. As Interior Minister of Balochistan, whenever I say that R&AW or NDS is involved in sponsorship of terrorism in Balochistan, I say it because I have seen irrefutable evidence of the involvement of these two hostile intelligence agencies.
Lastly, terrorism cannot be eliminated in a day through a magic stick. France has seen an increase of terrorism in past two years. Despite deploying various resources at its disposal to counter terrorism, no high-ranking French official can today claim that the European country will not face any terror attack in future. The point I want to make is that defeating terrorism needs both time and patience. Joint efforts of civilian and military institutions, support from civil society, media and help of regional countries can help in defeating terrorism which is now regarded as a global phenomenon.
Credit: Pakistan Defence