Media and Balochistan
Media is reinforcing misperceptions on Balochistan
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
All nationalist Baloch leaders and the rebellious Baloch Sardars several of whom are in self-exile absconders are carrying out noxious propaganda against the security forces. They feel the Army is the sole obstacle in their way and obstructs their sinister designs as well as their foreign patrons to make Balochistan independent. It is for this reason that they have been strongly objecting to the planned construction of Army cantonments in Sui and Kahan. Harbyar Marri living a comfortable life in London stated that American enslavement is better than Punjabi enslavement because Punjabis would come and occupy their lands for good. He added that while Americans would steal their oil and gas, Punjabis would obliterate their identity.
Brahamdagh in self exile in Switzerland proudly claims that he and his BRA had killed all Punjabis in and around Quetta. He is unhappy with Governor Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi and Chief Minister Aslam Raisani and doesn’t hold them in high esteem since they are paid by Pakistan government and are not listening to his insane advices to give up parliamentary politics and to pick up arms against the state. He has, however, no compunction that he is being paid by foreign powers to serve their anti-Pakistan agenda. Khair Byar Marri states that the Baloch would rather be dependent on the Americans than Punjabis. Gazin Bugti, Jamil Bugti, Akhtar Mengal, Khair Bux Marri, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Changez, Hasil Bazinjo and several other Baloch leaders speak the same language. Talal Bugti and Shah Zain Bugti of Jamhoori Watan Party are relatively moderate in their stance but are hungering for the crown of Dera Bugti.
All fugitive Baloch leaders against whom dozens of criminal cases are pending in courts have complete liberty of action to travel all over the globe, hold meetings/seminars and spew venom against Pakistan and to fuel separatist movement in Balochistan. Instead of declaring them as terrorists and sending them back to Pakistan, they are patronised by USA, UK, India and Israel. A well-orchestrated program to indoctrinate the Baloch and Brahvi youth is in operation in Balochistan. It is in line with the program chalked out by India in erstwhile East Pakistan. India-funded propaganda material is being printed in Balochi language for all the schools and colleges situated in Baloch inhabited towns as well as Quetta to poison the minds of the Baloch youth against central government, Punjab and Army. It is being drilled into their impressionable minds that their future is bleak as long as they lived within the concept of Pakistan. They are repeatedly told that the rich resources are being plundered by Punjab, which is prospering at the cost of Balochistan. Continuous propaganda snipes have succeeded in polluting the minds of dissident Balochis as well as Brahvis since they were already harbouring misgivings and grievances.
Separatist movement in Balochistan duly supported by foreign powers is gaining strength but our leadership has remained entirely focussed on US dictated war on terror in northwest to gain fistful of dollars. India caught Pakistan by its collar on Mumbai carnage on 26/11 on the basis of evidence of dubious Ajmal Kasab and kept rubbing it for almost two years despite Pakistan taking several steps to appease India and its pleadings to resume talks. Contrary to Indian hostile stance over a lone incident in which India had no proof of Pakistan’s involvement, Pakistan with bagful of concrete evidence has never confronted India over its irrefutable involvement in Balochistan, FATA and Swat. Although Interior Minister Rahman Malik has on number of occasions stated on the floor of the National assembly that RAW is involved, but he has yet to make the proofs public. IGFC Balochistan has repeatedly mentioned about interference by foreign agencies, but the provincial government has never taken the matter seriously. Policy of appeasement has restrained our leaders from exposing India.
Our stance has been detached, apologetic and nervous. Corrupt, inefficient and apathetic Balochistan government having 53 members out of total of 65 in the treasury has adopted a lackadaisical attitude. Despite requisitioning the Frontier Corps (FC), which is under Ministry of Interior, to maintain law and order in the province since the police have failed to do so, the security acts of the FC are hardly defended. This has made the task of the FC that much problematic. To make matters worse, our so-called independent media instead of highlighting the curse of Sardari system, ruthlessness of BLA and BRA, plight of non-local settlers and Hazaras, ineptness of Balochistan government to maintain law and order and deleterious role of foreign agencies, NGOs and HRW in Balochistan, it has got aligned with foreign media and is maligning security forces and ISI that are shedding sweat and blood to safeguard Balochistan from internal and external conspiracies.
Section of local media in the pocket of foreign powers enthusiastically plays tutored themes to defame the military and to present the terrorists as innocent and victims of state terrorism. Instead of putting things in right perspective, the media is reinforcing misperceptions about Balochistan. Electronic media is encouraging self-exiled Sardars and nationalist Baloch Sardars espousing independence of Balochistan to appear in talk shows and to freely indulge in falsehood that the Balochis are being persecuted by the Army and agencies. Despite the Army chief and Quetta Corps Commander repeatedly saying that there is no Army operation going on in Balochistan, dissident Baloch leaders refuse to believe them and biased media and HRW support their point of view. Army, FC and Navy’s laudable efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Baloch through development work and welfare projects are never mentioned.
Our media and foreign media are on one page as far as Army-FC-ISI bashing is concerned. The sticks with which these institutions are being beaten with are the issues of abductions, missing persons and mutilated bodies of Baloch nationalists. Issue of missing persons was drummed up saying that thousands of Baloch young men and women had been kidnapped by intelligence agencies. Once the provincial government undertook investigations it revealed that the actual figure of missing persons was 200 or so. Untraceable 158 Baloch youth were eventually traced and it was found that they had received training in RAW operated camps in Afghanistan and were actively involved in insurgency. Whereabouts of only 42 missing persons have still not been found out but efforts are in hand.
Owing to lack of support by provincial government and hostile media, the FC has become over cautious and defensive. It is otherwise overloaded with multiple responsibilities of defending the 1234 km porous border with Afghanistan and 700 km long coastline. 25% of its workforce is wholly engaged in development works. Farari camps located in inaccessible mountains can be destroyed by using air or missiles or gunship helicopters, but the FC is wisely employing minimum force and making maximum efforts to win over the Baloch people and is convincing them to renounce violence. The FC has now been instructed that it would not move in any district without the permission of Deputy Commissioner and it will not establish any check post without the permission of chief minister. Despite showing tremendous restraint, it is still demonized and is now being dubbed as an occupation force.
Encouraged by the negativism of our media and few rebellious Baloch nationalists, a bill was moved in the US Congress seeking right of self-determination for the people of Balochistan. The three Republican Congress members wrongfully briefed by Ali Dayan Hasan, Director HRW shed crocodile tears over Balochistan about which they have no idea. They got so emotionally disturbed after listening to the concocted stories of Dayan and few runaway Baloch Sardars involved in acts of terror against innocent people of their home province that they started calling Pak security forces employed in Balochistan as oppressors and the terrorists as innocent victims. No member of the US Congress has ever shed a single tear over Kashmir, which is under the tyrannical occupation of 700,000 Indian security forces. No tear has been dropped on the slaughter of Afghans and Iraqis. Notwithstanding that the bill has no legal status, but well knowing the sinister designs of USA, it can be built upon. It is quite possible that egged on by Indo-US-Israeli lobbies, someone in the British Parliament or in the EU might move a similar bill.
Congressional hearing was against all international norms and UN charter and amounted to direct interference in internal affairs of Pakistan. Although the US government is pretending to have no role in it, I feel the US Administration and State Department are very much part of the conspiracy. In fact, the US heads the global conspiracy to separate Balochistan from Pakistan. A way is being paved to move a case to the UNSC and get a resolution passed. The CIA and its affiliated agencies are interfering in Balochistan on the express directive of Pentagon and US Administration.
If the US sincerely considers Balochistan issue to be our internal matter and claims that it has no role in the Congress bill, it must prove its sincerity by actions and not through hollow words. The steps it should take to placate the apprehensions of Pakistanis are to bridle CIA, RAW, RAAM and MI-6 from meddling into the affairs of Balochistan, rein in its media and think tanks from spewing venom against Pakistan. It should declare BLA and BRA as terrorist groups and should freeze their funds. Runaway Baloch Sardars should be extradited to Pakistan and the US funded NGOs involved in anti-Pakistan activities to be restrained.