Balochistan violence Is there a military solution? | By Farrukh Saleem


Balochistan violence Is there a military solution?

Violence does not take place in a vacuum. Violence in Balochistan has a ‘greed-and-grievance’ based explanation.

The greed-based explanation is that the combatants are “motivated by a desire to better their situation, and perform an informal cost-benefit analysis in examining if the rewards of joining a rebellion are greater than not joining.”

Baloch ‘insurgents’ seem to have established a strong financial pipeline from London to Qatar to the UAE.

Then there’s a whole host of foreign intelligence agencies with a negative interest in Balochistan including the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), of India the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 SIS of the UK , Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel, the Signals Intelligence Agency (SIA) of the UAE, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US and the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran (VEVAK).

A grievance is a “wrong or hardship suffered, real or supposed, which forms legitimate grounds of complaint.” The grievance-based explanation is the ‘grievances-frustration-aggression-rebellion’ cycle.

The cycle begins with a grievance, real or imagined, which turns into individual frustration and that frustration over time turns into collective aggression leading to a rebellion.

This cycle means political failure whereby the political leadership has failed to address Baloch grievances, both real and imagined.

Of the real grievances there are four: a non-representative political structure, an ineffective administrative apparatus, relative deprivation (education, employment, health and income) and exploitation of indeigenous resources. Yet another grievance is the narrative that revolves around ‘bribing the sardars, marginalizing the poor’.

To be certain, solving Baloch grievances-both real and imagined is the responsibility of Pakistan’s political leadership. To be sure, we lit the fire in Balochistan and RAW, SIS, Mossad, SIA, CIA and VEVAK are now fueling it to the max. Iran has the Port of Chahbahar, they don’t want Gwadar. The UAE does not want another competitor either.

The Pentagon has classified China as a ‘strategic adversary’ and China’s strategic presence in Gwadar is an irritant. The violence in Balochistan has three primary drivers: resource exploitation-some real, some imagined; political grievances and administrative grievances.

Political grievances include a non-representative, ineffective political structure. Administrative grievances include a non-representative, ineffective administrative structure. The secondary, state-back drivers include India, Britain, Israel, UAE, US and Iran.

The primary drivers of violence in Balochistan have been political but our response has been kinetic.

There was a military response in 1958, another one in 1973 and yet another one in 2006. Political problems do not have a military solution. Our political and military leadership is still not on the same page. The military leadership believes that the politicians have lost public confidence and that there is a serious political vacuum in Pakistan’s largest province.

The political leadership, on the other hand, claims that they have lost all authority to the Corps HQ XII Corps and the Inspector-General Frontier Corps (IGFC). The military doctrine also has a sectarian dimension in which sectarian outfits were used to achieve military-strategic objectives.

In 2003, General Musharraf declared 90 percent of Balochistan’s 347,190 square kilometers as ‘A areas’ under police jurisdiction and direct state writ.

In 2011, President Zardari reversed the Musharraf-era arrangement and reverted back to 90 percent of Balochistan being ‘B areas’ under levies.

Baloch ‘insurgents’ know full well that they cannot defeat the Pak Army. Their objective is a long drawn-out, low intensity conflict in which they employ guerrilla tactics of ambush, sabotage, evasion and deception. The ‘insurgents’ also use the terrain as their force multiplier.

The violence in Balochistan must be understood in its proper context with the ultimate aim of preserving Pak Army’s ‘monopoly over violence’ across Pakistan’s 881,913 square kilometers of land mass.

Yes, the violence has state-backers and if it spreads the cost of containing it-in terms of manpower and capital-will skyrocket. Yes, the cost of suppressing it through the use of force will hurt our international standing.

Balochistan is fully redeemable. Force, however, is not the answer neither is the politics of divide-and-rule. Hearts and minds should be won.

The answer lies in participatory representative institutions. The answer lies in an effective, representative administrative apparatus. The answer lies in grievance redressal. Remember, we lit the fire and if there were no fire no one would be able to fuel it.


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