Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baluchistan: A Repugnant Iranian Occupation



12 Nov 2015

Non-Persian peoples in Iran, such as the Arabs, the Kurds, the Azeris, the Turkmen and the Baluchis, are subject to exclusionary treatment that is often tainted by attitudes of racial inferiority in comparison to the Iranian race that runs the country. The Tehran government overthrew the emirates and the leaders of those regions, and annexed their lands to Iran approximately ninety years ago. This started with the overthrow of the emirate of Arabistan in 1925. Its ruler, Sheikh Khuzal Bin Jabir Al-Ka’bi, was arrested and transferred to Tehran, where he remained in prison until his death in 1936. Approximately three months after Arabistan, in 1928, the Iranian regime occupied Baluchistan after the defeat of Baluchi forces at the hands of the army of the founder of the Pahlavi line, Reza Shah Pahlavi. This situation was repeated with the Kurds and Azeris, particularly at the end of the first half of the 20thcentury. This article will focus on the Baluchi question, which is rarely discussed in the Arab media, and perhaps also in the Western media.

Since 1928, the Baluchi people struggled, in different ways, for their rights, and were subjected to oppression by the Shahanshahi Pahlavi regime which strove, as was the case in its treatment of other peoples in Iran’s geographical area, to eliminate all signs of Baluchi national sentiment and to incorporate them and assimilate them into a Persian melting pot that would serve as an identity for all components of a diverse country. Yusuf Ali Maghsi is considered the first Baluchi nationalist pioneer. He, along with a group of friends, founded the Organisation for the Unification of the Baloch (Anjuman-e-Ittihad-e-Baluch), a secret political organization for the liberation of Baluchistan.

Central policy in Iran was more oppressive, as Reza Shah, then his son Muhammad Reza, adopted an “iron fist” policy. As a result, the Baluchi national movement in Iran was not very successful in education or in political, media, cultural and military participation and it followed comprehensive Persian policies repressing the Baluchi culture and identity. However, the Baluchis continued to see themselves as an independent nation culturally that was connected to the rest of what is known as “Greater Baluchistan,” which currently also includes parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After the fall of the Shah’s regime in 1979, the Baluchis cheered along with the other non-Farsi ethnicities, lauding a regime that raised the banner of minority ethnic and religious rights and social justice. However, it soon became clear that the opposite was true, and their situation became akin to the proverb, “wishing to flee ruin, they were ruined.” Just a few months after the revolution and after the Baluchis were certain that the new regime was following their predecessors’ course in its treatment of non-Persian ethnicities, they immediately began to express their identity. However, they found themselves once again in a confrontation with the new political regime in Iran, and Baluchi political parties were completely banned.

Thus, the Baluchi struggle persisted after the revolution, especially since antagonism to the new regime came to take two parallel courses, an ethnic one and a sectarian (Shia–Sunni) one. In addition, the Iranian regime’s unequal economic treatment of Baluchis diminished trust between Baluchis and the so-called Islamic Republic. The Iranian regime was not content merely to crack down on the Baluchis domestically and target their symbols, it also targeted Baluchi opposition leaders abroad, examples of which are abundant.

If we want to convey the Baluchi people’s reality in Iran, the figures and statistics that are published within Iran -with some reservations about their credibility, accuracy and impartiality, which are doubted by many within Iran and abroad who think that these statistics only convey part of the truth- show us that the reality is extremely bitter. In education, the Iranian assistant Minister of Education recently stated that 67,000 students, ranging in age from six to nine, had left primary school during the previous year; 30% of these were from the province of Baluchistan, and 52% from the provinces of Kurdistan and Baluchistan alone. Moreover, according to recent figures, 84.61% of the total population has a middle-school education, while in the province of Sistan it has not risen above 68.01%. We also find that illiteracy in the province’s main cities is at 32% and above 40% in the villages and countryside. Alireza Nakhai, the superintendent of schools in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, stated that 120,000 students are not attending school, according to information recently published by the quasi-governmental Mahr news agency.

With respect to the standard of living, reports issued by the Central Bank of Iran show that Baluchistan is the poorest of the country’s regions and provinces, with a poverty rate of 70%. The Bank also affirmed that the citizens of the capital, Tehran, have the highest average family income in the country, at 40,305 million tomans (USD 12,200) annually, while the lowest average income is found in Baluchistan, at 15,548 million tomans (USD 5,700) annually. According to the same source, every family in Baluchistan has a large budget deficit of 10,000,000 tomans (USD 3,030), if income is compared to expenses. It is noteworthy here the fact that these numbers do not indicate who is living at the poverty line or below it. In addition, the assistant director of the University of Medical Sciences and Health Services stated that 20% of children under the age of five in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan suffer from malnutrition and physical weakness due to poverty and an inability to procure sufficient food, both in terms of quality and quantity. With respect to unemployment, Hussein Ali Shahryari, the representative of the city of Zahedan (capital of the province of Sistan and Baluchistan) stated in the Iranian parliament that unemployment exceeds 50% among the province’s youth.

As regards culture and literature, Iranian authorities impose significant restrictions on the local press in the province, and it is almost or completely shut down in all of Baluchistan’s cities. Anything that is published is subject to strict and immediate censorship by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and none of the publishing houses located in the province have published a single book according to Iranian reports.

These percentages confirm two things: That there are clear signs that the Tehran regime has followed a policy of spreading ignorance amongst non-Persians that has significant political dimensions, and that the Iranian government is not serious about addressing citizens’ needs and listening to their demands, but rather is working to marginalize them. This has driven the population to repeatedly organize demonstrations and marches, which have fallen on deaf ears, and has in turn pushed some of the province’s youth to embrace armed struggle and form the “Soldiers of God,” “Army of Justice” and “Ansar al-Furqan” militias that have inflicted huge losses on the Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian Border Guard during the past few years. This armed confrontation is still ongoing, and indeed, its ruthlessness increases from time to time and the province is now a security concern for Iran’s military and security leaders.

The marginalization and unfair treatment of a large segment of Iranian society has significant and direct repercussions on the country’s political stability, especially since the regime is no longer able to ignore these major quality-of-life and development demands. According to an American report released a few months ago and compiled by a Western research institution (Control Risks), the political risk situation in Iran is “high,” while the security risk situation is “middle,” particularly in Baluchistan. This is perhaps the greatest indicator of the extent of the resentment felt by those minorities, as well as by other segments of Iranian society in general.

Source: 

Riyadh - Dr. Muhammad Bin Saqr Al-Salmi

China #Pakistan and #Iran's dirty game in the region.

By: Waris Baloch

Iran and Pakistan both are on same page when it comes the issue of occupied Balochistan because both have invaded Baloch land.

During the regime of Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttu, in 1973's liberation struggle of Balochistan was on its peak, lead by Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Babu Shero Marri and fellow Baloch guerrilla fighters, Iranian Air force and its army provided fighter jets to Pakistan army which mercilessly killed thousands of Baloch civilians, a huge number of cattle were killed and confiscated. Baloch villages were bombed to ashes. Children, women and entire families were wiped out from the surface of land.

Baloch freedom fighters fought 15 day uninterrupted battle with Pakistan army on the mountains of Kohistan Marri. Pakistan army was supposed to declare its defeat but Iranian jets come to rescue the Pakistani ground troops on the mountains of Kujjul and surrounding areas of Kohlu.

It was #Iran who backed Pakistan militarily and weekend the Baloch resistance by bombing their civilians. Baloch freedom fighters due to lake of ammunition and ration lost the war and were made arrested in a large number where they were kept in concentration camps in Kohlu, Sibi, Zhob, Loralai and Quetta army cantonments. The exact number of abducted and martyred Baloch civilians and armed fighters have never be known but  Baloch locals says approximately 50000 Baloch along with their families were apprehended and 15000 were martyred whereas 10000 Pakistan army personnel were also killed during the face to face battle with Baloch freedom fighters.

Pakistan and Iran both have been collaborating with each other to crush the Baloch liberation movements in the past because they think that if anyone of them (Iran and Pakistan) loses control over Balochistan regions and Balochistan becomes an independence state then both of them will also have no option but to withdraw its forces from #BalochSoil. That's why Pakistan and Iran both are killing Baloch by using different tactics and names.

Pakistan kills Baloch and label them the agents of India, America, Israel and Afghanistan but Iran publicly hangs Baloch from  pro-freedom school of thoughts and labels them drug traffickers and smugglers to avoid the charges of war crimes. Iran has been plying its cards very cleverly by labeling the resistance and uprising of Arab, Al Ahwazi, Kurds and Balochs as drug smugglers. Iran has been trying to suppress the movement of mentioned nationalities by the barrel of the gun but on the other hand supporting the unrest in #Yemen, #Iraq #Labenan #Syeria, #Bahrin, #Saudi Araibia, #Afghanistan and now in #IndianOccupiedKashmir.

Iran is also located in a very strategic location, #Chahbahar port is belongs to Balochistan which is part of #Gwadar also known as #BalochOcean. China and Pakistan are unlawfully building a naval base in #Gwadar despite the warning and resistance by indigenous liberation movement of Baloch people. Iran shows no objections and concern over the so called #CPEC in #Gwadar which indicates that Pak-Iran have share interests and common goals to plunder the Baloch resources and give a military power on Baloch sea and land. Balochistan is the sources of unity and togetherness of Iran and Pakistan because of Balochistan.

The interests of Iran and Pakistan will never collide because their policy makers think a strong Pakistan is in the favor of Iran and in return Pakistan also provides its nuclear weapons and military guidance to Iran to fight United States to protect Chinese interests in #Balochistan region. China had assured Iran and Pakistan that her presence in Baloch territory will boost Jihad in #Kashmir which will benefit Pakistan, Chinese presence also will accelerate insurgency in Afghanistan which also benefits Pakistan and Iran because an economically feeble and politically unstable #Afghanistan is in the favor of Pak-Iran-China. There are undeniable proofs about Iranian infiltration in #Afghanistan where security officials of Afghanistan have been pointing the ginger on Iran that it pumps money to fighters and giving safe sanctuaries to Taliban and other groups fighting against #NATO and Afghan forces. 

The influence of China in subcontinent particularly and in occupied Balochistan specifically is to create its hegemony in the region. It supporting Pakistan and its proxies in the region to counter India, USA and Afghanistan. We have been seen that she aggressively backing Paksitan at all levels in other words #China is undeclared representative of #Taliban #HakaniNetworks and #ISIS because it always been seen convincing Afghanistan to talk with Taliban. Recently China once again offered to host the talks between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Taliban.

In #UnitedStates China twice used its Veto power to save the #Kashmiri leader #AzharMasoud which is also enough proof her involvement in #Kashmir unrest. 

Now Iran also came openly in support of #KashmirJihad that is a crystal clear proof of Iranian diplomatic support to #KashmirJihad. Iranian supreme leader Ayatullah Khamenei's twitt came after a day when United Sate declared #Sayed Sallaudin the #Kashmiri armed group leader as international terrorist. Iran came in the rescue of #Kashmiri armed group sponsored and funded by Pakistan which is also a prove of Pak-Iran nexus in #Kashmir.

Indian government must re-think its policies regarding #Iran because Iran is also an occupied forces in the eyes of Baloch people. If India, USA and Afghanistan, Gulf countries and rest of the world  really wants a stable world with durable peace then they must diplomatically, morally, politically and militarily support Baloch secular forces and their independence struggle.

The liberation of Balochistan and Kurdistan are the only ray of hope in the region because since decades world has been trying to heal the world's peace by terror sporting countries like Pakistan and Iran.

Word powers committed blunders in the past by giving aid and weaponizing Pakistan who's army sheltered the world's most wanted terrorist #Usama Bin Laden for a decade, gives safe havens to #Taliban #ISI and other religious groups. We hope such blunders will not be repeated this time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Join Sindhi & Baloch Missing Person joint Protest today

Join Sindhi & Baloch Missing Person joint Protest today 28 th june  at 5.pm. Karachi Press Club Completion of 8 years of Enforced Disappearance  of Dr.DeenMohdBaloch,Sammi & Family will setup a HungerStrike camp from 26June to 28June at Karachi Press Club.
All people are appealed to join that Eid is not a festival for affected family, be the voice to #SaveDrDeenMohdBaloch
Venue: Karachi Press Club
Time: 11AM to 5PM

Gwadar airport construction to commence in September

https://www.samaa.tv/economy/2017/06/gwadar-airport-construction-to-commence-in-september/

June 27, 2017

 

By: Samaa Web Desk

Published in Economy

 


ISLAMABAD: Construction work on Gwadar International Airport is likely to start by the end of September this year after approval of grant by the Chinese government.

The project will be completed within three years and will cost two hundred and thirty million dollars, Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday quoting official sources.

The Chinese government has agreed to provide funds for the construction of the airport and had approved a grant in this regard during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent visit to China.

🔴The construction of international standard airport at Gwadar is aimed at facilitating the movement of international investors and visitors.

How mega transport project will be a game-changer for Pakistan

http://m.gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/how-mega-transport-project-will-be-a-game-changer-for-pakistan-1.2049983


June 28, 2017

Last updated 1 minute ago


It will usher in development and prosperity by generating sufficient energy and employment in the country, besides opening up trade routes

By Ashfaq Ahmed,Deputy Editor, UAE

18:45 June 27, 2017

A cargo ship sits berthed next to a crane at Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Image Credit:Bloomberg

Ashfaq Ahmed

The $56 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the most important parts of the China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative for a stronger trade connectivity in the world.

OBOR is China’s ambitious project to revive the ancient Silk route for trade connecting China, Central Asia and Europe by developing three main corridors via southern, northern and central Xinjiang, which links China with Pakistan, Russia, India and Europe.

The mega investment project that connects Pakistan with China is called CPEC — and it is the most significant part of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

China has made commitments to invest around $56 billion (Dh205.5 billion) in CPEC involving development deals, which is equivalent to roughly 20 per cent of Pakistan’s annual GDP.

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CPEC is believed to be China’s biggest ever investment overseas to build a 3,218km route by 2030, consisting of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect Pakistan’s Gwadar Port to Xinjiang province of China.

In total, the economic corridor project aims to add some 17,000 megawatts of electricity generation at a cost of around $34 billion. The rest of the money will be spent on transport infrastructure, including upgrading the railway line between the port of Karachi and the northwest city of Peshawar.

Key corridor

Development of Gwadar port, which would provide Beijing a firm and long-term foothold in the Indian Ocean, is an important part of the CPEC as this economic corridor will behave as a channel for the novel Maritime Silk Route that imagines connecting three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

CPEC aims to revive the earliest Silk Road with an emphasis on infrastructure, and establishes the strategic structure of bilateral cooperation.

The project associates China’s strategy to improve its western constituencies with Pakistan’s concentration on enhancing its economy, comprising the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port.

However, Pakistan will benefit more from CPEC. China has become the second largest trade partner of Pakistan and biggest investor in infrastructure, telecommunications, ports, energy sectors.

Furthermore, Chinese government and private companies from China have guaranteed to spend $20 billion in the energy sector and massive amount of above $30 billion in other sectors as a foreign direct investment in Pakistan, which will help promote trade between the two countries.

The recent development in Pakistan-China corridor makes Pakistan the first transit hub for the world’s second largest economy among South Asian countries.

Irrespective of the political and military consequences of this project, it has numerous benefits for the people of the constituency.

Pakistan, which suffers from continuous energy shortages and low trade with its neighbours, will be better-linked and will have sufficient energy.

From East to West

A Pakistan-aligned road network will enable contacts among its neighbours in the west and east. India and Iran require this corridor for closer cooperation with each other’s economy.

Even though the CPEC simplifies movement of goods and services in the region, China’s contribution in the region’s economy turns rivals into stakeholders in preserving peace and stability in the region.

The CPEC is not only a game-changer in the region but will also be a ‘fate-changer’ for the people of Pakistan.The CPEC will serve as a gateway for trade not only for China and Pakistan, but for the whole region.

Connectivity

Better connectivity in the region will improve trade among Pakistan, China, Iran, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics.

Pakistan envisages the CPEC as a peace enabler because when connectivity and trade increases between countries, they tend to avoid conflicts. Through CPEC, Pakistan’s Vision 2025 seeks to position itself from a lower middle income country to high middle income country by achieving the target per capita GDP of $4,200.

Through this project Pakistan will become the hub of business and trade in Asia, and western China will be able to penetrate Asian and European markets. It will cater to the needs of all federal units of Pakistan through proper rail and road network and multiple projects on energy within the next three years.

Pakistan is expected to be totally transformed this year. The CPEC also attracts foreign and local investors in the fields of high-capacity industrial units, factory–market road transportation and distribution services, rail-supported bulk transit of goods, dry ports along the CPEC routes, storage facilities for transit food and goods.

Pakistan and China are to soon conclude agreements for financing and construction of the Gwadar International Airport and East-Bay Expressway.

Impact on the job market

Nine economic zones have been identified to be set up in different parts of the country. Currently feasibility studies are being undertaken and financial agreements are expected to be concluded by the next Joint Cooperation Committee meeting later this year.

Based on the profile of workforce engaged on projects in progress, officials insist that over 80 per cent direct new jobs will be filled by locals in the initial years.

However, if the multiplier effect over the next 10 years is taken into account the ratio would be no less than 1: 150 i.e. for each Chinese national inducted in a job, 150 Pakistanis will be employed.

The best of all is that CPEC enjoys the support and backing of all political parties and segments of the establishment in Pakistan. Its popularity among the public is also set to grow when they will start benefiting from the project.

For Pakistan, it will release huge development dividends benefiting all aspects of people’s live

With eye on China, Modi-Trump bhai bhai

http://m.timesofindia.com/india/us-endorses-indias-position-on-obor/articleshow/59343204.cms


Sachin Parashar | TNN | Updated: Jun 28, 2017, 08.53AM IST

 

HIGHLIGHTS

The joint statement said nations must ensure respect for sovereignty and territorial integrityThe statement also refers to responsible debt financing practicesThis refers to the fears that South Asian nations could get trapped in debt by joining OBOR

NEW DELHI: The US having endorsedIndia's position on China's One Belt-One Road (OBOR) initiative is being seen by the government as a significant takeaway from the first Modi-Trump summit.

The India-US joint statementdeclared that nations, while promoting regional economic connectivity , must ensure respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. India has used the same argument to express its reservations over Beijing's gigantic, transcontinental connectivity and infrastructure initiative of which theChina Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a part.

As CPEC runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, India sees the project as infringement of its sovereignty.

However, while the statement underscored the significance of close partnership between the two countries for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, it refrained from making any specific mention of South China Sea (SCS), making do with a generic reference to freedom of navigation and overflight.

PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump committed to a set of common principles for the region in keeping with the UN charter, in which "sovereignty and international law" are respected and every country can prosper.

They reiterated the importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight and commerce throughout the region, also calling upon all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes in keeping with international law. More importantly for India, the joint statement said the two leaders supported bolstering regional economic connectivity through infrastructure development and "use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment".

The reference to responsible debt financing practices is significant given the fears that South Asian nations could get trapped in debt by joining OBOR. Inaugurating the OBOR conference last month, which was boycotted by India, Chinese president Xi Jinping had described CPEC as its "flagship" project. CPEC passes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region, thus undermining India's sovereignty.

Beijing will be happy that Modi and Trump did not name-check SCS even as they reiterated the significance of freedom of navigation.

"In the Indo-Pacific region, in order to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the region, this is also another objective of our strategic cooperation," Modi told reporters at the White House Rose Garden after his meeting with Trump.

The decision to avoid mention of SCS, nearly 85% of which is claimed by China, will likely be seen as departure from attempts by Modi and former US President Barack Obama to internationalise the disputes in the SCS. After his initial bellicosity on China, Trump seems to have sobered down and his policy on SCS looks like a work in progress.

The Trump administration, in fact, is yet to carry out any freedom-of-navigation operation in the SCS. There were six such operations under Obama. India and the US had dropped any specific mention of SCS from the joint statement issued after the summit meet between Modi and Obama last year, close to completion of Obama's tenure.

In both their previous summits, in September 2014 and January 2015, Modi and Obama had mentioned SCS as they addressed the issue of maritime disputes and significance of freedom of navigation and overflight. The US-India Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, issued on January 25, had affirmed the importance of "safeguarding maritime security... freedom of navigation and overflight... especially in the South China Sea". In the run-up to the Modi-Trump meeting, Beijing had expressed hope that "other countries, especially non-regional ones, respect efforts by countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and play a constructive role in this regard".

Story of Sammi Baloch

*Recur Sammi's Smile :* Ruzn Baloch

Sammi Baloch is a20-year-old young girl who doesn't know what this age girls prefer to do. She doesn’t know how Pink shiny lip-gloss looks like when going to a party. She is quite different from other 20s girls.

She was admitted to a hospital due to throat operation at Quetta when she was 11-year-old. About 5 AM, she got the worst news that her father had been abducted by security personnel. That was the moment when she forgot how to laugh by all heart.

It was June 28, 2011 when she entered in Quetta Press Club (QPC) that was the day she knew how a press club looks like. She was very small when entered in a press club, and till today she is in press clubs for the safe recovery of her father.
Sammi is daughter of Dr Deen Mohammad Baloch. Dr Deen Mohammad Baloch is a Medical Officer of RHC Hospital at Ornach Khuzdar, Balochistan. He is also former central committee member of Baloch National Movement (BNM). Sources said that Dr and one of his servants were asleep at his resident when the personnel of Pakistani secret services jumped over the wall of his house. His servant has been severely beaten up, tied up and locked in a room. After making sure that his servant cannot harm them, the perpetrators enter Dr Deen Mohammad’s room. Reports suggest that he resisted against his arrest for half an hour but was eventually arrested, tied up and driven to an unknown location.
Sammi Baloch knocked every possible door and explored every option to secure her father’s release. She observed token-hunger strikes at all big cities like Karachi, Quetta, Islamabad and Turbat. She tried her best from very small age but couldn’t succeed to find any clue about her father’s whereabouts.

She was 17 when she took the historical decision to participate in the historical long-march along with the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a human rights organization. The step of long-march is one of the most famous episodes in modern Chinese history which developed communism in China.
VBMP also decided to start a protest against the inhuman and unjust abductions and killings of Baloch activists.

Pakistani Shi’ite Community Celebrates Eid As Black Day In Protest Over Terror Attacks

https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/pakistan-parachinar-protest/28579918.html





June 26, 2017

Tariq OrakzaiAbubakar Siddique

An ambulance transporting victims after the blasts in Parachinar on June 23.

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Each of the thousands of protesters in a remote northwestern Pakistani city had either lost a relative or knows someone among the more than 250 people killed and wounded in the most recent bombings.

As the Shi’ite residents of Parachinar, a picturesque city overshadowed by the snowcapped Spin Ghar (White Mountain Peak) in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal district, hardship and tragedy are nothing new.

Parachinar’s estimated 500,000 Shi’a, mostly members of the Pashtun Turi and Bangash tribes, have survived years of persecution by taking up guns to defend their community against a hard-line Sunni Taliban onslaught following bloody sectarian clashes in 2007.

Officials and doctors said 72 people were killed and nearly 200 injured in three bomb blasts at a busy Parachinar market on June 23.

Most of the victims were shopping for the Eid al-Fitar festival, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, when adult Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

Locals say at least four people were killed in Parachinar after security forces opened fire on protesters staging a sit-in after the bombings. Government forces, however, say they had fired into the air to disperse the angry crowd that gathered after the attack.

“The sons of our tribe are spending their Eid day in a protest camp here. I hope this will awaken the conscience of our rulers,” tribal leader Muzamil Agha told protesters in Parachinar on June 26. “We also have a plan B and plan C and are determined to act on those unless our demands are met.”

Locals say they want Islamabad to thoroughly investigate and punish the officials responsible for security lapses in Parachinar. They also want the Kurram militia to be deployed there. Most members of this paramilitary force are recruited from the region’s Bangash and Turi clans.

Agha said they are determined to continue the sit-in on a major square near government offices in Parachinar until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and powerful army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa show up for negotiations.

“We want these leaders to come and sit with us in this rain-soaked protest camp,” he said. “We will not relent before we are heard.”

The protest is reminiscent of a 2013 sit-in by the Shi’ite Hazara community in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan Province. The Hazaras refused to bury more than 100 community members killed in a suicide bombing, and their sit-in prompted protests across Pakistan and ultimately compelled Islamabad to accept their demands, which included the dismissal of Balochistan’s civilian government.

“We want the army and Frontier Corps [paramilitary] units deployed here to be immediately investigated,” said another protesting leader, Munir Hussain Agha. “They are responsible for security within the area encircled by a ditch they’ve dug around this city.”

On June 25, General Nazir Butt, a senior military officer, visited Parachinar to assure its residents of government support.

He urged locals to support the security forces in restoring “normalcy” to the city, according to a statement by the Pakistani military’s media wing.

Abubakar Siddique wrote this story based on Radio Mashaal correspondent Tariq Orakzai’s reporting from Hangu, Pakistan

Marching with the Mahatma Gandhi of Balochistan, Pakistan’s killing field

TROUBLED TIMES

Meena Menon 

June 26, 2017

Rose petals welcomed “Mama” Qadeer Baloch and his small band of marchers on a rainy evening at Faizabad Junction. The next day he would wheel a small cart with framed photographs of the dead young men and women of Balochistan to the Islamabad Press Club. Rose petals covered their faces.

The province which was annexed from the erstwhile Kalat state wants freedom from Pakistan, and the army has been repeatedly crushing the so-called miscreants there in large numbers. The young men are insurgents or rebels depending on which side you are on, and the Pakistan government is fairly convinced that India has a role to play in fomenting trouble in this massive province bordering Iran, and has submitted a dossier to this effect to the UN. The excuse for the many detention camps, and torture and the army being sent out to crush rebellion is fear of another secession.

Pakistan is clear that India is doing what it did to support the Mukti Bahini in the war for Bangladesh all over again. The popular belief is that Balochistan and its aspirations are being melded by a RAW conspiracy to unsettle Pakistan. And the arrest in 2016 of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who, the Pakistanis alleged, was an agent of RAW, was shown as proof that its charges were right.

I was repeatedly asked on TV about India’s role in Balochistan—it is a recurring theme in the pantheon of accusations. I tried to tell people that I wasn’t sending agents into Balochistan and that I worked for an independent newspaper which was not the government. But conveniently, my Indian-ness would morph into being a representative of my government when it suited some, while otherwise I would be just another ordinary Indian to be loved or hated. The turmoil in Balochistan is often compared to Kashmir. If I as an Indian wrote about Balochistan and its situation and/or interviewed a person like Mama Qadeer, then why didn’t I write about the freedom or azadi aspirations of Kashmir and its freedom fighters? If I didn’t, I was given to understand that I had no right to write on Balochistan.

But we are getting ahead of the story.

It was Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir who first compared “Mama” Qadeer Baloch to Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, Qadeer’s arduous exercise was inspired by Gandhi’s 390-kilometre Dandi march, only he walked longer than Gandhi—the distance from Quetta to Islamabad is about 3,300 kilometres. The cause was just as searing. It was a long march to the capital to demand justice for the thousands of missing persons in Balochistan. Death threats, generous bribes and attacks did not deter Qadeer who founded the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons in 2009, and his small band of followers. He was seventy-two then (March 2014) and the youngest marcher was eleven-year-old Ali Haider.

[…]

The cases that Qadeer filed led to the Supreme Court establishing that it was the security agencies—the ISI, the Frontier Corps and the military intelligence—that picked up the young men and women. There have been so many orders to produce the missing persons but no one does anything. The security forces defy the orders and it is of no use, Qadeer said.

[…]

Among the marchers were nine young women and three children, all of whom have a member of their family missing. The walk was the least gruelling experience, as another young participant told me. I spoke to them when they were camping outside the Karachi Press Club in December 2013 after walking 700 kilometres. Sixteen-year-old Sammi’s father was picked up from a hospital four years ago. She could march again if it meant bringing her father back, she said. Her family was in penury. But the real dread is that many of the missing persons could be dead.

People are picked up by security agencies and many of them don’t come back for ten years; sometimes they never do; and their bodies are dumped here and there with slips of paper in their pockets. Most of the children who took part in the protest, like Samina, a seventh-class student, and her younger brother, Ali Haider, had left school to take part in the protest. Their father, Mohammed Ramzan, was missing.

During the march, people would abuse and threaten them, and in some instances some people even fired at them from moving vehicles. A truck hit two of the supporters, injuring them. Qadeer said he had requested a meeting with the UN working group when it visited Balochistan in 2012. “We were invited to meet them in Islamabad and we decided to walk the over 3,000 kilometres from Quetta in a bid to highlight our situation and seek UN intervention,” he said.

The group set out on 27 October 2013, and would cover forty kilometres a day; finally, it took them 100 days to get to the capital. Mohammed Ali Talpur, a senior activist, who was part of the march from Karachi, said that this was a message of defiance to the government and by bringing the march to the heart of the establishment, the people of Balochistan wanted to publicise their plight.

[…]

Garlanded with roses and wearing a traditional cap, Qadeer, a former bank employee, was friendly and told me he wanted to visit India, a wish that was granted just when I was leaving. He has documented over 19,200 cases of missing persons and recovered 2006 bodies. The issue of missing persons began in 1947 when Balochistan was forced to join Pakistan after it was freed from the Kalat state, he said.

His thirty-year-old son Jalil Reki was picked up because he was the Baloch Republican Party’s (BRP) central information secretary. His body was dumped in a village bordering Iran. His son’s death fired his zeal to set things right and he founded this organization dedicated to focus on the tragedy of the people in Balochistan, wracked by struggles for independence, counter-insurgency, terrorism and action by security forces.

He said it was the intelligence agencies who killed his son because they called and said so to someone who was with him at that time. His grandson, too, was part of the march. In 2012, his organization filed two cases in the Supreme Court on the missing persons; the petitions asked for these persons to be produced in court. He said the conditions in the detention centres were terrible. People could not even stretch their legs, the rooms were tiny, and the prisoners were blindfolded. And in some of the bodies that the group recovered, there were holes drilled in the legs. He said there were also bodies with the vital organs removed. Sana Sangat, a senior leader of the Baloch Students Organization (Azad) who later joined the BRP, was pumped with twenty-eight bullets.

[…]

Among those documented as missing, there were about 170 women. In one instance, a schoolteacher, a mother of a one-year-old son, was picked up. At times, children, too, were taken away.

Excerpted with permission from Penguin Random House India from Reporting Pakistan by Meena Menon. We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

Trump ponders crackdown on Pakistan over terror ties despite experts' warnings

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/27/trump-pakistan-terror-afghanistan-china-russia





As US mulls strategy over country’s support for terrorist groups in Afghanistan, experts say tougher stance could drive Pakistan toward China and Russia

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Sune Engel Rasmussen in Kabul and Julian Borger in Washington

Tuesday 27 June 2017 07.00 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 27 June 2017 07.02 BST

The Trump administration is considering taking a harder stance against Pakistan for supporting terrorist groups in Afghanistan, but experts warn that pressure alone will not bring peace.

Similar tactics have failed in the past, and analysts warn that the US can only influence the south Asian country by coupling force with diplomacy, which president Trump seems to shun.

And attempts to strong-arm Islamabad could push it deeper into a growing alliance with China and Russia, and lead to more instability.

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China, in particular, offers Pakistan an opportunity to counter the strengthened union between the US and India, whose presence in Afghanistan the Pakistani military considers an existential threat.

Among the tools considered by the Trump administration, according to Reuters, are expanding drone strikes, withholding aid and revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally.

But attempts to bully Pakistan into submission will only drive Islamabad further towards China, said Ayesha Siddiqa, author and research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

“It also means that in Afghanistan, there will be more violence. Pakistan sees Afghanistan as an American-Indian project against Pakistani interests,” she said.

Pakistan is widely believed to harbour and support Taliban militants, and has been regarded as a spoiler in peace talks.

Donald Trump's hands-off approach gives US military free rein

 

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US policy on Afghanistan is evolving at a time when the defence department is particularly powerful in policy-making, after President Trump delegated authority to defence secretary James Mattis to set troop deployment levels there.

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Meanwhile, the state department is weakened by a continuing outflow of veteran diplomats and a notable lack of urgency in replacing them on the part of secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who has backed plans to cut the departmental budget by a third.

On Friday, the acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), Laurel Miller, left the post along with her deputy, leaving doubts over the future of the position, which was created in 2009 by Barack Obama. A state department statement said that Tillerson “has not made a decision” on the issue.

“It’s a distinction without a difference whether a decision has been made, since there is functionally nobody in the office,” said James Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan. “The key part of this isn’t whether there is an SRAP office. It is how is the senior official who is responsible for these issues, and as far as I know, that basically doesn’t exist. This is all part of the whittling down, eviscerating, debilitating of the state department’s ability to participate effectively in diplomacy.”

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Economically, China has long surpassed the US in importance in Pakistan. The crown jewel in China’s Pakistani venture is a $62bn infrastructure project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But China has also acquired everything from power companies and contracts to collect garbage to stakes in the Karachi stock exchange.

“It’s unprecedented and very different from what Pakistani-American relations ever were. While the US invested in Pakistan, its dominance will never be like what the Chinese will be,” said Siddiqa.

For Russia, a US-Pakistani rift opens space to oppose American power, as it does through proxies in Syria.

Western officials in Kabul believe, partly for this reason, that Russia has increased its weapons support for the Taliban.

“If I were Putin, I’d be smirking and thinking, this is my chance to get back at the Americans and turn Afghanistan into another Vietnam,” said Siddiqa.

Russia has admitted to sharing intelligence with the Taliban, to fight Isis affiliates.

The Pakistani defence minister has called on Russia to take the lead in stabilising Afghanistan, and in September, Russia and Pakistan conducted their first joint military drill near Peshawar.

However, Hassan Askari Rizvi, a Pakistani analyst, said there is a limit to how much diplomatic turbulence countries in the region are willing to cause.

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“For Russia, the first preference in south Asia is obviously India, and therefore Pakistan is not expecting a major shift in relations in the near future,” he said. “There may be a downgrading of relations between them, but Pakistan and US will not totally abandon each other.”

However, he cautioned against intensifying drone strikes on Pakistani soil. “Drones will not help,” he said. “If they are used on the mainland, Pakistan will not accept it, and might retaliate by shooting some drones down,” he said.

Barack Obama also tried to coerce Pakistan, by cutting economic assistance and lowering diplomatic contacts. For instance, Obama never visited Islamabad in his eight years as president.

Obama also reached out to Pakistan’s arch-rival, India, whose prime minister Narendra Modi was welcomed by Trump at the White House on Monday, amid reports that India would buy 22 US Guardian drones for its navy and discuss the possible shift of production of F-16s fighter jets to India.

 Trump and Modi at the White House. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

“Thank you very much for … ordering equipment from the United States. Always makes us feel very good,” Trump said in a joint appearance with Modi in the White House cabinet room. “There’s nobody makes military equipment like we make military equipment.”

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If one thing unites various regional powers, it is suspicion of American motives in Afghanistan. In a desire to deny the US its monopoly as a powerbroker, Moscow invited delegates from 12 countries to a peace conference on Afghanistan in March.

Meanwhile, the US is likely planning a deployment of 4,000 additional troops to its longest war.

Countries in the region have long suspected the US of wanting a permanent base in Afghanistan under the guise of fighting terrorists. “They do not believe in the counter terrorism bona fides of the US,” said Barnett Rubin, director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Program at New York University.

Trump's defense chief admits struggle in Afghanistan: 'We are not winning'

 

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He added that a troop surge and hard Pakistan line can only succeed if coupled with strong diplomacy. “But they can’t do that by slashing the state department by one-third,” he said.

Afghans have lived under a geopolitical tug-of-war since Russia’s and Britain’s 19th century Great Game. Now it seems more countries than ever are willing to expend political and economic capital to maintain a foothold.

“Unless there is an agreement about Afghanistan between Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan, India and the US, Afghanistan will be unstable,” Rubin said. “And if the idea is that Afghanistan is defended and secured by becoming an American base, there won’t be an agreement