Saturday, January 14, 2006

Brouhaha in Balochistan

Pakistan seems to be having a tough time battling the brouhaha over Balochistan.

As if its neighbour's 'friendly' concern over the restive province was not enough to irk the nuclear nation, the trouble has come knocking from inner circles.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a key party allied to Musharraf, threatened to quit the ruling coalition if a military crackdown in troubled Balochistan province was not halted.

An editorial in Pakistan's Daily Times says, "While an exaggerated sense of external threat will not do Pakistan any good, what is happening internally is quite heart-breaking".

The able General managed to convince MQM's Altaf Hussain that the military action in Balochistan was not an "operation". At the same time almost, it named India as the fomenter of trouble in the restive province.

In an interview to a private channel in India, Musharraf said: "There are a lot of indications, lot of financial support, support in kind being given to those who are anti-government, anti-me..."

Now the catch that the editorial points out is, "Was the Indian interference gambit used to get the MQM to relent?" It says that there seems to be more to the situation than meets the eye.

The MQM's withdrawal may result in the dissolution of the PML-led provincial government in Sindh, where the MQM's 42 legislators form the largest block in the 167-seat local assembly.

As regards the question of Indian interference, as said in reports here earlier, it has been brewing since the installation of the new political order in Afghanistan and the restoration of Indian consulates there.

The Pakistan intelligence is of the opinion that India's RAW is involved in the entire issue.

Clearing the myth, the Daily Times explains, GEO TV's Kamran Khan had announced last November that the Karachi bombing was traced to ...the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which was connected through the Indian consulates in Afghanistan to RAW. He had called on former Balochistan police IG to confirm this... But the IG did not do that, saying instead that in past the BLA had been funded by Baloch sardars in exile".

Also, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao insisted that he had no proof of RAW being involved in the bombing in Karachi in 2005, when he was asked by Khan.

The editorial concludes by saying that "no one outside Pakistan is going to believe Islamabad's story" and it is high time that "Islamabad should pause and meditate a bit more on the wisdom of the divisive policies it is pursuing".

Meanwhile, Pakistan's powerful tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti also denied claims by President Musharraf that his group was being supported by New Delhi.

"President Musharraf is using his favourite weapon - lies," Bugti said in a satellite-phone interview from his headquarters at Dera Bugti town in the volatile province.

Balochistan tribesmen have waged a revolt against the central government in the province during the past year and a half, targeting government installations, railway tracks and gas facilities with bombs and rockets.

They are demanding a bigger share of the region's natural resources and jobs in state projects as well as more political rights, and they also oppose the setting up of military garrisons.


(For the Hindustan Times)

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