The ‘foreign’ factor
Every few months
we are reminded of Balochistan, on one pretext or the other. The last time
the media approached the issue with some degree of seriousness was when the
Republican legislators’ resolution came, demanding right of
self-determination for the Baloch.
Other than that, the issue
gets picked up, albeit superficially, with the chief justice of the Supreme
Court raising it, while sitting in the capital or actually going to Quetta
with fellow judges.
This time we were
compelled to focus on Balochistan when the newly elected prime minister Raja
Pervaiz Ashraf addressed a national workshop at the military-run National
Defence University in Islamabad. The thrust of his statement was that there
was unrest in small pockets in Balochistan that could not be equated with
insurgency and that his government would not negotiate with those who did
not respect the Pakistani flag.
It came as a stark
reminder of how close the PPP government stands to the military vis-a-vis
Balochistan — one is not sure if it actually believes in this position of
denial or is it only for public consumption.
The saner elements have
taken strong exception to his statement and have reacted accordingly. The
decision to not talk with those who do not respect the Pakistani flag has
been a subject of criticism for a government that has repeatedly announced
opening the channel of talks with militant extremists in other parts of the
Serious analysts count
Balochistan as one of the top most failures of the PPP government. From its
encouraging announcements in the earlier parts of its tenure, its position
has only hardened with passing time and this has only aggravated the
situation. It now seems in agreement with the military’s solution of the
problem, ruling out any kind of political solution. The lessons of East
Pakistan are left for academic discussion only.
Meanwhile, an added ethnic
and sectarian dimension has been added to the complicated Balochistan
problem, raising the level of violence many times over. The Baloch youth are
now completely disgruntled and chances are that when the government talks of
refusing to talk to those who do not believe in Pakistan, it is referring to
a majority of Baloch youth.
Our analysts for today’s
Special Report warn that time is running out and Baloch problems must be
addressed sooner and in better ways than suggested by the prime minister. We
wonder if someone will pay heed since all earlier warnings seem to have
fallen on deaf ears. As always, all analysts are based outside Balochistan.
Raja Pervez Ashraf, addressing the National Workshop on ‘Balochistan
situation: perceptions and realities — the way forward,’ organised by
the military-run National Defence University (NDU), in Islamabad, warned
that if the “unrest in small pockets” is not quelled immediately, it may
seep into other areas. Later, downplaying it, he added that unrest in
“small pockets” couldn’t be equated with an insurgency.
He was wrong on both
counts: there is insurgency and it is widespread — and little wonder the
establishment is extremely perturbed and nervous.
Let’s examine insurgency
in Balochistan’s context. Balochistan is presently experiencing political
as well as armed insurgency. Political insurgency as a rule is more
pervasive in depth and scale, hence more debilitating for the state.
Political and armed insurgencies always complement and supplement each other
in a deadly combination. Insurgency is defined as “an organised movement
aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of
subversion and armed conflict.” Insurgencies and guerilla warfare are
often assumed to be synonymous with terrorism but the key difference is that
an insurgency is a movement — a political effort with a specific aim and
this sets it apart from terrorism. The ultimate goal of an insurgency is to
challenge the existing government for control of all or a portion of its
territory, or force political concessions in sharing political power. The
Baloch insurgents are challenging the state for political and physical
control of Balochistan.
active or tacit support of some portion of the population involved; Baloch
insurgency enjoys widespread support as proved by the government’s failure
to contain it in spite of the extremely repressive measures.
realising that slow track genocide and demographic changes envisaged by mega
projects like Gwadar could soon turn them into a minority in their own land,
made a conscious choice of using force to counter threats to their survival
as a nation because they realised historical and political arguments for
their right to independence were futile as the powers that call the shots
here heed nothing but force.
Baloch nationalism is not
a new phenomenon as the natives have always determinedly defended their land
against the invaders as proved by their resistance to the British
colonialism. All Baloch identify themselves with the anti-colonial struggle
and take pride in it. The international political events in the first
quarter of last century buttressed Baloch nationalism with political
awakening and helped it transcend the tribal barriers and it gradually
became truly national in spirit and substance.
Insurgency in Balochistan
has persisted since 1948 with varying degrees of depth and intensity. Over
time Baloch attitudes and resolve have been hardened and strengthened by the
continuous and arrogant disregard of their rightful demand of control over
their political future and resources. The present phase is to date the
hardest fought and widespread and, like each preceding one, is on a
qualitatively higher stage in all respects.
This widespread and
protracted political and armed insurgency cannot be airbrushed as
‘perpetrated by foreign-inspired elements’. It mirrors the intensity and
scale of the resentment and desperation of Baloch people at the repression
and deprivation and underlines their wish for a radical change.
The forced illegal
annexation of Balochistan to Pakistan in March 1948 further galvanised the
Baloch nationalism and their national struggle acquired truly political
character. Each new state aggression resulted in more widespread
identification with aims and goals of freedom struggle from diverse
strata’s of Baloch society. The July 15, 1960 hanging of seven Baloch
martyrs in Hyderabad and Sukkur Jails after summary military trials gave
further impetus to the nationalist dream of an independent Balochistan and
led to Mir Sher Mohammad Marri and Ali Mohammad Mengal’s struggle in Marri
and Mengal areas respectively.
However, it was the
February 1973 illegal dismissal of Sardar Ataullah Mengal’s elected
government by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and consequent military operation which
truly ignited the Baloch freedom struggle and has seen the uncompromising
stance for freedom become the primary nationalist goal.
The present phase began
with the arrest of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Khan and his supporters on trumped-up
charges of murder of Justice Mohammad Nawaz Marri in January 2000. Then the
murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2005 followed by that of Mir Balach Khan
Marri in 2007 put paid to any chances of reconciliation.
With Pakistan People’s
Party (PPP) inaugural in March 2008, its first test on its commitment to
resolve Balochistan issue came in the form of SardarAkhtar Mengal’s
continued detention and it failed miserably. Arrested in November 2006 for
alleged mistreatment of two army intelligence operatives by his attendants,
he remained incarcerated till May 2008 in spite of PPP’s promises. They
could not release him without army’s consent. All civilian governments are
beholden to ‘military will’ and cannot decide independently on Baloch or
The PPP government has
only paid lip-service to the resolution of the Balochistan problem with
promises, offers, amnesty and toothless commissions. The Baloch have
suffered worst atrocities during its tenure and Raja Pervez Ashraf’s
recent utterances do not bode well.
The state’s misgivings
against Baloch, who have always been viewed with suspicion, have now become
more entrenched and uncompromising. There is a reason behind the
uncompromising attitude of the state regarding Baloch. The
‘establishment’ has Balochistan’s valuable real estate and resources
as its only priority — and this is a replication of its folly in
This flawed and dangerous
establishment’s Baloch policy is too entrenched, too consolidated and too
committed to even allow measures which would give the nationalists an excuse
to at least agree to talks. Through the army’s financial, commercial and
strategic interests in Balochistan, it manages economic projects like
Chamaling and Kasa Hills marble projects and even stage manages the August
14 celebrations, preclude any voluntary roll back of present repressive and
uncompromising policy or allowing the civilians to have a say in affairs
An amicable and peaceful
solution of the Baloch issue based on the projected desire of the civilian
government or the political opposition leaders is unachievable as long as
military’s stake and influence in Balochistan not only continues to
overlap the civilian control but in fact supersedes it — as is borne out
by Balochistan’s governor, chief minister, speaker and sundry ministers
public accusations that the Frontier Corps runs a parallel government in
The Supreme Court,
powerful enough to depose a prime minister finds itself helpless against law
flouting and stonewalling FC. In spite of hard evidence of FC involvement in
abductions and killing of Baloch no one has been charged. The FC is
stonewalling to avoid giving up its arbitrary powers and this precludes
termination of ‘dirty war’ against Baloch anytime soon.
Aghaz-e-Huqooq package and the lame NFC awards are not enough to deflect the
resentment and outrage at the ‘dirty war’ being waged against the Baloch.
In the last 18 months alone, more than 500 bodies of abducted Baloch have
bloodied the province’s landscape. The Baloch stance, too, has naturally
hardened and found expression in the present sustained and widespread
insurgency. With the situation as it stands, there hardly is any hope of an
amicable solution in foreseeable future.
doesn’t understand that repression and ‘dirty war’ tactics are
certainly not the way forward in Balochistan.
On April 23, 2009,
Rehman Malik, the then Interior Minister, during an in-camera session of the
Senate, made a presentation of what he called “evidence of the involvement
of India, Afghanistan and Russia in Balochistan and other parts of the
One of the senators who
was also present at the session told TNS, requesting anonymity, that Malik
had documentary evidence — “video clips” — of the involvement of the
abovementioned countries in incidents of terrorism in Pakistan. “Malik
told the session that the Balochistan Liberation Army of Brahamdagh Bugti,
who now lives in Kabul, is funded by Russia and India. Besides, around 1,000
students have trained in Russia and now they are back in Balochistan.”
The senator also said that
in 2008, the then DG military operations Ahmed Shuja Pasha had briefed a
joint session of the parliament about the involvement of India and Russia in
Balochistan. “Pasha told the parliament that India had established as many
as nine training camps along the Afghan border to train BLA activists.”
The ‘foreign hand’
factor in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province area-wise and smallest
population-wise, has to do with its huge strategic importance. The province
is rich in natural resources, has a long coastline that provides the closest
link through Arabian Sea to Afghanistan, China and Central Asian states.
Frederic Grare, a Balochistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, is of the view that there are about 20 countries which
can benefit hugely from development work at Gwadar port. “Balochistan is
also important on the world’s ‘war arena’ as it borders with both
Afghanistan and Iran and can easily be used to monitor China, Central Asian
states and Persian Gulf.”
The Pakistani security
officials believe several countries are ‘working’ actively in
Balochistan. On June 2, 2012, Maj Gen Obaidullah Khan Khattak, Inspector
General of Frontier Corps (FC), told the media at a press conference that 20
foreign intelligence agencies were active in the province.
Justice Javed Iqbal, head
of the Judicial Commission on missing persons in Balochistan, believes
foreign elements are involved in the region’s unrest. “The foreign
intelligence agencies want to worsen the Balochistan situation in order to
destabilise Pakistan,” he said on June 10, 2012 in Quetta.
According to a leaked US
memo, former president Pervez Musharraf also took up the issue with the US
officials in September 2007. “He asked the US to intervene”, says the
memo. Musharraf also told US officials that Pakistan had proof of India and
Afghanistan’s involvement in efforts to provide weapons, training and
funding for Baloch extremists through Brahamdagh Bugti and Baloch Marri, two
Baloch nationalists. “We have letters instructing who to give what weapons
[and] to whom.”
Maria Sultan, Director,
South Asian Strategic Stability Unit, says “Most of the arms and
ammunition being recovered from the Balochi insurgents are foreign-made,
though they do not bear any brand names.”
According to the available
data on years 2009 to 2012, 810 IED attacks, 390 rocket attacks and 325 mine
attacks were carried out in Balochistan that killed over 400 people while
more than 735 people lost their lives to target killings in the province
during the same period. “Balochi militants cannot carry out such massive
attacks without foreign help,” she says.
Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, leading
security analyst, says she would be surprised if no foreign agencies were
involved in Balochistan. “Several Baloch leaders have said on record that
they would not shy away to get foreign help,” she tells TNS. “But there
may be help which is limited.
“Pakistan is also not
pleading as much on international forum about foreign involvement as it
Siddiqa also says the
Baloch are weak and they are not a huge number. “Our establishment knows
very well this is not a 1971-like situation. Back then, the Bengalis were in
majority but the Baloch are not, even in their own province.”
She believes the foreign
involvement in the province is not to the degree where it can disallow a
serious political dialogue. “I do not buy the narrative that a foreign
country wants disintegration in Balochistan. It does not suit anybody in the
region. We should not give that much importance to the research papers of
the US think tanks. Most of these think tanks, like ours, are
Siddiqa believes Pakistan
needs to plead its case at the international forum in a proactive way.
Senator Hasil Bakhsh
Bizinjo, a leading Balochi voice, says it would be wrong to say that there
is no foreign involvement in Balochistan. “No militant movement can
operate without foreign assistance. But there are two types of such
movements — one that works on foreign agenda and the other which is
indigenous and receives foreign assistance to spread its agenda. There is a
need to have different strategies to tackle an indigenous movement.”
He considers it the duty
of the state and the agencies to stop the foreign involvement. “In
Balochistan, even today, we have low insurgency as those killed in different
attacks are mostly civilian. It is true that India is anti-Pakistan but I
believe it does not want to disintegrate Balochistan. It does not suit
China, Iran and even Afghanistan because once this process of disintegration
of a country on the basis of ethnicity starts in the region there will be no
A military source in
Islamabad says that along with the US, Afghanistan, Russia, India and China,
other “brotherly Muslim countries” are actively involved in Balochistan.
“Some want to destabilise Pakistan while others do not want to see an
operational Gwadar port as this would hurt the business of their ports
“Sectarian killings in
the province are also part of the activities of the foreign agencies,” the
source says. “Some US media reports have also suggested that Israel’s
intelligence agency Mossad was active in Balochistan.”
Military officials say it
is difficult to stop infiltration through the 1,200-km border with
Afghanistan. “There are 212 border passes on Balochistan and Afghanistan
which makes monitoring it too difficult. Arms and ammunition illegally enter
Balochistan through the porous Afghan border, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and even
through Sindh and the sea routes.”
In a chapter
focusing on the Pakistani youth in the newly published book The Future of
Pakistan, Moeed W. Yusuf, the South Asia Advisor at the Washington-based
United States Institute for Peace (USIP), says 79 per cent of the youth in
Pakistan “feels proud to be a Pakistani”. The response of the youth from
Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan, nonetheless, stands strikingly
different from the rest of the country.
“The figures from
Balochistan [about being proud to be a Pakistani] were the bleakest,” he
concluded, after analysing three recent major youth surveys.
According to Mr Yusuf, the
findings of these surveys conducted by the British Council, Centre for Civic
Education and Herald magazine do not collectively bode well for the
Pakistani federation in the coming years.
“Baloch youth stand out
as most distraught with the federation. Except for a minority, they are
least enthusiastic about being part of Pakistan and are least proud to be
Pakistanis,” he wrote. “They are the keenest to leave Pakistan and they
oppose the military and state institutions more staunchly than youth in
Parveen Naz, a social
activist in Quetta, says the Baloch generally see a “very bleak” future
for themselves in Pakistan. While no access to quality education or
employment opportunities is one thing, she says, the “kill and dump”
policies have further poisoned the minds of a new generation of the Baloch.
“The security apparatus
in the country has made life miserable for the Baloch. They cannot enter in
any walk of life, nor can they undertake entrepreneurial initiatives because
the federal government has waged a war against the Baloch. The youth is
punished whether it is politically involved or totally indifferent.
Islamabad sees no difference and treats all the Baloch with the same
According to Abdullah Jan,
a youth development expert based in Quetta, there is a “huge cultural and
political difference” between the Baloch youth and their compatriots in
the rest of Pakistan. The Baloch youth does not see any opportunity in the
state institutions. They are disappointed and ever disparate against the
state policies. According to him, a “communication gap” between the
Baloch youth and the state policymakers at the official level has remarkably
widened the gulf.
Since the inception of the
current military operation, desperation, alienation and frustration among
the Baloch youth has dramatically increased. While economic marginalisation,
inadequate health and education opportunities and underrepresentation in the
mainstream state institutions have remained some of the key factors for the
disillusionment of the Baloch youth, the military operation in the province
has generated new alarming trends.
Mr Jan estimates that
nearly 60 per cent of Baloch students have become “psychologically ill,”
alluding to depression caused by increasing incidents of arbitrary arrests,
enforced disappearances, torture and killing of hundreds of Baloch youths
allegedly by security forces.
“These kids see their
peers, friends getting killed or disappeared every day. They see the
bullet-riddled dead bodies of their class fellows on a regular basis.
Depression and anxiety are a natural byproduct of such a situation,” he
Mr Jan, who has worked
with several non-governmental organisations for more than two decades,
argues that the Baloch youth is deeply involved in politics and political
discussions. Yet, the youth politics in Balochistan is different from the
rest of the country because most of the Baloch have a Leftist approach and
their political heroes are Che Guevera and Baloch guerillas, such as Dr
Allah Nazar and Balach Marri who support an independent Balochistan.
A lecturer of sociology at
the University of Balochistan, who did not wish to be named, says it was not
possible to discuss the economic marginalisation of the Baloch youth by
keeping aside the country’s politics. For instance, he says, there is no
proper mechanism in the Pakistan army and other security forces to hire and
accommodate Baloch youths in the country’s security forces.
“Most of the vacancies
in Balochistan in the army, the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Coast Guards are
filled by non-natives coming from other parts of the country. The Baloch
youth sees no opportunity in the armed forces,” he says. According to him,
some young Baloch had joined the Pakistan army but eventually quit their
jobs and returned home. They complained about the use of abusive language by
senior army officers about Baloch leaders like Nawab Akbar Bugti, Bramadagh
Bugti and Hairbayar Marri.
“The people the Baloch
youth see as their heroes are generally depicted as the enemies of Pakistan
by the army,” he said. “Religiosity is another issue that often compels
Baloch youths to quit the military because the former are secular in nature.
Some of them even do not pray five times a day or fast in the month of
Ramzan which does not position them in the good books of their senior
officers. Frankly, most Baloch are not anti-India either.”
The youth in Balochistan
complain about the scarcity of opportunities and avenues to present and
promote their talent.
Qaisar Roonjha, a young
trainer who comes from a village in Lasbela District but offers services to
highly reputable organisations such as the British Council as a Global
Change maker, says the youth in Balochistan is full of talent but they face
lack of encouragement. While the absence of official encouragement prevents
some from taking initiatives, Mr Roonjha says he still knows many young
people who are embracing the challenge to pursue their personal and
“Instead of waiting for
the right time, everyone should play their role towards a fairer society,”
he suggests, referring to a quote by Mother Teresa: “Don’t wait for
leaders; do it person to person.’’
In Quetta, when Eeman
Sahal Baloch, a young talk show host, started Subh-e-Bolan, a Balochi
language morning show on Pakistan Television (PTV-Bolan), to explore the
hidden talent among the youth in Balochistan, she was amazed at the
extraordinary wealth of talent.
“Five months into the
show, I had hosted around 1,000 talented boys and girls from across
Balochistan. We found talented youth from remote towns of Panjgur, Turbat,
Awaran, Gwadar, Mund, Hub, Quetta, Sibi, Mastung, Lasbela and other
places,” she said. “They were all smart and talented people who offer
much promise if empowered and trusted. The youth in these rural areas
urgently need help and government attention for a better future.”
These are indeed defining
times for the youth in Balochistan. Youth development and empowerment do not
seem to be a priority of the governments in Islamabad and Quetta. The
provincial assembly in Balochistan rarely debates the issues of the youth.
Thus, the Baloch youth is easily available to be exploited either by the
government with job offers and scholarships or the nationalists to avenge
the killings of their peers and seek an independent Balochistan.
The government’s timely
response, not with military operations but with respect and abundant
opportunities for the Baloch, will decide who the young Baloch will support
and join in near future. Islamabad must act swiftly because Balochistan does
not seem to have much time left.
The writer is the editor of the online newspaper The Baloch Hal and currently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington DC
Baloch are settled in western countries, including the US, and a majority of
them are young. The number is on the rise as more and more Baloch make their
way to the western shores for political and economic reasons.
Though small in numbers,
compared to tens of thousands who are living in the Middle Eastern
countries, the Baloch settled in the west are more vocal and active than the
ones anywhere else. As the situation in Balochistan worsens, they continue
to hold meetings, rallies, protests and also lobby for their cause. There is
no agreement on what the ultimate outcome of their nationalist movement
should be but almost all of them are united on doing everything possible to
end the human rights violations in the province.
A new organisation, Baloch
Students and Youth Association, launched in London recently, aims to fight
for the same agenda but its stated target is to bring the Baloch youth
together. The association is led by Qambar Baloch, Asghar Baloch and Ali
Baloch. Besides, a central cabinet of three members and an elected executive
committee of five members help them run the affairs of the organisation.
In an interview with TNS,
Qambar Baloch explained that the youth body was launched because “there
was a need for an organisation that would look exclusively at the problems
of the Baloch students and help reconcile their national responsibilities
with the political organisations that are already working for the same
purposes but have their separate identity.
Talking about the goals of
the organisation, Qambar said, “…firstly, to identify and deal with the
educational and personal problems of the Baloch students in the UK;
secondly, to liaise with other student organisations and associations in the
UK to disseminate knowledge about the violation of human rights of the
Baloch by the countries controlling the Baloch territories; and thirdly, to
play an active role in bringing together various sections of the Baloch
national struggle through academic discussions and analysis of the situation
He said the role of the
British diaspora is crucial in highlighting the “atrocities being
committed by Pakistani and Iranian states in Balochistan for many
He appreciated the role
the association has been playing in bringing the Baloch identity question
into focus on different international fora.
When asked as to how
concerned was the new generation of Baloch over the issue of human rights
violation as well as the general situation in the province, Qambar said:
“As part of a greater community, the Baloch youth are very much concerned
about the situation [in Balochistan]. The brutal human rights violations,
genocide and exploitation of the natural resources of the province by the
state oppressively controlling the Baloch and their territory have led to
the growth of a national consciousness among the Baloch diaspora. They are
ready to contribute positively to lessening the miseries of their nation.”
He also said that the new
body was aware of the fact that in recent years a number of students, from
all parts of Balochistan, were seeking admission in the UK colleges and
universities and found it difficult to adapt to the norms of a new
educational and social milieu. “To extend a helping hand to them in
difficult circumstances (whether personal, educational or socio-cultural) is
to fulfill a cherished Baloch social value,” he said, adding that the
“association will contribute towards the development of a broader
understanding of the ever increasing violation of human rights by the
Pakistani and Iranian states in Baluchistan and to better inform the
international community of infringements of human rights.”
Owing to a number
of insurgents — religious extremist and sectarian groups — the security
landscape of Balochistan has become very complex.
In recent history, the
death of Nawab Akbar Bugti on August 6, 2006, in a military operation,
instigated the current phase of Baloch insurgency — fourth one, to be
precise — and the Baloch insurgents have since continued attacks on state
institutions, security forces, gas and power installations and also the non-Baloch.
On the other hand, the
religiously-motivated militant and sectarian groups have also grown in
number as well as strength and expanded their areas of operation across
Balochistan. Quetta is becoming a hub of local and foreign religious
militant groups and sectarian outfits. Media has reported many incidents of
attacks on barber shops, music shops and other places where so-called
“un-Islamic” activities were going on.
Meanwhile, the Hazara
tribesmen in Balochistan, numbering around 300,000, are currently under
direct threat, mainly from the sectarian militant groups. The incidents of
terrorist attacks and target killings, mainly perpetrated by the Baloch
insurgents and religious extremists, have increased gradually, particularly
from 2006 onwards.
In 2011, Balochistan
suffered the highest number of fatalities in sectarian attacks for any
region — 106 people killed in 21 attacks — all concentrated in the
cities of Quetta and Mastung. According to a Pak Institute for Peace Studies
(PIPS) annual security report, the figure for Balochistan represented 33 per
cent of the total sectarian-related fatalities in Pakistan in 2011.
Afghan Taliban, al Qaeda
and local militant outfits like Tehrik-e-Taliban Balochistan, sectarian
outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Imamia
Student Organisation (ISO) and Sipah-e-Muhammad and an ethno-sectarian group
Jundullah have their presence in the province in one way or the other. These
organisations are pursuing their own parallel agendas while the Baloch
movement continues to occupy the centre-stage in the broader Baloch
The PIPS report, titled
‘Conflict and Insecurity in Balochistan’, identifies four support
factors for the possible presence of Afghan Taliban in Balochistan: first, a
free cross-border movement along Durand line from the times of Soviet-Afghan
war; secondly, the presence of Pakhtun community in the province; thirdly,
widespread network of Deobandi madrassas particularly those belonging to
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, and fourthly, the Afghan refugee camps.
At present, Afghan Taliban
and their local associates may be using Baloch territories as safe haven for
retreat and focusing on their activities in Afghanistan but their long-term
presence can trigger the process of Talibanisation in the province in the
future. Armed jihadist groups are present in the province and can be
mobilised by the Taliban leadership.
Jundullah has emerged as a
new phenomenon in Pakistan blending religious sectarian agenda with
nationalist separatist ideology. It is an anti-Shia and anti-Iran militant
outfit which operates in the Iranian province of Sistan–Balochistan,
bordering Pakistani districts of Chaghai, Kharan, Panjgur, Kech and Gwadar.
The number of Jundullah activists is now estimated to be around 800.
According to an ABC television report, the group is also getting fund from
America’s Central Investigative Agency (CIA).
are growing in Iran that have hurt the Pak-Iran relations. The group is also
said to be aligned with the local anti-Shia outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan to target the Shia Hazara community.
Sectarian outfits have a
significant presence in Balochistan. Target killings, especially of Hazara
community, have become a common phenomenon. These outfits are pursuing their
agendas with relative freedom and independence compared to insurgents and
Afghan Taliban. The government does not deny the presence of sectarian
groups in Balochistan, particularly in Quetta, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,
Sipah-e-Sahaba, Sipah-e-Muhammad, and Sunni Tehreek; the officials only link
the Shia-Sunni clashes with their ‘donors’ Iran and Saudi Arabia. They
believe the religious clerics of both the sects have a lot of funds to
promote the agendas of their donors.
SSP has a big support base
in Balochistan. It was banned twice by the government but in Balochistan it
remains intact and provides the ground support for LeJ terrorists.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is
another anti-Shia Sunni outfit which operates in and around Quetta. Two
groups of LeJ, known as Usman Kurd group and Qari Hayi group are active in
Balochistan. Whereas LeJ concentrated on Balochistan and other parts of
Pakistan after its terrorist camps in Kabul and Kandahar were destroyed
during the US forces attacks on Afghanistan in 2001, outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba
Pakistan (SSP), the mother organisation of LeJ, remains a silent supporter
It has become a wider
group and attracts other jihadist organisations into its fold as well. Few
factions of Jaish-e-Muhammad’s defunct group have established operational
relationship with LeJ. A big number of Harkatul Mujahideen and Harkatul
Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI) have also joined the group.
Organisation (ISO) is a well structured group with a huge influence on the
Shia youth as well as mainstream Shia politics. Its president Nasir Shirazi
claims that ISO is not a sectarian organisation but it has always played an
important role in sectarian-based violence. The Shia outlawed sectarian
group Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) has former ISO members in its fold. In
Quetta, ISO has remained engaged in clashes with other sects.
Security experts believe
sectarian violence will continue to be a long-term challenge because of the
growing nexus among the various sectarian groups, Taliban and al Qaeda and
the reorganisation of the violent Shia sectarian groups as a reaction,
especially in the context where the law enforcement agencies have
consistently failed to keep up with the emerging challenges.