Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has categorically said that Balochistan is the future of Pakistan, and it is our duty to fully assist its government and people towards a peaceful and prosperous province. According to the military’s media wing, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed these views during his to Quetta.
بلوچستان پاکستان کا مستقبل ہے، آرمی چیف
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It said that COAS directed all commanders to reach out to people in far-flung areas of Balochistan to help mitigate challenges faced by masses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the visit, the army chief was briefed in detail on the security situation, operational preparedness of the formations, and border management including fencing along Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran Borders at Headquarters (HQ) Southern Command.
The COAS was apprised about the formation’s assistance to civil administration in fighting the pandemic and continued measures for socio-economic uplift of the area.
Earlier on arrival at Quetta, the COAS was received by Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Muhammad Waseem Ashraf, read the statement.
COAS called Iranian military chief
Recently, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa discussed border security and the impact of the coronavirus in both countries in a telephonic conversation with Iranian chief of the armed forces Maj Gen Mohammad Hossein Bagheri. The call was reportedly about the rise of Balochistan militancy.
According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), “The recent terrorist attack on Pakistan security forces resulting in Shahadat [martyrdom] of six security personnel near Pak-Iran border also came under discussion.”
Both agreed to enhance security measures on each side of the border while Gen Bajwa stressed on the need for ‘mutual cooperation’ to ensure border security and thwart smuggling.
“Pakistan has started fencing the border but mutual cooperation is required to ensure border security and stem smuggling activity which is also used by terrorists and narcotics traffickers for covering their movement,” said the army chief, according to the ISPR.
Insurgency in Pakistan
Islamabad has an uncertain relationship with resource-rich Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province by area but the least populated. The province has been gripped by an insurgency for many years now.
Academic literature on Balochistan militancy suggests that there are many causes and several actors involved in this insurgency. There are two predominant explanations offered by experts and commentators. First, the state of Pakistan has not been able to address the grievances of the people of Balochistan which results in the rise of anti-state elements. For example, around 90 per cent of the settlements in the province don’t have access to clean drinking water and people there earn less than the national average, according to 2017 study.
Second, there is a growing perception in Pakistan’s security apparatus that the Baloch insurgency has become a complex phenomenon as a fusion of international actors fueled the conflict.
Notably, back in 2016, when there was the rise of Balochistan militancy, Pakistani security forces arrested Kulbhushan Yadav, who was serving the naval office of India, for destabilizing Pakistan through sponsoring Baloch insurgents. In a video, Commander Kulbhushan Yadav, while admitting his role in terror-related activities in Pakistan has said; “My purpose was to hold meetings with the Baloch insurgents and carry out activities with their collaboration. These activities have been of criminal nature, leading to the killing of or maiming of Pakistani citizens.”
Although the relationship between Islamabad and Balochistan has always remained testy yet the majority of the population does not support the hardliners and continues to back local political parties, which want to use the legislature to address day-to-day grievances.