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Frontline: PM Khan & COAS in Quetta to discuss security situation


News Analysis |

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday reached Quetta in order to evaluate the security conditions in Balochistan. The largest province of Pakistan is considered to be a front line in the fight against terrorism as it is wracked with militancy.

“The premier will be briefed on the security situation of Balochistan at Southern Command headquarters,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated. A high-level meeting chaired by the premier to review the security situation and development projects in the province is expected to be held.

The sectarian group the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its offshoots have been responsible for a series of brazen and savage attacks on sectarian targets like the Hazara community throughout the province.

Balochistan Governor justice (R) Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and provincial chief minister Mir Jam Kamal are also set to meet the prime minister. The southern province is the site of Gwadar, the main pivot of Pakistan’s hallmark China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). However, it has been of late been under attack of militants that has resulted in huge loss of life.

In a deadly suicide bomb blast, in the southern Pakistani province of Balochistan, more than 128 people have been killed and 200 injured in July. Security sources said the explosion occurred at an election meeting of Nawabzada Siraj Raisani in Darengarh area of Mastung.

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Raisani, who was a candidate of the recently-formed Balochistan Awami Party, was killed in the suicide attack. He was the younger brother of Nawab Aslam Raisani, former chief minister of Balochistan. Daesh had claimed responsibility for that brutal attack.

The province has also faced other attacks. The sectarian group the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its offshoots have been responsible for a series of brazen and savage attacks on sectarian targets like the Hazara community throughout the province. It has also launched brutal attacks on state institutions such as the Police Academy Attack in Quetta in 2016.

India fears a stronger, stable and prosperous Pakistan, as this would stand in its way to be the regional hegemonic power in South Asia.

However, Balochistan is also in the crosshairs of a concentrated campaign by foreign powers who are out to destabilize CPEC. The Indian hand is the most prominent due to its longstanding rivalry with Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Modi has mentioned Balochistan in his speeches where people “call out to him”.

The most apparent manifestation of the Indian hand is Kulbhushan Yadav, a serving Indian intelligence officer who has been arrested in Balochistan. Kulbhushan Yadav, (a serving Indian Navy Commander) was apparently sent under deputation to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the government to Iran (Chabahar Port) since 2013.

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It is well documented that India uses its consulates close to the Afghanistan and Iranian border to help terrorists infiltrate into Pakistan. However, this case is unprecedented as the arrested man is, allegedly, a serving Indian armed forces employee. Despite, New Delhi’s own numerous ethnic uprisings, across its territory, it continues to use terrorism and separatism as a means of power politics to attempt to mold the region in its image.

Such attempts have accelerated in recent times owing to two major factors: the rise of the extremist thought Hindutva to power in India and the CPEC project in Pakistan. India fears a stronger, stable and prosperous Pakistan, as this would stand in its way to be the regional hegemonic power in South Asia. To this end, it needs to destroy CPEC and any accompanying benefit to the region.

The PTI government needs to come with a solid plan to give lasting peace to the country’s largest province.

To do so it has decided to use both violent and nonviolent measures to destabilize Pakistan. The Iranian Pakistani border has also seen heightened activity in recent months. The border has become infamous for both cross-border firings by Iran as well as activities by ethno-nationalist and sectarian terrorists on both sides.

Based on intelligence reports, Iran is involved in backing some sectarian outfits inside Pakistan such as the Sipah-e-Muhammad whose founder Allama Ghulam Raza Naqvi passed away in Iran on 6th March 2016. There is also the presence of the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), a brutal ethno-nationalist separatist terror group whose sanctuaries and leader Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch are stated to be inside Iranian territory.

Read more: Pakistan’s security issues

As long as foreign interests continue to view instability and violence in Balochistan as amenable to their interests, the state cannot let its guard down in its territory. The PTI government needs to come with a solid plan to give lasting peace to the country’s largest province.

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