Jan Achakzai |
In the run-up to Pakistan National Day, there have been serious security incidents including a terrorist attack claiming six lives of Levis in Ziarat, March 20, and two consecutive attacks on passenger trains suggesting new dynamics underpinning Baluchistan province’s militant landscape.
Threat levels seem also changing in form and substance as Baluchistan is attracting the substantive amount of investment pledges from Saudi Arabia and is going to be the gateway to landlocked Western China and Central Asia with CPEC being connected via Gwadar strategic port.
A new wave of terrorism in Baluchistan comes hard on the heel of India’s failed Balakot incursion and bears all the hallmark of India’s handiwork suggesting Delhi has sought to up the ante in the proxy war against Pakistan.
The next active base of the RAW’s anti-Baluchistan activities is being operated from Iran’s Chahbahar. Some intel reports suggest a Brigadier-level RAW officer is now in charge to push the accelerator in fanning terrorism in Baluchistan.
Starting from the latest development in the militant landscape, there are reports that after the killing of Commander Acho, a new Commander, Bashir Zaib Baloch, has taken over. Commander Acho was RAW’s high valued asset, frequenting between Kandahar and Delhi, who sought to target CPEC and Chinese interest. The latest attack, he staged, was on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.
Delhi’s proxy sanctuary of BLA in Kandahar is now an overdrive, sponsoring proxy warfare in Baluchistan. Kandahar is located to the north of Baluchistan in the South East of Afghanistan. Latest intel suggests a new wave of recruitment of young Baloch militants has been launched leveraging the camps of insurgents being run and managed by the Indian and Afghan intelligence between Spin Boldak and Kandahar. All logistics and finances are being provided and paid for by their handlers.
Read more: Understanding India’s Land Warfare Doctrine
The next active base of the RAW’s anti-Baluchistan activities is being operated from Iran’s Chahbahar. Some intel reports suggest a Brigadier-level RAW officer is now in charge to push the accelerator in fanning terrorism in Baluchistan. It is worth mentioning that Kulbubshan Yadav who was arrested in Baluchistan was running his network from Chahbahar as well.
Notwithstanding, recent successes in the Pashtun belt of Baluchistan suggesting that law enforcement agencies are on high alert and on the lookout to prevent any spillover of militants from Afghanistan to Baluchistan, increasing signs of some sort of collaboration between the defeated Pakistani Taliban and Baloch insurgents have been observed.
The bigger question is what if battled hardened militants after their surrender in the final phase of Syria, may return to Baluchistan and play havoc with its security. Their exact number is impossible to figure out at this stage.
There are two main motivations behind this emerging nexus: 1) your-enemy-is my-enemy principle driving both groups of militants, 2) since both have common handlers pulling the strings, it makes the best strategy to jointly resuscitate militancy in a province where mainly the Baluch militants have increasingly been defanged of lethality, 3) Baluchistan having porous border, and large swath of territory and ethnic population, can pull the remnants of Ex-FATA originated militants to take shelter and lie low.
It follows a degree of nervousness among these militants groups emanating from talks between the Afghan Taliban and the US government with the Taliban guaranteeing not to allow Pakistan focused militant groups to operate out of Afghanistan after the US forces’ drawdown.
Since the Ex-Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, and the TTP spokesperson, Latif Massod and Ahsanullah Ahsan, respectively, already testified to have been working with the RAW’s handlers in Afghanistan, it also makes perfect sense for India at this stage to move their assets to Baluchistan to raise the ante in the proxy warfare.
Another aspect of the problem is: there are some signs that the ISIS Afghan-affiliates may be finding recruiters and foot soldiers in Baluchistan. The focus is mainly some of the religious-politico outfits with low hanging brain-washed potential militants.
Also, the spectator of ex-militants returning from Syria to the region including Baluchistan is looming. As per some reports hundreds of young men have been recruited by the Iranian intelligence to fight the war in Syria. The bigger question is what if battled hardened militants after their surrender in the final phase of Syria, may return to Baluchistan and play havoc with its security. Their exact number is impossible to figure out at this stage. However, some estimates suggest around 2000 plus.
The border management challenge exacerbates the task of checking those who have ill-intent to enter into this province. Unfortunately, the talk of Indian version of CPEC and Iran’s reported counter-offer to China establishing connectivity via Chabahar Port bypassing Gwadar, after massive investment pledges of Saudi Arabia, will only add to worries of worsening dynamic of international terrorism in Baluchistan and the region.
It is not asking too much when Baluchistan has no border controls with Afghanistan and Iran and a very weak coastline enforcement mechanism on its vast coastline stretch at thrown away distance from the Gulf region.
At least for the next three to five years, terrorist incidents will likely to happen before CPEC see the light of the day from its current position. On the supply side, lack of job opportunities and better pays from various militant outfits in the region makes Baluchistan’s youth a very attractive pool to recruit from.
The government of Baluchistan really needs immediate focus on providing jobs to the unemployed youth and stipends to the young able-bodied men. It is not asking too much when Baluchistan has no border controls with Afghanistan and Iran and a very weak coastline enforcement mechanism on its vast coastline stretch at thrown away distance from the Gulf region.
And since NAP implementation remains a challenge in Baluchistan, the provincial government needs better performance in reforming education system including Madrasa regulations; leaving everything for the non-civil institutions is setting up the province for big failure in security and governance reforms.
There is a dire need for the federal government to invest in enhancing security-related capabilities of Baluchistan government including its levis and police force as the province is about to witness the next level of India’s non-conventional proxy warfare.
Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Baluchistan, and ex-advisor to the Baluchistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with BBC World Service. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.