Three teachers from China and a driver were killed in a suspected suicide bombing near a Chinese language learning center in Karachi. The four were in a van near the University of Karachi’s Confucius Institute when the blast ripped through the vehicle on the 26th evening. A female suicide bomber was responsible for the attack, the Karachi police said in a statement. CCTV footage shared by the police showed a woman clad in a Burka detonating herself outside the Confucius Institute.
Such incidents follow a familiar pattern now –There is a terrible event that makes everyone blame the others for the carelessness and indifference, followed by a ritual of introspection. There is a period of mourning and then we forget if anything happened. It is a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself. For such behavior, I have coined the term “The Law of Diminishing Effects” (There is a Law of Diminishing Returns in economics). According to this law, the more a pattern of events repeats itself, the less it surprises the people.
Understanding the matter better
In Pakistan, the tendency to centralize all the powers at the center bred resentment and a sense of deprivation among the federating units which was exploited by India, the US, Iran, and the Gulf Petro- Sheikhdoms, in that order. Like the tribal societies elsewhere, Balochistan was a confederacy where different tribes were ruled by the local chieftains called Sardars. At the core of this confederacy was the Khanate of Kalat which was founded in 1666. On independence, whereas British Balochistan became part of Pakistan, Kalat remained a de facto independent state from 15 August 1947 to 27 March 1948 when it acceded to Pakistan. Kalat ceased to exist on 14 October 1955 when the province of West Pakistan was formed. Seven decades after independence, Sardars still rule the roost in Balochistan.
Gwadar became part of Pakistan in 1958 by negotiations led by Prime Minister of Pakistan Feroz Khan Noon and his wife Viqar-un-Nisa Noon with the Sultan of Oman. The Sultan agreed to hand Gwadar over to Pakistan for Rs 5.5 Billion, which was mostly paid for by Agha Khan. Before selling Gwadar to Pakistan, the Sultan of Oman had offered Gwadar to India. Reportedly, Nehru declined the offer. The Indians, to this day, regret Nehru’s stance. Gwadar was not integrated into Balochistan till 1977.
The amalgamation of Balochistan in Pakistan had cut through the vested interests of the Sardars. Suddenly, their world collapsed. Their resistance to Pakistan was understandable. The insurgencies that kept sweeping Balochistan from time to time were essentially a power struggle between the local Sardars and the rulers in Karachi, and later Islamabad, to control the resources of this province.
The commoners were exploited and hoodwinked by both sides
When the Baloch Sardars talk about the rights of the Baloch people, they mean themselves. All the cultivable land, water resources, and grazing grounds are the private property of these chieftains. The common man ekes out a miserable life in Balochistan.
On the other hand, when the central government talks about developing Balochistan, it means grabbing lucrative contracts to line the pockets of politicians and bureaucrats. Economic disparity, generated by “Dirty Capitalism”, a term reminiscent of the failed Marxist ideology, is at the root cause of political unrest.
In the absence of jobs, educated –unemployed youth, churned out by the universities set up by the central government, have become lucrative targets for ideological brainwashing by the foreign powers. So far, the enemy has been successful in convincing the Balochi youth (a large number of them university students, doctors, and engineers) that Pakistan is a failed state, a remnant of British colonialism that is destined to disintegrate sooner than later.
Forget about the CPEC, running about 2395 kilometers from Gwadar to Kashgar. CPEC remains a pipe dream for the people of Balochistan. It is because they fear Gwadar and its linkage with China through CPEC will mostly benefit the Seths from Karachi and Punjab. Already, thousands of acres of land in Gwadar have been purchased by the outsiders.
The economy of Balochistan, as it stands today, is dependent on 1) Smuggling from Iran, Afghanistan, and the Gulf; 2) Remittances by expatriates; 3) Coal mining, and 4) Horticulture. It is a water-stressed region, where, except for the Pat-feeder area irrigated by the Kachi Canal (Tapping water from the Indus River) no large-scale farming is possible. The provincial agriculture department, like elsewhere in Pakistan, is the most corrupt – the source of income for smugglers on the payroll of Sardars.
Except for Lasbela- an extension of Karachi, and, to some extent, Khuzdar, no large-scale manufacturing is visible. Now tell me, are we justified in lamenting if the educated –unemployed get brainwashed by the RAW and CIA-sponsored BLA, BRA, and other separatist outfits who use them as human bombs?
The Foreign Interference
Active Indian meddling in Balochistan started soon after the 1971 war. There are three routes through which Indian support to Balochistan materializes: 1) the coastal route which emanates from the Gulf states and, through various fishing villages dotting the Balochistan coast, hits the hinterland. 2) The route emanating from Iran’s Chah Bahar port located 45 kilometers to the west of Gwadar. This route passes through Iranian Balochistan and ends at various entry points along the Pak-Iran border. 3) The route from Tharparkar- Shikarpur – Bolan-Quetta, and thence to interior Balochistan.
There is a significant Hindu population all along the third route which is exploited by India. During all military standoffs between India and Pakistan, information about troop movement between Quetta and the rest of the country was leaked to India through its proxies positioned along this route. Various local chieftains hostile to Pakistan find refuge in the Indian safe houses located in Afghanistan, India, Britain, and elsewhere.
The moral of the story: We should look inwards and clean up our act before pointing the accusing finger at the foreign players and their proxies.
Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.