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Old Sunday, February 10, 2008
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Default Balochistan Conflict

Balochistan Conflict

The controversial history of the south-western region of Pakistan dates back to the time when the Durand Line was drawn by the British in 1893 after fighting two wars with Afghanistan. The border was drawn to divide the Pashtun and Baloch tribes of the area into the international borders of Iran, Afghanistan and what later became West Pakistan (present day Pakistan). The Balochs found their nomadic ways disrupted by the division created by the international borders, and were not happy with the outcome, and hence the seed of strife was sown.

Afghanistan also strongly objected to the inclusion of ethnic Pashtun and Afghan areas into present day Pakistan. When India and Pakistan eventually gained independence from the British in August 1947, provinces were given the choice of either joining Pakistan or India or being independent. Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan declared Kalat's independence. The Governor-general Lord Mountbatten decided that the province would not survive as an independent entity and that offer was taken off the table.

Area of dispute
Distribution of Balochs is marked in pink.Historical Balochistan comprises the Balochistan region. In the west, is the southern part of Sistan o Baluchestan province, Iran. In the east is Pakistani Balochistan. In the north is the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The Gulf of Oman forms its southern border.

Pakistani Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. Although it is the largest (45% of the country's area) of the country's four provinces, it is the least populated (only 5% of the country's population) and the least developed.

Balouchi peoples were not given a share in the Federal and local government and they were forced to join Pakistan in 1948. The Federal government with the help of local Sadars looted the natural resources of Baluchistan.

Baloch grievances
Fueled by grievances of lack of autonomy, excessive meddling in nomadic affairs, and influx of skilled settlers, miners and traders from other provinces of Pakistan into Balochistan, there erupted an armed conflict between the Baloch and the central government.

Main characters
There are three distinct parties involved and affected by this conflict:

Central governments (1946-2006)
Sardars (Tribal chiefs)
Baloch people

First conflict 1948 (led by Mir Ahmad Yar Khan)
In April 1948 the central government sent the Pakistan army who forced Mir Ahmed Yar Khan to give up his state. Mir Ahmed Yar Khan signed an accession agreement ending Kalat's de facto independence. His brother, Prince Karim Khan, decided to carry on with the struggle. Basing himself in Afghanistan he conducted guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan army. Later he was killed in clashes with the army along with many of his supporters.

Second conflict (1958-59 led by Nawab Nowroz Khan)
Nawab Nowroz Khan took up arms in resistance to the One Unit policy designed and initiated by the federal government to eliminate ethnic and provincial divides and prejudices. He and his followers were charged with treason and arrested and confined in Hyderabad jail. Five of his family members (sons and nephews) were subsequently hanged. Nawab Nowroz Khan later died in captivity.

Third conflict 1963-69 (led by Sher Mohammad Bijarani Marri)
After the second conflict the Federal government sent the Army to build new garrisons in the key trouble areas of Balochistan. Sher Mohammad Bijarani Marri led like-minded militants to start a guerilla warfare against the establishment of these posts by creating its own posts of insurgency spreading over 45,000 miles (72,000 km) of land from the Mengal tribal area in the south to the Marri and Bugti tribal areas in the north. The insurgents bombed railway tracks and ambushed convoys. The Army retaliated by destroying vast areas of the Marri tribe. This insurgency ended in 1969 when Yahya Khan abolished the "One Unit" policy and the Balochs agreed to a ceasefire. This eventually led to the recognition of Balochistan as the fourth province of West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan) in 1970.

Fourth conflict 1973-77 (led by Nawab Khair Baksh Marri) & General Sherof Bijarani (bijarani is a sub tribe of marri its only for Marri People to Know their tribes men not for the all people to make Bijjarani an issue for brekage of Marri tribe ,Hamza Marri (Marri)
In 1972, major political parties from a wide spectrum of political ideology united against the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (the then President of Pakistan) and formed the National Awami Party NAP and demanded more representation for the ethnic Baloch in the government. This did not sit well with Bhutto's approach, seen by some as elitist and authoritarian. In February 1973, in the presence of news media and the Iraqi ambassador to Islamabad, the police opened a consignment of Iraqi diplomatic pouches containing arms, ammunition and guerilla warfare literature. The Pakistani intelligence agencies claimed these arms were en route to the Baloch (Marri) insurgents of Balochistan. Citing treason, Bhutto subsequently dismissed the provincial government of Balochistan and imposed governor rule. Secretly, the intelligence agencies as well as Bhutto knew the real intended party of the arms consignment were the ethnic Balochs of Iran. This was Iraq's response to Iran's support for the Kurds in northern Iraq.

Dismissal of the provincial government led to armed insurgency. Khair Baksh Marri formed the Balochistan Peopleís Liberation Front (BPLF) which led large numbers of Marri and Mengal tribesmen into guerilla warfare against the central government.

According to several authors, the Pakistani military lost 3,000 to 3,300 soldiers during the conflict with the Balochi separatists, while the Balouch lost 5,300 men, and civilian casualties during this period are estimated at 6,000.

Fifth conflict 2004-to date (lead by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri)
Due to government policies in 2004 Baluchistan was up in arms against the federal government, with the Baluchistan Liberation Army, Baluchistan Liberation Front, and People's Liberation Army conducting operations. Rocket attacks and bomb blasts have been a regular feature in the provincial capital, particularly its cantonment areas of Kohlu and Sui Town, since 2000, and had claimed over 25 lives by mid-2004. In response Pakistan army demolished many houses and Marri areas and killed many civilians as war is still going on though media is not reporting much on it because of restriction on media in Pakistan.

The Gwadar Port project employed close to 500 Chinese nationals by 2004. On 03 May 2004, the BLA killed three Chinese engineers working on the Port. Gwadar airport was attacked by rockets at midnight on 21 May 2004. On 09 October 2004, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in South Waziristan in the northwest of Pakistan, one of whom was killed later on October 14 in a botched rescue operation.

Pakistan blamed India and Iran for fanning insurgency in Baluchistan.

Violence reached a crescendo in August of 2005 when the Pakistani government attempted and killed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a eighty one year old Sardar (tribal leader) who had fought against the government for decades.

Main characters
Pakistan Army claims that Balochistan Liberation Army is clandestinely funded by the Afghan government and its arms supposedly flow into Baluchistan through the Pakistan-Afghanistan porous border. Iran also has strategic interests in the region and keep an eye on the affairs of Balochistan.The Indian government has been trying to help Pakistan with this grievance in spite of bitter relations between the two countries.

Balochistan's population consists of mix between Balochi & Pashtuns but Pashtuns enjoy a reasonable representation in the state & military jobs of Pakistan and their more religious leaning makes them mainly more pro-Pakistan but after 9/11 they have been fighting too, for the pro-Baloch independence. It is widely believed that the government of Pakistan needs to bring an end to the tribal system and provide more job opportunities to the common Balochistani, in the name of education, outsiders (especially Punjabis and Urdu speaking) are being settled in different parts of Balouchistan turning majority of Balouch area into minorities which threats local tribesmen. As such, steps are being taken for industrialisation of the province and industrial zones are planned along the new Gawadar-Karachi highway. This development is expected to bring accelerated progress in the near future although uprisings against the decline of the tribal system will probably accompany such a situation.
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