Wed, Mar 05, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Victims of “forgotten war”

By Guillaume Lavallie  /  AFP, Quetta, Pakistan

In January the authorities announced the discovery of a mass grave containing 13 bodies, buried just below the surface, in the village of Totak in central Baluchistan.

PEACE WITH THE REBELLION?

Unusually, the authorities announced an inquiry into the grisly find, perhaps hoping to show good faith to the insurgents to get them to take part in a peace process.

The rebels attack trains, gas installations, security forces and Punjabis, the ethnic group from Pakistan’s richest and most populous province they accuse of “colonizing” Baluchistan.

They also threaten local media when they fail to publish their statements.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected in May last year, has tried in recent months to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban to end their bloody seven-year insurgency.

He has also put a former rebel, Abdul Malik Baloch, in charge of Baluchistan as chief minister, in the hope of building bridges with the rebels.

“I am trying to convince the insurgents that you should come to the table and talk,” chief minister Baloch told AFP, adding that past insurgencies in the province had been ended through negotiations.

“I think it will be better for the Baluch and Baluchistan that we should go for a dialogue bringing together insurgents and tribes, this is the only solution.”

According to a government source, preliminary contacts have been established with the disparate half dozen groups that make up the separatist movement.

Part of the sensitivity around Baluchistan among Pakistani officials stems from their belief that the insurgent movement is funded by arch-rivals India as part of efforts to destabilize the country.

The officials also complain that European countries such as Britain and Switzerland, where some of the group leaders are based, do not do enough to stop their activities.

“The people used to call these separatists [angry] Baluch, I call them terrorists, and Europe is the high road for terrorists,” Baluchistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti told AFP.

“What we think is that Indian government and Indian (intelligence) agency RAW is supporting these separatist groups.”

Ten years since the start of the current uprising, the Baluchistan question remains unsolved and innocent youngsters like Chakar pay the ultimate price for the involvement of their relatives.

This story has been viewed 1787 times.
TOP top