Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Baluch are the victim of The Arab and Persian, Shiite and Sunni rivalry in the Middle East.

Iranian have successfully introduced Baluchistan and the Baluch to the world communities as well as to Iranian as the land of drug and drug traffickers, they have institutionalised the hate against the Baluch. The Iranian regime has been portraying the Baluch as Wahabbi and Sunni Jihadi group in order to justify the Baluch killing in the Name of the Sunni fundamentalist inside Iran. Baluch are Sunni but they are not sectarian.

Iran is a multi-ethnic and multi religion state. The policy of the state has been one language, one religion and single nation with a single identity which is self-contradictory. The Iranian elite are insecure about their state ethnic diversity and multi religions character and they are feeling threatened.

The Baluch are separate ethnic from the rest of Iranian many ethnic groups and the Baluch follow the Sunni sect of Islam. Iran is a Shiite majority State. There are a strong sense of Nationalism and quest for national liberation from Iran within the Baluch. The expression of rights to self-determination viewed by dominant groups as the threat to the state, therefore self-determination is not tolerated by the Persian and Shiite who have dominated the State.

Broadly speaking the state has sought to standardise and assimilate the Baluch into single Persianised nation but failed.

The government view the Baluch as disloyal to the State, the Shiite view the Baluch as imposter and the Baluch view the State as the threat to the Baluch economy and existents.

 The Shiite and Sunni hatred is well documented and it is the biggest source that has destabilised the Middle East and the Baluch are the victim of never ending sectarian war.
The Most people who are at the risk of execution in the Iranian occupied Baluchistan are those who are trying to defend the basic rights to justice within the limits of the Iranian judiciary system.
 These basic defenders of the Baluch rights within Iran constitutional limits are accused of an arm struggle against the regime and are labelled as a collaborators of the Arab Sunni States, America and Israel.

Iranian have successfully introduced Baluchistan and the Baluch to the world communities as well as to Iranian as the land of drug and drug traffickers, they have institutionalised the hate against the Baluch.

 The Iranian regime has been portraying the Baluch as Wahabbi and Sunni Jihadi group in order to justify the Baluch killing in the Name of the Sunni fundamentalist inside Iran. Baluch are Sunni but they are not sectarian.

The United Nations has paid for the wall that the Iranian regime built on Iran and Afghanistan border, I am sure the United Nations could also put pressure on Iran to provide equal justice to all citizens. But unfortunately the Baluch has no voice in that privilege club, only dominant ethnic groups who control the states have voice in the United Nations.

The Shiite Sunni war is one of the longest conflict in the human history. The Baluch is the victim of The Arab and Persian, Shiite and Sunni rivalry in the Middle East.
Ladies and gentlemen there are drug coming from Afghanistan through Baluchistan into Iran, Europe and Arabian Sea but the Baluch have no control over their land. The Baluch have no means to stop the human and drug trafficking. The Iranian revolutionary guard (Al-Quads) control the Baluchistan and the drug as well as routes of the drug.

The Baluch issue with Iran is the national right to self-determination. Baluch are Sunni but they are not sectarian. Iranian regime has control over Shiite and Sunni fundamentalist inside Iran and outside Iran. Iran has benefited from the Shiite and Sunni conflicts in the Middle East as well as not ending conflict in Afghanistan. Iran has armed and financed the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan. The Shiite Sunni conflicts have united the Arab Shiite and non-Arab Shiite with the only Shiite state that is Iran.
Mehrab. D. Sarjov is a Baluch political activist based in London campaign for an independent Baluchistan.

Between 314 and 544 persons have been executed in Iran in 2013 alone
 October 30, 2013
16 Baloch political prisoners were executed in Iran in an act of revenge for an attack on the border security forces. The executed Balochis were already in Zahedan prison and took no part in the attack. It was alleged that the Baloch prisoners crossed the border from Pakistan and they were executed after an encounter between Mersad, an Iranian paramilitary group and another armed group. In this encounter, according to government news agencies, 17 border security personnel were killed. Public prosecutor Mohammad Marziyeh announced that “Sixteen rebels linked to groups hostile to the regime were hanged in the prison of Zahedan in response to the death of border guards in Saravan, Iran.”
Many Balochi persons have been arrested in Iran on charges of crossing the border illegally, smuggling drugs and creating a law and order situation. However, they are hanged on the charges of insurgency after attacks on border security personnel and clashes with the security forces.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Baluch in Iran are one group that is out voted, out of power, permanently

By M. Sarjov

The Baluch struggle is for an independent modern state, where the gender equality, religious freedom, rule of law, property right and individual right are guaranteed by the State.

For hundreds of years the world has been divided into patch work of states with the clear boundaries. 
Every piece of land belong to one or more groups of people and each human being supposedly belong to one of these entities, which are self-contained within a hard shell of language, culture, religion and tradition.  

European states were created as early as 1648 yet the sense of nation hood did not arise at the same time. Small European principalities united together to create centralised states with demarked borders instead of the previous peril frontiers. The new sovereign nation-states maintained armies and governments.

Nation builders created national culture by creating a single unified language for each nation from one of the local vernacular, standardised its spelling and grammar and taught it in schools throughout the new state.

But in (Persia) Iran’s case nation building started very late. The European created the modern state for Iranian (the Great game) Persian were not self-motivated to create a modern state.  They were as they are today much more interested to conquer their neighbours and to revitalise their mythical Persian empire, then wait for the Hidden Imam to reappears and announce the end of the world.

 The Nation builders in Iran tried and failed to assimilate the resilient Baluch and Kurd, The Iranian Shiite Turk have been the backbones of the Modern Iran, better educated than their Persian counterparts, have maintained their language as well as their vibrant Turkic culture and the Shiite Arab with fluency in Arabic, (Arabic is the language of religion), resisted and survived the Persian assimilation attempts, one state one culture, one language theory has failed in Iran. The Persian did what they could do, bullying the Baluch, Turk, Arab, Kurd, and levelled their culture, language as backward.

Centres of civilizations have always been Multicultural regions where people from diverse backgrounds meet and stimulate each other through dialogue. When two or more communities within a state see themselves as permanently divided and have different interests, then differences between them cannot easily resolves and good relations maintained through regular democratic means, since even in democratic government majority dominated group out voted minority group permanently out of power. The Baluch in Iran are one group that is out voted permanently.

The Persian chauvinism is not able or unwilling to understand the Baluch and others nationalities sentiments. By ignoring long standing issue of the Baluch right to self-determination such demand will not disappear but actually will accumulate. The policy makers who seek to hold Iran together failed and will fail to decentralise power from Tehran and transfer it to the provinces. Iran’s state structure is cemented by Shiite sect of Islam, the ethnic politics in Iran will undo the Shiite control over the non-Persian Shiite.

The causes of ethnic conflicts have always been the authoritarian rules; collapse of such rules make ethnic conflicts possible. The lid on ancient rivalries will take off, long suppressed grievances will be settled. Iran is the next outdated authoritarian Shiite caliph on its way out. The Iranian ethnic conflicts are not confined to one regime. The ethnics rivalries and conflicts are historical fact only temporarily supressed and managed. 

The Iranian opposition parties from liberal, left to central, those who believe in liberty, individual autonomy and rights to self-determination can minimise upcoming ethnic violence in Iran. The best course of action is to recognise and address ethnic problems early before violence and bloodshed erupt. The Persian have numbers of alternative to prevent ethnic conflicts. 

National right to self-determination

The national right to self-determination has been at the root of modern politic debates the academic definition of national self-determination are few and far between.

The Right to self-determination concept is associated with democracy, the principle that citizens must be governed only with their own consent. The Baluch in Iran are not governed by their consent and will not be able to do so as long as the Baluch remains as a part of Iran. The Baluch are the victims of the Persian subjugation. They have been protesting against prolonged suffering and violation of their basic rights to lives a dignified lives.

The Persian chauvinism and Shiite Apartheid have refused to share the state power and privileges, exploited the state resources while they economically deprived the Baluch from means to maintain good life in Iran. The Baluch as the Iranian citizens gaze at the State for security and economic prosperity. There is security and economic prosperity in Baluchistan but for non Baluch settler’s foreign investors. The Baluch have no security and the Iranian security agencies are engaged in promoting inner tribal fights within Baluchistan.


The Baluch must win their independent in order to preserve their language, culture, tradition, economy and commitment to modernisation. A more democratic world cannot be created by transferring power to an imaginary world parliament or the United Nations, but only by giving people influence over the decision that effect their lives. The Baluch campaigner for independent Baluchistan should propose that the Independent Baluchistan is achievable by splitting Iran and giving The Baluch, Arab, Kurd, Turk, Persian control of their lands on basis of historical and cultural boundaries.
The principle of self-determination is supported as means of guaranteeing people right to control over the law by which their lives are regulated. The Baluch as the people have no representative in the Iranian government to represent their common interests. The Baluch national Right to self-determination is justifiable in Iran where there is an elected government but the Baluch are facing the Human Right violation, systematic economic deprivation and forceful removal from their ancestral home. 

In Iran people are free to vote but they are not free to stand to be elected or elect a candidate of their own to represent them in advisory council. The Guardian council select the candidate and then people are free to vote for a candidate selected for the people by the Guardian council. The Baluch in the western Baluchistan are aware of the fact that their vote do not change anything.


As consequence of denial of national right to self-determination there are many wars of liberation against apartheid regimes and states in the world. The authoritarian regime and artificial states with one or more nationalities are involved in internal or external wars.
 It is wrong to blame Nationalists for the violence which they bring since they have to react as victims of injustice. The world opinion favour the Right to self-determination as a solution. Today the Baluch are refusing to assimilate in to Persian- Shiite and demanding the Right to National self-determination. The Baluch struggle is for an independent modern state, where the gender equality, religious freedom, rule of law, property right and individual right are guaranteed by the State.


Nationalism is not a complete ideology in the same sense as communism, Islam, Christianity; it does not suggest as an action plan of universal scope. Nationalism only seek to justify their own group. Nationalism employs ideal of self-determination. Nationalism may be popular within the right, left, central, liberal and religious groups. Those who oppose the self-determination are really undemocratic and allies of Chauvinism.

Mehrab. D. Sarjov is a Baluch political activist based in London and campaign for an independent Baluchistan.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Baluch intellectual did not create the Nationalism in Baluchistan

What the Baluch demand from the Persian occupiers inside Baluchistan is to stop the colonisation, assimilation, of the Baluch in Baluchistan. Because their alien settlement in Baluchistan and assimilation policies are costly in term of blood and money on both side.

The modern Iran is a state created by the Shiite, for the Shiite, they are obsessed with the Persian history of distant past and claim to Persian myth. A small Shiite elite in Tehran decide for all Iranian. This Shiite elite failed to create free market economy and free mark of ideals.

The Shiite sect of Islam is the core glue that unite the Persian Shiite with non-Persian Shiite. The Shiite is the State religion and Persian is the State language and otherness is condemned. The state security, trade, bureaucracy controlled by Shiite, Persian dominated elite in Tehran.

There is a lack of common interest between the Persian, Baluch and Shiite and Sunni in Baluchistan. The state authority they imposed on the Baluch from Tehran has never been effective. The point which the Persian Shiite elite failed to understand or unwilling to accept is that the outsiders always resisted.

A respect for an alien cannot be guaranteed; even if one reduce the Area of disrespect it encounter. Tehran cannot impose loyalty upon the Baluch because the Persian conquered Baluchistan in 1928 and annexed Baluchistan into the Persia and the state authorities imposed upon the Baluch.

The Baluch sense is that they are understanding themselves not in unity with the Iranian but in division and uniqueness as a nation that do not share anything with the rest of Iranian population.

In the modern Iran, (for nearly 100 years), by liberty the Persian Shiite means initiative for Shiite and Persian not for all Iranian. By equality they means that only Shiite and Persian shall win such significance as it entitled by religion. The Baluch in Iranian occupied Baluchistan live as the servant of others.

Some groups among the Baluch have been arguing for self-rules and decentralisation of power in Iran. But majority of the Baluch believe that the Shiite Persian are not wise enough and experienced enough to rule over the secular minded Baluch in the western Baluchistan. It is the time for international community to recognise Baluchistan as an occupied land and respect the rights of National self-determination for the Baluch nation.

The most progressive people are those who capable of state building; because the state express people will to survive. People without state cannot contribute to the development of civilization and they would soon cease to be people. If the Baluch could not acquire a state of their own over course of time they will never be able to continue as a nation.
It is not realistic to maintain that Persian would be capable to absorb large non Persian (Turk Shiite, Arab Shiite, Kurd 70percent Sunni, Baluch 98 percent Sunni) national existence, they would become Persian or reduce their existences into unimportant.

The Baluch intellectual did not create the Nationalism in Baluchistan. By contrast, (Baluch, Arab, Turk, Kurd), nationalism have been phenomenon force in Iran. These nations inside Iran have their own cultural, linguistic boundaries, historical claim to the land they are residing, they are calling it home and they are ready to defend the home with all means from internal as well as external colonisation, their narratives are different from the state narrative. They are continuously supressed by Tehran’s totalitarian regime and Shiite Mullahs, communist and Persian centralist parties.

The Persian dominated opposition parties define democracy very narrowly to suit their need. They are rejecting the democratic principle of personal autonomy and right to self-determination for individual and groups. They have little time for democracy, rule of law and property rights. They seize land as they please and exploited resources from other people property as their predecessor have done.  

The Persian opposition are seeking to change mullah-cracy without sharing the privileges they have enjoyed through history. The totalitarianism and Shiite dominated politic is ingrained in the Iranian politic. The regime change will not bring the peace within Iran or the wide Middle East.
For a peace to prevail in the Middle East and the Persian to survival as a nation the world should recognise the Baluch and others rights to national self-determination and force Iran to recognise the Baluch, Arab, Kurd, Turk historical right to statehood.

The Persian dominated opposition alone would not succeed to bring about a regime change in Iran, by trying new route and risky bypass. Attempting to do so will only result in xenophobia. It is politically possible to denounce the Baluch and others Iranian nations, but the sequences of this manoeuvre should not be underrated. The Baluch right to independent Baluchistan is an historic fact. There is no reason to why the Baluch as a nation should be denied the state of their own.

Mehrab. D. Sarjov is a Baluch political activist based in London campaign for an independent Baluchistan and Human rights. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Support the campaign for Independent Baluchistan

Wherever you live become a representative for the campaign for an independent Baluchistan. Pro-Iranian federalist may tell you that “Iran is strong and the Baluch are weak therefore the Baluch cannot defeat the Iranian”. They tell people who have sympathy for an independent Baluchistan in private that the federalist is a step toward Independent Baluchistan.They are not telling the truth. 

They are saying the same to Iranian and other foreign pro-Iranian groups, we are not separatist.
 The federalists Iranian including the Baluch Federalist want to reform the Iranian constitution for a stronger Iran. The federalists are the Iranian’s safety valves to stop Iran from disintegrate into 6 or 7 independent states. 

Some country and interest groups assess them as a fast way for regime change in Iran. The Federalist and Mullahs demand is the Iranian constitution reform in which they could share power with Persian and Shiite.

 The Campaign for independent Baluchistan tell them and the world that all occupying powers are by definition weak when they face a hostile occupied nation and Iranian occupied forces in Baluchistan are not different.

The pro- Iran federalist (Mullah, ex-communists, Monarchist) Baluch are part of the Iranian elite who are justifying the Persian occupation of Baluchistan. The Baluch will not achieve their economy, prosperity inside Iran. The Baluch inside Iran will lose their language to Persian and the religion to Shiite. It is evidently clear, the Most sunny Mullah have supported the Shiite Tehran genocide in Syria. A slave is always slave mentally or physically.

Mehrab. D. Sarjov is a Baluch political activist based in London campaign for an independent Baluchistan.

Dec 16,1971 Secret London Conclave Mooted Balochistan’s Liberation

As Bangladesh Became Free on Dec 16, 1971, a Secret London Conclave Mooted Balochistan’s Liberation

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti broke ranks and said with a great amount of passion and regret: “I am afraid India will have to fight another war with Pakistan for our sake to secure our freedom”.  Two other leaders, Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Khair Baksh Marri, lent their unqualified support to what Bugti said.

Abdus Samad Azad, the first foreign minister of Bangladesh, with Indira Gandhi in New Delhi in 1972. Credit: YouTube/AP
Abdus Samad Azad, the first foreign minister of Bangladesh, with Indira Gandhi in New Delhi in 1972. Credit: YouTube/AP
In the nine months since March 25, 1971 – as the Mujibur Rahman-led Bangladesh liberation struggle got transformed into a war of independence, ending on December 16, 1971, with the emergence of the former East Pakistan  as the sovereign, independent Peoples Republic of Bangladesh – the Pakistani Army’s campaign of massacre and mass rape became the unmarked and un-wept genocide of the 20th century. This grim event is well documented by research scholars and there is no scope for doubting the records.
The other deeply disturbing part was the hostile attitude adopted by the so-called civilised world of western democracies against the people of Bangladesh for the sin of aspiring to be a sovereign independent nation free from the shackles of the repressive Pakistani military dictatorship. Following the Nixon administration’s policy of openly supporting the brutalities of the Pakistan Army by looking the other way when millions of people were being slaughtered, the entire West totally ignored the terrible events of 1971 in Bangladesh.
Faced with the genocide of its people, the Bangladeshi leadership in general and a certain hawkish section among them took more than an unforgiving attitude towards Pakistan. What emerged was the desire for a hard, punishing policy of revenge.
One such leader boiling with rage was Abdus Samad Azad, who was designated as foreign minister by the Bangladesh government in exile operating from Mujibnagar. He happened to be in London on December 16, 1971, the day when the Pakistan army led by General A.A.K. Niazi, General Officer Commanding of the Pakistani armed forces in East Pakistan surrendered before the joint command of the Indian armed forces and the Mukti Bahini – known during the war as Mitro Bahini – in the midst of a milling crowd of a million people at the open spaces of Romna Maidan in Dhaka.
On that very day, Azad called a meeting at the Charing Cross Hotel near Trafalgar Square in London, a closed-door Top Secret conclave, to which were invited the senior leaders of the ethno-sub-nationalities of the minority provinces of what remained of Pakistan after Bangladesh was created. These leaders had been camping in London for about a year in 1970-71 for fear of becoming victims of a military crackdown in their provinces – much like what had happened in East Pakistan.
Now Azad may have been the foreign minister of a nation that had just been born and the leader of what was essentially a one-man delegation but it is unlikely that he called this meeting on his own. In all likelihood, the foreign minister had received instructions to do so from the provisional government back home.
Those invited included:
  • Khan Abdul Wali Khan, chief of the National Awami Party of the North West Frontier Province, an iconic Pashtun leader who was the son of the famous Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan – known in India as the Frontier Gandhi.
  • Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the charismatic leader of the Bugti tribe of Balochistan
  • Nawabzada Khair Baksh Marri, an defiant guerrilla leader of the Marri tribe of Balochistan
  • Ataullah Mengal, leader of the Mengal Tribe of Balochistan, and
  • An unnamed representative of G.M. Syed, the uncompromising freedom fighter of Sindh’s Jiye Sindh Mahaz, who was serving a life sentence as a political prisoner in Pakistan.
The subject matter of the discussions was extraordinarily sensitive.
Abdus Samad Azad, his leader Shaikh Mujibur Rahman and their party, the Awami League, were congratulated wholesomely by all those assembled leaders for having successfully led their liberation struggle and created a sovereign independent Bangladesh.
Azad, for his part, extended his fraternal greetings to the assembled leaders and took the opportunity to convey the apprehension of the Awami League – warning them that given the fact that Pakistan had disintegrated so ignominiously, it was likely that the Pakistan Army, in anger and in a spirit of vengeance, could launch incremental phases of violent military crackdown on the ethno-sub-national peoples of the country – namely the Baloch, the Pashtuns and the Sindhis as had happened in Bangladesh.
Political repression of an extreme kind, economic exploitation, social ostracisation, subjugation and deprivation of the minority provinces could become intolerable, he said. Azad wanted to know if the assembled leaders of the minority provinces agreed with his aforesaid analysis. There was a chorus of approval.
Azad next submitted that if he made a suggestion – given the ground realities of the evolving unsavoury political situation in Pakistan – that there was need to forge a joint front of liberation struggle among the ethno-sub-national peoples in Pakistan aimed at breaking away from Pakistan and becoming sovereign independent nation states as Bangladesh had done, would they approve of it. Pakistan in defeat was in disarray, the Indian Army had reached the gates of Lahore, therefore this was the most opportune moment to strike. And if they agreed, Bangladesh was capable of helping them set up the entire infrastructure of struggle and extending wholehearted support and succour including political, diplomatic and most importantly material back up to such an unified movement.
Quick came the poser in a chorus: what would be India’s stand? Azad assured them that if they wanted India’s backing, which he believed from the experience of Bangladesh would be unavoidable and also strategically vital, the Awami League leadership could talk to New Delhi and secure India’s support with utmost urgency. But at that moment, he said, time  was of the essence. To win New Delhi’s support, the assembled leaders would have to declare their commitment to the values of democracy and secularism, the fundamental rights of citizens, pluralism, standing up for their respective national aspirations and abjuring religious obscurantism, intolerance and extremism.
All the leaders present in the meeting gave an unstinted commitment that their struggles embraced the values of democracy and secularism, had nothing to do with religious intolerance and extremism and were founded on the aspirations of their respective sense of nationalism.
However, all the leaders present at the secret conclave also said in one voice that this issue should have been addressed much earlier so that they could be ready with an “yes” answer. Now the time was too short and they were not ready at that point of time. The requisite administrative infrastructure to conduct a liberation struggle was not in place.
Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti broke ranks and said with a great amount of passion and regret: “I am afraid India will have to fight another war with Pakistan for our sake to secure our freedom”.  Two other leaders, Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Khair Baksh Marri, lent their unqualified support to what Bugti said.
Soon after it ended, Azad presented details of the meeting to myself and a senior Indian government official who happened to be passing through London at the time.
In terms of their specifics, it is obvious the talks failed.  It was apparent that the secret plan of action was chalked out in haste. There were no prior consultations. The uncertainty over the outcome of the war was certainly the main reason why the idea was brought up in the secret confabulations so late in the day. The legacy of bitterness that had piled up among the Bangladeshis against the Punjabi elements for their involvement in the horrendous atrocities of the Pakistan war machine during the liberation struggle was the paramount contributing factor to the conceptualisation of this plan. As it turned out, the effort proved itself to be a bit amateurish. It was more like a war game that was fit for the history books.
Sashanka S. Banerjee (right) with Mujibur Rahman flying on a Royal Air Force VIP Comet Jet on January 9, 1972 from London to New Delhi and then on to Dhaka, arriving on the soil of Bangladesh on January 10, 1972 to a tumultuous welcome at Romna Maidan.
Sashanka S. Banerjee (right) with Mujibur Rahman flying on a Royal Air Force VIP Comet Jet on January 9, 1972 from London to New Delhi and then on to Dhaka, arriving on the soil of Bangladesh on January 10, 1972 to a tumultuous welcome at Romna Maidan.
The aftermath
At the end of the Bangladesh War, Mujib was released from Mianwali Jail in Rawalpindi on  January 8, 1972, arriving in London the next day. Because of my long association with him – I first met Shaikh Mujibur Rahman in 1962 –  he asked me to accompany him to Dhaka via Delhi on the VIP flight that the British government arranged.
I met him again in London in 1973 when he was the prime minister of Bangladesh. He was in town for a gall bladder operation. During my discussions with him, I asked if he knew about the December 16, 1971 secret meeting that Abdus Samad Azad had called. He confirmed: yes, he was fully aware of it. It was unfortunate, he said, that the Baloch people missed their historic opportunity for freedom because of the hesitation of their leadership.
From what I learnt from Mujibur Rahman himself, the Bangladesh government in exile was kept informed of the inconclusive London conclave of December 16, 1971. News of the meeting reached New Delhi too. But Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had already  taken a political decision to unilaterally declare a ceasefire on the western front – on December 17 – thus ending the India-Pakistan war of 1971. For a victorious army that was holding 93,000 POWs, this was a gesture of goodwill that appears, in hindsight, both hasty and uncalled for. It left some of India’s outstanding issues with Pakistan, most importantly Kashmir, unaddressed. The wide ranging view in the country was that while India won the war, it lost the peace. The Simla Agreement of 1972 was a memorial to that failure.
Nonetheless, research scholars in India have acknowledged that Indira Gandhi’s decision to go in for an unilateral ceasefire on the western front – which brought the 1971 Bangladesh War to a close – was certainly not influenced by pressure from the Great Powers.
Could the inconclusive secret London conclave have played a part, news of which would have reached the prime minister even as she was firming up her mind? We shall perhaps never know. Nor will we know what might have happened had Azad’s proposal been accepted by all or even just the Baloch leaders present at that London meeting. Indian military support for the Mukti Bahini was easy to provide because India was sandwiched between the two parts of Pakistan. A Baloch equivalent would likely have been a different affair.

Sashanka S. Banerjee was  posted as an Indian diplomat in London at the time of the events described here. He is also the author of India, Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh Liberation, & Pakistan: A Political Treatisepublished in 2011. On October 20, 2013 , Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina conferred a state honour, ‘Friend of Bangladesh Liberation War’, on him.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Greater Balochistan: A Quiet Frontier Set To Explode – Analysis

Balochistan region in pink. Source: CIABalochistan region in pink. Source: CIA

By Alexander Murray*
As infrastructure projects in Greater Balochistan come to be, governments across South and Central Asia should prepare for what will most likely turn into the region’s next hotbed of violence. Baloch across the region must be included in regional governments’ decision making processes or investors should prepare for the rural ethnic Baloch to thrust their projects into the dustbins of history.
Until they are afforded influential autonomous positions within national, provincial, and local political institutions; until ethnic Baloch can confidently see themselves as equal partners in directing regional development initiatives; until they are tangibly integrated within all growing goods/service distribution networks, direct foreign investment will continues to be a very dangerous undertaking.

Historical Context

Greater Balochistan – southwestern Afghanistan, southeastern Iran, and western Pakistan – has recently encountered a windfall of infrastructure development. As China assists their Pakistani counterparts in constructing and operating the deep-water port of Gwadar, less than 200 kilometers away India and Afghanistan have begun constructing their Iranian equivalent at Chabahar. Both of these projects, and the infrastructure networks emanating from them, are laying the groundwork for a movement of peoples yet unseen in the region.
Though home to a diverse number of ethnicities, this region is populated most heavily by ethnic Baloch, who harbor near no representation in any of the three governments aforementioned. Having waged a rebellion in Pakistan for decades, usually beyond the view of international news media, ethnic Baloch in Afghanistan and Iran have retreated as refugees to foreign lands or faced bleak economic prospects that is their desolate corner of the world.
Each country’s marginalization of ethnic Baloch has occurred all too intentionally. The Baloch in Pakistan are well aware of Islamabad’s exploitation of their natural resources for the sole benefit of Punjab and Sindh. Baloch in Iran and Afghanistan have been sacrificed as pawns in the water conflicts of their respective countries since the 1950s. As Shia dominated Tehran has exacerbated the rhetoric of the region at the expense of potentially rebellious Sunni Baloch, Afghanistan has perpetuated the ecological disaster that was formerly the Helmand River wetlands system. Thus far Baloch initiated outright conflict, as in Pakistan, and strategic patience, employed in Iran and Afghanistan, have returned few tangible results. The arrival of gas pipelines and railways goods might change the current abused, yet quiet, perspective of the locals.

Current Political Climate

Although internationally coordinated development projects have the potential to make Greater Balochistan an affluent trading hub, little has been done to address the security and grassroots development of the region. Rather, all governments involved have utilized the political sensitivity of the area to further nationalist agendas threatening to inflame already existing tensions.
In recent years, Iran has violently bolstered its border with Afghanistan as a means to combat a steady stream of refugees and opium. Iranian border guards frequently shoot to kill economic migrants, officials have built walls in certain areas, walls that divide a once porous border of intra-community trade, and Tehran frequently utilizes the threat of migrant mistreatment and deportation to flex its will at Kabul.
Over the past several months, Pakistan has encouraged a policy of regional destabilization aimed at increasing Afghan economic dependence on the will of Islamabad. In August, a key period of Afghan export trade, Pakistani officials closed the Wesh-Chaman border crossing for nearly two weeks causing millions of dollars of perishable fruits to waste away. This incident is commonly understood by political theorists to be an example of Islamabad’s determined economic skirmishes with Kabul regarding little more than national agendas. It is more than redundant to stress the Pakistani state security apparatus’ support of local Taliban militias, support again aimed at destabilization of what Islamabad sees as an unfavorable regime in Kabul.
India, historical adversary of Pakistan, all the while continues to harass Islamabad at its flanks newly in Balochistan. While attempting to justify Indian actions in Kashmir, during Independence Day celebrations Indian Prime Minister Modi unnecessarily invoked the non-sequitur that India supports the Pakistani Baloch struggle for recognition. In doing so, the PM invited new allegations of direct Indian involvement in Pakistani internal affairs and accomplished little more than greater deterioration of South Asian security.
Since Tehran-Kabul-Islamabad-Delhi relations continue to utilize Greater Balochistan as a pawn in national agendas, little practical intervention has taken place to affect the locals most brutalized. Only foreign investors have begun to reasonably consider the ethnic Baloch, who have thus far remained little more than a business line item. It is apparent to the current author that if these policies do not change, the people wrongfully labeled a commodity and/or talking point, will continue to violently rise up across national borders and exert their will to remind the region of their true value. Understanding and utilizing that Baloch value appropriately could in turn benefit every actor in the region to whom the value becomes clear.

Areas of Positive Intervention

Governmental Representation

Currently, rural ethnic Baloch find themselves represented by the Afghan Taliban, the Balochistan Liberation Army, and few else within Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran respectively. Those bodies of representation do not seek to address national concerns, but rather have commanded legitimacy by acknowledging and acting on local issues. Having done so, they maintain safe havens from which to exert violent attacks upon outside actors, the most frequent target being national governments. With the arrival of international business enterprises, these groups have expanded their targets of violence so as to garner further attention to their plights large and small. Should regional governments effectively integrate their leaders into existing government structures, local needs may appropriately be focused upon and national legitimacy gained lessening the desire for violent aims.

International Business Inclusion

While ethnic Baloch have a longstanding history of conflict with their respective national governments, international businesses investing in the region are relatively new actors. The scale upon which they might be locally judged is not yet known. Though each business maintains a national affiliation, independent businesses have a much greater degree of discretion regarding with whom they choose to interact. Statistics show a relatively low involvement of Baloch laborers in the Chinese project at Gwadar, and even fewer in management positions, and none to speak of in executive advisory capacities. This has not yet proven to be the case at Chabahar nor at infrastructure projects within Nimroz and/or Helmand province, Afghanistan. Baloch inclusion within international business ventures in the region supports local means of legitimization, hence contributing to lessened security volatility.

Economic Integration

Regardless of the previously proposed areas of intervention, the Greater Balochistan security situation demands economic compensation local Baloch believe they deserve. This is the primary concern of all Baloch in the region and is a positive step that can be taken by any independent actor. National governments and regional polities, domestic businesses and transnational corporations, private investors and quite literally anyone seeking security in this tumultuous corner of the world must begin the process of legitimately integrating continued streams of revenue and services to Baloch living in all nations concerned. From where longstanding Baloch frustration derives itself is continued historical economic marginalization. Even today, pipelines and highways direct themselves through or away from Greater Balochistan. Each passing lorry furthers local discontent. All actors involved must seek to remedy this situation or face the consequences of the increasingly armed and de facto rulers of this previously forgotten land. Guerilla warfare and acts of terrorism must not remain the Baloch’s only ways to win recognition and support.
*The author is a political analyst from the University of Chicago.