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The War Within Islam ( 2 Sept 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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A Sense of Mistrust: Baloch Nationalists Putting down their Guns: New Age Islam’s Selection from Pakistan Press

 By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

3 September 2015

 A sense of mistrust: Baloch nationalists putting down their guns

By Kamila Hyat

 Your residence among the Falcons

By Ayaz Amir

 Relevance of the liberals

By Muhammad Amir Rana

 Chimera of terror financing

By Khurram Husain

 Repression, resistance, rapprochement

By Dr Mohammad Taqi



A sense of mistrust: Baloch nationalists putting down their guns

By Kamila Hyat


September 03, 2015

There is something too perfect about it, too scripted, too idyllic. Yes, the sight of Baloch nationalists putting down their guns and joining the mainstream of national life is something we would all like to see. But it is hard to believe that the small drama we saw on August 14 in Quetta, when some 400 men said to be militants placed their guns aside and instead took up flowers and national flags from children clad in traditional clothing, as military officials and administrators looked on, was not staged. The timing and the orchestration seemed too perfect.

The problem is that in real life the music does not always ring out at just the right moment. Troubles do not disappear instantaneously. It takes time and effort for that to happen. The effort is indeed being made, and there are some encouraging results.

The distinct change in tone from Brahamdagh Bugti, living in exile in Switzerland, who has indicated he may be willing to enter into talks and give up a demand for an independent Balochistan is among them. So are the talks with the Khan of Kalat Suleiman Dawood Ahmedzai. But it is worth keeping in mind the reality: Brahamdagh’s promises remain vague and the leader of the Balochistan Republican Party has protected himself by saying that any decision would need to be backed by the will of the Baloch people.

The Khan of Kalat, whose state ceded to Pakistan in 1948, on a request made by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, is today an ageing man. It is unclear what talks have been held with his son. But even if the Khan returns, there are doubts over how much clout he carries and what he can achieve in real terms. Small theatrical productions will not be enough.

It is a fact that stepped up military operations in Balochistan have pressurised the militants. In Dera Bugti, Bugti tribesmen have lost key jobs, notably in the gas pipeline sector. The discontent that arises from this is not something Brahamdagh Bugti would wish to burden himself with. The role of tribal chieftan and rebel leader do not always mix well – but are a characteristic feature of the long insurgency in Balochistan.

For the authorities, curbing unrest in Balochistan has of course become all the more crucial with the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. A large tract of this road, rail and pipeline project – which promises much to Pakistan developmentally and strategically – crosses the vast, rugged terrain of Balochistan.

Violence in the province is a key Chinese concern, and Pakistani authorities, quite naturally enough, will be desperate to ensure an end to militancy both for the sake of this project and the gas pipeline from Iran which could meet so many of Pakistan’s energy needs. For the sake of the nation, achieving peace in Balochistan is imperative. The military’s concern over this is unsurprising.

But we need to look at the wider frame. Beyond these small episodes, including the surrender of arms in Quetta, the statements from capitals in other countries and pledges by military commanders of quashing the uprising, the fact is that the key component in the whole picture has been left out.

We are not considering the feelings and sentiments of the people of Balochistan. It is they who are the most important of all. It is important that they be brought on board if any kind of settlement is to succeed. Right now, feelings of mistrust and a perception of injustice runs deep amongst these people. They believe they have been mistreated by the state of Pakistan. To what extent these views are correct is a different argument. The point to be made is that people believe in them and they need to be persuaded otherwise if there is to be any hope of a lasting peace in a province that has remained troubled since the inception of Pakistan.

Opportunities offered up by key Baloch figures for peace in the past, notably during the 1970s and again in the mid-2000s, have been squandered. There is also an apparent conviction among paramilitary forces operating in the province that they will be able to ‘win’ against insurgents there. This may be perfectly true for the near future. It is indeed likely the rebels will be defeated, imprisoned or forced to lay down arms. But in the longer run, the anger and hatred that runs through the veins of Balochistan will continue to grow more fiery and this cannot augur well for the long-term future of a territory crucial to Pakistan.

While claims continue to be made that militants everywhere are simply handing over their weapons, the fact also is that attacks by insurgents continue. One came this past Sunday morning at the Jiwani Airport on the Balochistan-Iran border, where about six motorcyclists staged an attack in which one person working at the airport was killed and another reportedly kidnapped. These incidents are symptoms of the problems Balochistan still faces. To resolve them, it is necessary to go to the people and not just to individual nationalist leaders who may have their own agendas to follow, their own reasons to reach deals and their own interests to protect.

The question arises as to what the provincial government in Balochistan is doing. Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has a reputation as a well-meaning and honest man. So too does Hasil Bizenjo, the head of the National Party to which Dr Baloch belongs. Bizenjo of course follows a tradition of ideological politics inherited from his father, Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo. He may, like Dr Baloch, believe the right things, say the right words and genuinely wish to alter the fate of his home province.

But the Baloch civilian leadership really has very limited powers. It has so far tried to play along with the centre and the military establishment, although it is known that within the NP, differences exist on this point. For now, the orders come from other places. People in Balochistan know this and, as has happened so many times before in our history, an elected leadership is in danger of losing respect. It has already been largely stripped of its capacity to govern and make decisions on its own.

All this complicates the situation in Balochistan. We need to face up to realities in order to vanquish them. It is vital that we draw Balochistan back into our federation and its core. But this cannot happen simply through pretence or playing charades. A genuine effort has to be made to engage the Baloch in meaningful dialogue.

It may be true that foreign actors play some part in the politics of that region. But the real problems boil up from within the heated soil of Balochistan and solutions have to be found here so that there can be some hope of lasting peace in a part of our country that has for too long been in turmoil.

Yes, we all wish that turmoil to end and yes, all institutions must act together for this. But it is crucial that the people of the province not be left out of the equation and be permitted to play a part in determining what can be done to better their future and their conditions of life. They have been denied this for too many decades.

Kamila Hyat is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor.


Your residence among the Falcons

By Ayaz Amir


September 03, 2015

In the national temple dedicated to the worship of the leading Pakistani deity, the holy glitter of real estate, how could Pakistan Air Force be left behind? Iqbal, the national poet – whom we’ve given sufficient reason to turn in his grave – saw the Falcon, the Shaheen of his poetry, dwelling on the peaks of the highest Himalayas. PAF has slightly amended the image. The Shaheen henceforth will be mostly found among the luxury apartment blocks erected by the PAF’s own housing society, Fazaia.

Tu shaheen hai basera kar fazaia kee chatanon par.

In the beginning was the Word, saith the Bible. Everything else followed. In Pakistan it was slightly different. In the beginning was the Defence Housing Colony, Karachi, made into the Defence Housing Authority through military statute by that defender of the faith, General Ziaul Haq. As a colony it was like any other housing colony. As an authority it was endowed with statutory power – lord in its own domain, answerable to no civic body.

The property in its jurisdiction was already valuable. With the bestowal of authority status, it became still more valuable.

The British set aside vast tracts of land for cantonment purposes. In the Lahore cantonment area there used to be firing ranges, drill areas and regimental locations. The eye of the Momin was more ingenious and found other, more lucrative uses for those rolling fields. If Karachi had developed a choice defence housing colony by the sea, how could the Lahore Garrison stay behind? So Defence Lahore came up, which through another military statute was given authority status by that other soldier of Islam, General Pervez Musharraf.

His then Lahore corps commander, Lt Gen Zarrar Azeem, opened up so many defence housing sectors that in military circles he came to be known as Zarrar Zameen.

Pakistan acquired a unique distinction. Whereas elsewhere on the planet the word ‘defence’ conjured up a vision of cannon, tanks and earthworks thrown up against threatening armies, in its case defence came to symbolise real estate. That unknown wag deserves a prize who first said that F-16 was a corner plot.

Somewhere in the 1990s in the time of that enterprising naval chief, Grand Admiral Mansoor-ul-Haq, the navy, bahria in Urdu, following the army footsteps, entered the real-estate business in partnership with that legendary figure now the uncrowned king of this holy endeavour. The navy provided the logo, which gave the partnership credibility; from the budding tycoon came the drive and the expertise.

Soon a dispute arose over the ownership of the logo and the matter went to court. Students of jurisprudence can mull over the fact that for the past 20 years Pakistan’s fast-track judicial system has been unable to resolve this dispute.

To return to our story, if Karachi and Lahore had entered the golden age, how could Islamabad stay out? So in due course there came into being Defence Islamabad which too would have got authority status if circumstances had not conspired to bring about Musharraf’s downfall. So the good work was left unfinished.

To finish it, the defence ministry brought a bill in the National Assembly during its last tenure to give authority status to Defence Islamabad. In the standing committee on defence I, as a committee member, questioned the need for any extra-constitutional favour to a housing colony and put up a dissenting note. My stance, after I had explained matters, was adopted by my then party, the PML-N. This made the opposition to the bill more serious.

But the army has a way of getting its own done. The defence ministry managed to work on the strategic duo of Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar and before we knew it the PML-N was supporting not one but two DHA bills, one for Islamabad and the other for ‘Pindi. To smooth matters, it was said in the preamble of the bills that the DHAs were necessary for the families of shuhada (the martyred), which was the biggest fiction imaginable because DHAs, all of them, are commercial enterprises, a subsidised means of acquiring wealth and property. As every property agent knows, they have nothing to do with cheap housing for the families of military martyrs.

Soon a Defence Peshawar also came up, the provincial assembly passing a DHA bill in double quick time. Recently we’ve seen the emergence of Defence Bahawalpur. The Intelligence Bureau has also entered the real-estate market in a big way, its housing colony ads plastered all over Islamabad. I once took the name of its housing colony but my editors, conscientious souls, cut it. In my younger days I would get angry at such things. Now I just screw my eyes and mutter a silent imprecation…the onset of wisdom, I suppose.

With the army scoring bigger victories in the real-estate sector than in any of its external wars, Bahria entering the picture too and leaving other competitors behind, the Intelligence Bureau creating a splash with its own housing colony, only PAF remained out of the holy temple, the pillars and arches of this temple loftier than that of any other, including, and this is saying a great deal, the temple of national security. Now, Allah be praised, the Shaheens are making their entry into Valhalla and, to judge by the frenzy of the music accompanying their march (or should it be flight?), making up for lost time.

No other military, anywhere, has gone about the real-estate business in such an organised manner. The Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, indeed our Indian friends, could take lessons from us in this field. The higher conduct of war by our general staff may leave something to be desired – as the history of our wars testifies – but no military comes close to ours in the matter of defence housing colonies.

Only problem is, while real estate and corruption may walk hand in hand, and quite often do, can war and real estate go together? At a time when army and air force, and the security agencies, have declared war on terrorism, and the army is being praised for its endeavours and the nation looks proudly and with the deepest respect at the sacrifices of jawans and officers, do all these advertising campaigns about defence, bahria and fazaia housing colonies go with this mood?

Let me repeat that these housing colonies are commercial enterprises which have nothing to do with troop welfare. When most of Pakistan is mired in poverty and backwardness these over-the-top ad campaigns promote a consumerist and acquisitive lifestyle, glorifying a culture for the rich and the privileged. Is this not an insult to our jawans, a mockery of the army’s sacrifices? Don’t senior officers – generals, air marshals, admirals – have a sense of what is appropriate? Or is this what PMA Kakul and Staff College Quetta instruction has come down to?

Fortress of Islam indeed…is this what Islam teaches?

The army finally is doing the right thing, and the public is on its side because of this. Pakistan was on course to become another Iraq or Syria if, against the wishes of the politicians, the army had not moved last year. We say we are in a state of war. Indeed we are. This is a war of our survival, a war for our future. Do obscene housing ads – and there is no other word for them – go with this war?

Or did Churchill cut housing colony tapes during the Second World War and Ho Chi Minh inaugurate residences for falcons during Vietnam’s war of resistance against the American Empire?


Relevance of the liberals

By Muhammad Amir Rana


3 September 2015

DO liberals matter in national policy discourse? Do they have anything in common with other segments of society? And who are they and what do they want?

These are not difficult questions to answer. However, at times, the optimism of the liberals and the question of their relevance in both social and policy discourses create ambiguity.

We do not find distinctive shades of liberalism in Pakistan. Sometimes business and political elites, which favour liberalisation of trade and economic policies, are also mistakenly deemed as liberals. Who are Pakistan’s liberals? One simple answer could be: all those who are not extremists (although for some right-wingers they would be ‘fascists’). Their bitterness and critical attitude make them different, but they do not believe in violence. They do not follow any particular ideology or philosophy on the basis of which they could be described as a ‘cult’.

The confrontation between liberals and pragmatists is not new in Pakistan.

Another simple distinction could be that those who believe in the vision of Pakistan’s founder, as espoused in his Aug 11, 1947 address to the constituent assembly are liberals. They dream of a modern, progressive and accommodative state. To a certain extent, they are idealists, and their competitors are not right-wingers, conservatives or the ‘forces of darkness’, but ‘pragmatists’. The latter seek inspiration from religion and religion-based nationalism. The Pakistani establishment had crafted a vision of the state with their help, based on certain principles. The ‘pragmatic’ forces conceive ‘liberals’ as a non-religious body and against the ideological identity of the state.

The confrontation between liberals and pragmatists is not new in Pakistan. It had started instantly after Jinnah’s speech on Aug 11. The pragmatists worked hard to become custodians of Pakistan’s ideology and successfully developed relations with the establishment.

The establishment is also aware that these forces hold the key to meeting ideological and political challenges. For example, if a terrorist group, such as the self-styled Islamic State can create a security challenge, the establishment knows who can provide a fitting response in terms of a counter-narrative, and it would hardly be surprising if the likes of Hafiz Saeed of Jamaatud Dawa, along with his allies Masood Azhar, Fazlur Rehman Khalil and Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi, ‘stood up’ against the evil. The Jamaat-i-Islami, all factions of the Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam, small and relatively new religious parties etc would be on the streets to support and strengthen the narrative.

Pakistan’s liberals cannot provide a response to such challenges. They would rather demand a ban on the pragmatic forces which have proved their ‘loyalty’ to the state many times. Whenever Pakistan faced a challenge on its borders, these forces extended their support. If they had caused any problem in the past, or their affiliated/supported miscreants had created difficulties for internal security, the pragmatists knew how to fix that. They would eventually find a solution with collaborative efforts.

One should not ignore the fact that it was the JuD which had issued the fatwa against suicide attacks and terrorism inside Pakistan. The group had taken a firm stand against internal and external terrorist groups of takfiris and kharijis, who had initiated war against the state. These are the forces of pragmatism which run an extensive social and welfare network across the country. The state cannot ‘ignore’ the services of these organisations. Can liberals maintain such big networks of social welfare?

The establishment does not need liberals’ support, which it deems counterproductive for the fulfilment of its ambitions — despite the fact that in times of crisis liberals try to extend their support to the establishment, especially when differences emerge between the latter and the pragmatists. They see such moments as an opportunity to expand their space and influence with the establishment. But all that is of no avail as witnessed during the recent civil society demonstrations outside Lal Masjid in Islamabad to protest against the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar last December.

The liberals always talk about counter-narratives and rational thinking, but the reformists among the pragmatists argue that an anti-thesis can come only from the religious-ideological discourse which they own. They say ‘outside’ engineering of counter-narratives cannot lead to changing the extremist outlook.

The establishment and their pragmatic allies see liberals as a tiny misled segment of society, influenced by the West intellectually and socially. Most importantly, they think liberals have nothing in common with them when it comes to the national discourse.

The establishment always avoids any engagement with liberals. The reason is that it does not want to annoy its natural allies among the pragmatists. The establishment also confuses liberals with Western- funded NGOs and looks at their activities suspiciously. The NGOs provide shelter to a few liberals, but their focus largely remains on structural reforms in the social sector in which the government has hardly invested. The establishment brackets all those as liberals who criticise its policies, approach and vision.

The pragmatic forces, however, know the art of criticism, and try to maximise the gains through criticising certain polices of the state. The religious leadership constitutes a major proportion of the forces of pragmatism in Pakistan. The establishment does not see any harm in their criticism as it never challenges their vision and does not demand structural reforms. In return, the religious leadership wants an entry in the elites’ club of the country. Their alliance serves each other’s purposes. The religious elites exploit such opportunities and further expand their influence and support base through strengthening their religious institutions.

Is an alliance possible between the establishment and liberals? It has happened a few times in the history of Pakistan. In the recent past, we saw one during the early years of Gen Musharraf’s rule, but it proved short-lived and further disillusioned the liberals, who had sought a shortcut to achieve their objective through such alliances.

Pakistan’s liberals have a long way to go. One thing is clear: they have to build their intellectual discourse on their own, without external or the establishment’s support.

Muhammad Amir Rana is a security analyst.


Chimera of terror financing

By Khurram Husain


3 September 2015

THE number of people apprehended by the Rangers in the Karachi operation and charged with terror financing is growing by the day. All of them have been apprehended under a single law, brought in in late 2013 as an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. That law is titled Section 11EEEE, and empowers the Rangers to apprehend anyone and hold them for 90 days provided three conditions are met.

The law in question allows for “the preventive detention of any person who has been concerned in any offence under this Act relating to the security and defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, or public order relating to target killing or kidnapping for ransom and extortion/bhatta, or the maintenance of supplies of services, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been so concerned, for purpose of inquiry”.

The law is being applied in a wide range of detentions taking place under the Rangers operation today, and in every case, the courts are granting custody of the accused to the Rangers for 90 days based simply on an application which states that “credible information” has been received regarding the person’s involvement in any of the activities listed in the law. The judges are not permitted to ask for the evidence under which the person is being detained, reducing them to mere signing authorities for detention orders issued by the Rangers.

The real apparatus for detecting and apprehending terror funds is lying largely dormant.

Former minister Asim Hussain has been detained under this law as well as senior management of SSGC. Earlier, the same law was used to detain Qamar Mansoor and Kaiful Wara who were apprehended from the MQM headquarters for organising a speech by MQM chief Altaf Hussain. Reporters covering the detentions say they are seeing on average five to six people presented every day before the ATCs for preventive detention under Section 11EEEE. This is a very large number, and the people apprehended come from a wide range of backgrounds.

At the same time, as a growing number of people are being swept up for involvement in terror financing under this law, the real apparatus for detecting and apprehending terror funds is lying largely dormant. In the latest review with the IMF, which is monitoring the government’s implementation of its commitment to bolster its capacity to apprehend terror financing, the Fund staff said “there is a need to continue bolstering the effectiveness of the framework to mitigate … the financing of terrorism”.

This is in stark contrast to the speed with which the amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act were passed giving the Rangers the wide-ranging and open-ended authority contained in Section 11EEEE. Parliament has been quick to give open-ended authority to the Rangers to apprehend people in the name of pursuing terror financing, but when it comes to giving similar powers to civilian law-enforcement agencies, it has dragged its feet.

To be fair, the Rangers operation has succeeded in bringing a substantial return to normalcy in large parts of Karachi. Traders of the Old City area, the business segment hardest hit by the rising arc of the gang wars in the past decade, report a substantial drop in extortion threats, although earlier this week one incident of firing which resulted in one fatality, soured the atmosphere since the incident was sparked by refusal of some traders to pay extortion money as per an agreed schedule. Large parts of the Old City area were shut for two days as a result earlier in the week.

Crime statistics also tell a similar story. The surge in reported street crime — vehicle and mobile phone snatching, kidnapping and killings — had reached an all-time high in 2013, but all indicators show a dip in subsequent years. There is still a long way to go in bringing things back to where they were in 2006 before the gang wars got under way, but an improvement is definitely visible. However, there are some areas of concern about how the operation is being carried out. The army chief and the prime minister are both repeatedly going on record to say that the operation will be taken to its “logical conclusion”. But what exactly is that logical conclusion?

Do the Rangers have an endgame in mind for the operation? At what point will they be able to declare an end to the operation, and to whom do they intend to hand over once that point has been reached? The incident in the Old City demonstrates that the forces of disorder may be suppressed for the time being but still lurk beneath the surface. The nexus between politics and organised crime may have been substantially dismantled for the moment, but can reconstitute itself very quickly and the Rangers operation cannot be expected to continue indefinitely.

The operation, it would appear, is on a bit of a slippery slope. The roots of violence and disorder in the city trace themselves ultimately to a failure to deliver on governance, particularly in the supply of land which is one of the largest causes behind the killings in the city. This is a gap the Rangers cannot fill, and force can rectify this failure only up to a point.

The key governance failures in Karachi owe themselves to the fact that the city is run by the provincial assembly, whose members have little to no roots in the city itself. Local government is unmistakably the answer, but local government elections are likely to return the same parties to power that are currently being swept up in the dragnet. Actions that seek to predetermine the outcome of the local bodies polls will be counterproductive, so it is far from clear how the authorities directing the operation intend to clinch their gains and bring normalcy to Karachi on a sustainable footing. Let’s hope they’ve thought this through.

Khurram Husain  is a member of staff.


Repression, Resistance, Rapprochement

By Dr Mohammad Taqi


September 03, 2015

The 4th of September marks the anniversary of the great Apache warrior, Goyathlay — better known as Geronimo by friend and foe — putting down his weapon in front of the US General Nelson Miles. The 1886 capitulation of Geronimo, who had led a tiny band of the Chiricahua Apaches against the colonisers, is considered the end of armed resistance and American-Indian wars. It took over 5,000 US soldiers and, more importantly, 60 Apache collaborator scouts to finally subdue Geronimo, deemed perhaps the most formidable Indian resistance leader in history. Geronimo was promised release to a reservation in two years, among other things, which was swiftly reneged on. He and hundreds of other Chiricahua, including women and children, were dispatched to Florida to be imprisoned. Geronimo spent most of his time at the penitentiary at Fort Pickens, Pensacola, while his wife was incarcerated at Fort Marion in St Augustine.

The Fort Pickens prison management made a curiosity out of the incarcerated mighty Indian warrior and sold tickets to watch him. Later on, the great Geronimo was made part of a circus exhibit in St Louis, converted to Christianity and even marched with five Indian chiefs in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration day parade to appease the victors in an effort to regain the Indians’ rights at least on the reservations. He even had a meeting with President Roosevelt to plead for his release and Indian rights, which were aborted due to the US president not yielding and Geronimo losing his temper. US policy then was to de-Indianise the native population; the colonial state went to the extent of forced assimilation where hundreds of children were taken away from their families and made wards of the state at boarding schools like the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Pennsylvania. The children, several taken from those prisons in Florida against their parents’ wishes, were given English names and baptised into Christian denominations to ‘Americanise’ them. Some 350 of them marched behind Geronimo and others at Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration. What was done in the name of progress and assimilation had actually started with first the Mexicans and then the US armies fighting over the then newly discovered gold in the Apache country in the US southwest. Geronimo returned to Arizona but was never a free man. He died after falling from a horse and his last words and the only regret reportedly were: “I should never have surrendered; I should have fought until I was the last man alive.”

Those two prisons at Pensacola and St Augustine, Florida are still standing and looking at them one is often reminded of the tragic parallels between the Indian nations of North America and the Baloch. The two outnumbered and outgunned tribal confederacies, fought one colonial power after another and perhaps even bickered amongst themselves, betrayed often by their own while trying to hold on to whatever was left of their autonomy and wounded pride. The outside powers, on the other hand, ogled and then hogged native resources and riches on the pretext of modernising a ‘primitive’ people. One wonders that if the Baloch, for example, had only half the area of their France-sized territory, a fraction of their gas and minerals but double the population, which way the tide of history might have turned. The stark reality, however, remains that history has dealt the Baloch an extremely difficult hand and that is not about to get better any time soon. The state repression unleashed on the Baloch since 1948 has invariably been met by stiff armed resistance but neither has one side been trounced decisively nor a meaningful rapprochement reached between the two.

One certainly hopes that the current conflict in Balochistan will have a different outcome than the 1948, 1958, 1963 and the 1973 resistance movements but the signs indicate otherwise. The self-exiled leader of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Mr Brahamdagh Bugti, in an interview with BBC Urdu’s journalist Adil Shahzeb, has expressed not only his conditional willingness to talk to the Pakistani authorities “if the military operation is halted” but to also back off from the demand for an independent Balochistan “if the Baloch people so desire”. The current crisis in Balochistan flared up when Brahamdagh Bugti’s grandfather, the veteran Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, was assassinated during the state’s operation on August 26, 2006. Brahamdagh Bugti’s choice of the tragic date for his interview is rather baffling. Sadly, other than the provincial civilian apparatchiks claiming to talk to Brahamdagh Bugti and other resistance leaders there is no evidence that the military operation in Balochistan will be stopped. In fact, the military action, especially in the Awaran region, has become more intense with the obvious intent to physically eliminate the key guerrilla leader Dr Allah Nazar Baloch. The kidnappings and disappearances of the resistance’s fellow travellers and civilians continue unabated. There is absolutely no word about the thousands of disappeared Baloch. On the other hand, money is being doled out by the sackful to those ostensibly ‘surrendering’. Balochistan’s faux nationalist government is working hand-in-glove with the security establishment to decimate the resistance movement without addressing human rights abuses and the issue of Baloch autonomy over their abundant resources. Recognising Pakistan as a multi-ethnic, multinational federation is a prerequisite to addressing Baloch grievances but instead the playbook is all about forced or imposed assimilation and exploitation.

The charter of demands given by Brahamdagh Bugti and its circumstances are not much different than the respected Baloch leader and former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal’s 2012 six points and, regrettably, its fate would not be any different either. The Pakistani state has made various sham peace offers to the Baloch since 1948. The venerable Baloch leader, Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari, wrote that when the 1958 resistance led by the elderly Baloch leader Nowruz Khan Zarakzai, known by the honourific Babu Nowruz, remained undefeated for almost two years, the state sent his nephew Doda Khan with the holy Quran in hand and the message that all their demands had been met. The moment Babu Nowruz and his comrades accepted the peace offer and surfaced they were arrested by the military, tried summarily and executed by hanging except old Babu Nowruz himself. To torment the elderly Baloch, he was asked to identify his son among the dead bodies. Babu Nowruz replied: “All these brave men are my sons!” Unlike Goyathlay Geronimo, the frail, octogenarian Babu Nowruz never did surrender or parade at an inauguration. That is where the Baloch and American-Indians’ stories diverge. While parleys and rapprochement are not merely desirable but imperative, Brahamdagh Bugti should take with a pinch of salt whatever he has been or will be promised.