Doomed Baloch–Trapped between the army and terrorists

Balochistan

The hapless Baloch now have a new danger to fear–they are now caught in the crossfire between the Pakistan Army and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorists.

For decades, the Baloch have been suffering inhuman treatment from the army–forcibly taken away to secret prisons, locked up without any charges for years, tortured every single day and those who died, as hundreds did, their bodies dumped in unknown pits.

The Baloch have been the enemy for the state’s security forces. Their fault has been to demand for fairness and justice in treating them as citizens of Pakistan. While the state and its agencies have been plundering the natural wealth of the region, its people have been left to exist in extreme poverty and perpetual fear. The young have borne the brunt of the state’s brutality–students disappearing suddenly and never to be found; and those who returned left in no position to seek a decent living.

Now there is a new ploy which the army has adopted to brutalise the Baloch–allowing the TTP militants to find a new area of operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan so that military offensives can be launched without any uproar. In recent weeks, TTP has been targeting Balochistan areas, especially those linked to CPEC’s western route. Several police stations in the area have come under fire from marauding groups of terrorists from TTP and its splinter groups like Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan.

In reality, this is a move plotted by the Pakistan Army. In the name of containing TTP attacks, the army is poised to launch a series of major offensives against the militant group in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This will solve two other problems which have been troubling the army, the growing dissent among the Baloch and Pashtuns against the army and the state as a whole. In the garb of taking on TTP militants, the army can launch another secret war against the Baloch without any hue and cry.

Silencing the Baloch has been one of the army’s military objectives for decades. It was during the Musharraf regime when the army openly bombed the Baloch leaders over petty excuses. Musharraf was for instance was upset over the Baloch agitation over the rape of Baloch doctor by a young army officer. He not only decided to set up a new garrison in the area but also launched a fierce military campaign against Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a veteran Baloch leader. Since then, the Baloch have been targeted by the army relentlessly through disappearances and other covert military overtures. Hundreds and thousands have disappeared with the state shamelessly terming them as `missing persons`.

The TTP’s expansion into Balochistan has given a new excuse for the army to suppress the Baloch spirit again.

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