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Blood and Balochistan

Updated Apr 26, 2015 11:40am

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Gunmen killed 20 construction workers and injured three others in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat, in Balochistan’s Kech district on April 11.— AP/file
Gunmen killed 20 construction workers and injured three others in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat, in Balochistan’s Kech district on April 11.— AP/file

In grotesque times come grotesque thoughts. Why this elliptical wretchedness when Mama Qadeer is right there, shuffling around in plain sight?

It’s not like they don’t have the expertise: if there were no missing persons, there’d be no Mama Qadeer.

It is a monstrous thought. To think it is to pollute the mind, to somehow become closer to the men who sanction such acts, dispatching men on motorcycles to pull up alongside cars and pull the trigger.


Balochistan is a murky place where murky things happen for murky reasons. Sealed off from the rest of the country, few thought to ponder another massacre in Balochistan.


Because he’s alive and another is dead, you can hazard a guess. There is no hard rule; it is about management. And phases.

Once upon a time, Saba Dashtiyari was the problem. Then, Saba Dashtiyari was killed. Now, you struggle to recall his name. That was 2011. When kill-and-dump emerged and the net was widened.

What had begun as killing the killers had morphed into killing the supporters too. That’s why Dashtiyari was dead. Now, killing the supporters has extended to killing the supporters of the supporters. That’s why another is dead. And a new phase has opened.

The link will be made to a recently cancelled talk. A warning had been issued and it had not been heeded. But new phases, wider targets, are not triggered by a talk here or protest there.

Monstrousness considers itself above that. Theirs is a mission to serve and protect and their actions must have meaning and purpose. It is not hard to see what may have catalysed this new phase, this new monstrousness.

Also read: 20 labourers gunned down in Turbat

April 11. Turbat. From this newspaper: “Gunmen killed 20 construction workers and injured three others in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat, in Balochistan’s Kech district.”

Inured to bad news from Balochistan, few paid attention. Yes, it was more dead. Yes, it seemed nasty. Yes, civilians from other provinces had been killed for being civilians from other provinces.

Also read: COAS vows to crush insurgency in Balochistan

But Balochistan is a murky place where murky things happen for murky reasons. Sealed off from the rest of the country, physically and psychologically, few thought to ponder another massacre in Balochistan.

Some did though. April 15. Quetta. From this newspaper: “‘The army chief warned foreign states, intelligence agencies against trying to destabilise Pakistan by supporting terrorists in Balochistan. We’ll defeat them comprehensively,’ military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa quoted the army chief as saying.”

From Twitter that day, same man quoting same person: “Will unearth Terrorists, abettors, sympathisers, financiers.

None will find place in country to hide. Will go to any length 4 writ of state.”

Turbat was not missed by some. Not by those with a mission to serve and protect and whose actions must have purpose and meaning.

Zoom out from Turbat and you have the other new problem: China. There was Xi being feted and his dream of a road to the sea being sold fervently. But economic hubs and trade corridors don’t happen in places where no one can go without inviting a bullet.

You can’t go to Balochistan without inviting a bullet. For Xi’s dream to come true folk have to be able to go to Balochistan without inviting a bullet. Security and the economy are entwined there.

It’s an old approach though: kill the dissent first, then pour some economic balm and hope that dissent doesn’t reappear too quickly. The Xi dream is the boys’ dream too.

The Xi dream means the security part will need to be done on a grander scale to match the economy bit. Those with a mission to serve and protect and whose actions must have purpose and meaning have all of that and more of that than ever.

There are two other things, one harder to explain than the other. The first is the failed policy: Balochistan has not been beaten into submission.

Once upon a time, years ago, it seemed obvious that in quelling the fifth insurgency, the conditions for a sixth insurgency were being sowed.

If that was obvious enough, also obvious: it was a price the boys were willing to pay. Fix today and deal with whatever comes tomorrow, tomorrow.

But as the Baloch arm was twisted further and the boot pressed harder on the Baloch neck all that seemed to happen was the arm came closer to being torn off and the neck being snapped. Balochistan has not been beaten into submission.

So, why continue? Before, it seemed nothing would change until 2014. With foreign troops billeted in the neighbour’s south, the political option was never going to given a chance.

It’s 2015 now and time for an update: the political option is never going to be given a chance in Balochistan. For some reason, the boys have decided that Balochistan is too important and too valuable to be entrusted to the civilians.

For that reason Balochistan will remain an open wound, never to heal.

The other bit is easier to explain. Who cares about a little place in Karachi where a handful of people gathered to talk about woolly ideas and that had the tiniest of footprints?

Your average madressah could pull a bigger crowd any day of the week than what was routinely served up there.

There is a difference though: social media. Social media does two things: it amplifies stuff locally and connects to the outside world. Neither amplification nor connectivity is deemed desirable. Not when it’s about pesky, undesirable ideas being purveyed.

Maybe that’s why Mama Qadeer is alive and another dead.

The writer is a member of staff.

cyril.a@gmail.com

Twitter: @cyalm

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2015

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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (36) Closed



BALOCH Apr 26, 2015 02:42am

well marked out

Yasmeen Apr 26, 2015 03:42am

Awesome analysis. No satirical dramatic words. Best writer Dawn has.

lalai Apr 26, 2015 04:03am

"Balochistan will remain an open wound, never to heal." spot on Cyril.

brr Apr 26, 2015 07:33am

Well written, those who shine a torch on dark corners to show the evilness there will be shot down, only to switch the torch off again.

Absar Apr 26, 2015 07:33am

This is absurd. I don't like the misty ideas and poor analysis flowing in the column.

Farhan Apr 26, 2015 09:29am

Yes, as someone having an eye on ground realities in Balochistan, I know it's going to last much longer. why? Because it is laying golden eggs for boys. It's economics Idiots!!

Was Balo Apr 26, 2015 09:36am

The Baloch are determined for their survival in their historic homeland

Was Balo Apr 26, 2015 09:44am

The Baloch are determined for their survival in their historic homeland

Sunil Apr 26, 2015 10:16am

Pakistan government without any discrimination, must make every effort to bring normalcy in Balochistan.

Saleem Abbass Apr 26, 2015 11:23am

Indeed.!! Our security concerns must be specially considered.!

Kakar Apr 26, 2015 11:43am

Another aspect which has escaped attention is the fortune that we are spending in containing /subduing insurgency. It seems as if we have too much of resources to be bothered about. if we add all the resources and calculate the amount devoted to countering all insurgencies, the tide of poverty and backwardness would have been turned. So the pertinent and inevitable question! should resources be apportioned to destruction or construction?

Suresh Apr 26, 2015 12:09pm

Great analysis. I started reading dawn to get an alternate perspective on India related news. But your writing has generated my interest in Pakistan related news too. Lots of writers here convert complex issues into simplistic black and white news which I personally don't like to read. But your analysis is generally great. Thanks for the great writing.

Sunil Apr 26, 2015 12:43pm

Pakistan government needs to focus more on Baluchistan problems, specially with employment opportunities, priority to Balochs first.

AW Apr 26, 2015 01:14pm

Yes, the people of Baluchistan have the right to free speech and to demand citizen rights as well as to demand formulation and implementation of government policies for their social and economic development. They have the right to representation in the local bodies as well as in provincial and in the federal bodies.

The government needs to take appropriate actions to address such valid concerns immediately and with sense of urgency, but the government should never give any space to terrorists and to the anti-state elements.

The anti-state elements and terrorists must be eliminated using iron fist at all costs to make Baluchistan secure and prosperous. It is clear now that the civilian governments have not been successful in managing the security situation, so it must hand over Baluchistan for 2 years period to the Army for comprehensive and complete clean up

khanm Apr 26, 2015 04:30pm

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.Pals... Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity.

Nano Thermite Apr 26, 2015 04:38pm

The best solution to heal is to teach 9-11 truth to the people of Pakistan as to how evil and ruthless the outside world is. This is what Iran is doing, what Russia is doing and what Venezuela is doing and this is how Cuba became a biotechnology power. Dawn has often censored my comments about 9-11 truth than to heed truth and open debate on the Forensics of Dr Steven Jones, Dr Niels Harriet or the testimony of Dr Alan Sabrosky.

Mumtaz Khan Apr 26, 2015 04:59pm

brilliant way to describe Baloch tragedy which is missing in the mainstream media and believed that killing and dumping will solve the issue but history's lessons are telling us different outcomes.Hope sense will prevail before it is too late, and Xi's interest is in Gawader not creating business hub, and hubs needs political stability to be productive and operational.

Ashutosh Apr 26, 2015 05:11pm

You give respect you get respect

Akil Akhtar Apr 26, 2015 05:20pm

Since the Chinese started investing in Balochistan and discovery of billions of dollars worth of Gold the security situation has worsened and Chinese workers are being targeted. Not a secret that who who would have a problem with Pakistan and China relationships. We have people voting electing their representatives with democracy flourishing. The problem is the sardars who are conspiring with India and Afghanistan as they do not want progress and change of status quo as one of the Bugti openly said so on TV.

A. Ercelan Apr 26, 2015 05:27pm

Three young women, from across the social divide, die for asking others to keep their hearts and minds alive - Perween, Tahira and now Sabeen. All were threats to the powerful. CA is on the dot in writing: "Neither amplification nor connectivity is deemed desirable. Not when it’s about pesky, undesirable ideas being purveyed."

A. Ercelan Apr 26, 2015 05:31pm

Each person shines with his or her own light. No two flames are alike. There are big flames and little flames, flames of every color. Some peoples flames are so still they dont even flicker in the wind, while others have wild flames that fill the air with sparks. Some foolish flames neither burn nor shed light, but others blaze with life so fiercely that you cant look at them without blinking, and if you approach you shine in the fire". Eduardo Galeano

S. A. M. Apr 26, 2015 05:54pm

I have travelled across Baluchistan To be honest I didn't see any development work there it was all desert with mountains equally barren. But when I entered into Iranian side of Baluchistan it was a different world altogether nice paved roads with green belts. I saw hospitals schools universities and other evidences of a developed city. seeing this marked difference it's no surprise that Baluchis want a better share from federal govt

Haider Rehman Apr 26, 2015 06:29pm

People of Balochistan deserve peace. Army must start operations against terrorists as soon as possible.

A. Ercelan Apr 26, 2015 07:01pm

CA forgot to add that those of us who remain alive such as Zohra of HRCP are actually branded as irrelevant :(

Sandip Apr 26, 2015 07:37pm

@Absar The mistiness is the writer's protective shield. Those pulling the triggers and reading this article are empty heads. They cannot cut through the mist. Good for the author.

abp Apr 26, 2015 07:48pm

Nicely said. Hope people like you survive in this crazy environment. Unfortunately, Boys's tunnel headed policies have ruined Pakistan.

ATIF NAZAR Apr 26, 2015 09:26pm

Cyril has an amazing capability of deciphering the actual issue formed by diverse and contradictory factors. clarity and brevity is a virtue which cyril has in abundance.

Baloch Apr 26, 2015 11:36pm

My info tell me that she was killed because she refused to give bhatta to the bhatta mafia. She was the owner of a cafe and repeatedly was asked to give bhatta which she refused.

Anwar Amjad Apr 27, 2015 03:46am

The Baloch and Pashtun nationalists’ government in Balochistan as at present is the best option considering the demography of the province. They should be given more time. Army rule is not the solution. The militant Baloch nationalist groups are headed by a few young self-exiled Baloch Sardars with aristocratic attitude who are playing in the hands of some enemy countries. They have influence in their respective tribes but none of them has any mass following. The government should continue development work particularly in communication infrastructure and education to empower common people.

Marcus Thorpe Apr 27, 2015 05:12am

If the USA was anything like Pakistan provinces it would be 52 independent states. It would mean a weak USA. But the difference between USA and Pakistan is that the Americans see themselves as Citzens of American first and then whatever state they belong too....and yes there are states out in America that receive far less funding than others but you dont hear them cry for independence. It is one Pakistan and as soon as the 2 million or so Baloach population realise the sooner things will improve. Think Pakistan first and then state and if you are discriminated again then the whole of Pakistan will stand behind you. But currently your mind set is all wrong and it is because of this you are not receiving what you should be entitled too.

Thoughtpurification Apr 27, 2015 06:40am

@Absar Read again

dialogue Apr 27, 2015 07:09am

"Balochistan is a murky place where murky things happen for murky reasons. Sealed off from the rest of the country" you are absolutly right sir this is the true picture of balochistan since it has been annaxed,

Gp65 Apr 27, 2015 09:56am

@Haider Rehman Army operation has been ongoing since 2005. This is why Akbar Bugti was killed. This is why there is a missing persons issue.

A J Khan Apr 27, 2015 10:43am

Vague, incoherent telegraphic. Missed reality by miles. Failed to unveil the foreign funded xenophobic villains who are mercilessly killing the innocents.

minority Apr 27, 2015 12:29pm

@Absar Well its not about your liking or not....its about the blunt truth that is faced by the people of Balochistan (not just the baloch, but the pashtun, hazara and all other minorities who so well know and see with terror what happens to the baloch insurgents). Its because people like you who "dont like" these "misty" ideas that the bully regime continues its genocide to silence the innocent. Wake up and dont be an insult to your intelligence. Peace

minority Apr 27, 2015 12:34pm

@Akil Akhtar Well this is what you will think with the army fueled spectacles. The sardars are only a means to the end of the army - total control and silencing the provinces voice so that the loot and the plunder can go on. Preserve the status quo.