Afghanistan financing BLA?
By Malik Siraj Akbar
The May 24 arrest of six former officials of the Afghan government from a refugee camp in Balochistan’s Loralai district indicates that Islamabad’s allegation that some elements within the Afghanistan government may be involved in fishing in Balochistan may not be of the mark.
The officials arrested include a former director of Afghan intelligence service Abdul Rashid, a former governor of Khandhar province, Abdul Qadir, and four of their companions Asadullah, Faizullah, Abdul Rauf and Ghulam Jilani. According to Pakistani security officials, all of them had “entered Pakistan illegally and were hiding in a refugee camp.”
The arrests have given a new dimension to the debate on the elusive financial and logistic sources of the shadowy Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Independent experts as well as authorities in Islamabad have been hinting at the involvement of a “foreign hand”. In this connection, some of the possible suspects include India, Afghanistan, the USA, UAE and Iran.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have never been warm. In Recent years, the two have taken to trading allegations against each other and the Hamid Karzai regime remains openly hostile to Pakistan despite the latter’s unlimited support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
With Pakistan accusing Afghanistan of involvement in Balochistan and Kabul hitting back by chiding Pakistan for supporting the Taliban, things are likely to go from bad to worse.
On its part, Pakistan has not only refuted Kabul’s allegations, it says it (Pakistan) has credible evidence of Afghan involvement in supporting and sponsoring the armed movement in Balochistan. “The recent arrests lend further credence to Islamabad’s allegations,” says an official.
Balochistan governor Owais Ahmed Ghani and Mir Shoaib Nausherwani, provincial home minister, have intermittently been indicating that Afghan land is being used to provide assistance to Baloch fighters. These statements do not sound illogical.
The ultimate goal of BLA is “Greater Balochistan”, a country that will comprise the Baloch areas of Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan provinces and some parts of Afghanistan. “The possibility of help coming from the Baloch living in Afghanistan cannot be ruled out,” says a source.
Afghanistan has historically served as a safe haven for Baloch guerrillas. In the aftermath of the dismissal of Sardar Attaullah Mengal’s elected government in February 1974 by then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – this triggered a wave of bloody insurgency in Balochistan – Baloch leaders took refuge in Afghanistan. Nawab Khair Baksh in fact moved to Afghanistan with thousands of tribesmen.
As early as June 1948, Prince Karim, the younger brother of the Khan of Kalat, who opposed the idea of Balochistan’s accession to Pakistan, moved to Afghanistan to wage an armed struggle against Pakistan. He was later joined by prominent Baloch leaders, including Mohammad Hussain Anka, Malik Saeed Dehwar and Qadir Baksh Nizamani.
Moreover, the establishment of Indian consulates in various Afghan cities has added to the suspicion that India, too, is interfering in Balochistan by using Afghan land.
Security officials say they have regularly recovered large sums of Pakistani and foreign currency from the former Afghan officials who were recently arrested in Balochistan. “Without being properly investigates, the arrested men were immediately accused of being present in Pakistan to support the Baloch insurgents,” said another official.
On their part, Baloch leaders dispel the impression that they are receiving foreign assistance. “We have been struggling for our rights for decades and don’t want foreigners fighting our battles for us,” a powerful Baloch nationalist leader told TFT.