Baloch insurgents involved in target killings going underground: FC IG
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: Balochistan chief of the Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Saleem Nawaz has claimed that Baloch insurgents involved in target killings have now started to leave Quetta and go underground after two weeks of ‘successful deployment’ of the FC in Quetta to contain targeted killings of non-Balochs in the Baloch capital.
In an interview with this writer here at FC headquarters, the FC inspector general said all trouble in Balochistan emanated from two individuals –Bramdagh Bugti, the chief of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) allegedly hiding in Afghanistan and Nawabzada Hairbayar Marri, a son of veteran Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Khair Baksh Marri living in London –who were stirring trouble in the province on the directives of ‘foreign elements.’
However, the FC has made “remarkable headway” in the past few months to dismantle the forces involved in target killings in Balochistan capital, Quetta, and carrying out other subversive activities. “Bramdagh is rapidly losing support among his own tribesmen after the appointment of a new tribal chief for the Bugtis,” he commented.
According to the IG, there were no ‘missing persons’ in Balochistan. “As a matter of fact all the so-called missing persons were kidnapped by Bramdagh Bugti who is now keeping them hostage back in Afghanistan in order to force the family members of these ‘missing persons’ to work for him [Bramdagh Bugti],” remarked Nawaz, who also said he was sure that former chief of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Balochistan John Solecki had been kidnapped by Bramdagh Bugti.
“The doors of amnesty and reconciliation are still not shut from the government’s side. If Bramdagh wants to come back as a Pakistani, I am sure the government would accommodate him in its reconciliatory process. Otherwise, no one would be allowed to take the law in his hands under any pretext,” he said.
He said the FC was a disciplined force which did not have any personal vendetta against anyone in Balochistan. “Our message is that of hope and reconciliation,” he said.
Asked about the recent assignment given to the FC by the provincial government to contain target killings in Balochistan, Nawaz said the supporters of Bramdagh Bugti had been operating against the forces in Dera Bugti district while Nawabzada Hairbayar Marri held a strong position in Kohlu area. However, when the FC cracked down on their supporters and made “tremendous success” in eliminating the elements that caused problems and blew up the national installations, these two Baloch leaders shifted their operations to Quetta, Khuzdar and Noshaki districts to target kill innocent non-Baloch people mainly teachers and professionals affiliated with the education department.
“On the request of the government of Balochistan, the FC has been deployed in Quetta city to grapple with the challenge of target killings. Since being assigned this task, FC has delivered very effectively. The local and international media has acknowledged great improvement in the state of law and order in Quetta,” he said.
DISINTEGRATION: The chief of the federal paramilitary force assured the people of Pakistan that the insurgency in Balochistan did not pose a serious threat to Pakistan as it was a ‘handful of people’ whose deprivation had been exploited by foreign elements to cause problems inside their own country while sitting outside the country.
“No one can disintegrate Pakistan merely by burning the national flag, attacking schools or targeting the national installations. The majority of the Baloch tribes are already represented in the Balochistan assembly. Around 58 members of the 65-member Balochistan Assembly come from different tribes and they have all democratically contested elections to gotten elected. So there is no threat to Pakistan at all,” he responded.
He regretted that countries supporting the international war against terrorism were not cooperative enough with Pakistan regarding the handover of Baloch leaders Bramdagh Bugti and Hairbayar Marri. “We expect these countries (without naming them) to support us fighting terrorism by asking these terrorists to leave their countries.”
They should not allow their land to be used for terrorist activities,” he appealed.
Taliban: The IG said Balochistan did not face any threats from Taliban and their supporters nor were the pro-Taliban elements hiding in any part of the province. He rejected such an impression that the Pashtoon areas of Balochistan were replete with the Taliban activists and sympathizers.
“Taliban have no support among the Pashtoons because the latter have already voted overwhelmingly for the nationalist and secular parties. They do not enjoy have any kind of political, social and religious support in the province. If they were backed by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam then how would they attack Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani [the head of the JUI-Fazal]?” he wondered.
PAK-AFGHAN BORDER: The FC, he added, was cognizant of its responsibilities to monitor the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in order to make sure that no one illegally entered Pakistani territory. He confessed that the FC needed more technological support from the government of Pakistan and the international community to fight the threats that were posed to the security of Balochistan from different directions.
Foreigners: Replying to a question about the growing sense of insecurity among the foreigners in Balochistan after the kidnapping of John Solecki and a French tourist – who is still missing one month after being kidnapped from Chagai district–, he said ‘ only two” foreigners had been kidnapped in Balochistan so far. Rest of the people must not panic and should come to Balochistan without any fear as the government would provide them all complete security.
Operation: He ruled out the possibility of any upcoming operations in the province either against the Baloch people or the Taliban. “Those who are airing the propaganda of an operation are in fact trying to divert public attention. They do not want us to preempt their terrorist designs. We will thwart all their intentions if the miscreants challenge the writ of the government,” he warned.