Saturday, January 16, 2021

Has Balochistan Toppled Kashmir To Emerge As The Most Dangerous Place In South Asia?

Balochistan was once again rocked by a deadly terror attack after eleven coal miners were killed in the Mach area of Balochistan after militants abducted and shot the miners, point-blank.

Indian Army Goes All Out To Eliminate Terrorists From The Kashmir Valley But Families Cry Foul

The incident took place in the remote Mach area of the southwestern Balochistan province, a key route to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, according to Murad Kaas, the deputy commissioner of the provincial capital Quetta.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan condemned the miners’ killing, terming it “yet another cowardly inhumane act of terrorism”. “Have asked the FC to use all resources to apprehend these killers & bring them to justice. The families of the victims will not be left abandoned by the govt,” he said in a tweet.

Kaas told reporters that four miners were also injured in the incident, who were taken in critical condition to a local hospital. He said the miners were on their way when kidnapped by a group of armed militants who took them to nearby mountains and later shot them before escaping.

Earlier, seven Pakistani paramilitary troops were shot dead in Harnai, Balochistan. “Terrorist fired on Frontier Corps Balochistan post in Sharig, Harnai, Balochistan late Saturday night,” Pakistani Army said in a statement.

“During intense exchange of fire, 7 brave soldiers embraced shahadat while repulsing raiding terrorists. Area has been cordoned off and escape routes have been blocked to apprehend fleeing miscreants.”

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan sent his condolences to the families of the martyred soldiers and reiterated that the terror attacks were backed by India.

Terror Attacks in Balochistan

In October, the Baloch ethnic terror outfit attacked a convoy carrying State-run Oil & Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) workers in Ormara town in Gwadar district killing 14 people, including seven soldiers.

Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a banned terrorist organization formed with the coalition of several extremist outfits, took the responsibility for the attack, local media reported.

In June, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) carried out an attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the city of Karachi. Two guards and a policeman were killed along with seven people wounded before security forces killed all four attackers.

Operation-Tupac Pakistan-Topac

The police chief of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and financial hub, Ghulam Nabi Memon, told Reuters the gunmen attacked with grenades and guns after pulling up in a silver Corolla car. 

These attacks are a pushback against Beijing backed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Balochistan province remains one of the poorest in Pakistan and now with the Chinese investment taking over, the ethnic Balochis have expressed anguish over it.

They believe that Pakistan and China are exploiting resources in the region in a bid to colonize the province.

In response, the Balochi separatists have waged a guerilla war against the ‘occupants’. They have accused the successive government of benefiting from Balochistan’s resources and making the rich Punjab province even richer. Insurgency continues till the day, with the most recent attack resulting in the death of numerous Pakistani soldiers.

Kidnapping Of Doctors & Women In Balochistan

Another dangerous ring of kidnapping has been happening in the region of targetting doctors. 33 doctors were kidnapped, 18 target killed and more than 90 abandoned in Balochistan during the past decade, according to the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) reported The Dawn.

Local media has reported several kidnappings of doctors, businessmen and politicians from different parts of Balochistan including Quetta.

According to a report in BBC, the kidnappers target doctors based on their bank account and transaction information. It further added that most doctors in Quetta practice in private hospitals and are accused of earning more than their salaries in these hospitals.

While the government agencies have never provided any details of these kidnappers in Balochistan, BBC said that some sources allege the involvement of key figures including politicians who sponsor these kidnapping groups.

Not just doctors, reports of abduction of women have also been on the rise for the region. The World Baloch Women Forum has alleged that the Pakistani Army is behind these abductions.

Reportedly, earlier families of activists were targetted but now the “they take people more or less randomly, behaving more like goons than like the army of a civilized country,” said a report in Business Standard.

“The Pakistan army has well-documented brutal use of heavy artillery against unarmed innocents, along with helicopter gunships, and its merciless acts of burning village hutments, the slaughter of unarmed civilians, rape, kidnap, torture, and extra-judicial killings are utterly incomprehensible acts of inhumanity,” read a statement released by the World Baloch Women Forum (WBWF).

Imran Khan’s Move

In a bid to woo the people and garner support for Xi Jinping’s flagship CPEC under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Khan announced a mega-development project for South Balochistan.

During a visit to Turbat last month, Khan announced that the project featured the construction of 1,100-kilometre roads, skill training to 35,000 youth and expansion of power and gas supply networks. 

The project is expected to cost 10 billion Pakistani rupees. However, critics have raised questions on the feasibility of the project given the cash strapped government. 

Islamabad has repeatedly blamed India for supporting the insurgents in the region by training and funding the Baloch Republic Army (BLA), a separatist group. Reportedly, the Baloch people have been struggling to gain independence from the Pakistan occupation and have expressed solidarity with India on several occasions. 

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