How long will Balochistan bleed?
Balochistan is the world’s fifth major reserve of gold and copper and major oil and gas reserves. But unfortunately, despite being the owner of rich natural resources, it is reeling under the worst gas crisis.
lekhaka-R C Ganjoo
Published: Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:18 [IST]
The deprived province of Balochistan is facing tough days, subjected to enforced disappearances of men, women and children, besides women being raped and men tortured to death. Unfortunately, justice has remained a distant dream for them. On the top of it, a sense of deprivation is taking deep roots in the ongoing insurgency situation in the province.
There seems no end to terrorist attacks within Pakistan by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) having the logical and moral support of the Afghan Taliban. On 6th March, a suicide bombing attack on Sukkur-Quetta Highway in the Bolan district – about 120 km from Quetta Balochistan – left nine policemen dead and 13 others injured and Islamic State claimed the responsibility.
Instead of treating increasing terrorist attacks as a top priority, Pakistani politicians are engaged in befooling the people in the name of a fresh election. While on the other hand, Pakistan is hit by an unprecedented economic crisis with foreign reserves at an all-time low and stalled negotiations with the IMF.
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The other headache for Pak civil and military establishments is the irked relationship with the Afghan Taliban, who despite repeated warnings from countries all across the globe, has only rejuvenated the insurgency of TTP, which now behaves like a political stakeholder rather than a militant group.
In the given situation, the US stealthily put its foot on Pakistan soil on the pretext of counter-terrorism cooperation. The two-day discussions on March 5th and 6th on various security issues, including counter-terrorism cooperation was led by Pakistan Foreign Office Additional Secretary Syed Haider Shah and the US delegation headed by State Department Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg.
After the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP. After recent terrorist attacks in Peshawar and Karachi, the US assured Pakistan of its full support in fighting TTP and other banned extremist groups like Islamic State-Khorasan, which claimed responsibility for the attacks.
According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months when 134 people lost their lives and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.
It is a matter of great misfortune that despite being the owner of rich natural resources, Balochistan is reeling under the worst gas crisis. Balochistan is the world’s fifth major reserve of gold and copper and major oil and gas reserves and thus strategically significant for Pakistan’s economy.
It is a revolt in Balochistan not an insurgency
According to Balochistan Assembly Opposition Leader Malik Sikandar, “They took away gas from us in the 1950s and gave it to Punjab and Sindh without even connecting it to Dera Bugti. So we are not receiving the gas produced here.”
More than half of the population in Balochistan is living below the poverty-line and deprived of basic needs. Today, Balochistan is well on its way to backwardness because it is not getting any benefits from its own natural resources.
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Story first published: Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:18 [IST]