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Political Process Would Have Saved from Surrender in Indo- Pak War of 1971

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After independence on 14 August 1947, the objective resolution was passed on 12 March 1949 which provided guide lines for framing the constitution. Important clause was “Pakistan shall be federation, principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated in Islam shall be fully observed. It took nine years to frame constitution, major hurdle was the politicians from West Pakistan (W Pak) wanted parity between the two provinces although population of former East Pakistan (E Pak) was about 55 percent. Finally, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy from E Pak, in 1955, after elections agreed to three points, one unit, parity between two wings and Joint electorate. The constitution of 1956was effective from 23 March. National Assembly had total 300 seats, equally divided in two wings. It was abrogated in October 1958 when Martial was imposed by Gen Ayub Khan. This was a setback to E Pak. New constitution by Ayub was promulgated on 8 June 1962 which was presidential form of government, president head of state, as well as government.  Unicameral, national assembly of 150, equal members from each province. Most powers with center. Became a unitary form of government. Ayub Khan after signing of Shimla Agreement followed by political agitations instead of handing over powers to speaker national assembly Abdul Jabbar khan, from E Pak, as per constitution invited Gen Yayah khan to impose Martial law on 25 March 1969. This also became big irritant for E Pak. According to Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi book, Military and Politics in Pakistan, Gen Yayah Khan announced to hold free and fair elections on the basis of one man one vote and permitted political activities with effect from first January 1970 while martial law remained enforced. He also abolished one unit and West Pakistan was reconstituted into four provinces Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan. Reallocation of national assembly seats were, E Pak162, Punjab 82, Sindh27, NWFP 18, Balochistan 4 and Tribal Areas 7. Elections to be held under Legal Frame Order(LFO). National assembly to frame constitution in 120 days of its first meeting. The Constitution bill passed by the Assembly to be authenticated by President before promulgation. It did not clarify the important condition for the Bill to be approved by two third majority. Moreover, time limit for assembly to meet and place was not mentioned.  The imposition of conditions was generally not appreciated by politicians especially from E Pak. National and provincial assemblies’ elections were held on 7 and 17 Dec respectively. Two major parties emerged were Awami League 160 seats from E Pak and nil from W Pak, PPP 81 from W Pak and zero from E Pak, independents one from E Pak and 15 from W Pak. Other prominent parties were Qayyum League 9, Council Muslim league, JUI (Hazarvi) and NAP (Wali) 7 each. Awami league under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman had contest elections under six points which were part of their manifesto since 1967. These were almost for confederation but LFO clearly said federation to be maintained. It is pertinent to mention that as per Gen Matinuddin book Tragedy of Errors, GD ISI forecast was that none of party will get simple majority and it will be a collation government. This un expected result and politically volatile situation demanded an experienced, visionary, self-sacrificing, ruler with sharp political acumen.

Gen Yayah dismissed his nominated civilian cabinet on 17 Feb71, opportunities to get political advice from the politicians who maintain liaison at the grass root level diminished. Infect he should have selected sharp, unbiased, and loyal politicians from both wings who had not participated in the elections. The decision making was mainly by president advised by an inner circle of senior army officers. The president visited Dhaka on13 Jan, had detailed meeting with Sheikh Mujib and other Awami league(AL) leaders. He conceded the technical ability of the AL to go alone. However, he did express a desire for the AL to include W Pak politicians in the future government. On the way back Gen Yayah went to Larkana at the invitation Bhutto instead of calling him to Rawalpindi. According to Gen Pirzada, PSO to Gen Yayah, the president told Bhutto to sort it out with Mujib or sit in the opposition.  However, visit to Larkana created doubts in the AL and other politicians. Some politicians even believed that it was sell out to Bhutto. The president announced on 13 Feb for the national assembly members to assemble in Dhaka on 3 March 71(after 87 days of election). It was very late which gave time to politicians to manipulate and take advantage from the prevalent political environments.  Bhutto declared, he would break the legs of any of his party member who dared to attend the national assembly session and those who went without his consent would not be allowed to return. Publically Sheikh Mujib was not showing flexibility about his six points. Military hierarchy in W Pak was generally not in favor of handing power to AL. Gen Yayah called a meeting of senior officials in Rawalpindi on 22 Feb which was attended by Governor of E Pak Vice Admiral Ahsan (retd), Commander Eastern Command Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub, Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali, military adviser to governor E Pak, PSOs and DG ISI. He gave decision to knock sense in Mujib and postpone the assembly meeting till AL is crushed. Sahibzada Yaqub, Ahsan and Rao Farman Ali did not agree with the decision. On 25 Feb Mujib invited Yayah to visit E Pak and gave a hint to modify his six points but visit did not materialize. It created more doubts in AL leadership. On 1 March governor E Pak and Sahibzada Yaqub were told by PSO to president to convey to Mujib the postponement of national assembly session scheduled on 3 Mar for indefinite period.  Mujib was upset at the same time requested for the next date as he would not be able to control the situation. Now there will be pressing demand from my people for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). He further said,the parleys at Larkana have tilted the balance in Bhutto’s favor.Governor immediately sent telex to CMLA headquarters stating “I beg you to announce a fresh date tonight, tomorrow will be too late”. The plea went unnoticed, mid night 1/2 Mar announcement was made without giving fresh date. This became a turning point. The governor resigned and Sahibzada took over as governor. Sahibzada on 3 March when the situation started deteriorating invited Gen Yayah to come to E Pak for a political solution. His request was declined. Sahibzada sent a signal of resignation which is”the situation in E Pak has reached a point which will not admit a military solution. I had urged you to come to seek a political solution. I did not succeed. There is no military solution to the problem. A military solution would lead to large scale killings of the innocent civilians. It would not help in achieving the aim. I cannot accept a mission which would prove disastrous. I, therefore hereby offer my resignation.” (Tragedy of Errors p 160-185)

Gen Tikka Khan was immediately ordered to proceed to E Pak to take over from Sahibzada Yaqub. From 2 Mar killing, burning, looting, ambushing, brick batting and molestation of non-Bengalis was at the peak. A large number of Bihari, and W Pakistanis were killed by AL militants. Shops were gutted, their houses looted, women raped and bodies mutilated. Mujib addressed a large gathering in Platen Maidan on 7 Mar and denounced the military leadership for favoring a minority party and not handing over power.  He gave additional four points which included immediately lifting of martial law, transfer of powers to majority party, army to return to barracks, judicial inquiry for killing of some innocent people on the night 1 / 2 March. He ended speech by saying “our struggle is for freedom”. He did not use the word independence nor in clear words he demanded an independent state of Bangladesh.On 14 Mar, Bhutto made a public statement, “power should be transferred to both the majority parties.” It may be indication of accepting the confederation. Gen Yayah went to E Pak on 15 Mar and stayed till25. Hectic discussions took place on the constitutional frame work between AL and the experts of the president.  Later Bhutto and other leaders from W Pak also joined. No agreement emerged because AL strict to confederation which was not acceptable to the president. The 25 Mar date of national assembly meeting was postponed. According to book Pakistan’s Crisis in Leadership by Gen Fazal Muqeem p52, Gen Yayah called Gen Tikka and Rao Farman Ali and asked them to finalize ops order for “Operation Search Light”. Killing of a few thousands would not be too high a price for keeping the country together. Show them the teeth and they will be quiet. The main objective of operation was to create conditions for selecting a civilian set up. The military crackdown began mid night 25/ 26 March. Upon reaching Karachi the president made announcement of banning all political activities, imposing complete censorship and denouncing Mujib’s actions as an act of treason. Mujib was arrested the same night. On 26 Mar Major Zia ur Rehman announced on radio, East Pakistan as People’s Republic of Bangladesh. This day is now celebrated as a National Day in Bangladesh.

      Major task was to dis arm 6 battalions of East Bengal regiments (EBR) and personnel of East Pakistan Rifles(EPR) about 16000 and Raza Kars 45,000. There were Mukti Bahini (freedom fighters) well trained for insurgency operations in addition. By 31 of May writ of the government has been restored. However, some personnel of EBR and EPR crossed the borders to India with weapons intact and joined Mukti Bahini.  Casualties were enormous on both side during the civil war. Mujib claimed 3 million, Indians 1 million, and Tikka khan 34,000.  According to Indians about 10 million crossed the borders to India as refugees. Military action was strongly denounced by the world especially India. In June Lt Gen Amir Abdullah khan Niazi arrived E Pak as Commander Eastern Command.

This situation provided a golden opportunity to Indira Gandhi to dismember Pakistan. She called her COAS Gen Manekshwa in April and asked him to be ready for attack.  Keeping in view, rivers& hills, marshy land, a difficult terrain in E Pak, and time required for deployment of troops, his cautious reply was “if you want me to go for war now, I guarantee you 100 percent defeat, but if you give me some time I can guarantee you 100 percent success. It is obvious that India had decided to go to war in April and preparations / planning started thereafter. Our Intelligence set up should have kept the government abreast to the development and counter plans made accordingly in both wings of Pakistan. According to Abdul Sattar book, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy p129,the announcing of Henry Kissinger’s visit to Beijing on 9-11 July 1971 and invitation to visit China by Nixon stunned the world. Moscow’s reaction was angry and quick. USSR signed the treaty of Peace, Friendship and cooperation on 9 August 71 with India. Its article IX committed the two countries to mutual consultation in the event of an attack or threat of attack, in order to remove such threat and take appropriate effective measures to ensure their peace and security. Infect USSR provided an umbrella to India against intervention by China. Indira Gandhi before starting war visited almost all the important countries of the world including USA. Pakistan protested on 21 Nov that India without a declaration of war has launched an all-out offensive in E Pak. There was vast difference in relative strength. India deployed 8 Infantry divisions,1 para brigade, 32 para military battalions and support of 100,000 Mukti Bahini.  Pakistan Army was comprised of 3 Infantry divisions, I3 para military battalions. Indian Navy had deployed an aircraft carrier and 8 Destroyers / frigates and Pakistan Navy had gun boats and improvised crafts with guns for inland operations. IAF had 11 air squadrons and PAF only one. The outcome of war in this theater was obvious. It was the time factor. As a plan for counter offensive in the West, PAF carried out pre – emptive strikes on several Indian air bases along the western coast on 3 Dec. The reasons of 11 days’delay have a question mark. If we had started earlier the chances of UN Security Council resolution for cease fire would have been better, which would have avoided humiliating surrender. Now it was an all-out war on both fronts. After the news of Indians troops having crossed the borders of E Pak, friendly countries advised Agha Shahi permanent rep in UN to take up the Indian aggression to UN. The government advised not to go to security council unless directed. After our counter offensive on 3 Dec, USA moved a draft resolution for cease fire with certain conditions on 4 Dec which was not supported by USSR. Similarly, China moved draft resolution on 5 Dec which was also not supported. The Soviets on 6 Dec accepted a draft resolution (UN document S/ 10425) dated 5 Dec, sponsored by Belgium and 5 other countries calling upon the governments of India and Pakistan, as a first step for an immediate cease fire.The government of Pakistan should simultaneously take effective action towards a political settlement in East Pakistan giving immediate recognition to the will of people of East Pakistan as expressed in the election of Dec 1970. Since it was supported by USSR it may have been considered by Pakistan. Bhutto as a foreign minister arrived USA on 10 Dec.The famous Poland resolution was moved on 14 Dec. It contained cease fire and transfer of forces to pre-set locations and transfer of power to elected representatives.  The contents were approved by the government of Pakistan. (contents were similar to Soviet supported resolution of 5 Dec). However, Bhutto was not available on 14 Dec. When the Security Council met on 15 Dec, news had reached that surrender of the Pakistan armed forces was being arranged on 16 Dec. However, Bhutto made a fierce speech in Security Council which hardly had any effect on the war scenario. According to book on foreign policy by Abul Sattar p133, Indira Gandhi intensions to occupy more spaces of West Pakistan was stopped by USA. Message was conveyed to India through USSR that USA has defense pact with Pakistan. US had moved its fleet to Bay of Bengal in this time frame, but Soviet ensured that India will not occupy more spaces and will accept cease fire on western war theater. On the Western front, Pakistan lost 51,39 square miles. On Eastern front surrender document was signed between Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in- C Indian Eastern Command and Lt Gen A.A.K Niazi, Commander Eastern Command at Ramna Race Course Dhaka at 1631 on 16 Dec 71.It was the biggest surrender after WW-II.  About 93,000 soldiers and civilians were taken as prisoners of war. It is evident that military hierarchy of Pakistan made series of mistakes. Pakistan would have remained intact if initial LFO giving details of election had included that constitution bill should be passed by 2/3 majority. AL had to take elected members from W Pak to pass the bill. Date and place of meeting of elected assembly members within 45 days should have been given in LFO. Gen Yayah may have taken sincere, experienced and unbiased politicians in his cabinet from both wings who were not participating in election instead of completely banking on the advices senior army officers. Advice of the governor of E Pak, Vice Admiral Ahsan and Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Commander Eastern Command not to postpone date of meeting of assembly on 3 Mar indefinitely should have been taken seriously. Policy to linger on should have been avoided. During war, there were a lot of chances to accept UN Security Council resolutions of cease fire and handing over government to majority party. This would have certainly avoided humiliating surrender. There is a famous saying “if every political problem that is created in the world justifies the use of force then there is no end to war”. Lessons learnt are many but most important is the saying of George Clemenceau who led France in WW-II,” war is too serious a matter to entrust to military men.”

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South Asia

Hambantota: The Growing Nightmare For India

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Authors: G Nitin &Juhi*

China’s inroads in the Indian Ocean Region has alarmed India. Particularly since the controversial Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka was given on a 99 year old. Should India watch the fate unfold or take decisive action to protect its vital trade and security interests?

***

The new global order has seen the rise of a new form of diplomacy – Debt Trap Diplomacy – a practice of funding expensive projects in the host country to a point of pushing the host country into debt, to gain political or economic concessions. China has been practicing this under the Belt and Road Initiative or One Belt One Road strategy, and many countries have effectively plunged themselves into massive amounts of debt. Of the many countries that have faced the brunt of asking Chinese for loans has been Sri Lanka. From the perspective of its larger neighbour, India, this is a worrisome proposition. India has vital stakes in the region, spanning trade, energy and security interests and Chinese presence has heightened tensions. Sri Lanka’s gravitation towards China in recent years has further fueled New Delhi’s anxieties.

India has had deep seated ties with Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. After the ethnic war broke out between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils on the island state, India offered help owing to two factors – firstly it was impelled by its domestic concerns of Tamil Separatists reigniting their campaign; secondly it wanted to prevent other large powers from exploiting the power vacuum. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by the LTTE suicide bomber in 1991, although India was forced to keep a hands off policy, it wasn’t entirely in India’s interests to stay away from the civil war. Meanwhile China was strengthening its relations with Sri Lanka while it opened up defence company NORINCO in Sri Lanka to provide arms to the Sri Lankan Army. By the final stages of the war, while India was forced on moral and political grounds to cut off the supply of offensive weapons, the Chinese happily provided Sri Lankans with the desired weaponry and later on support in the international fora over human rights violations and war crimes. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the then President had an obvious reason to tilt towards China, that further helped him strengthen his base in the country. The massive economic costs that Sri Lanka incurred during the civil war pushed Rajpaksa to find International partners to develop Sri Lanka’s most important economic assets, it’s ports. While Rajapaksa clearly had an option of developing its existing ports – Colombo and Trincomalee, he chose to develop an economically wasteful port to bolster his support in his home constituency by developing Hambantota Port.

While India refused to invest in an economic dud, the Chinese stepped in to finance a port that was predicted to handle a minuscule amount of the marine traffic compared to Colombo Port. Upon realising their inability to pay the debt, the Sri Lankan government, as a consequence of scant marine traffic, had to give the port on a 99 year old lease to Chinese State owned company in 2017. 

Scholars have underscored this policy of developing Chinese projects as aimed at encirclement of India, spanning Xiamen in the north, connecting Gwadar port under the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan, Kerung – Kathmandu on the north-east front, China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) and rail and road bridges in Bangladesh in the east, and Hambantota in Sri Lanka in the south. While some emphasise that China is ramping its efforts to safeguard its vital economic interests that lay in the vital sea lanes of communications (SLOCs), China has evidently ratcheted up its military foothold in the region that has been the domain of its South Asian rival, India, thereby posing a threat to India’s economic and security concerns.

For China, securing its trading interests via naval dominance in strategic points across the Indian ocean is imperative. This has been dubbed by some analysts as “string of pearls.” Its Achilles’ heel, the Malacca Strait, through which over 80 per cent of its oil imports are transported, remains prone to piracy and terrorism. Having Hambantota in its ambit is a tactic of guarding its interests in the region. Hambantota’s strategic position, that lies at the crossroads of trade channels across the Indian Ocean makes it an important ‘pearl’ in Beijing’s long term interest. China’s domestic concerns for strengthening its economy aside, its hawkish ambitions signal a doom for India’s interests in the region, as China gears to encircle India with its military might in the region.

First implication is that with the development of such projects, that are solely handled and undertaken by Chinese (state owned) companies and workmen, there is a growing fear of colonialism of sorts. Scholars have identified this pattern with European Colonialism where an outside power increased its strength over a sovereign. This can be problematic in the eyes of International law. Although Colombo may try its best to classify this deal as an opportunity for increasing job prospects for the natives, there is no way jobs can be created when Chinese labour will be the sole workmen on these projects.

Second concern is regarding the growing Chinese naval presence in the region. Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been docking its ships along major sea routes in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), fomenting suspicion. For India, the IOR holds significant value, as vast pipelines and trade networks take place in the region that are a catalyst in India’s domestic growth. The Sri Lankan government has reaffirmed that the Chinese presence in the port city is purely commercial, however Chinese have dismissed this account stating the military presence was also a part of the agreement. Given Chinese presence at pivotal points across the region, China gains easy access to India’s security apparatus and intelligence collection and in case of a crisis, India remains engulfed from all sides. The recent incident at Galwan Valley has exemplified India’s concerns in the border regions, as Beijing shows reluctance in resolving the border dispute through dialogue.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government in 2019 decided to reevaluate the 99 year lease, however Rajapaksa’s affinity with the Chinese would imply glossing over the issue for other gains. India is exercising restraint in not antagonising Sri Lanka in a bid to keep it from drifting towards the Chinese. At best, India generously disburses funds and loans, and engages in developmental projects in order to remain in Colombo’s best books. Post war reconstruction in Sri Lanka was a courtesy of India’s Humanitarian and Recovery Projects amounting to US$112 millon. India took up a Housing Project worth US$270 million and provided Line of Credit for important infrastructure projects such as the Southern Railway Corridor from Colombo to Matara, Pillai-Jaffna railway track, 500MW Coal-Based Power Plant in Sampur.  Hambantota’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean Region, which makes it an important node in maritime trade and surveillance, coupled with Sri Lanka’s proximity to the Indian peninsula is enough reason for India to fear Chinese presence on the Island State. It won’t be surprising to see a repeat of the 2014 incident of Chinese Submarine docking on Colombo port, this time, however, on a much bigger scale.

Indian Ocean Region metamorphosed from a relatively peaceful region to a hotly contested region with India and China vying for greater influence. For a region that contains 36 littoral and 14 adjacent states; having a vast oil trade and abundant natural resources, establishing greater control is of paramount importance to India. With a burgeoning population and greater influence in global trade, India’s vital economic and security interest lay in the Indian Ocean Region. With Hambantota being at the crossroads of this marine traffic, it occupies a significant position and thus raises India’s security concerns.

In the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clash, keeping the Chinese away from India’s backyard has become a priority. Consequently, India has been rapidly enhancing its naval assets and bolstering alliances with regional allies such as Vietnam and Japan. Additionally, the revival of the Quad is perceived as another positive sign in bolstering the anti-China collation in the region. Notwithstanding progress on these fronts, being in Colombo’s good books remains a priority. Any fallout with Colombo will result in pushing the country deeper into China’s orbit. For Sri Lanka which had been devastated by civil war, reconstruction is of prime importance and this is a suitable opportunity for India to gain a foothold in the region. The most affected regions in the country have been the erstwhile stronghold of LTTE in the north that remains one of the most underdeveloped regions. India’s significant influence among the Tamils in the North can be used to its advantage in securing infrastructure projects in the region.

At the same time, India must make its no-nonsense attitude towards Colombo clear that it has had a history of crossing lines with India. New Delhi will have to convey to Colombo that the relationship and the mutual trust between the two countries should not be violated by either side. While it is of essence that India be accommodating towards Sri Lanka, history cautions New Delhi to be vigilant of Colombo’s flirtations with Beijing.

*Juhi is a Final Year Law Student, pursuing LL.B. at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. The author can be reached out at juhijain341[at]gmail.com

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Is an Anti-Government Narrative Safe in Pakistan?

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Pakistan as a state has rarely projected a revered image to the world when it comes to a lasting democracy. The governments have been a bait for the respective leaders and the military counterparts to juice the nation even further; passing the baton from one term to another in a power game between civilian and totalitarian regimes. Not even a decade has gone by to look back at the spiral of power that once vacillated between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). The rise to power of Imran Khan, however, was unprecedented and was duly celebrated as a speck of a possible change in the already wrecked political arena of the county; a narrative that was convincingly chanted in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) slogans “Tabdeeli Aagai Hai”. Yet, with over thirty-months under the premiership of Imran Khan, the only observable change is the acceleration in the destruction of the country, inside out.

There was no doubt throughout the tenacious campaign of Imran Khan that he has the most decadent character amongst his political rivals. Be it his triumphant feat captaining the World-Cup winning national cricket team in 1992 or his relentless efforts to build Shaukat Khanam, the first cancer hospital of Pakistan, from ground up. Even his valour and determination culminating into a 22-year struggle to wade through the reeking political scenario of the 90’s and early 2000’s to eventually accede to power in 2018 is a commemoration in itself. However, half way through his tenure, no concrete results have showcased since the elections declared him as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan.

While many of his apparent failures are subject to his over-the-top promises to his supporters; promises he failed to even materialise on paper, his brash allegations over his political rivals and guising his pitfalls as a carry-forward of their incompetency shows how his government has let down even in performing the rudimentary tenets required to lead a country. As the inflation runs rampant; crossing over to projected double figures in the following quarters of the fiscal year, and as the GDP growth plummets into the negative territory, the ruling PTI lacks the basic decency of accepting their failures head-on but on the contrary, never miss to initiate the blame game over petty issues whilst the country verges economic crisis amidst the pandemic. Ironically, however, Imran Khan continues to direct Pakistan on the very routes he once criticised the preceding leaderships over for adopting. An apt example presents in the decision of negotiating with the IMF for economic relief or receiving a $6 Billion loan from UAE and Saudi Arabia respectively, the notions once denounced by PTI as acts of selling the country or rendering the country servile to western powers.

Even the totalitarian position is not spared subtly as the Khan-led regime continues to harness any and all individuals who dare to criticise the policies of the great Imran Khan; a sardonic reality that is continually shifting towards a serious note. The recent comment of Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams, sheds some light on the vengeful exercise of political writ: “Pakistan’s continuing assault on political opponents and free expression puts the country on an increasingly dangerous course”.

The government operates on an apparent strategy to incorporate the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), country’s anti-corruption watchdog, under the pretence of its autonomous nature under the constitution, to prosecute and harass any and all holding an anti-government narrative. At first the rumours were wafted off as allegations over the austerity of the venerated PTI government. However, pilling reports of harassment of many famous journalists and human rights activists have surfaced, on the account of warrants of inquiry over inane matters; being held under interrogation for hours and even being threatened to tone down the criticism of state issued policies.

However, barring the criticism doesn’t hide the fact that whilst the country continues to deal with economic turmoil, unhinged violence continues to prevail against the minorities. The Ahmadi community being on the target of the extremists for decades, the even sturdy Imran Khan bowed down to the radical demands of the extremists to relinquish Mr. Atif Mian, a globally renowned economist, from his advisory position by accepting his resignation without a hint of apology or regret. The laws of Blasphemy continue to pillage multiple lives each year yet the government, hailed into power on the account of ‘change’, worsened the conditions further. Not only has the government failed to repeal or even amend the preposterous law provisions, it has failed to even proceed with just trials of the accused whilst the assailants wander freely without conviction. The Khan-led government tends to take the narrative of being the self-proclaimed defenders of the human rights in IIOJK yet fails to protect the Hazara community at the helm of genocide for decades. Even when victims like Tahir Naseem are shot dead during a trial of a supposed blasphemy case and a cold-blooded gang raped is officially insinuated as the victim’s fault for travelling late at night, it’s astounding how the state even claims to be under the arching definition of a ‘Islamic State’ and even more insulting when it is compared to “Medina Ki Riasat”.

The list goes endless but the festering reality of the country is as clear as it could be to a sane mind. Pakistan has made no progress on the economic front but has further deteriorated. Aspects of law and litigation are a rarity nowadays and free speech is a myth that once laced the breeze of an independent country. As to the ruling figure in Pakistan, the political image hinged on the “Famous cricketer and self-less philanthropist” has lasted long enough and the signs of weakness and decimation are showing. For the continually deteriorating nature of living of the country, it was well concluded in the 2021 Human Rights Watch Review, analysing Pakistan: “Threatening opposition leaders, activists and Journalists while trampling on the rights of the citizenry is a hallmark of an authoritarian rule, not a democracy”.

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Pakistan Needs to Learn from the Balochistan Havoc

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The brutal killing of ten coal miners in Mach (a town near to Quetta, Balochistan) has so much to offer to the elite class, policy makers and even their fellow citizens of Pakistan. The deceased were poor and hardworking labourers having no direct concern with the state and the terrorists still became prey of the menace of terrorism. They were sleeping peacefully after a tiring day of one of the most demanding, dangerous and underpaid job in a coal mine in Mach. They were not promoter of any specific ideology but working hard for the bread and butter of their families. They were not linked to any religious or political organization in and outside of the country. The only thing which can be related to them is that they were weak and belonged to Shiite Hazara community, a vulnerable minority in Pakistan.

Another point of notice is that the involved external hands changed their modus operandi this time. Instead of funding and fueling the separatist movements in Balcohistan to carry out such attacks, they have opted a completely different proscribed terrorist organization. Right now, Baloch separatists are unable to actively operate in the province as they are in tightened grip of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) of Pakistan and are involved in terrorist activities in other provinces to maintain their presence in mainstream media locally and internationally. This scenario has compelled the external involvement in the province to adopt an alternative way. Islamic State, an extremist Sunni terrorist organization, is selected this time to carry out a terrorist attack in the largest but poorest province of Pakistan. External powers have the heinous ambitions to destabilize Pakistan internally through sectarian crisis since long and they are not successful up till now due to institutional stronghold by different stakeholders of LEAs and improved inter-departmental coordination. Pakistan has not only targeted the terrorist elements in the country but their root causes are also focused like extremism, sectarianism and separatism. After all the above, the state has to include vulnerable minorities into consideration as they become an easy target of non-state actors. As minorities attract huge media attention, locally and internationally, they help pursuing terrorists’ agendas more effectively. This is also a concern related to human rights in any country.

The act of terrorism will benefit the masterminds behind the attack in two ways. First, it will help culminating Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the province by terrorizing local and foreign investors and by portraying negative image of the country on international fora. Development under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is not a comfy sign for the opponents of China and Pakistan. It will be imaging Pakistan a dangerous country and Balochistan an unsafe place for business and investment. Second, once again creating sectarian crisis in the province where Shiite Hazara community has always remained a prime target of proscribed sectarian/ terrorist organizations. The terrorists hit the most vulnerable part where the wounds are already deep. Hazara community is being attacked continuously by the Sunni extremists who are playing in the hands of external powers.

Pakistani state is doing everything possible to protect the Hazara community living mostly in Quetta and making around half of the population of Balochistan’s largest and capital city. Mining in Pakistan remains sub-standard but such incidents are rare in the country. This makes us sure that the incident is not a simple terrorist activity but a sectarian motion where people belonging to a minority are targeted. What could have been done was to resolve the mourners’ grievances within time. The mourners spent a whole week on the road protesting the brutal killing of their loved ones amid the most chilled month of the winter season. They were approached by the representatives of provincial and federal governments, but protestors wanted assurance from Prime Minister of Pakistan before burial of the dead bodies. The negotiating delegations accepted all their demands except the resignation of the provincial government where PM’s political party is also in alliance. Later, on 6th January 2021, PM Imran Khan reassured the protestors via Twitter that culprits must be held accountable and requested them to bury the bodies. His assurance satisfied the grievers and they set off the protest.

There is a need of permanent and in place policy for the protection of the community. Pakistani state needs to work on creating inter-faith and intra-faith harmony in the country. The government must admit that confining an ethnicity within a barred city is not the solution of the issue. There is a need to take some concrete steps for a permanent resolution as Hazard community has the distinguished features which make them easily identifiable. They cannot limit themselves to a walled city. Furthermore, Hazara community of Afghanistan also comes across the border in search of livelihood which causes a threat to the national image.

Moreover, public needs to stand with the people of Hazara community in the time of havoc. During the present time, where social media plays a vital role, it is easy to support such cause. The government should focus on finding the permanent solution to the community’s issues. LEAs of the province should leave no stone unturned with dedication and commitment by helping the families of the victims and overall Hazara community. The society needs to learn from the incident before it is too late. It is the time to stand with the bereaved families of the community or else be ready for the creation of more extremists.

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