Crisis Balochistan | April 26, 2012
last scene from the 1991 movie 'Thelma and Louise'
By Wendy Johnson
US and Pakistan in a remake of Thelma and Louise--the analogy isn't perfect, but that last scene of the convertible flying over a cliff--that's what came to mind when I read the rictus-inducing news regarding who is planning to save the Baloch of Pakistan.
The tweet alerting me to this development came from former Pakistani Member of Parliament Sanaullah Baloch: "Gifts of Death and Disaster #HafizSaeed's #JuD planning massive presence and radicalization campaign in Balochistan."
Eminent columnist Mohammad Ali Talpur (@mmatalpur) observed: "@Senator_Baloch, JuD will act as proxy for the army and FC [Frontier Corp]. It is being sent to wage a war against the Baloch on all fronts. Be aware Baloch."
To this I add, with the shudder that should be rippling down America’s spine: Americans, be aware. The Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) is planning to shower Balochistan province in Pakistan with development and welfare projects.
While the U.S. government will understand the significance of this news, most American taxpayers won't. Those who read lotus-land mainstream American news sources won't be aware of the fact that 1) JuD is a political front for the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, upon whose leader's head the US government recently placed a fat $10 million reward, and 2) the Baloch are a vulnerable population.
A majority of Balochistan's people have inadequate or no access to education, healthcare and even shelter. Its educated youth (within Balochistan and in the diaspora) want to change this state—and they rail endlessly about it on Twitter and Facebook--to all who will listen, wherever there is a forum for political talk.
From the Pakistani government side there is talk, too, but theirs is cheap talk—like the femme fatale in the film noir movie who leads a man to disaster—Pakistan’s system is bereft of heart, soul and honest intentions. Like the femme fatale, Pakistan deflects attention with one hand while scooping up Baloch resources with the other.
The military and its security agencies try to manage this lava-spewing volcano of outrage, and the well-documented Baloch insurgency that has arisen from this deprivation, by silencing all the chatter--either by abducting Baloch political and human rights activists and hiding them away, or by ‘killing and dumping’ them for families and friends to discover on roadsides. This terror doesn’t work, of course. The insurgency and hatred only grow while the military claps its hands over its ears, blaming everyone (RAW, the CIA, Mossad), but themselves.
The situation in Balochistan is further complicated by additional parties now operating in the province. Some are Baloch co-opted by Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies and some are non-Baloch religious fanatics who are determined to rid Pakistan of Hindus, Shiites, Hazaras—all those who 'blaspheme.' These target-killers prowl Balochistan. And reports indicate that the insurgency itself has resorted to target-killings of people they accuse of spying for the security agencies. Ice this layer cake with the military-approved presence of the Pakistani Taliban and you have a mix of violent acts, the responsibility for which is fast becoming impossible to tease apart.
And now, into this breach, into the towns of this distressed and vulnerable population, steps the Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD)!
An UNICEF study conducted in 2004 notes that the Baloch district of Kalat has a literacy rate (age 10+) of 25%. Such a small percentage would not present much of a front against well-funded true-believers who come bearing gifts. And if one's only option for education is to attend a well-funded madrassa run by JuD, realistically, families are unlikely to decline the organization's offerings.
The JuD is smart. Their modus operandi is reliable and predictable. They move into crushed and vulnerable areas—where governments have failed—to convert and indoctrinate. And the JuD, like its military wing, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, exists only because the Pakistani government and its military support and/or ignore its actions.
We in America may be blissfully unaware, but we are likewise guilty. Our foreign policy has supported the radicalization of parts of Pakistan’s society in three ways: 1) We have turned a blind eye to the radical groups the Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies support. 2) We have turned our other blind eye to the funding of madrassas by our radical ally Saudi Arabia in Pakistan. 3) We thumbed our nose at democracy by undermining her with our support for Pakistan's military dictators Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf at the expense of democratic institutions and the well-being of Pakistan's citizens.
And our continued funding of the Pakistan military will ensure that whatever radicalizing damage the Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) ultimately does in Balochistan, it will be done in the name of the American taxpayer.
But unlike Hafiz Mohammad Saeed's savvy conclusion regarding his probability of evading US arrest (high), the US public is hopelessly ill-informed and ignorant about what the consequences of this robust welfare invasion (350 doctors will accompany the organisation in their first project) might look like--for our mainstream media will not cover this turn of the radical screw for us.
So why should Americans care if this pocket of humanity is radicalized?
Think the American coffer-emptying decades-long war in Afghanistan with few recognizable victories.
Think of your taxpayer dollars rushing down the drains of foreclosed houses while our government fights its wasteful wars on terror and drugs--when they could instead be using hard-earned dollars to build infrastructure, healthcare and support world-class education in America.
As people become radicalized and our drones swoop into Balochistan to drop their indiscriminate bombs on new ‘enemies’, we will kill more children like this innocent 16-year old. And the cycle will repeat--American taxpayers will have to cough up yet more money to protect themselves from the enemies spawned by American foreign policy.
Finally, and most importantly, think LIFE.
As one Baloch (@BalochTawar) sweetly tweeted: “#SupportBaloch and help us get asleep peacefully like this... http://pic.twitter.com/i7lxgltA
You see, the Baloch don’t sleep well at night. Their friends and relatives are dying horrible and untimely deaths—and our taxpayer dollars support the perpetrators. American taxpayers will have provided approximately $15 billion to Pakistan’s military by the end of fiscal year 2012 (give or take what contractors extract). The Frontier Corp, which is a presence at the site of many abductions receives training from the US military.
And increasingly frustrated with their lack of progress, the Pakistani military has escalated the violence by allegedly burning out villages. Witness the aftermath of this policy, but only if you can handle GRAPHIC footage that depicts the results of this conflagration.
To end to this carnage one has to ignore the experts.
Many writers suggest that Baloch insurgents and diaspora leaders should sit and hash it out with the Pakistan government in exchange for offers of more autonomy and control. This advice is a fraud; the Baloch have been screwed each and every time they trusted such talks following earlier insurgencies. In this regard they have been tricked like the American Indians.
To end this carnage one also has to change American foreign policy in three ways:
1) The U.S. needs to cut off taxpayer-funded military aid to Pakistan.
2) The U.S. should support an UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, including the option of independence.
3) The U.S. should join the Americas and call for the legalization of drugs in an effort to undermine the earning power of the world’s criminals and radical groups like the Taliban.
America and Europe have an appetite for drugs that has not abated during the decades-long War on Drugs. Prohibition didn’t work to curtail the consumption of alcohol and the threat of prison doesn’t quench America’s thirst for drugs. The War on Drugs serves only to enrich the cartels, the Taliban and criminals, while corrupting entire governments and law enforcement agencies. Drugs should be legalized and taxed—with the profits going into education and rehabilitation. Law enforcement officials are tired of fighting this counterproductive war, as well.
The announcement that the JuD was moving into this secular region of Pakistan was reported on April 18 (and we must bear in mind that populations in Sindh, Balawaristan, Swat Valley and elsewhere are also battling religious fundamentalism).
Americans have a choice. We can continue to fund Pakistan’s military and indirectly its proxies like the JuD who will try to radicalize Balochistan, or we can cut off Pakistan’s military aid.
One might suggest that the Baloch, being of a moderate cloth, may take the largesse of the JuD and run, so to speak, and that my concern is unnecessarily alarmist.
That person might be right, but then again, he could be wrong.
Check out the torching of this NATO tanker.
The language spoken in this video is Brahui, a language of the Baloch. When I confirmed this with a Baloch nationalist leader, he said, "What do you expect? These people have no jobs and no education--they are vulnerable to the money and influence these groups project."
If Americans are not feeling crippled by our country's many devastating wars, I predict that further radicalization in Pakistan will ensure that we feel the full weight of our government's reckless foreign policies. And if you can’t bring yourself to care about the poor Baloch, then at least save yourselves.
Pakistan and America--allies sailing over a cliff? We can stop it, but our government will not do it for us. Call, email and tweet your representatives.
And finally, don't say you weren't warned.