Who gives India’s RAW sleepless nights

November 11, 2014

ISI in IndiaOne has got to admire Pakistan. Is there any other example in history where a small nation has simultaneously taken on two much bigger countries, one a super power and the other deluding itself into believing that it is going to become one along its present trajectory, for such a painful ride, for so long, with barely concealed disdain and deceit?

Pakistan’s audacity backed by sheer brilliance in execution is the stuff history is made of. That it has been able to pull off a seemingly impossible double is as much a tribute to its leaders, both military and civil, as to the one instrument without peer that they have created: the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

This covert arm of the military has been developed and honed, with some help from the CIA in 1980s, to become a huge force multiplier that has almost re-written the rules of war. It is this institution alone that has given Pakistan the luxury of playing the Jekyll and Hyde game on battlefields of its choosing in a manner that it wants, without exposing its troops to danger and its culpability to the enemy.

Pakistan sees ISI as its first line of defence. What is often overlooked is that for its leaders, Pakistan includes Afghanistan and Kashmir too. So for the Pakistani establishment—both military and civil— the ISI is not engaged in any hostile or offensive actions there, like the Americans and the Indians believe. It is only legitimately defending Pakistan against their aggression and is fulfilling its patriotic duty to defeat and throw them out.

When the US invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, it probably thought it was going for a stroll in a park bombed flat by it.

Actually it would have. But it failed to factor in Pakistan’s tenacity and duplicity, or may be it chose to look the other way because expanding the war was not an option. Either way, the Pakistanis assessed the situation far more accurately than the Americans thought they were capable of. Thanks primarily to the manner in which their battle-proven weapon, the ISI, sheltered, trained, equipped, deployed and controlled the Talibanis, the Americans have been defeated on the ground.

That is why they are now open to once unimaginable compromises, so they can get out of the quagmire with minimum loss of face.

Let us be clear that the US is not losing its Afghan war to the Pathans who, as per the lore, have never lost to an aggressor. This is a myth being propagated and lapped up to obfuscate reality.

The US is being defeated by a very clever and determined Pakistan. The divided Pashtuns were trounced by the ISI after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, without a bullet being fired.

From wanting to wrest from Pakistan Pashtun areas on its side of the Durand Line, Afghan Pashtuns became Pakistan’s pathetic pawns, thanks primarily to the violent extremist Islamic ideology that the ISI sowed in them when the Soviets invaded their country and the manner in which the ISI deeply infiltrated into and controlled them. That strategy not only helped defeat the Soviets but, more significantly, it placed Afghanistan firmly in the Pakistani lap, giving the latter  the strategic depth that it was looking for then and is well on the way to recreating now.

Despite the serious challenge posed by the presence and pressure of the Americans in Afghanistan, the ISI has not significantly let up it support  for the oppressed Muslims in Kashmir.

The tactical reduction in terror attacks there to con the Americans does not mean that there has been any let up in the strengthening of the terror network in India, or in augmenting its ability to launch even more devastating attacks when ISI’s razor sharp top brass gives the green signal. Unfortunately, our candle-loving peace-nicks and faux intellectuals fighting a vicious domestic political battle against the BJP have deluded themselves/been deluded by the government into believing that the ISI is a lesser evil which, by making concessions to Pakistan, can be won over.

26/11 was the turning point that should have compelled India’s leaders to open their eyes and look inwards. If that attack was not bad enough, the failure of Intelligence RAW to detect suspicious activities and preempt shows total lack of professionalism. It is more than obvious that the planning and execution in the attack was all home grown. India has been in denial about the Indian Mujaheddin and their links with Al Qaeda. RAW has developed a habit to blame all successful terror attacks on ISI and Pakistan, not realizing that this not only makes the Indian intelligence and security agencies look stupid and incapable but makes Pakistan look much more dangerous and capable. India needs to own up to their own internal security failures and try to learn from how Pakistan is successfully managing to fight the largest terror operation in the history of the mankind and that too without any foreign help. Kashmir issue is another area where India keeps crying about Pakistan’s interference and ISI’s role in helping the “militants”. When will we realize that Kashmir may not be Pakistan’s part, but it is definitely not an Indian property. India has occupied a clearly Muslim majority state by force. What the Indian intelligence and Indian army has done to the local population is beyond words. Even we Indians are ashamed of these atrocities committed by RAW and Indian Army. If ISI is helping the Kashmiris in the occupied territory, it almost seems legal. Surely Pakistan cannot let Kashmiri Muslims be killed, kidnapped and raped by our military with unlimited powers.

More tan once has our RAW been a major source of monumental embarrassment. Like the photographs sourced by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the five terrorists out on a suicide mission in India were found to be those of people leading honourable lives in Pakistani cities. Both Indian and Pakistani media left no opportunity to make a mockery of the RAW and rightly so.

ISI has been trained by the American CIA, It was armed by the CIA and today ISI is in many ways better than CIA. Despite its limited funding it has managed to outperform all rival intelligence agencies. ISI has managed to establish ties in Afghanistan. Where India spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan to achieve our strategic objectives and even then we managed to achieve nothing, ISI has managed to make strong allies and helped their leadership prepare for Afghanistan after the US exits.

How our RAW Intelligence concocted the Headley’s startling exposure that the 26/11 attack was controlled and coordinated by the ISI from start to finish, and that the attackers were trained by Pakistan’s Navy, was the sort of information that Indians and many other countries wanted to hear. But Paksitan’s ISI managed to not only repulse this propaganda using their online media wing but actually made India look foolish.

It not only did not concede an inch to India, but actually demanded that any progress on 26/11 investigations be linked to progress on Siachen, Sir Creek etc. It seems to have escaped notice of the Indians that Pakistan’s Army Chief Kiyani was the head of the ISI till October 2008, a month before the Mumbai attack. So, in effect, the blame for 26/11–and by deduction other terror attacks too–lies right on the doorstep of the de facto ruler of Pakistan.

Yet, leading establishment intellectuals like Ram Guha want to mislead India into believing that the ISI is a non-state actor and is no worse than VHP or Bajrang Dal. It is such patently false assertions that enable powerful voices in the Congress party and the government, including Sonia-loyalist Mani Shankar Aiyar and India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, to peddle the line that India has not choice, but to helplessly persist with an aimless, “uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue” with Pakistan, because the only alternative visible to them, a full-fledged war, is unthinkable.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, one cannot but infer that for it the primary purpose of talks is to keep progressively legitimising on paper the gains that ISI’s well disguised military successes make on the ground and in Indian minds, in consonance with its strategic objective of weakening and eventually defeating India.

India’s own covert operations outfit, rightly named RAW in a rare moment of enlightenment, has singularly failed to nail the ISI, despite being on this very job for decades, with a huge budget to boot. It has taken Abdul Karim Tunda, for example, to reveal that India’s Most Wanted Dawood Ibrahim not only lives in Karachi (or so we Indians are told by our RAW intelligence).  ISI, whose Director General reports to the Army Chief, conducts its many dangerous businesses with clinical professionalism, and knows how to keep them under wraps from amateur Indian eyes.

Worse is the fact that it exposes another huge and unacceptable chink in India’s armour against Pakistan: RAW is a poorly-led-by-police-officers and driven-by-babu-culture set up that lacks the political direction, professionalism, commitment and motivation required to face, tackle and defeat a professional agency like the ISI that is led and controlled by the real rulers of Pakistan.

All this bodes ill for India.

Once Pakistan achieves the primacy it is on its way to in Afghanistan, all but drives India out from there, and makes full use of the infrastructure that India’s much touted ‘soft power’ has created in that country, the ISI’s energies, spurred by its spectacular success in Afghanistan, will focus almost wholly on building a strong alliance with its neighbour on the west thus securing its western borders and bringing an end to terrorism (much of which has been sponsored by our RAW). India must realize that use of terrorism is not in anyone’s interest. India should focus on building ties with Paksitan, stop sponsoring terrorist outfits in and around Pakistan.

Some of us comfort ourselves by fantasizing that Pakistan will be soon be swallowed by the very jihadi elements its has spawned. Our Intelligence agencies have tried to fool us common Indians with propaganda about how all of Pakistanis are extremists. Nothing could be further from the truth as any Indian who visits Pakistan is pleasantly surprised by the liberal and modern Pakistani society who always welcome us Indians with open arms.

RAW and Indian Army’s brutality has completely radicalised the Kashmiris on the Indian side, and this mistreatment of Indian Kashmiris by the Indian forces creates anger and frustration on the Pakistani side of Kashmir too. With growing resentment in Indian among the oppressed Muslims and other minorities, India is creating a time bomb that will explode with such force that India will not be able to recover from its impact.

Is India even thinking of preparing to meet these challenges, or do our leaders still fantasize about incredible India that exists only in their minds… while rest of the world sees a Hindu dominated rape capital of the world.

Does India have a plan to defeat the challenges that it is almost certain to face? The way some of our leaders brainlessly dismiss any other option by invoking the fear that Pakistan is a nuclear powered state, tells us that the Pakistanis have read Indian minds well and know that they can get away with everything short of a declared war, and that India will do little more than make meaningless noises to assuage public opinion. Well Pakistan is definitely not interested in starting any war with India. Pakistan has on multiple occasions asked for a peaceful dialogue to resolve issues but it seems that our intelligence agencies and military always manages to disrupt these opportunities and it is obvious why!

Much of the credit for the fact that Pakistan has fearlessly and aggressively repulsed attacks from India for over three decades, needs to be given to the one outstanding creation of Pakistan’s military, the ISI. This covert military outfit is an innovative and powerful instrument of war, an invisible and formidable force multiplier.

To counter it, not only has India has not been able to find an answer but, given the predilections of its political leadership,  is unlikely to do so in future too.

Much as India’s ineptitude and worse hurt me as an Indian, I have to admire what Pakistan–a nation that is 1/6th India’s size and with 10th India’s GDP–has achieved through the ISI, whose successes have been nothing short of spectacular. Wish we could learn what it has been trying to teach us.

By Vinod Sharma

Politics after the world wide web

November 7, 2014

The author has often wondered like most Pakistanis if our leadership is in fact that or the mockery of one. This of course, is not without reason and comes days after the price of petroleum has been slashed by Rs 9.43. While it is amusing to watch the government and the PTI to engage in a tussle to take credit for this drop in prices, it is only normal to feel that as the 180 million who have everything at stake, our intelligence has been insulted in the most casual manner. Thanks to the worldwide web and our ability to use it, we are only a click away from the outside world—only a click away from knowing that international oil prices are down too, by more than 25%. If the government is taking initiative to bring the price of petroleum products in line with global trends, while it may be a welcome change it is the only logical consequence of growing supply and decreasing demand.

Mr. Khan insists this change has taken place because of his sit-ins, because ‘perseverance commands success’—perhaps he is right, this decrease in prices is the result of mounting pressure on the ‘corrupt’ government. Mr. Sharif insists that this change has taken place because he feels it is necessary to provide some relief to the common man and that in spite of the huge losses cause to the national economy because of the dharna business, the government is taking steps on the international front too to engage other countries in economic activities with Pakistan so as to accelerate economic growth and while it is doing so—perhaps his version of the truth also deserves to be humored, maybe a little less than Khan’s self-righteous, holier-than-thou narrative though.

The point is that it hardly matters what version of the truth appeals more to us, the fact remains that there are few things worse than half-truths and it seems that of late, they are being fed to the gullible, unsuspecting masses in enormous quantities. It can be argued that politics is a dirty game and such behavior should not take us by surprise but the fact remains that it will become increasingly difficult for politicians to keep up appearances—either they will have to step up their game or they will have to come clean with facts.

On another note, a similar wrestling match to take credit for the Wagha Border blast ensued between different factions of the TTP. The horrific incident claimed the lives of more than 50 of our people and while attention-starved politicians want to piggyback their way to popularity and are obliged time and again by the media and audiences, it may be of greater use to bring the focus instead to issues that deserve to be given more importance and air-time and that when sit-ins are organized and  carried out, they are goal-oriented in the sense that they reflect national priorities and when the government prides itself in providing ‘relief’ to the little man, its rhetoric does not reek of hypocrisy. The author is following the news of the proposed ’500pc increase’ in gas prices most religiously—the material on the world wide web suggests that this is bound to happen sooner or later. Oh, well.

AREA 14/8

The alleged blasphemer

November 7, 2014

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I could sense sheer terror for the first time: hiding in a small room inside the kiln factory, with their eyes closed, my parents tried to drown the angry voices and loud thuds coming from outside the locked door.  A frantic mob was looking for vengeance: its thirst would not be quenched until it had blood on its hands.  My mother trembling with fear offered a silent prayer for my safety, the safety of her family most dear to her and then as an afterthought prayed for her own safety.  For a while, it appeared that her prayers had been answered: the mob had distanced itself from the door and the voices seemed to be dying down.

In the safe embrace of my mother, the world despite its hardships had always appeared to be as affectionate as my father’s smile and as tender as my mother’s hands. My parents were bonded laborers who worked in a brick kiln factory in Kot Radha Kishan. While every day was a struggle for them especially during summers as it would get hard to bear the heat, they still worked rigorously despite heat strokes and burnt hands for my sake if nothing else. When my mother lay down at night I could sense that she yearned for freedom and a secure future as she fell asleep to the thought of my smile.

However, an unfamiliar voice on a loudspeaker changed everything. One night, the local Maulvi called out to all the faithful to save Islam from the infidels. I had heard somewhere that Islam preaches peace and tolerance and as I strained to hear kindness in the voice of local cleric; all I was able to identify was hatred and ignorance.  I could tell that my mother’s thoughts were also clouded by confusion and anxiety. Next morning, we were told that people had started gathering to look for my mother to seek revenge. She had little time to comprehend whether this commotion was linked to the money she owed to the factory owner or if she had actually offended religious sentiments unintentionally, there was no time to speak up in her defense.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

My mother’s heart started sinking even more now and I knew why- the voices were back to haunt us and they were growing louder by the minute. The roof would come down upon us any second. Any second now the angry voices would barge in and ‘justice’ would be served. Armed with bricks and sticks, they started beating my parents claiming they had desecrated the Holy Book. My mother was now an alleged blasphemer.  She screamed out of agony as she struggled to protect me from the blows that were being struck on her body, my father begged for mercy. My parents were both powerless and on their knees, crying and pleading repeatedly saying that they were innocent. But the voices had come there to serve justice: there was little room for empathy. The mob was doing all of this for God, in the name of God.  There was no compassion in their eyes; they showed no weakness or remorse. I clung to the futile hope that either somebody would come and reason with these people or they would go away having wounded us enough, but more and more people started joining them from nearby villages. Succumbing to his injuries, my father had lost consciousness by then; my mother’s shrill screams were also drowned by the now- jubilant mob as my parents were dragged and thrown inside the brick kiln oven. The mob’s rage seemed to be dying down with my mother’s tormenting shrieks. I was burned alive with my parents while thousands of people watched this show with smirks on their faces. The agony of fire was too much to take but despite the obvious pain I felt a sense of relief.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me. 

I am comforted by the fact that I will neither become one of these barbarians nor one of the silent spectators. I will not be a part of the herd controlled by self proclaimed clerics who have little knowledge of the religion. I am happy that I will never be born into a society where humanity and religion are considered to be two separate paths, a society that kills in the name of religion- the same religion which advocates peace and tolerance.

I hear that five policemen came to save us from the mob but they were held back. I also hear that a heavy contingent of police followed after we were burned to death. I doubt that things would have unfolded in a different manner if they have arrived earlier. The next day, a Shia Muslim was killed by an axe-wielding officer over blasphemy charges in police custody. The fact remains that if you are accused of blasphemy, you are considered guilty until proven guilty or killed.  I hear that 50 villagers have been arrested but I wonder if they will be met with the same treatment reserved for alleged blasphemers. Most of all, I am apprehensive about the wellbeing of my siblings who are left behind, will the silent majority make sure that they are not stigmatized?

I wonder if my killers will celebrate my death with zeal and sleep with a content smile on their faces, if people will shower them with rose petals for burning me alive. I wonder for how long people will remember us, agonized by the heat of the kiln oven that burned us, possibly until the heat dies down and they find another cause to take up.
I am the unborn child of Shama and Shehzad  Masih and I am already dead, but so is humanity.

AREA 14/8

The show must go on!

November 5, 2014
I am sad that a suicide bomber decided to massacre innocent women, children and men at Wagah Border near Lahore, Pakistan who were there to witness the daily flag hoisting ceremony. I am happy that  people of Lahore were there again the very next day to show solidarity with our armed forces and to let the terrorists know that we can’t be scared or intimidated by such cowardly acts. I am extremely sad that a poor Christian couple was beaten to death by an angry mob over an alleged desecration of the Muslim Holy Book and their bodies were thrown into a burning bricks kiln. I am happy that the Punjab Chief Minister has formed an inquiry committee and increased security for the minorities of the area. I am sad that the formed inquiry committee will prove to be absolutely useless and no one will be punished.
We as a nation are a strange combination of ultra liberals, extremists, moderates and hypocrites. While a few of us have become averse to the concept of religion (at least the way it is being practiced here in Pakistan), others are getting pulled in to religious extremism. While a majority are obsessed with indulging to the “show” part of the religion. Strange new traditions are being discovered by the “believers” and then being promoted by the media. A cycle has started to outdo others in coming up with newer and more flamboyant practices… often erasing the boundaries between rival religions and cultures. This of course is not Islam as we know it or at least not the kind of Islam we were taught to follow and practice while we were growing up in General Zia ul Haq’s era of religious “enlightenment”. Does media showing ethnic and religious minorities endanger the Islam being practiced by the majority? I think not. In fact it would help build tolerance and acceptance in society.
What is Islam and how it is supposed to be practiced is a question that even the most learned Muslims will not be able to answer accurately. Islam is supposed to simplify your life by eliminating all third party connections between the believer and his Creator, Islam demands that Muslims exist as a distinct community and they should “look like” Muslims by how they dress, act, eat and their visual appearance. Muslims must not consume alcohol or pork, and must not indulge in sinful acts of murder, rape, kidnapping or even verbal abuse and gluttony. Muslims must not create idols for worship nor should they believe in “pirs” (holy men who are supposed to be closer to God than the common man). Islam believes all humans are equal and they have an equal right to justice and fair trials. Islam has no concept of “blasphemy laws” and the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has physically demonstrated forgiveness and ignored those who mocked him, his preaching and Islam. Islam believes in giving protection to religious and ethnic minorities. Islam preaches moderation in everything including how a Muslim practices his faith. Islam forbids forcefully imposing religion onto others but encourages practicing religion and conducting your daily life in such a way that non-Muslims would be attracted to Islam and the Muslim community. Islam teaches tolerance and peaceful resolution to problems and issues.
Within hours after Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) death, fractures started to emerge in the Muslim unity and leadership. Power struggle and dominance issues started dividing the Muslim Ummah into groups. Politics crept in to Islam and likes and dislikes based on who deserves what authority and title started to emerge. Islam evolved in Arabia where many traditions were common and ethnic diversity not that significant. But as Islam spread over larger areas, its structure became more complex, its original laws and principles had to be made slightly “flexible” to adapt to the local culture and traditions. Governance systems and style of rule made certain leaders stronger than the other. Some leaders became more strict than the others, some misused their power and authority against the weak and the oppressed. Soon conflicts within the Muslim world became strong enough to form sects and sub-sects and these sectarian divides became powerful enough to form boundaries and create separate Islamic states. Today these divides are so strong that one sect of Islam considers other sects as non-Muslims. Millions of humans have been killed and slaughtered in the name of “right” Islam.
As stated earlier, Islam’s expansion into areas away from Arabia posed new challenges. Pre-Islamic Indian subcontinent was a culturally rich civilization. Buddhism and Hinduism were the main religions which were dominant. It was a highly advanced and developed civilization which had made great progress in mathematics, science and medicine. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, children have always been taught fake and made up history that teaches them how poor the state of people was before Islam and how the “pious” and “brave” Muslim warriors came and saved the people of the subcontinent. Had we been taught actual history that taught us who we really are, how rich our culture and civilization was and how gradually Islam became the dominant religion in the region, we would have less psychological, cultural and  societal issues today. We would be more tolerant towards our fellow countrymen and our cousins across the borders. Even more important would be the identity dilemma that we face as a nation. Half of us believe that we are Arabs with some Afghan and Central Asian bloodlines. While this may be partially true for a small number of our countrymen in the North West, majority of us must accept the facts that we come from the East and that our ancestors were not Arabs or brave Mongols but “ordinary people” of what is today called Bharat (India). Real history lessons would make us feel proud of our origins and not push us towards seeking a new fantasy identity.
I am sad that even in the year 2014, where information is accessible so easily and freely, majority of us Pakistanis are still delusional and confused about our Identity. In fact majority of us are confused about the difference between religion and culture. We think that Islam is our identity and hence we are all Arabs. Nothing could be further from the truth!  Once we realize that we originate from a culture which was far richer than Arabia, Europe or any other place on earth, only then will we realize and understand our identity and its true worth. We need not call ourselves Indians because we are not any more, but we need not deny that we do have a common heritage and ancestry, in fact to some extent our culture today should be even richer than current India because of the new integration of Afghan and Persian cultures with the influx of refugees who came to Pakistan in the 1970s and 1980s and settled here and made Pakistan their home.



Today Pakistan, at one point stands united against the menace of terrorism and extremism and at the other point it is struggling with its internal issues of growing religio-ethnic intolerance and lack of acceptance. Our obsession with religious identity and false belief that we are the sole guardians of Islam, is what is killing us. As a nation we need to learn to appreciate the true spirit of Islam rather than following militant jihadi mindset of malicious mullahs. Our new generations who are lucky to be not influenced by Gen Zia ul Haq’s version of Saudi Islam and who have access to more factual information would have to rebuild a Pakistani society which will look beyond religious and ethnic differences to form a nation that will truly represent the actual purpose of Pakistan… A homeland for the Muslims and other minorities of the subcontinent. Where all citizens will be guaranteed equal safety, protection and rights. Where there will be no discrimination against any race or religion. Where justice will be served by the honorable courts of law. A Pakistan the world will respect and love!

No Permanent Friends In Politics

November 5, 2014
The recent exchange between the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamat-i-Islami confirms that there are no permanent friends in politics but only shared interests.  Sirajul Haq while addressing a rally in Mansehra on Wednesday took a shot at PML (N) and PTI calling them “two sides of the same coin” as both parties involved in the current political crisis show a lack of concern in solving people’s problems. This did not sit well with Imran Khan who in return demanded that JI should stop playing on both sides of the wicket and support either status quo or change.
No permanent friends in politics
Despite the visible cracks in the fragile partnership between the two coalition partners, both parties understand that a clash is not in the interest of either due to their standing in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa assembly. JI remains to be the only coalition partner of PTI (46 MPAs) with 8 MPAs in the house, JUI-F and PML-N in the opposition with 16 members each followed by 5 ANP and 11 independent members. Consequently, Sirajul Haq issued a clarification later stating that the newspaper misquoted his statement regarding PTI.
Another political liaison that has come to an untimely end for PTI is its budding friendship with Pakistan Awami Tehreek.  The sudden departure of Tahir-ul-Qadri from Pakistan, ending his sit-in in Islamabad is likely to serve as a blow to PTI led anti-government movement.  The number of supporters present at the sit-in seems to be decreasing already, taking away most of the fervor associated with it in its initial days. To state the obvious, it has been more than 70 days and none of the demands have been met by the ruling party, due to PTI’s insistence on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. While PTI is looking for an all out win, it must comprehend that their rigid approach on the negotiation table may lead to an all out failure of the movement.
The reluctance shown by members of PTI particularly Shah Mehmood Qureshi to verify their resignations from National Assembly sheds some light on PTI’s political paranoia.  Many believe that their refusal to verify resignations individually can be attributed to existing mistrust amidst party members as some of them are not in favor of resigning. Reportedly, one of the major reservations has been leadership’s partial decision to stay in power in KP.  For one reason or the other, it is apparent that PTI has been using delaying tactics since August and the government on the other hand is not in favor of verifying their resignations either as it will take PTI out of the democratic process to a fully committed movement on the streets.
Meanwhile, where PML (N) is playing it safe by trying to stay out of trouble, PPP is building up hopes for a strong comeback with the launch of Bilawal Bhutto in 2018 general elections and seems rather uninterested in the current political deadlock.  With Tahir-ul-Qadri out of the picture, PTI’s only ally JI is also acting as a mediator rather than a pressure building force.  Therefore, it is high time for PTI to come back on the negotiating table with a flexible approach unless it is still waiting for the umpire’s finger to go up.

Re-visiting Baloch identity

October 28, 2014
Baloch The various narratives intricately built around the problem we refer to as ‘Balochistan: Pakistan’s other war’ need to be understood in light of our colonial past and this region’s history and geography. Contextual analysis of the current scenario is of utmost importance. How the British treated various ethnicities, and helped build sharper divides because of the discrimination practiced in strategic law enforcement have seeped into our political, social and economic reality today. For the British smooth governance with maximum resource extraction was the fundamental motive. The long run repercussions of the strategies used were of little value.
“Rule the Punjabis, intimidate the Sindhis, buy the Pashtun and honor the Baloch”
The formula the British used to deal with our four provinces was precise. Current stereotypes held by Pakistani people has been in harmony with their pre-colonial markers, which was in fact reflective of structural relationships existing a posteriori , taken account of reinforced and to a great extent exploited.
The backdrop to these relationships is enmeshed in the daily interface and interweaves of far western India and reflected in the essentialism that formed the crux of British policy in India. Spread over an area of 222,000 sq miles Balochistan historically served as a sanctuary for peoples displaced by successive waves of Afghan, Mongol and Mughal conquerors seeking the riches of Delhi. The unremitting flow of conquerors and warriors through the region intermittently combined and recombined territorial spaces into neighboring Persian, Afghan and Indian empires.  Provincial administrators stationed in outposts governed vast tracts via local leaders kept in check using the divide and conqueror stratagem. The 16th century saw the great ‘Pashtun Diaspora’ whose progeny lie in several Baloch tribes, a Baloch Diaspora around the same time saw mass migrations towards the south. While British law enforcement in this region was at best titular, circumstances and their policies’ exoskeletal essentialism contributed to the isolationism of the hamlets and minor chiefdoms in the region. Moreover recurrent relocation and westward movement added to regional instability and prevented the buttressing of local politics and spatial- temporal identities unifying the Baloch. Another policy that would later have far reaching corollaries would be the ethno-centric compartmentalization of the inhabitants of the frontier, allowing them to develop connections and affiliations across the border leading to networks reaching up to Central Asia.
An area suited to a pastoral semi-nomadic way of life with sporadic cultivation with irrigation. Thus polities were spread across a wide area of arid land, depending on one of the two or a little of the two means of livelihood, in a connected or more often than not, isolated space. Tribal structures incorporated a mix of highly factionalized elite who would extract tribute from their lesser in form of surplus agricultural produce. This relationship between the tribute takers and the peasants formed the basis of polity in the region and was fluid in allegiance as it depended not so much on political decisions as much as it did on territorial integration and disintegration.
The formation of tribes around the backdrop of pastoralism and scant agriculture made it more economically viable as it provided a measure of security and economic linkages that mere lineage and household units clearly cannot. Thus livelihood became dependant on the economic structure provided the tribe and cast loyalty and fealty into its fabric. Over lords who provided necessary security for irrigation systems and set ups evolved into an elite strong class who began ruling over the descent class who shared a constructed imagined genealogy and thus identity. This class formation formed a mesh of abstract classes of people with tributary affiliations situated at two antagonistic poles and yet providing the reason for each other’s existence.
Thus the seedling that the Baloch tribal nizaam rests on economic interlinkages and complex connections built around the concept of livelihood, security, tribute and a strong need to create a cohesive identity along the lines of lineage and kin relationships. Tribes with abstract class structures evolved into strong chiefdoms with greater need for security becoming more imperative than before when neighboring tribes hamlets would attack each other for access to irrigation canals and greater areas of pasture. This simple unit of tribe or hamlet forms the nucleus of Baloch identity and is an important area of study to understand the foundations of Baloch identity.
By Zoon Ahmad Khan

Balochistan: Who is behind the unrest

October 16, 2014

Who are the ‘American Friends of Baluchistan’? This is supposedly the name of a Washington DC based NGO (or at least that is what it calls itself). Whatever it is, it is certainly not what its name implies. All those associated with it or those sponsoring them are no friends of Baluchistan or Pakistan. These people are most certainly sponsored by the CIA because how else could they be Washington based and free to carry out subversive propaganda against the state of Pakistan. It is equally certain that the Indian agency RAW not only takes great interest in them but also actively supports them. The excuse that there is freedom of speech in the US simply does not cut it as the US would not want anyone to do to them from Pakistan what they are permitting to be done from Washington. What the US and India do not realize is the fact that such activities sponsored through dubious individuals almost always backfire with disastrous consequences.


Who is Masti Khan? You have probably never heard of him because he is of no importance or consequence. The only reason that he is even mentioned is to highlight the kind of people needed to do the dirty work. He is supposedly a ‘Baluch dissident’ granted asylum in the US not for being a dissident but because he has declared himself a gay person unable to live in his home country. He is right—the Baluch have no time for people who sell themselves to act against their own people. But Masti Khan is not alone. There are many like him working behind names like the BSF-Baluch Salvation Army or the BLA—Baluch Liberation Army and many others. They distort history to portray to give Baluchistan and its people an anti-Pakistan past—a patent lie easily proved by facts.

Such organizations, their leaders and those working for them within the country and abroad need to be exposed for the charlatans that they are. The people of Baluchistan are multi ethnic and the real Baluch accept this fact and are proud of it just as they are proud to be part of Pakistan. All they want is to be left alone in their land without external interference to create problems. The Masti Khans can be taken away by the US and India and anyone else interested in low life.

Indian think tanks and institutions welcome so called Baluch dissidents for discussions giving them visas so that RAW can work to recruit them or blackmail them into working against their land and its people. Indian actions are understandable given their designs against Pakistan but when the US or UK gives them asylum  while denying it to persecuted Hazaras of Baluchistan then there is something amiss and Pakistan needs to take notice of the blatant disregard of all norms. For too long has Pakistan reacted and remained on the defensive. It is time to unearth facts and present them to the world.  There are no ‘American Friends of Baluchistan or Sind”—not if they have Masti Khans doing their dirty work and undoing what USAID is doing.

Shahmir BizenjoBy Shahmir Bizenjo


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