Expert responds present questions about Balochistan




Questions by Jaime Ortega.

Me in Pag (1)

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

He is the son of the former Defense Minister of Pakistan 1978-1985. He joined the Baloch National Struggle in 1971 and was with the Baloch during 1973-1977 Insurgency and was with them till 1991.

1) Balochistan dreams to be an independent country. But Balochistan is considered the property of Iran and Pakistan. Which of the two countries (Iran, Pakistan) gives Baloch’s more civil rights and equal opportunities?  

Ans: The Balochistan, now under Pakistan, was an independent country from 11th August 1947 when Ahmad Yar Khan the Khan of Kalat declared its Independence under the 4th August 1947 Stand Still Agreement between Kalat, Britain and Pakistan which accepted it as a sovereign country; it remained independent until 27th March 1948 when it was forcibly annexed by Pakistan and since then Baloch have been struggling to regain their lost independence.

 Before the British partitioned Balochistan with its infamous Goldsmid Line in 1871 between Iran, Afghanistan and now Pakistan it was under suzerainty of Khan of Kalat. The fate of Baloch under Pakistan or Iran hasn’t been different. They have been denied their right to independence through force and at times through so called elections. The Baloch on both sides have struggled and have suffered for resisting these two states. There isn’t much to choose between these two they are equally repressive and brutal.

2) Is it true that India and Russia are backing up rebel militias in Balochistan against Pakistan? Could you give us a little more insight if this is true or not?

Ans: It is always alleged that Russia and India back the Baloch in their struggle against Pakistan. This is simply a ploy to malign the Baloch struggle so that brute force could be used against them with impunity. The Baloch resisted the British since 1839 and one is forced to ask was it India or Russia who supported them? The Baloch social and political ethos doesn’t allow them to accept yoke and therefore they have resisted through ages without foreign support.

3) Gwadar port in southern Balochistan is very important for Pakistan, since its a corner stone for China’s maritime projects in south central Asia. Are Baloch’s benefiting from this project or is it mostly Pakistan?

This is what I had said in an interview a couple of months back and is even more relevant since the recent signing of $46 billion accords between China and Pakistan. “What is in Pakistan’s interest is not necessarily in the interest of Balochistan. If you want to pass through Balochistan, use its coast and extract its minerals, the Baloch people are the main stakeholders. Their interest should come first.

There is already some resentment among the Baloch, especially in the dealings with the Chinese. How they sidelined the Baloch people in Sandak is an indication of what will happen. According to Fazle Haider (a well known journalist) there will be no copper, gold or silver left when the Chinese will leave. They have extended their lease until 2017.

My point is that we should keep in mind the interest of Balochistan. The wishes of the local people should be held supreme. China is not coming to Balochistan to help the Baloch people, but because of its own interests.

My entire interview can be read at

Even their chosen Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik says that he has not been consulted regarding Gwadar and has been kept in dark.

4) Has Mamnoon Hussain brought any new significant reforms to help develop a stronger Baloch government?

Mamnoon Hussain is only a constitutional figurehead without any powers but even if he had powers nothing could be expected from him. The repression of Baloch is institutionalized and the entire establishment is on the same page. Even the Supreme Court of Pakistan which held more than a hundred hearings on the issue of Baloch Missing Persons failed to prosecute even a single person for the nearly 20000 Baloch missing persons (these figures are given by the Vice-Chairman of Voice of Baloch Missing Persons an organization formed to secure release of missing persons) and the 2000 plus persons who were killed after being abducted by state agencies and their sponsored death squads.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik recently admitted that he was helpless in case of missing persons though on assuming the position he had promised its remedy. This link will give further details.

5) They are security reports that Afghan-Taliban have infiltrated the city of Quetta in the past few years, naming their new group Quetta Shura; how strong are they now and is the movement growing? Do Baloch’s consider Quetta-Shura a threat for democracy?

Ans: Quetta has been home to Afghan refugees since 1978 and they have brought about not only a demographic change but with state support have worked to change the historically secular social ethos of Baloch society to a religious one. The Quetta Shura is threat to peace in Afghanistan and peace in region.

6) What is the current status of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Balochistan? What is their relationship with Quetta Shura? Has Al-Qaeda also infiltrated Balochistan? Do these Islamic groups compete against the Balochistan Liberation Army?

Ans: Fundamentalist groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have state support for there hardly have been arrests of those responsible for carnages against the Hazaras who are Shia by faith. Two hard core Lashkar-e-Jhangvi activists Saifullah Usman Kurd (He was killed recently) and Daud Badini had escaped from a high security prison in Quetta cantonment in January 2008 and were responsible for killing for Hazara and other Shia. These two were sentenced to death in 2003 and somehow yet managed to escape.

 There have been clashes between these Islamic groups and the Sarmachars (Freedom Fighters) of the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) in Makran.

7) How does Sistan-Balochistan (Iran-Baloch) get along with Balochistan in Pakistan? Do both Balochistans’ approve on the same reforms? Would they unify for national sovereignty?  

The relationship between Baloch on both sides of borders is cordial as members of same tribes lives on either side. The problem is with the governments of both sides which repress and deny Baloch their rights. Baloch on both sides resist the oppression and exploitation. They certainly would unify because they are the same people.

8) The Hazara who are Shias, in Baloch-Iran are persecuted by the Jundallah terrorist network. How well has Iran dealt with their terrorist activities?

The Hazaras are originally from Afghanistan and live in Bamiyan and central Afghanistan. A large number of them until recently lived peacefully in Balochistan as I mentioned above they are targeted by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other sectarian outfits in Quetta, Balochistan. They are also targeted when they go for pilgrimage. The names like Lashkar-e- Jhangvi, Jundallah, Al-Qaida or ISIS are not important it what they preach and do. They preach and practice hate as has been proved again today (13th May) by killing of 42 Ismailis of Shia faith in Karachi and injuring of 24 of them.

9) Is there tension involving the borders separating Balochistan in Iran and Pakistan? Does Iran want more territory considering it feels threatened in Iraq with the growing regional presence os ISIS, AQY (Al-Alqaeda in Yemen) and Saudi Arabia chasing out Houthis to regain more territories? Could that explain why Russia is supporting rebels in Balochistan Pakistan, since Russia is an ally of Iran?    

Ans: There always has been cooperation between Pakistan and Iran wherever the need to suppress Baloch has arisen and they still cooperate. In 1973-1977 when Pakistan conducted large scale operations against Baloch Iran helped them with money and material and even provided them with Irani helicopter gunships and pilots. Pakistan always hands over those Baloch who are wanted in Iran.

The only tension occurs when Iranian forces are attacked by Baloch living on that side and it blames the Baloch living on this side.

As I said above Russia is not helping Baloch and it has never helped them.

10) The United States for years has worried about the Afghani-Taliban entering into Pakistan for refuge, but has Balochistan become a bigger safe-haven for the Afghani-Taliban in recent years? Is the US concerned about the infiltration of terrorist networks in Balochistan?

Ans:  Balochistan has always been a safe-haven for Afghan refugees and during the 80’s had the largest refugee camps; there still is a sizable number of Afghan refugees in Balochistan. These Afghan today are used in the same against the Americans and NATO forces as they were used against the Soviet Union. It should be pointed out that these activities of Afghan cannot be conducted without support and connivance of Pakistan as is proved by the presence of the Quetta Shura, so the problem will persist as long as Pakistan continues to support such activities. Naturally the US is worried but cannot make a clean break from supporting Pakistan for reasons best known to it.

11) What new leaders are emerging in Balochistan in Iran and Pakistan to help the region gain more stability?

The leadership of Baloch resistance is slowly going into hands of educated youth and this is surely making a difference. Even Baloch women who were never a part of Baloch politics have now started taking active part in Baloch Political struggle. The largest and most effective Baloch students organization the Baloch Students Organization-Azad is led by a woman Karima Baloch.

12) What will Balochistan look like in the next decade?

Ans: Gibbon in his book ‘The decline and fall of Roman Empire” narrates an anecdote about a Roman Emperor, (whose name I have forgotten) and his favorite courtier. One day the Emperor was angered by this courtier’s action and ordered that he be put to death. Hearing this harsh sentence the courtier shook his head in sorrow and said one of his wish would remain unfulfilled. The Emperor became inquisitive and inquired about that wish and after some persuasion the courtier told the Emperor that he had the knowledge and the ability to teach his favorite black stallion to speak but it was not to be and he should be put to death.

 The Emperor asked him how much time he would require to which he said a year at the most. The death sentence was put in abeyance and the courtier assigned the job of teaching the horse to speak. The well wishers of the courtier came to him and said that he had committed a great folly as there was no way that he could make the stallion speak. The courtier told them that, “There is a possibility that in the intervening period he may die a natural death. There even was a possibility that the Emperor would die and his sentence would be commuted.” He also said, “A year is long period enough and who knows the black stallion may learn to speak”

A decade is a long Period anything can happen.

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