FREEDOM MOVEMENT TIMELINE
The issue of Balochistan is related to the partition of India and Pakistan. This partition had many drawbacks, one of which was no clear orders for the princely states that were under British rule indirectly. These princely states were to take decisions on their internal matters.
At the time of independence, Present-day Balochistan was divided into 4 princely states -
These 4 princely states were given the option to merge with either India or Pakistan else to stay independent. Out of these 4 princely states, Kharan, Las Bela and Makaran decided to merge with Pakistan under the pressure of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Kalat was under category B along with Sikkim and Bhutan, unlike other Indian princely states according to the Treaty of 1876. This treaty gave Kalat internal independence and no interference in internal matters by the British. Due to this, Kalat was never a member of The Chamber of Princely States and hence, was not compulsive to merge with India or Pakistan. Thus, the last ruler of Kalat- Khan MirAhmed Yar Khan, popularly known as Khan of Kalat, decided to remain independent.
In 1946, Khan of Kalat appointed Jinnah as his legal advisor to put his point in front of the British Crown. When the Cabinet Mission Plan came to India in 1946, it could not find any legal solution to the issue and left it unresolved.
On 4th August 1947, a meeting was held in Delhi. In the meeting, Mountbatten, Khan of Kalat, Chief Minister of Kalat, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru were present. In this meeting, Jinnah supported Khan of Kalat. Outcomes of this meeting were that on 5th August 1947 Kalat would be independent, and Kharan and Las Bela were ordered to merge themselves with Kalat in order to complete Balochistan.
On 11th August 1947, a treaty was signed between Kalat and the Muslim League. This treaty stated that Kalat is not an Indian state and Muslim League would respect the independence of Balochistan. Khan of Kalat also gave financial support to Muslim League at the time of independence due to good relations with Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
On 15th August 1947, Kalat announced its independence. Khan of Kalat also built the parliament of independent Balochistan and it was decided that their relations with Pakistan would only be friendly. But Muhammad Ali Jinnah backstabbed Khan of Kalat and sent the Pakistani Army to attack Kalat. On 1st April 1948, Khan of Kalat surrendered and signed an instrument of accession with Pakistan.
PEOPLE OF BALOCHISTAN
The majority of the area of Balochistan is under the control of Pakistan, but there are some areas of Balochistan in Iran and Afghanistan as well. Balochistan is one of 4 provinces of Pakistan. It is the largest province as per area which accounts for 374,190 square kilometres (44% of the total area of Pakistan). However, Balochistan is very sparsely populated with a population of 13 million (4th as per population in provinces of Pakistan) and the population density of Balochistan is 36 people per square kilometre. The reason for this sparse population is the extremely dry desert climate along with the scarcity of water. Most of the population of Balochistan is tribal with only 27% population living in urban centres.
The economy of Balochistan is largely based upon the extraction of natural gas, coal and various minerals. Balochistan has the capacity to fulfil the whole local requirement of natural gas and minerals of Pakistan. But these resources have not been utilized properly. Also, the agreements for the royalty rights and ownership of minerals are unprecedented due to natural disasters, economic, social, political and cultural unrest in Pakistan. The negotiations for this ownership are very insufficiently transparent.
The GDP of Balochistan is 8.5 billion USD which accounts for 3.7% of the total GDP of Pakistan. The GDP per capita of Balochistan is 710 USD per annum. This very low GDP per capita leads to poverty. The poverty rate in Balochistan had grown from 48% in 2001 to 58% in 2017. Due to this, Balochistan has been called a “neglected province where the majority population lacks basic amenities”.
Though Balochistan remains largely underdeveloped, there are some developmental projects. The foremost of these projects is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC is a part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. CPEC aims to connect the Chinese landlocked province of Xinjiang to Gwadar (a port city in Balochistan). The total net worth of this project is 62 Billion USD. But this project failed miserably due to corruption and the documents of this project were not made public which was highly suspicious. Also, the loans which were given for CPEC were very difficult to pay back for Pakistan which led Pakistan into the Chinese debt trap.
ROLE PLAYED BY PAKISTAN'S DEEP STATE
MISSING PERSONS -
Pakistani army and ISI are accused for the kidnapping of public leaders and there are no arrest records of them. Also, the police do not give any information about them. Thousands of people are missing like this. According to some reports they were jailed, tortured and some were even killed. For these missing persons, the people of Balochistan held a march of thousands of kilometres from Quetta to Islamabad.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES -
To control the protests and conflicts Pakistani army’s Frontier Core (which is posted in Balochistan) used torturing, kidnapping, fear-mongering on innocent civilians.
INTER TRIBAL CONFLICTS -
Most tribes are Sunni but there are some Shia tribes. This leads to tribal conflicts and there were even reports of bomb blasts in Shia mosques.
CORRUPT TRIBAL LEADERS –
Pakistan’s government isolates some tribal leaders and bribes other leaders to maintain control over Balochistan. These tribal leaders maintain the STATUS QUO as they do not support freedom movements completely and take money from the deep state of Pakistan.
INSURGENCY IN BALOCHISTAN
When Balochistan got merged into Pakistan forcefully, there was a backlash from many tribes which started an insurgency. This insurgency was led by Prince Abdul Karim( Brother of Khan of Kalat). But this insurgency was suppressed by the Pakistani army and Prince Karim was arrested.
In 1955, the military dictator of Pakistan-Ayub Khan decided to create Pakistan as one unit. The present-day Pakistan was made West Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh was made East Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan took all the rights from the citizens of present-day Pakistan, including Balochistan. This was highly opposed in Balochistan.
In October 1957, Baloch leaders met the then president of Pakistan, Iskandar Mirza, and requested him to keep Kalat out of Pakistan one unit. But Ayub Khan refused to do so and it started an insurgency in Balochistan, especially Kalat. But on 6th October 1958, Ayub Khan sent the Pakistani army to Balochistan. Thousands of Baloch were killed and supporters of Khan of Kalat were arrested and eventually the insurgency came to an end.
1973 - 1974
In the elections of 1971, all provinces other than Balochistan and NWFP were won by the Pakistani People’s Party. While in Balochistan and NWFP, the National Awami Party won the elections. The National Awami Party was dominated by Baloch.
But the government of Pakistan wrongly accused leaders of the National Awami Party that they joined hands with Iran and they were planning a massive revolution. Due to this accusation, the provincial government of Balochistan was dismissed.
Also in 1971, Pakistan got separated into Pakistan and Bangladesh. But during the war, the Pakistani army performed atrocities on Bengali people. The death toll was around 3 lakh to 5 lakh. The orders for these war crimes were given by General Tikka Khan who is also known as Butcher of Bangladesh.
Pakistan did not overcome the loss of Bangladesh and General Tikka Khan was sent to Balochistan to control the insurgency. More than 80,000 troops were deployed and airstrikes were conducted on common Baloch. All roads and railways to Balochistan were blocked. Due to this, Baloch leaders fled to Afghanistan. More than 16,000 Balochs were killed. General Tikka Khan again performed war crimes on innocent protesters and he also became the Butcher of Balochistan.
2005 - PRESENT
When the civilian Afghan government got full control of Afghanistan, the fighters of the Taliban fled to Balochistan. This created a spillover effect of the Afghanistan war and these fighters encouraged the people of Balochistan to restart the insurgency.
In 2005, a Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who was a mass leader and former governor of Balochistan and former defence minister of Pakistan, demanded 15 things from the government of Pakistan which included more control over minerals and natural gas to the Present-day province Balochistan and cap on the construction of new army bases. All his demands got rejected.
He took up arms against the deep state of Pakistan. In 2006, he was killed in a confrontation with the Pakistani army. Former President and General, Pervez Musharraf, is blamed for the assassination of Akbar Bugti. Some days after his death, his supporters executed a rocket attack on Pervez Musharraf to take revenge. Pervez Musharraf nearly got killed in this attack. Brahumdag Bugti, the grandson of Akbar Bugti, formed the Baloch Republican Party and he lives in self-exile in Switzerland.
ROLE OF EXTERNAL POWERS
Pakistan has nothing.
Balochistan is Pakistan's grand strategic, geographic,
mineral and boundary
guardian. Balochistan is Pakistan's last survival kit".
Indian PM Shri Narendra Modi addressed the issue of Balochistan in his Independence day speech in 2016 as a pressure tactic to counter Pakistan raising Kashmir issue on all international forums, including UNGA. He also brought the attention of the world to human rights abuses in Balochistan. India can back Balochistan cause on international platforms frequently including UNHRC and UNSC.
India can also support the Balochistan Freedom movement. Additionally, India can offer asylum to Baloch activists.
The Afghan war had a great impact on the insurgency as the fighters of the Taliban immigrated into Balochistan and refuelled the insurgency with manpower and weapons that they brought with them.
The Americans, particularly the CIA, have a huge interest in Balochistan as they use Balochistan as leverage against Pakistan. The Americans supply weapons to rebels such as the Balochistan Liberation Army. Americans are leaving Afghanistan, but they want influence in South Asia to counter Chinese influence so they demanded Air Bases in Pakistan. American National Security Advisor confirmed that Pakistan agreed to give the bases which would most likely be Balochistan. China has been increasingly pushing itself in the region to excert influence for securing its interests and investments. The game for balochistan is long and all big power and stakeholders are invested in it.