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Background- Cantonments & Military Stations in India

Cantonments derive their name from Swiss Cantons, or districts and were set up by the British in India for entirely different reasons. When the British troops arrived in India, they fell sick very often due to malaria, dysentery and other infectious and waterborne diseases. These diseases also took a toll on Indian troops. Thus it was decided to create Army cantonments well away from cities, often in the wilderness, at the very outskirts of city limits. The additional advantage of such a move was that parades, training and marches with horse’s, mules etc would not inconvenience the local population. It also helped in keeping the native soldiers isolated from the local developments, thereby ensuring their apolitical character.

It is to the credit of the Army that these outlying areas where they were shunted away, became islands of excellence and oasis of greenery; the modern equivalent of smart cities. Today, they are the lungs and biodiversity havens of most cities.

The first cantonment was established in Barrackpore in 1765 and the last one created recently was Ajmer. There are a total of 62 cantonments, mostly in Central and Western Command. These are distinct from military stations which number about 2000 and are exclusive for the army. The current order on road opening thankfully does not apply to military stations.

The Army is fully considerate of the needs of the Nation and has not only allowed access to cantonments but also given away prime defence land for public good. The Delhi metro link from Dhaula Kuan in New Delhi going to the airport is entirely built on defence land given by the army. So is the Dwarka flyover coming to Palam and beyond. The new road to airport in Hyderabad and Chennai has been given access through defence land. Cantonments have also parted with hundreds of acres of land to expand airports in places like Gwalior and many more.

The imbroglio

While Cantonment roads leading to civilian areas have always been open to public, however, internal roads where military units, installations & HQ are located cannot be declared public roads & thrown open to everyone without ensuring mandatory security checks.

Military areas of Cantonments have been defined as Prohibited areas & are not under cCantonments Board

Administration of Defence Land in Military Cantonments is governed by the Cantonment Land Administration Rules (CLAR) 1937. These have been notified by Govt on the authority of powers conferred upon it underCantonments Act. Though the Cantonments Act 2006 has now replaced earlier Cantonments Act 1924, the CLAR have remained unchanged. Section 4 of CLAR defines Classification of Cantonment Lands. Class A & B Lands which are required for Military purposes are not vested with Cantonment Boards. Cantonment Boards are vested with Class C Lands which mainly comprise of civilian areas/ non-military areas. Hence, Cantonment Boards govern only those areas of Cantonment which are located on Class C Lands.

Classification of Cantonment lands as per CLA Rules 1937
Classification of Cantonment lands as per CLA Rules 1937

On the other hand, Class A & B Lands are governed by Military Authorities in accordance with provisions contained in Officials Secrets Act & Defence Services Regulations. As per Section 2(8)(a) of Official Secrets Act 1923, all Military areas/ establishments fall under the category of Prohibited places.

Prohibited place according to Official Secrets Act
Prohibited place according to Official Secrets Act

Trespassing/entering into Prohibited areas without valid Identity & Purpose is a criminal offence under Section 3 & 5 of Officials Secrets Act. It is punishable under CrPC, as clarified in Section 12 of OS Act.

Armed Forces are empowered under Officials Secrets Act 1923

Armed Forces personnel have been empowered under Sections 7& 8 of OS Act 1923 to implement the security provisions in Military areas as applicable to Prohibited areas. Interfering with members of Armed Forces while implementing provisions of Officials Secret Act is a punishable offence under Section 7 & 8 of said Act.

Procedure to be adopted for Security of Military areas/establishments/ installations

Procedure to be adopted by Armed Forces personnel for ensuring security of military areas/ installations has been prescribed by Govt in Paras 1160, 1161 & Appendix AD of Defence Services Regulations 1987 (Revised). Armed Forces are empowered to establish check posts, barriers etc & ascertain identity of visitors before allowing them entry into military areas of Cantonments. Relevant extracts from DSR are placed below.

Court Judgements upholding authority of Armed Forces over military areas of Cantonments

The legal validity of CLAR 1937, inapplicability of Cantonments Board Act 2006 over military areas, applicability of Officials Secrets Act 1923 over military areas & the applicability of authority of Armed Forces over military areas of Cantonments has been unambiguously upheld by a Bench of Andhra Pradesh High Court in its Judgement dated 26 September 2014. AP High Court had ruled on a collection of writ petitions and PILs against the closure of the 14 roads in Secunderabad Cantonment mentioned by the Defence Minister. Dismissing all the petitions, the Hon’ble High Court had ruled that these closures were valid and within defined powers of the Military authorities. On the other hand, it took cognisance of the fact that petitioners wanted to use these roads “for convenience or because of their better motorability”, a matter that “required immediate attention of the civilian authorities” who should “take expeditious steps to improve the alternate roads so that ordinary people are not subject to any inconvenience.” It further stated that “the army authorities have imposed restrictions in a phased manner and such decision cannot be held as one made in an arbitrary manner.” Since the Cantonment Act of 2006 is cited in above judgement, it is clear that the ruling did not consider any irregularity vis a vis the same. It’s on the strength of this Judgement that the 14 roads had been closed in Secunderabad despite orders by MoD.

Illegal settlements/ colonies/ structures adjacent to military installations

As per Section 7 of Works of Defence Act 1903, constructions are prohibited upto a specified distance from perimeter of notified Defence installations for security considerations. However, over the years, a huge number of illegal settlements/ structures have come up in notified areas. Though the Cantonments were originally set up away from habitation, these have now become prime locations due to growth of towns/ cities around them. Many of the illegal settlements/ structures belong to politically influential people. The case in point is ongoing construction of illegal structure on the land acquired by ruling Party leader in Nagrota in J&K next to ammunition dump, despite objections by Army.

Encroachment of Defence Land

Presently over 11,000 acres of Defence Land is under illegal encroachments. Total value of encroached land runs in thousands of crores of rupees. Most of these encroachers have links with political parties/ political personalities. State wise details of encroachments as informed to Parliament in August 2014 are given below:-

Illegal occupation/ conversion of Grand Old Bungalows (OGB)

There are 2724 OGBs whose lease period has already expired. The lease holders were barred from carrying out any additions/alterations/conversions. However, most of these have been converted into commercial establishments, hotels, including shopping malls. Most of these have changed many hands and are presently in the hands of influential political/ business personalities. Despite Hon’ble SC ruling in May 2014 clearing all legal hurdles for reclaiming all OGBs, officials with vested interests in Govt have not allowed taking over of these Bungalows till date. Resumption sanction has been accorded only in 660 cases, of which only 508 have been physically Resumed till date.

Loss of Revenue due to Non Renewal of Lease

There are number of Govt properties on Defence land which are on lease for commercial/ recreational/ residential purposes. The lease deed of these properties has not been renewed for decades deliberately by DGDE Officials. In addition, there are numerous properties which are without any lease agreement. All this has been resulting in huge annual revenue loss to Govt, running in thousands of crores. In Delhi alone, this loss amounts to hundreds of crores annually.

Who is Responsible for Encroachments, Loss of Revenue & Gross Mismanagement of Defence Land & Defence Properties

Over 99% of cases of encroachments, loss of revenue & mismanagement of Defence Land pertains to Class B/ C Lands. As per CLAR 1937 & Cantonments Board Act 2006, DG Defence Estates (DGDE) is responsible for management of these Lands/ properties. Encroachments & Mismanagement of Defence Lands has been well documented in annual CAG Reports. However, encroachments & mismanagement cases have only been increasing with each passing year. Relevant Extracts from CAG Reports are placed below.

How serious is the nexus between DGDE, MoD Officials & Encroachers

Unable to control encroachments, Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) was tasked in 2010 to carry out a systems study & detailed analysis of management of Defence Lands. CGDA in its Report concluded that there is deep nexus between DGDE Officials and encroachers & that this nexus has become so entrenched that it is not possible to break free. It has resulted in systematic loot of Govt land. It found DGDE failing in all four of its functions- audit, accounting, acquisition & financial management. Hence, CGDA recommended for disbandment of DGDE & prosecution of its officials.

Events leading to current illegal orders by MoD

While CGDA recommended prosecution of DGDE officials & disbandment of DGDE in 2010, nothing actually happened on ground due to their nexus with MoD officials. As a result, encroachments kept increasing & Govt coffers kept bleeding of its revenue. In May 2014, Hon’ble SC delivered a historic judgement related to Old Grand Bungalows, paving way for Govt to reclaim all 2724 OGBs. The present occupants of these Bungalows include MPs, MLAs (from all parties), civil servants & prominent businessmen. In Sep 2014, Hon’ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh delivered another Judgement, clarifying that jurisdiction of Cantonment Board does not extent to military areas of Cantonments & that LMA is empowered to close roads in military areas. The Court directed State Govt to provide alternate roads to civil population. In the same year the issue of encroachment of Defence Land was raised in Parliament. In a written reply to Lok Sabha MP Poonam Mahajan in August 2014, then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley admitted that around 11,455 acres of defence land had been encroached. Following these reports, Common Cause, an NGO based out of Delhi, along with Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), filed a petition in the Supreme Court concerning the unauthorised use and encroachment of defence land. The petition alleged that “crass mismanagement of Defence lands is intrinsically linked to irregularities, illegalities and corruption”. The petition relied heavily on CAG reports, and is still sub judice. The last order passed by the Court was on August 25, 2017.

Hidden Agenda behind Opening of Internal Cantonment Roads

Instead of implementing the SC Judgement for reclaiming OGBs & AP High Court Judgement for creating alternate routes, the local MPs of Cantonment areas built an alliance of interest with local representatives of areas adjoining the 62 cantonments. This group seems to have started the whole discussion de novo once Ms Sitharaman was appointed the Defence Minister. She & her husband are known to own residential & commercial properties around Hyderabad-Secunderabad Cantonments.

The Local Military Authorities (LMAs) have been regularly raising these issues. The market value of encroached land & properties runs in hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees. However, corruption is so deep rooted in Defence Estates & MoD that, instead of implementing Court Judgements, these Officials by using their powerful nexus have now been able to force the Govt to give them overriding powers thereby making the LMAs irrelevant. Unrestricted opening of Cantonments roads is one such decision pushed by these Officials at the behest of encroachers & illegal occupiers of Defence land & Defence properties to facilitate their consolidation. National security considerations matter least to these looters of Govt land. This is likely to further facilitate encroachments & consolidation illegally occupied properties. See the details of parleys held by RM with these eople without involvement of Military Authorities.

Illegality of Orders by RM

The Orders by RM are in contravention to provisions of Official Secrets Act, Cantonments Act, CLAR & Defence Services Regulations. Not only do these instructions completely ignore the AP High Court Judgement of September 2014 and subsequent deliberations and the decision by her predecessor Mr Parrrikar, but also subsume the powers of the GOC-in-C to be the final authority for closing any roads as laid down in the Act of 2006. RM had repeatedly quoted provisions of Cantonments Act which are not applicable to military areas of Cantonments. The instructions by RM for unconditional opening of all Cantonment roads quoting inapplicable Section of Cantonments Act clearly amounts to contempt of court. These have far reaching adverse implications not only on Cantonment Security but also on attempts to control encroachment of Govt land. AF pers have been performing their bonafide military duty when controlling entry into military areas for last so many decades. Placing of of check posts/ barriers etc & ascertaining of identity of visitors is part of prescribed procedures.
The instructions by RM have been issued after consultations with DGDE officials, MoD Officials & local area representatives, who have vested interests in opening of Cantonment

Roads. Whether she was misled or she has been deliberately misleading the Nation remains to be seen.

Twenty relatives of Baloch missing persons started a 750km long march on 27th Quetta Press Club to protest the adamancy of the state policy that refuses to produce the missing persons before the courts for trails for the crimes the state failed to describe them in formal discourse what are their crimes. This long march culminated in Karachi yesterday after travelling 27 days long journey and started a sit-in protest in front of Karachi Press Club; thousands came out to receive this historic march of the missing persons in Karachi.

Mama Qadeer who led the Caravan of the missing person from Quetta to Karachi with blistered feet along with sister Farzana Majeed and BHRO’s Bibi Gul told media, as he established his protest camp in front of Karach Press Club, that he would not hesitate to raise the voice of the Baloch missing persons even if he and his collegues had to travel to Islamabad or knock the door of UN headquarters or seek support from Common Wealth.

Pakistani media turned a blind eye to the 750km long march of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. However, Baloch Social Media Activists (BSMA) started a twitter hashtag campaign signed with #VBMLongMarch to galvanize the international media attention towards enforced disappearances at the hands of security agencies. Pakistani media apathy towards Baloch missing persons reinforced the impression that there is a tacit agreement between Pak army and media regarding “abduct, kill and dump policy” of Baloch political activists. More than 18000 Baloch political activists have been abducted by Pakistan agencies across Balochistan. Out of them more than 700 mutilated dead bodies have been found in desolate areas with inhuman torture marks including severed body parts.

Hydar Ali is 10 years old boy. He walked 750 km for the sake of his people who suffer as the result of Pakistani brutalities.
Hydar Ali is 10 years old boy. He walked 750 km for the sake of his people who suffer as the result of Pakistani brutalities.

Current Baloch insurgency is the continuation of the several previous failed insurgencies that date back to the day one when Baloch state was forcefully annexed with Pakistan on 27th behest of British Empire against the will of Baloch people in the name of being a Muslim nation. Indeed, In order to stop the general public from participating in the freedom struggle, Pakistani armed forces started unwarranted arrest of political workers from every walk of life including lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists and among them the students borne the brunt of this savagery. As of now I’m writing this article, I got the news that a mutilated dead body was found in Herronk of Kech District he was identified as Rehmat Pindok. He was reported abducted yesterday by unknown gunmen in Hoshab
of the same district.

However, Last fall a UN working group paid a limited visited to Balochistan under Pakistani restrictions and was not allowed to meet the family members of the missing persons. Even the victims of devastating earth quake were left at the mercy of Pak army and UN and other international aid agencies were not allowed to inter Balochistan to lend their support to quake victims. Balochistan is totally off- limited to International media as will. Local journalists are working extremely in dangerous condition. Pakistan has developed distorting narrative regarding Baloch and Balochistan crisis. The information about Baloch demand and insurgency fed to international media from Islamabad bottleneck are extremely distorting. An article from Islamabad posted in Miami Herald described Baloch insurgency in second paragraph as “Pakistani authorities battle a separatist insurgency in Baluchistan, heartland of the country's ethnic Baluch minority”; and in the ninth paragraph of the same article read “Baluch nationalists have been waging a low-level insurgency for decades, demanding greater autonomy and a larger share of Baluchistan's natural resources”. Now this contradiction shows that even the international media based in Islamabad are forced to follow the Islamabad’s distorting narrative regarding Balochistan crisis.

young Baloch protester at Long March
He walked to draw the world attention towards the state abduction and extra-judicial killings of Baluch.
Even If the greater share and say are taken at face value, does the Pakistani state have the right to deprive Baloch of their rights? Doesn’t it incriminate the state of thievery? What is the punishment of a thief in Islam? - Cutting off of the hands - Pakistan’s constitute starts with the sentence that says Islam is the supreme law of Pakistan and God is the head of the state. If Baloch struggle cut off Pakistan’s hand and freed Balochistan; it is in accordance with Pakistan’s constitute and Islamic sharia.

Notwithstanding, the crucial question is that should the new generation of Baloch nation continue to struggle for rights as their predecessors did or struggle to restore their lost sovereignty establishing a democratic state of their own where they don’t have to struggle for right?

Writer is a freelancer, human rights and social media activist blogs at archenspeaks.blogspot.com. He tweets at twitter.com/ArchenBalochand

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The Baloch are sitting ducks. With the sea on one side, and Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, they literally have nowhere to go. The world watches in horror as a steady trickle of deaths flows through the news on a daily basis. I call it “The Baloch Black” in my mind – the season’s color, except the season doesn’t end. No one seems inclined to take risks with safety or popularity for these people – no matter what they sufer.

Pakistan holds a unique record in the world. A six decade old country with killing sprees – state sponsored killing sprees in four different places. Bangladesh, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Balochistan. In each instance, there is documented involvement of the country’s armed forces acting in collaboration with various militia – be them the Razakars, the various Kashmiri militants, the Taliban or in the case of Balochistan, the local militia. And we are not looking at torture videos from FATA, etc, because I don’t know what slot to put them in. Let’s call them extracurricular.

This, on an average amounts to one genocide every fifteen years, so to say. Not counting the boundary skirmishes with Afghanistan and India including out and out wars, not counting the terrorist training infrastructures, not counting indoctrination for conducting human rights abuse, not counting possible large scale radiation poisoning of the region, not counting sabotage of US+NATO interests and lives after explicit agreements of cooperation.

I see here a worldwide conspiracy of silence. The US in particular. The idea seems to be to not say anything that makes Pakistan unhappy unless absolutely needed. This idea is also backfiring, because career terrorists can simply change employers to remain perfectly safe, and they can take up new job opportunities once the market in Afghanistan opens on US exit. There has been no US comment on the kill and dump policy against Balochistan, there has been nothing on the massive JuD rallys with a few journalists raising alarm. Pakistan is an ally and that is that, except for selective condemnation. The rest is the gift of impunity in return for goodwill.

It is easy to say that Pakistan is a nuclear power, but that applies only to the Kashmiri Pandits. They were driven out of Kashmir, but the actual people dead by all accounts is less than a thousand. But for the other three genocides, Pakistan’s nuclear bombs cannot be called an excuse. The United States, for its own interests in the region “cultivated” Pakistan, making the Pakistani Army disproportionately powerful. Did they not have an ethical responsibility to monitor how that power was used? Wouldn’t today’s war on terror and its immense losses in life and money be prevented? Where is the accountability?

Today, the carte blanche that the world gave Pakistan has resulted in an Army/ISI state within a state. They have dragged the country into surprise wars with India, they have butchered people in their own and in neighbouring countries. The government is helpless to prevent anything they do. US itself is now helpless and expects the government to put their Frankenstein’s monster in the box again. The Pakistani on the street is living in an increasingly deprived and difficult situation, children are deprived of education and health, but the Army’s budget knows no bounds. By Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani’s own confession, in the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Army stood thoroughly discredited on a moral and defensive perspective, yet their salaries were doubled as the country lived on in staggering insecurity and anger.

News reports speak of the Pakistan Army supporting the Taliban in anticipation of the US exit from Afghanistan. The astonishing part is that the strategic analysts are still peddling this as news – something that any ten year old in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Balochistan and possibly India too could have told them on the first day of the war. The pretense goes on, the drama goes on. In the meanwhile, there are people paying hideous costs. 2.3% of Afghanistan’s total population is DISABLED. The Baloch black – as I call it – just unrelenting doom and gloom in the news, continues.

Today, Balochistan is fighting desperately for independence as the world continues to watch. They have no alternative if they must live. Most Pakistanis insist that the real problem is the human rights abuse and not independence. But there is no question of human rights in Balochistan. Human rights are for humans, and there seems to be no indication that the Army/ISI think that Baloch are humans as they are kidnapped, killed, assassinated, murdered .

The killing of Brahmadagh Bugti’s sister and niece in Karachi has been understood and condemned for the chilling expansion of the war against the Baloch that it is. Yet what difference does that make? What does it mean that people understand what is happening, if it cannot result in any change what so ever? There is NO ONE in Pakistan that can prevent the Army/ISI from doing what they want. The Court has not succeeded in bringing about justice for the numerous crimes against the Baloch stagnating and accumulating.

In a post Fukushima world jittery about radiation, the Baloch are living with alleged significant contamination of their area with no recourse to even measuring for confirmation and identification of risk areas. There is no monitoring, there is no information on if and how much radioactive contamination exists. Last year, American soldiers who served in Afghanistan had radiation levels in their urine. They have been attributed to tactical nukes by commentators, and denied as inexplicable by the official speakers. What if they are from the contamination of the area they worked in? It is close to the area of Balochistan that has been contaminated.

There is no information about the real situation except for photos of deformities and descriptions of illness that can match radiation exposure, but there is no way of knowing without tests being allowed, and Pakistan doesn’t allow independent access to the region for such work. Pakistan had even refused humanitarian assistance access to this area after the flood claiming that they would do it themselves. So the Baloch people are tired of asking for help, but have no other option open to them other than asking for help. No matter how many walls of silence they bounce off. Some of the walls are you and I. They are fighting a heavily unequal war for survival. Militarily, politically and even on health and humanitarian terms. Where is our own humanity in this story?

There literally is no way out for them unless something is done specifically to bring them relief and solutions, and the ethical responsibility for this assistance lies on the world and particularly the US that stood complicit in Pakistan Army’s use of weapons supplied by them on civilians. Even more, because the US is doing precisely the kind of rescues worldwide, for ages that it is refusing Balochistan – a victim of torturers armed by them. The Leahy Law prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. It doesn’t get more impunity than this, it doesn’t get more blatantly human rights abuse than this, and it doesn’t get more studiedly ignored than this. So, in calling Pakistan a partner, arming their Army, funding them and refusing to exert any preventative influence on their human rights abuses is blatantly flaunting its own laws. It is a question for Americans why have a law like that if it will not be followed?

What needs to be done is a matter of strategy and the Baloch people should be consulted. It also needs to be a practical and sustainable solution. It doesn’t make sense to only separate into independence a sparsely populated region sharing a border with a country that overflows every national border they have to commit human rights abuses. They would do the same thing in Balochistan that they are planning in Afghanistan – install proxies, subjugate people again. It is their default mode. There needs to be a comprehensive political regional solution – a sustainable one that ensures that boundaries that allow the Baloch safety are established.

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By Archen Baloch 10/012/2012

At the sacred altar of Chinese interests in Balochistan Pakistan military slaughtered more than nine prominent Baloch political workers under detention and dumped their tortured bodies on different location cross Balochistan during Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao’s three days visit to Islamabad after India on December 17, 2010. And surprisingly the state controlled private media was vigorously giving coverage to these massacres right after every bet of news of Chinese premier activities in Islamabad. The motive behind it was to show the Chinese that Pakistan is doing everything to protect the Chinese interests in Balochistan even if it has to flow the river of blood in Balochistan. Mehboob Wadhela and Master Arif were among the prominent bulwarks that stood against the Chinese imperialistic interests in Gwadar embraced the martyrdom.

The very image of Pakistan, in Balochistan and outer world, is that of a mysterious serial killer that abducts, kills and dumps the bests of Baloch youths. Pakistani state relationship with Baloch People is painted with red blood. So far more than 360 activists have been killed under custody of Pak Army. And thousands of political workers are missing. Their fates are not known what have happened to them. All have been registered in the trusted books of world human rights organizations.

Balochistan was an independent Baloch sovereign state. Pakistan invaded it on March 27th, 1948 at the behest of the then British Raj and forcefully annexed it against the will of Baloch People. Being left alone at the mercy of Fundamentalist Pakistani military, world community never paid any attention to the atrocities Pakistan inflicted upon Baloch nation ever since. However, being a diehard nation it never disheartened them from seeking their lost independence.

But what Pakistan doesn’t understand is that Baloch is a diehard secular natured nation. Even if it has deprived them of education for centuries, but politically Baloch are more matured and conscious than any nation in the neighborhood. This has unified them in the resistance movement. Despite spending rupees in billions in establishing Madrassas (religious schools) in Balochistan Pakistan failed to radicalize Baloch into a religious extremist society necessary to subscribe to Pakistani national ideology of two nations theory. Ideologically Baloch People believe that Pakistan is a fundamentalist state biased towards other religions and cultures. It always suppresses religious minorities and never tolerates cultural diversity, Therefore Baloch nation has become its cultural victim.
How far Balochistan has moved away from Pakistani state clutch is evident from the fact that if one read the articles written by Pakistani writers in the last three weeks regarding Balochistan crisis, one won’t fail to detect their fear and comprehension about how volatile the situation is in Balochistan.

Baloch are more interested in seeing how much Pakistan is suffering from gas energy crisis and isolated from international community than the political and judicial quarrels in Islamabad. The constant attacks on Gas pipelines have generated ripple effects on Pakistan economy. One cannot simply ignore the social unrest in Punjab cities without linking it Baloch national insurgency.

Being highly organized, the armed organizations of Baloch Sarmachars, the freedom fighters, namely Baloch Liberation Army, Baloch liberation front, Baloch Republican Army, have utterly paralyzed Pakistani ground troop’s movement in Balochistan in isolated camps and check posts. They are overstretched in the vicious terrain of Balochistan. Being a foreign force, it is totally alienated from general society of Balochistan. Their fighting morale is depleted by being constantly high alert against guerilla attacks. They are extremely vulnerable and exposed to guerrilla attacks because their enforcement capacity is hampered by long distances. Pakistani ground troops would capitulate to Baloch Sarmachars, the Freedom Fighters, within weeks if not within days if aerial support from international community was rendered to them like they did in Libya against tyrant Gaddafi forces. In An interview with BBC, the field commander of Baloch liberation Front, Dr Alla Nizer said they call for international support and added that their forces could be merged into a single entity whenever the circumstances allowed them.

Now that Baloch national struggle for freedom has reached to new heights. In International media our voice is being heard. We have a just cause to pursue; that is the freedom of Balochistan from the unjust occupation by Pakistan. In the foreseeable future, we can see that the conflict between Baloch and Pakistan is going to intensify.
So far Baloch Sarmachars have confined their operation and actions within Balochistan geography targeting Pakistani armed forces, the state’s institutions and installations of railways and gas pipelines and every sign that shows the existence of Pakistan on Baloch soil and the ISI agents spying for Pak Army, whether they are settlers or locals.

If the situation was allowed to linger on like this and no intervention took place from world powers on the legitimate appeal of Baloch leaders, the human catastrophe will be highly extensive. And two things are likely to happen: first, being on edge, Baloch armed guerrilla leaders did not rule out the possibility of stepping out of Baluchistan’s geographic boundaries to carry out lethal actions against Punjab’s major cities such as Lahore and Rawalpindi. Even suicidal attacks could be an option, as BLA recently carried out it against Pakistani intelligence officers.

The second, Pakistan all along has been putting the blame on India that Baloch insurgency is being abetted by India. Now given the near future events, Pakistan’s frustration will grow to a limit where it, out of sheer frustrations, starts harming Indian interests in different Place and time.

It is a mystery why Baloch freedom movement is not being supported or opposed by world powers, despite the fact that Pakistan is committing vicious crimes against humanity in Balochistan, enough to prosecute it in Hague. So much so that it has wiped out an entire generation of Baloch leadership.

The nagging question is how much American has compromised on Balochistan issue with Pakistan during heyday of their good relationship on terrorism?

In Baloch political society and media it’s widely believed that the world powers would themselves intervene and come to Baloch aid at their own convenience, arguing that world powers are still disentangling themselves from Pakistani blackmails.

Pakistani military and political establishment is more interested in courtship of a super power. During cold war Pakistan sought American courtship and exploited geostrategic situation of the region and suppressed Baloch and Pushton dissent voices. Our fear is that the same is going to be repeated here again, albeit with new Partners. With new geostrategic partnership Pakistan has started to seek defense pact with China and Iran. At the core of this new triangle strategic alignment lays the fear of Baloch freedom movement which has, all along, been calling for help from international community. Under Chinese strategic objectives Gwadar Deep Sea port is being prepared to establish bases for Chinese Naval ships.

Under the disguise of Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Chinese exploitation of Baloch resources sees no limits in Balochistan, from Gwadar coast to gold and copper rich Chaghi region, from oil and gas rich areas of Dera Bugti and kohlu to the beautiful mountains of Jahlawan for marble extraction. Pakistan has allowed China open access to exploitation of Baloch resources.

According to a prominent Baloch research scholar, Sana Baloch “The resources here are being extracted by a Chinese company, without any independent monitoring for the past seven years. According to official reports copper-gold worth $633.573m were produced during 2004-08. The Balochistan government receives a paltry two per cent share, while half the profits go to Beijing and 48 per cent to Islamabad. The fortified Saindak project is a no-go area for the Baloch people”.

Last word: Baloch deserve the right to know why the managers of world affairs are apathetic about Baloch crisis. Is it a tacit consent to Chinese exploitation of Baloch natural resources and an affirmative nod to Pakistani atrocities against the secular Baloch people?

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 came and went and everyone has on their minds the big question of terrorism. India is no stranger to terrorism, though we started calling it so mostly post 9/11. Till then, blasts were blasts and the perpetrators were militants. Then, we found a parallel with what we suffered in what the world was willing to fight - terrorism. I suspect part of our wide adoption of the word terrorism lies in the validation we felt in our suffering at the hands of covert elements and the blind eye the world turned to it till. There is an aura of "we have suffered this exact thing for a long time".

India's disbelief that Pakistan could sponsor terrorists and become an ally in fighting them is also reasonably vindicated in the decade that followed. How we experienced Pakistan is largely understood by the world now, and we are able to make more obvious overtures for reconciliation now that the overtures don't mean denial.

On another note, I want to look at the effect of radicalization and extremism in Pakistan on India. What the radicalization did to Pakistan is evident. Less evident is how it led to subtle radicalization in India. If the majority religion in Pakistan is Islam, the majority in India are Hindus.

While the overt influence that we see in Pakistan - officially changing narratives in history books, encouraging calls to arms in the name of religion etc are missing in India, the outrage over the Pakistani attitude has led to several less visible thoughts along the same lines. Visibly they may be in direct opposition, but they follow the same way of thought.

This is natural. This is automatic. If I say apple, you may say orange or red or fruit, but it is unlikely you will say desert or something totally unrelated. That is a process of coherent response. Our response is relevant to the stimulus if it is to be rational. If we don't like, we may do or say the opposite, but we play the same game unless we make conscious choices to disengage. We validate a dysfunctional premise of mistaken actions by countering actions.

Some ways I see it playing out here:

  • Focus on Muslims as potential terrorist agents. While it is true that covert agendas have tried to recruit Muslims, we play the same game when we investigate Muslims, or we defend them - both. If we don't agree with military alliances in the name of religion, we need to stop thinking from a religious perspective or at the very least narrrow the scope so much that we avoid that same broad match. Frankly, while it may be useful for terrorists to recruit in the name of religion, it is more difficult to investigate people based on religion rather than suspicious behaviour, because while influence can be exerted at a religious place, monitoring will have to happen in the wild.
  • Carte blanche to agents with "our" agenda. Terrorists summarily execute people who don't fit in with their agendas. To counter terrorists, we created anti-terror squads with similar carte blanche or made laws like the AFSPA. Both were difficult to control for a fundamental similarity - a belief that a certain kind of "good" people will kill only "bad" people - without the recognition of those people as individuals with their own ideas of loyalty, integrity or even who was wrong. Pakistan did it on a massive scale and has almost lost the country to them, India did it on a more cautious scale (also as a retaliation rather than initiative) and suffered fake encounters and police brutality overall. Both these plagues are difficult to control. Both these plagues continue on an assumption that they are "necessary". Terrorists are necessary for Pakistan's "strategic depth", and our extra legal powers of killing them are necessary for our "security".
  • The "good" protector guys. Atrocities by a certain kind of people getting a blind eye. These are usually the custodians of the "National Agenda". Their actions are immune from punishment because of one of three reasons. First - they "protect" against the bogeyman. If the bogeyman for the Pakistan Army is India, the bogeyman for the Indian Armed forces is terrorists. Because these guys "protect" the country, they cannot be called to account. Second - they are too powerful. It is an open secret that people can't do a damn thing against the Pakistan Army. India has a veneer of civilian control over Armed Forces - at least on a policy and decision making and salaries level. But the ground reality is untested. The control may exist, it may get thrown off - we tread carefully and avoid confrontations. The local public on the other hand has a healthy fear of their protectors and their potential to destroy their well being - and not just in areas with insurgency. Many wrongs by Armed Forces go unchallenged because they are fighting terrorists. Third - the voice of the majority and extra-curricular pressure. Challenging these protectors will quickly get one dubbed anti-national, targetted for verbal victimization, etc by a large number of people who believe in their heroism.
  • The role of the Army. Here there are opposite extremes. The Pakistan Army and ISI pretty much rule the country. They have thrown over governments, they have directly vetoed government statements... the works. The Indian Army on the other hand is firmly under the civilian thumb - at least on an official level. It got neglected for several years in terms of weapons upgrades, it is very low key in terms of a National presence, even top generals will rarely communicate to the media (and thus the public) directly about anything on policy or decisions. The few times they do, it is a big sensation and very marked deviation. The smallest disagreement, even if it isn't a conclusive refusal hits news instantly and reinforcing news articles will hit about the hierarchy in India. One would think that there is no similarity. But there is. There is a very serious fundamental similarity - the assumption that the Armed forces are a threat to the country's autonomy in India is similar to the reality in Pakistan - but it actually has no factual basis in India. The understanding of the nature of Armies seems to be influenced. They either take over, or they need to be kept severely in check. This is in spite of the fact that our Armed Forces have showed no actual inclination to do any such thing and in fact seem in agreement with the power distribution. This is in spite of the fact that lower attention to needs of the forces will be counterproductive to national interest. This is a largely unconscious thing, but the manifestations are visible. It is also interesting to note how the stronger the presence of the Army in National decision making became in Pakistan, the more low key it became in India.
  • Other similarities are obvious - religious extremism on the rise. Majoritarian justifications of injustices against minorities, and a strong opposition to minority supporting initiatives. This domination of national space on the basis of religion may have been more visible during the times of communal conflicts, but it is actually stronger now. It looks peaceful because there is no need to fight. There IS no fight for the most time. A fight needs a strong opposing force to exist in order to happen. The riots were hideous, but that force was at least present. Now, while a large number of minorities are reconciled to the National vision, the few that are not are small, explosive pockets with no ability to overtly take on the majority. Pakistan is far ahead of us on this road, and the extremists are actually in a war with the state for running it over entirely.
  • Both countries live under the illusion that extremists are a minority. In fact, extremism is on the rise in both. It is less visible in India, because there is a diversity of extremists, but make no mistake, there are actually very, very few people who are tolerant in both countries. Even liberals are what can only be described as "extremist fundamentalist liberals" who have extremist fundamentalist prejudices about non-liberals - paradoxical as it seems. Most of the people have concrete alliances of beliefs they have made and there is little space for tolerance or negotiation. This is risky for both countries. More visibly for Pakistan, but India has more to lose.
  • There are victims who are known victims who rarely get any assistance or acknowledgment - be it tribals or Kashmiris or people in the north east, or the Baloch or Pashtuns or Pok Kashmiris.

This may seem like a strange article, because it speaks of none of the obvious differences, or visible factors. What I am trying to do here is bring up the dynamics in the society and the processes influencing our thoughts.

There are many common patterns that trigger parallel versions across the border. We are born of one region. These Jekyll and Hyde games both countries play only help to blur the picture in unhelpful ways.

So what can be done? Responding rather than reacting. If we don't like something, there is no need to react to it no matter what the provocation. Some think that reacting to provocation is needed as a show of strength or whatever, but there is no strength in dancing to another's tune. We can explore all the options we have and choose ones that will be most useful rather than doing tit-for-tats like an unending game of table tennis.

Even better, if we can really understand how these influences work, we can use them to initiate transformation. Borders are for lands, not thoughts. If we can understand how our actions invoke relevant responses, we can invite change through what we do. Some very different patterns for interaction with Pakistan that disengage from previous dysfunctional patterns are described in "Hold your missiles". There can be more. There can be others.

More importantly, we can initiate transformations within the country to disengage from compulsive extremism and dysfunctional mistrusts. While I don't think these are some kind of Pakistani copyrighted rule, learning to avoid reactive behavior will help tone down a lot of reactive anger as well. We can deal with more transparency and tolerance.

I do think it will take dedicated minds to lead this change. Ideally social scientists, but politicians, media, civil leaders or any influences with high EQ could work too.