Western intelligence services worst nightmare is coming true – a coalition between Islamic terrorists and Baloch militants, ostensibly on the prodding of Pakistan’s intelligence services.
Barely a week after history was made in Balochistan as a commoner, Abdul Malik Baloch took office as chief executive of the restive Balochistan province. Strategically important because of its proximity to the oil lanes of the Straits of Hormuz, Balochistan, is also the energy house and biggest province of Pakistan.
The predominantly tribal province witnessed recent tragedies in two apparently separate but networked incidents. In one case, 14 female students were blown up in a university bus in capital Quetta by an alleged female suicide bomber.
As the bodies and other injured victims were transported to the BMC hospital complex and high-ranking officials reached the scene, Pakistan media reports said a male terrorist blew himself up inside the hospital, while more than a dozen of his comrades laid a siege of the hospital complex. A fierce gun battle ensued between the terrorists and security forces. The dead included the deputy commissioner of Quetta, the highest civilian official of the city.
Just hours before the Quetta bus blast, an attack occurred against the historic Ziarat Residency mansion. That attack left a police officer dead. The residency was the last resting place of Pakistan’s tuberculosis-ridden founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who is highly unpopular in Balochistan.
The two terrorist actions seem to be coordinated. The bus attack in Quetta was carried out by the militant Wahabi Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, once spawned by the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence, which now acts as a Saudi proxy. The attack on the Ziarat Residency was carried out by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), officially outlawed by the UK authorities as a terrorist organization.
Someone jealous of Abdul Malik Baloch’s ministerial nomination is Nawabzada Jangyz Marri, whose younger brother based in London, Hyrbyair Marri, is said to be the BLA chief.
Though the BLA rejected the elections, many of its workers from the Marri tribe are said to have assisted Nawabzada Marri during the elections. The two Marri brothers allegedly broke all records for corruption as government ministers in the 1990s. Abdul Malik Baloch also defeated a notorious tribal despot named Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, who has allegedly killed more than 100 members of his tribe with his own hands.
“We are caught in the eye of a storm,” said Abdul Malik Baloch last month during his election campaign. Though Abdul Malik Baloch and his elder brother Ghaffar Nadeem were once among ideologues of a free Balochistan, he tampered down his demands after realizing Baloch are not in a position to confront the Pakistan army. In April and May, militants demanding freedom carried out two bomb attacks on Abdul Malik Baloch’s life.
“The attacks in Quetta were clearly masterminded by the Pakistan military,” says Baloch political activist Mohammed Ali Baloch, who now lives in Philadelphia. “There seems to be a war going on in the military itself, with one section supporting the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.”
Balochistan is the capital of enforced disappearances in the world, where human rights group say the Military Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence are running a parallel government. The victims are routinely killed in what Amnesty International calls “kill and dump” policy.
Pakistan’s new interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali blasted the BLA attack on the Ziarat Residency but kept silent on the female killings by Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, showing Islamic militants are darlings for the Pakistani establishment.
Ahmar Mustikhan is the senior most Balochistan English writer based in the West. He has worked in newsrooms in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.