The 5th and the latest wave of insurgency struck Balochistan in the post-2006 period. General Pervez Musharraf’s crackbrained and impulsive killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti instigated the once peaceful province, eventually turning it into a no-go area. In fact, Musharraf was responsible for transfiguring Bugti into a living legend. Since then Musharraf’s successors have continued the path, which has spanned over a period of 14 long years. Irrefutably, the military drive has achieved somewhat a negative peace; it has demonstrably failed to attain a positive peace.
However, the gains of the campaign are negligible and not up to the mark.
For a national war wherein a state’s military and para-military forces wage against its citizens, certain fundamental principles need to be kept in mind. A manual outlining local preferences, customs and traditions and most importantly the mindset of the people has to be devised. It is important here to mention that American unavailing war in Afghanistan had failed to take into account such psychological canvas and resultantly ended up with unsought denouement. However, in the case of Iraq, this was not the case.
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s military has espoused a colonial-era tactic in Balochistan. Akin to the British policy of positioning political agents in erstwhile FATA and rest of British India by delegating unchecked powers, Pakistan’s military has empowered certain individuals in Balochistan and most particularly in Makran at the expense of rest of populace. These individuals have in return only broadened their personal economic and political clout, widening the already appalling class disparity and distorting the social fabric of the province. This individual power has neither benefitted the local residents nor the state at large. Bramsh incident is a prime example in this regard. Their sole duty has focused on organizing yearly rallies and not attempting to restructure the governance framework. Certainly, they are hypnotized by the illusion that demonstrations on14th August and 6th September are adequate to instil patriotism, without gauging the enormity of its counter-productiveness.
Moreover, civil and military authorities have been unable and seemingly unwilling to build a national consensus. Their policies are tactical, aimed at gaining short-term gains while lacking any essence of long-term reforms. There is a serious deficiency of proper timely SWOT analysis. For instance, the construction of a checkpoint by FC at the middle of the road in Fazal Chowk serves no good to the national cause but instead functions as a source of hate-mongering. Enhancing security checks with limited confidence-building measures only reinforces the deep-state presumptions.
Apparently, everything looks normal though, but in actual, there are grave fault lines which are persistently being neglected by the ruling junta. Foreign powers are assiduously manipulating these fault lines against Pakistan. Indeed, a non-conventional war requires non-conventional strategies. Relying on out-dated modes in a strategically significant area like Balochistan is too expensive for Pakistan to afford. Excessive use of force has done no good. Rather a psychological approach has to be materialized, in sync with 5th generation warfare which is being waged against Pakistan. What is more alarming for the state is a recently reported alliance between Baloch Raji Aajoi Saangar (BRAS) and the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA). This would have drastic consequences to security of CPEC and Pakistan’s economic outlook.
Most importantly, the competent authorities have solely failed is to take into confidence the youth of the province. Political agents, as to what I would like to call them, are not in a position to build an all-encompassing national narrative in order to rationally convince the educated section of the society to join into the national domain. Post-modern techniques are consequential in a bottom-top model, whereas in a top-bottom framework, post-structural tools are valuable. But regrettably, both these modes are missing in case of Balochistan.
Additionally, the modern world has embraced artificial intelligence in surveillance and reconnaissance manoeuvres, Pakistan continues to bank on human sources. This is not only outmoded, inefficient and sluggish but also counter-productive due to the repulsive nature of the local population. Pakistan is facing two-pronged warfare, with both domestic and cross border dimensions. In order to tackle this sense of insecurity, Pakistan has to revisit its traditional approach and instead formalize a multidimensional strategy. Through a social constructive policy, the local population must be essentially accommodated so that they relinquish the anti-state perception and subsequently stop acting as a second fiddle to foreign forces.
Majid Essa Ali, Student of International Relation, International Islamic University Islamabad