Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Of Pakistani Death Squads, Baluch Masses and Slaughterhouses
by H. Baloch
The Pakistani occupation has adopted a more sinister strategy to suppress the Baluch Independence movement. In order to save itself from charges of ‘crimes against humanity’ it now employs a multifaceted strategy that focuses not only on eliminating Baluch Resistance Fighters, but also on taking out politicians, activists and civilians with the use of death squads. These death squads are largely unknown entities and what makes one marvel is the rate at which they're spawning. Ever since Quetta Police Chief Shabbir Sheikh of Quetta, an ethnic Punjabi, threatened “We'll avenge target killing with target killing” in early 2010, the Baloch Defai Tanzeem (Baloch Defense Army), Sipah-e-Shoda-e-Balochistan (Army of Martyrs of Balochistan), Al-Ansar Mujahideen, Baloch Gheiratmand Tanzeem (Honorable Baloch Organization), and the Adozai Qaumi Itthed (Adozai Tribal Union) all entered the theater in the brief period of just under two months.
These death squads have been carefully characterized and named to serve the machinations of the occupation. Anyone familiar with Pakistani history will recognize the connections. All the aforementioned death squads attempt to capitalize on religion and ethnicity.
The Baloch Defai Tanzaeem, or more appropriately, the Defense Army for Pakistani Occupation of Baluchistan (DAPOB), is responsible for high profile murders, such as Baluchistan National Party's (BNP) leader Habib Jalib, and for threatening Baluch journalists with dire consequences for providing coverage of the Nationalists. The boss of the DAPOB, son of Nasir Mengal, the Pakistani ex-federal minister for petroleum, Shafiq-ur-Rehman Mengal, uses religion in his rhetoric to muster support for the organization. His press releases refer to the targeting of Pakistani agents, soldiers or other members of the occupation as comparable to crimes committed against God and swears retribution for them. The Sipa-e-Shoda-e-Balochistan, the organization that accepts responsibility for abducting and then murdering Baluch men and the very little known al-Ansar Mujahideen remind us of the various pet projects of the Pakistani spy agencies used to fight Pakistan's proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir. The Sipa-e-Shoda's name is very lucid—it is a tribute to the Pakistani Occupation Members “Martyred” in Balochistan (POMMIB). Both the POMMIB and the Al-Ansar have developed to give a sense of security to, and rally support from, Pakistani settlers, that is, to gradually induct them in counter insurgency operations. The Adozai Tribal Union (ATU), which the Adozai Pashtuns disowned and described as an effort to create tensions between the Baluch and Pashtun nations, is designed with the motive of pitting the Pashtuns against the Baluch. The ATU's claim to fame was accepting responsibility for the abduction of Advocate Zaman Marri, who practiced law at the provincial High Court. The ATU also issued threats to target the Baluch Resistance Fighters in Occupied Baluch territories, as well as in Afghan territory. The so-called Baloch Gheiratmand Tanzeem has been involved in acid attacks on young girls. Incidents like acid mutilation are alien to the Baluch, but such attacks are rampant in Punjab and urban Sindh. It is said that this outfit is also lead by the DAPOB's chief, Shafiq-ur-Rahman Mengal. This organization carries the name Baluch for the sole purpose of depicting Baluch society as being intolerant towards women and children. The group developed exclusively to target the Baluch Womens Panel.
Naming these organizations with the words Baluchistan or Baluch are efforts designed to deceive the international community into believing that there are ethnic, tribal and political feuds going on in Baluchistan, and that the state is not involved in murdering Baluch dissidents or civilians.
Though these death squads have some well-known criminals on their rolls, such as Imam Beel, the notorious narcotics-trafficker of South Baluchistan, it is no secret that these death squads also have regular Pakistani Occupation Forces (POF) members as primary operatives. The assailants of Baluch political activists and leaders in Khuzdar, for example, were stationed in the POF Frontier Core (FC) base there.
These death squads have accepted responsibility for the murders of certain Baluch abducted by the POF-FC: teenager Majeed Longove, 23-year-old Ashfaq Ahmed, Farooq Mengal, 24, Nazeer Ahmed, 25, Faiz Mohammad Bangulzai, 26, and Bahar Khan Bangulzai, 32. At this point, these death squads are nothing more than just 'brands', decoys designed to intimidate and preoccupy the movement. Being outnumbered usually has a demoralizing effect, flushing several opponents against the resistance is an attempt to elicit that demoralizing effect.
The indiscriminate targeting of Baluches is a terror tactic intended to silence the politically aware and the activists. What is more alarming is the frequency of the killings, and the number of unrelated Baluch men being targeted. On average there are as many as three Baluch shot dead every day. About the same number are abducted and then dumped a few days later with notes left in their pockets bearing claims by a Pakistani death squad. Two or three men killed everyday adds up to any number between fifty and hundred per month. The international community's aloofness is allowing the Pakistani government to get away with massacre.
These death squads are carefully orchestrating the attacks. They go on a killing spree and then fall silent, making sure they don't cross the lines that will provoke the Baluch public to openly revolt. The abducted Baluch are dumped a few days later, tortured and with bullets pumped in their heads. The dump sites are usually on the outskirts of Quetta city, in localities that are associated with the tribes. The objective behind the choice of dump site is to pit the tribes against one another. Lately these death squads have dumped at least one body in the vicinity of a Pashtun area.
At the moment, the Baluch are facing the same fate as cattle in a slaughterhouse. The POF will abduct and kill or just kill Baluch outright--whether they are politically active or neutral. These death squads are the POF's efforts to bring the war from the mountains and plains of Baluchistan to the Baluch homes. The Baluch must understand that it's of no use to read poetry to someone who has drawn his sword in aggression.