Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fast track Balochistan destabilization on cards….


It has already been discussed in these pages that destabilization of Balochistan is a part of the New Great Game which has started on the shores of Makran. There is irrefutable evidence that India with support from CIA is arming and aiding Balochistan insurgents presently hiding in Afghanistan. Jundullah, an anti-Shia militant group is serving US interests both in Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan. The scale of insurgency in Balochistan is much higher than that of FATA. Balochistan has become a playground for Great Game players for two simple reasons: it has huge mineral resources including precious metal and fossil fuel, and it provides shortest trade route from Gwadar Deep Sea Port to Afghanistan and Central Asian States.  This trade route, if developed, can affect commercial prospects of Chabahar port in which India has direct commercial and strategic interests.

Para-military units are trying to fight the insurgency but irresponsible politicians who always play to the gallery even if their shots are against the national interests have so far been throwing spanner in the works. The Bugti event has been blown out of proportion to further aggravate the situation. In spite of all this, armed forces are holding on to all sorts of pressures in the province. It seems that the situation is not deteriorating at the planned pace which has frustrated some elements within Indian and US establishment. They now plan to destabilize Balochistan at a fast track through drone attacks. Knowing full well that allied forces are not attacked from Quetta, some 80 miles from Afghan border, they have now decided to use drone to attack Quetta to target some Shura which only CIA knows of. Washington Post has reported that the United States has renewed pressure on Pakistan to expand the areas where CIA drones can operate inside the country, reflecting concern that the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan is being undermined by insurgents' continued ability to take sanctuary across the border, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. The U.S. appeal has focused on the area surrounding the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the Afghan Taliban leadership is thought to be based. But the request also seeks to expand the boundaries for drone strikes in the tribal areas, which have been targeted in 101 attacks this year, the officials said. 

Pakistan has rejected the request, officials said. Instead, the country has agreed to more modest measures, including an expanded CIA presence in Quetta, where the agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate have established teams seeking to locate and capture senior members of the Taliban. The disagreement over the scope of the drone program underscores broader tensions between the United States and Pakistan, wary allies that are increasingly pointing fingers at one another over the rising levels of insurgent violence on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. 

Senior Pakistani officials expressed resentment over what they described as misplaced U.S. pressure to do more, saying the United States has not controlled the Afghan side of the border, is preoccupied by arbitrary military deadlines and has little regard for Pakistan's internal security problems. According to the paper, U.S. officials confirmed the request for expanded drone flights. They cited concern that Quetta functions not only as a sanctuary for Taliban leaders but also as a base for sending money, recruits and explosives to Taliban forces inside Afghanistan. 

Pakistan places strict boundaries on where CIA drones can fly. The unmanned aircraft may patrol designated flight "boxes" over the country's tribal belt but not other provinces, including Balochistan, which encompasses Quetta. He and others spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the clandestine nature of a program that neither government will publicly acknowledge. Pakistani officials stressed that Quetta is a densely populated city where an errant strike is more likely to kill innocent civilians, potentially provoking a backlash. Unlike the semi-autonomous tribal territories, Baluchistan is considered a core part of Pakistan. 

U.S. officials have long suspected there are other reasons for Islamabad's aversion, including concern that the drones might be used to conduct surveillance of Pakistani nuclear weapons facilities in Baluchistan. In interviews in Islamabad, senior Pakistani officials voiced a mix of appreciation and apprehension over the U.S. role in the region. 

Using the ISI to funnel CIA money and arms to mujaheddin fighters in the 1980s helped oust the Soviets from Afghanistan, the official said, but also made Pakistan a breeding ground for militant groups. Similarly, Pakistan's cooperation since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been key to the capture of al-Qaeda operatives and the success of the drone campaign. But it has inflamed radical elements in the country and made Islamabad a target of terrorist attacks. 

Barring the CIA from flying drones over Quetta, the official said, is one area in which Pakistan is now taking a stand. In other areas, CIA-ISI cooperation has deepened. The agencies have carried out more than 100 joint operations in the past 18 months, including raids that have led to the capture of high-ranking figures including Mullah Barader, the Taliban's former military chief.

3 comments:

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  2. When US wants to attack Balochistan through drones on the pretext of Quetta Shura, it puzzles many minds because Quetta, Balochistan capital, is not a place where attacks on NATO are planned. It is 80 miles from Afghan border and there is no evidence that this city or its suburbs are Taliban safe havens. One reason which comes to mind is that USA and India are already trying to destabilize Balochistan for various reasons and the present plan to use drones is to destabilize Balochistan on fast track.

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  3. There's only one "great game" that I see i.e. Evil Vs. Good. Who is evil and who is good, everyone's conscience knows it very very well.

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