Being young and Baloch - important article for all!!

M Ali Khan

Minister (2k+ posts)
Being young and Baloch

The governments timely response will decide who the young Baloch will support and join in near future

By Malik Siraj Akbar

In a chapter focusing on the Pakistani youth in the newly published book The Future of Pakistan, Moeed W. Yusuf, the South Asia Advisor at the Washington-based United States Institute for Peace (USIP), says 79 per cent of the youth in Pakistan feels proud to be a Pakistani.

The response of the youth from Pakistans largest province of Balochistan, nonetheless, stands strikingly different from the rest of the country.

The figures from Balochistan [about being proud to be a Pakistani] were the bleakest, he concluded, after analysing three recent major youth surveys.

According to Mr Yusuf, the findings of these surveys conducted by the British Council, Centre for Civic Education and Herald magazine do not collectively bode well for the Pakistani federation in the coming years.

Baloch youth stand out as most distraught with the federation. Except for a minority, they are least enthusiastic about being part of Pakistan and are least proud to be Pakistanis, he wrote. They are the keenest to leave Pakistan and they oppose the military and state institutions more staunchly than youth in other provinces.

Parveen Naz, a social activist in Quetta, says the Baloch generally see a very bleak future for themselves in Pakistan. While no access to quality education or employment opportunities is one thing, she says, the kill and dump policies have further poisoned the minds of a new generation of the Baloch.

The security apparatus in the country has made life miserable for the Baloch. They cannot enter in any walk of life, nor can they undertake entrepreneurial initiatives because the federal government has waged a war against the Baloch. The youth is punished whether it is politically involved or totally indifferent. Islamabad sees no difference and treats all the Baloch with the same stick.

According to Abdullah Jan, a youth development expert based in Quetta, there is a huge cultural and political difference between the Baloch youth and their compatriots in the rest of Pakistan. The Baloch youth does not see any opportunity in the state institutions. They are disappointed and ever disparate against the state policies. According to him, a communication gap between the Baloch youth and the state policymakers at the official level has remarkably widened the gulf.

Since the inception of the current military operation, desperation, alienation and frustration among the Baloch youth has dramatically increased.

While economic marginalisation, inadequate health and education opportunities and underrepresentation in the mainstream state institutions have remained some of the key factors for the disillusionment of the Baloch youth, the military operation in the province has generated new alarming trends.

Mr Jan estimates that nearly 60 per cent of Baloch students have become psychologically ill, alluding to depression caused by increasing incidents of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and killing of hundreds of Baloch youths allegedly by security forces.

These kids see their peers, friends getting killed or disappeared every day. They see the bullet-riddled dead bodies of their class fellows on a regular basis. Depression and anxiety are a natural byproduct of such a situation, he says.

Mr Jan, who has worked with several non-governmental organisations for more than two decades, argues that the Baloch youth is deeply involved in politics and political discussions. Yet, the youth politics in Balochistan is different from the rest of the country because most of the Baloch have a Leftist approach and their political heroes are Che Guevera and Baloch guerillas, such as Dr Allah Nazar and Balach Marri who support an independent Balochistan.

A lecturer of sociology at the University of Balochistan, who did not wish to be named, says it was not possible to discuss the economic marginalisation of the Baloch youth by keeping aside the countrys politics. For instance, he says, there is no proper mechanism in the Pakistan army and other security forces to hire and accommodate Baloch youths in the countrys security forces.

Most of the vacancies in Balochistan in the army, the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Coast Guards are filled by non-natives coming from other parts of the country. The Baloch youth sees no opportunity in the armed forces, he says. According to him, some young Baloch had joined the Pakistan army but eventually quit their jobs and returned home. They complained about the use of abusive language by senior army officers about Baloch leaders like Nawab Akbar Bugti, Bramadagh Bugti and Hairbayar Marri.

The people the Baloch youth see as their heroes are generally depicted as the enemies of Pakistan by the army, he said. Religiosity is another issue that often compels Baloch youths to quit the military because the former are secular in nature. Some of them even do not pray five times a day or fast in the month of Ramzan which does not position them in the good books of their senior officers. Frankly, most Baloch are not anti-India either.

The youth in Balochistan complain about the scarcity of opportunities and avenues to present and promote their talent.

Qaisar Roonjha, a young trainer who comes from a village in Lasbela District but offers services to highly reputable organisations such as the British Council as a Global Change maker, says the youth in Balochistan is full of talent but they face lack of encouragement. While the absence of official encouragement prevents some from taking initiatives, Mr Roonjha says he still knows many young people who are embracing the challenge to pursue their personal and professional dreams.

Instead of waiting for the right time, everyone should play their role towards a fairer society, he suggests, referring to a quote by Mother Teresa: Dont wait for leaders; do it person to person.

In Quetta, when Eeman Sahal Baloch, a young talk show host, started Subh-e-Bolan, a Balochi language morning show on Pakistan Television (PTV-Bolan), to explore the hidden talent among the youth in Balochistan, she was amazed at the extraordinary wealth of talent.

Five months into the show, I had hosted around 1,000 talented boys and girls from across Balochistan. We found talented youth from remote towns of Panjgur, Turbat, Awaran, Gwadar, Mund, Hub, Quetta, Sibi, Mastung, Lasbela and other places, she said. They were all smart and talented people who offer much promise if empowered and trusted. The youth in these rural areas urgently need help and government attention for a better future.

These are indeed defining times for the youth in Balochistan. Youth development and empowerment do not seem to be a priority of the governments in Islamabad and Quetta. The provincial assembly in Balochistan rarely debates the issues of the youth. Thus, the Baloch youth is easily available to be exploited either by the government with job offers and scholarships or the nationalists to avenge the killings of their peers and seek an independent Balochistan.

The governments timely response, not with military operations but with respect and abundant opportunities for the Baloch, will decide who the young Baloch will support and join in near future. Islamabad must act swiftly because Balochistan does not seem to have much time left.

The writer is the editor of the online newspaper The Baloch Hal and currently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington DC

M Ali Khan

Minister (2k+ posts)
Every few months we are reminded of Balochistan, on one pretext or the other. The last time the media approached the issue with some degree of seriousness was when the Republican legislators’ resolution came, demanding right of self-determination for the Baloch.

Other than that, the issue gets picked up, albeit superficially, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court raising it, while sitting in the capital or actually going to Quetta with fellow judges.

This time we were compelled to focus on Balochistan when the newly elected prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf addressed a national workshop at the military-run National Defence University in Islamabad. The thrust of his statement was that there was unrest in small pockets in Balochistan that could not be equated with insurgency and that his government would not negotiate with those who did not respect the Pakistani flag.

It came as a stark reminder of how close the PPP government stands to the military vis-a-vis Balochistan — one is not sure if it actually believes in this position of denial or is it only for public consumption.

The saner elements have taken strong exception to his statement and have reacted accordingly. The decision to not talk with those who do not respect the Pakistani flag has been a subject of criticism for a government that has repeatedly announced opening the channel of talks with militant extremists in other parts of the country.

Serious analysts count Balochistan as one of the top most failures of the PPP government. From its encouraging announcements in the earlier parts of its tenure, its position has only hardened with passing time and this has only aggravated the situation. It now seems in agreement with the military’s solution of the problem, ruling out any kind of political solution. The lessons of East Pakistan are left for academic discussion only.

Meanwhile, an added ethnic and sectarian dimension has been added to the complicated Balochistan problem, raising the level of violence many times over. The Baloch youth are now completely disgruntled and chances are that when the government talks of refusing to talk to those who do not believe in Pakistan, it is referring to a majority of Baloch youth.

Our analysts for today’s Special Report warn that time is running out and Baloch problems must be addressed sooner and in better ways than suggested by the prime minister. We wonder if someone will pay heed since all earlier warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears. As always, all analysts are based outside Balochistan.

Balochistan within and without
The Baloch have suffered worst atrocities and Raja Pervez Ashraf’s recent utterances do not bode well
By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, addressing the National Workshop on ‘Balochistan situation: perceptions and realities — the way forward,’ organised by the military-run National Defence University (NDU), in Islamabad, warned that if the “unrest in small pockets” is not quelled immediately, it may seep into other areas. Later, downplaying it, he added that unrest in “small pockets” couldn’t be equated with an insurgency.

He was wrong on both counts: there is insurgency and it is widespread — and little wonder the establishment is extremely perturbed and nervous.
Let’s examine insurgency in Balochistan’s context. Balochistan is presently experiencing political as well as armed insurgency. Political insurgency as a rule is more pervasive in depth and scale, hence more debilitating for the state. Political and armed insurgencies always complement and supplement each other in a deadly combination.

Insurgency is defined as “an organised movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict.” Insurgencies and guerilla warfare are often assumed to be synonymous with terrorism but the key difference is that an insurgency is a movement — a political effort with a specific aim and this sets it apart from terrorism. The ultimate goal of an insurgency is to challenge the existing government for control of all or a portion of its territory, or force political concessions in sharing political power.

The Baloch insurgents are challenging the state for political and physical control of Balochistan.

Insurgencies require active or tacit support of some portion of the population involved; Baloch insurgency enjoys widespread support as proved by the government’s failure to contain it in spite of the extremely repressive measures.

Baloch nationalists, realising that slow track genocide and demographic changes envisaged by mega projects like Gwadar could soon turn them into a minority in their own land, made a conscious choice of using force to counter threats to their survival as a nation because they realised historical and political arguments for their right to independence were futile as the powers that call the shots here heed nothing but force.

Baloch nationalism is not a new phenomenon as the natives have always determinedly defended their land against the invaders as proved by their resistance to the British colonialism. All Baloch identify themselves with the anti-colonial struggle and take pride in it. The international political events in the first quarter of last century buttressed Baloch nationalism with political awakening and helped it transcend the tribal barriers and it gradually became truly national in spirit and substance.

Insurgency in Balochistan has persisted since 1948 with varying degrees of depth and intensity. Over time Baloch attitudes and resolve have been hardened and strengthened by the continuous and arrogant disregard of their rightful demand of control over their political future and resources. The present phase is to date the hardest fought and widespread and, like each preceding one, is on a qualitatively higher stage in all respects.

This widespread and protracted political and armed insurgency cannot be airbrushed as ‘perpetrated by foreign-inspired elements’. It mirrors the intensity and scale of the resentment and desperation of Baloch people at the repression and deprivation and underlines their wish for a radical change.

The forced illegal annexation of Balochistan to Pakistan in March 1948 further galvanised the Baloch nationalism and their national struggle acquired truly political character. Each new state aggression resulted in more widespread identification with aims and goals of freedom struggle from diverse strata’s of Baloch society. The July 15, 1960 hanging of seven Baloch martyrs in Hyderabad and Sukkur Jails after summary military trials gave further impetus to the nationalist dream of an independent Balochistan and led to Mir Sher Mohammad Marri and Ali Mohammad Mengal’s struggle in Marri and Mengal areas respectively.

However, it was the February 1973 illegal dismissal of Sardar Ataullah Mengal’s elected government by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and consequent military operation which truly ignited the Baloch freedom struggle and has seen the uncompromising stance for freedom become the primary nationalist goal.

The present phase began with the arrest of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Khan and his supporters on trumped-up charges of murder of Justice Mohammad Nawaz Marri in January 2000. Then the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2005 followed by that of Mir Balach Khan Marri in 2007 put paid to any chances of reconciliation.

With Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) inaugural in March 2008, its first test on its commitment to resolve Balochistan issue came in the form of Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s continued detention and it failed miserably. Arrested in November 2006 for alleged mistreatment of two army intelligence operatives by his attendants, he remained incarcerated till May 2008 in spite of PPP’s promises. They could not release him without army’s consent. All civilian governments are beholden to ‘military will’ and cannot decide independently on Baloch or Balochistan.

The PPP government has only paid lip-service to the resolution of the Balochistan problem with promises, offers, amnesty and toothless commissions. The Baloch have suffered worst atrocities during its tenure and Raja Pervez Ashraf’s recent utterances do not bode well.

The state’s misgivings against Baloch, who have always been viewed with suspicion, have now become more entrenched and uncompromising. There is a reason behind the uncompromising attitude of the state regarding Baloch. The ‘establishment’ has Balochistan’s valuable real estate and resources as its only priority — and this is a replication of its folly in Bangladesh.

This flawed and dangerous establishment’s Baloch policy is too entrenched, too consolidated and too committed to even allow measures which would give the nationalists an excuse to at least agree to talks.

Through the army’s financial, commercial and strategic interests in Balochistan, it manages economic projects like Chamaling and Kasa Hills marble projects and even stage manages the August 14 celebrations, preclude any voluntary roll back of present repressive and uncompromising policy or allowing the civilians to have a say in affairs there.

An amicable and peaceful solution of the Baloch issue based on the projected desire of the civilian government or the political opposition leaders is unachievable as long as military’s stake and influence in Balochistan not only continues to overlap the civilian control but in fact supersedes it — as is borne out by Balochistan’s governor, chief minister, speaker and sundry ministers public accusations that the Frontier Corps runs a parallel government in Balochistan.

The Supreme Court, powerful enough to depose a prime minister finds itself helpless against law flouting and stonewalling FC. In spite of hard evidence of FC involvement in abductions and killing of Baloch no one has been charged. The FC is stonewalling to avoid giving up its arbitrary powers and this precludes termination of ‘dirty war’ against Baloch anytime soon.

An ineffective Aghaz-e-Huqooq package and the lame NFC awards are not enough to deflect the resentment and outrage at the ‘dirty war’ being waged against the Baloch. In the last 18 months alone, more than 500 bodies of abducted Baloch have bloodied the province’s landscape. The Baloch stance, too, has naturally hardened and found expression in the present sustained and widespread insurgency. With the situation as it stands, there hardly is any hope of an amicable solution in foreseeable future.

The establishment doesn’t understand that repression and ‘dirty war’ tactics are certainly not the way forward in Balochistan.

The ‘foreign’ factor
Does Balochistan work on foreign agenda or does it

receive foreign assistance to spread its agenda?
By Aoun Sahi
On April 23, 2009, Rehman Malik, the then Interior Minister, during an in-camera session of the Senate, made a presentation of what he called “evidence of the involvement of India, Afghanistan and Russia in Balochistan and other parts of the country.”

One of the senators who was also present at the session told TNS, requesting anonymity, that Malik had documentary evidence — “video clips” — of the involvement of the abovementioned countries in incidents of terrorism in Pakistan. “Malik told the session that the Balochistan Liberation Army of Brahamdagh Bugti, who now lives in Kabul, is funded by Russia and India. Besides, around 1,000 students have trained in Russia and now they are back in Balochistan.”

The senator also said that in 2008, the then DG military operations Ahmed Shuja Pasha had briefed a joint session of the parliament about the involvement of India and Russia in Balochistan. “Pasha told the parliament that India had established as many as nine training camps along the Afghan border to train BLA activists.”

The ‘foreign hand’ factor in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province area-wise and smallest population-wise, has to do with its huge strategic importance. The province is rich in natural resources, has a long coastline that provides the closest link through Arabian Sea to Afghanistan, China and Central Asian states. Frederic Grare, a Balochistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is of the view that there are about 20 countries which can benefit hugely from development work at Gwadar port. “Balochistan is also important on the world’s ‘war arena’ as it borders with both Afghanistan and Iran and can easily be used to monitor China, Central Asian states and Persian Gulf.”

The Pakistani security officials believe several countries are ‘working’ actively in Balochistan. On June 2, 2012, Maj Gen Obaidullah Khan Khattak, Inspector General of Frontier Corps (FC), told the media at a press conference that 20 foreign intelligence agencies were active in the province.

Justice Javed Iqbal, head of the Judicial Commission on missing persons in Balochistan, believes foreign elements are involved in the region’s unrest.

“The foreign intelligence agencies want to worsen the Balochistan situation in order to destabilise Pakistan,” he said on June 10, 2012 in Quetta.

According to a leaked US memo, former president Pervez Musharraf also took up the issue with the US officials in September 2007. “He asked the US to intervene”, says the memo. Musharraf also told US officials that Pakistan had proof of India and Afghanistan’s involvement in efforts to provide weapons, training and funding for Baloch extremists through Brahamdagh Bugti and Baloch Marri, two Baloch nationalists. “We have letters instructing who to give what weapons [and] to whom.”

Maria Sultan, Director, South Asian Strategic Stability Unit, says “Most of the arms and ammunition being recovered from the Balochi insurgents are foreign-made, though they do not bear any brand names.”

According to the available data on years 2009 to 2012, 810 IED attacks, 390 rocket attacks and 325 mine attacks were carried out in Balochistan that killed over 400 people while more than 735 people lost their lives to target killings in the province during the same period. “Balochi militants cannot carry out such massive attacks without foreign help,” she says.

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, leading security analyst, says she would be surprised if no foreign agencies were involved in Balochistan. “Several Baloch leaders have said on record that they would not shy away to get foreign help,” she tells TNS. “But there may be help which is limited.

“Pakistan is also not pleading as much on international forum about foreign involvement as it could have.”

Siddiqa also says the Baloch are weak and they are not a huge number. “Our establishment knows very well this is not a 1971-like situation. Back then, the Bengalis were in majority but the Baloch are not, even in their own province.”

She believes the foreign involvement in the province is not to the degree where it can disallow a serious political dialogue. “I do not buy the narrative that a foreign country wants disintegration in Balochistan. It does not suit anybody in the region. We should not give that much importance to the research papers of the US think tanks. Most of these think tanks, like ours, are insignificant.”

Siddiqa believes Pakistan needs to plead its case at the international forum in a proactive way.

Senator Hasil Bakhsh Bizinjo, a leading Balochi voice, says it would be wrong to say that there is no foreign involvement in Balochistan. “No militant movement can operate without foreign assistance. But there are two types of such movements — one that works on foreign agenda and the other which is indigenous and receives foreign assistance to spread its agenda. There is a need to have different strategies to tackle an indigenous movement.”

He considers it the duty of the state and the agencies to stop the foreign involvement. “In Balochistan, even today, we have low insurgency as those killed in different attacks are mostly civilian. It is true that India is anti-Pakistan but I believe it does not want to disintegrate Balochistan. It does not suit China, Iran and even Afghanistan because once this process of disintegration of a country on the basis of ethnicity starts in the region there will be no stopping it.”

A military source in Islamabad says that along with the US, Afghanistan, Russia, India and China, other “brotherly Muslim countries” are actively involved in Balochistan. “Some want to destabilise Pakistan while others do not want to see an operational Gwadar port as this would hurt the business of their ports badly.

“Sectarian killings in the province are also part of the activities of the foreign agencies,” the source says. “Some US media reports have also suggested that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad was active in Balochistan.”

Military officials say it is difficult to stop infiltration through the 1,200-km border with Afghanistan. “There are 212 border passes on Balochistan and Afghanistan which makes monitoring it too difficult. Arms and ammunition illegally enter Balochistan through the porous Afghan border, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and even through Sindh and the sea routes.”

Home truths
The leadership of a new, UK-based, Baloch youth organisation responds to a few pertinent questions
By Murtaza Ali Shah

Thousands of Baloch are settled in western countries, including the US, and a majority of them are young. The number is on the rise as more and more Baloch make their way to the western shores for political and economic reasons.

Though small in numbers, compared to tens of thousands who are living in the Middle Eastern countries, the Baloch settled in the west are more vocal and active than the ones anywhere else. As the situation in Balochistan worsens, they continue to hold meetings, rallies, protests and also lobby for their cause. There is no agreement on what the ultimate outcome of their nationalist movement should be but almost all of them are united on doing everything possible to end the human rights violations in the province.

A new organisation, Baloch Students and Youth Association, launched in London recently, aims to fight for the same agenda but its stated target is to bring the Baloch youth together. The association is led by Qambar Baloch, Asghar Baloch and Ali Baloch. Besides, a central cabinet of three members and an elected executive committee of five members help them run the affairs of the organisation.

In an interview with TNS, Qambar Baloch explained that the youth body was launched because “there was a need for an organisation that would look exclusively at the problems of the Baloch students and help reconcile their national responsibilities with the political organisations that are already working for the same purposes but have their separate identity.

Talking about the goals of the organisation, Qambar said, “…firstly, to identify and deal with the educational and personal problems of the Baloch students in the UK; secondly, to liaise with other student organisations and associations in the UK to disseminate knowledge about the violation of human rights of the Baloch by the countries controlling the Baloch territories; and thirdly, to play an active role in bringing together various sections of the Baloch national struggle through academic discussions and analysis of the situation objectively.”

He said the role of the British diaspora is crucial in highlighting the “atrocities being committed by Pakistani and Iranian states in Balochistan for many decades.”

He appreciated the role the association has been playing in bringing the Baloch identity question into focus on different international fora.

When asked as to how concerned was the new generation of Baloch over the issue of human rights violation as well as the general situation in the province, Qambar said: “As part of a greater community, the Baloch youth are very much concerned about the situation [in Balochistan]. The brutal human rights violations, genocide and exploitation of the natural resources of the province by the state oppressively controlling the Baloch and their territory have led to the growth of a national consciousness among the Baloch diaspora. They are ready to contribute positively to lessening the miseries of their nation.”

He also said that the new body was aware of the fact that in recent years a number of students, from all parts of Balochistan, were seeking admission in the UK colleges and universities and found it difficult to adapt to the norms of a new educational and social milieu. “To extend a helping hand to them in difficult circumstances (whether personal, educational or socio-cultural) is to fulfill a cherished Baloch social value,” he said, adding that the “association will contribute towards the development of a broader understanding of the ever increasing violation of human rights by the Pakistani and Iranian states in Baluchistan and to better inform the international community of infringements of human rights.”

The growing nexus
Ethnic/sectarian violence is expected to continue to be a long-term challenge
By Muhammad Amir Rana

Owing to a number of insurgents — religious extremist and sectarian groups — the security landscape of Balochistan has become very complex.

In recent history, the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti on August 6, 2006, in a military operation, instigated the current phase of Baloch insurgency — fourth one, to be precise — and the Baloch insurgents have since continued attacks on state institutions, security forces, gas and power installations and also the non-Baloch.

On the other hand, the religiously-motivated militant and sectarian groups have also grown in number as well as strength and expanded their areas of operation across Balochistan. Quetta is becoming a hub of local and foreign religious militant groups and sectarian outfits. Media has reported many incidents of attacks on barber shops, music shops and other places where so-called “un-Islamic” activities were going on.

Meanwhile, the Hazara tribesmen in Balochistan, numbering around 300,000, are currently under direct threat, mainly from the sectarian militant groups. The incidents of terrorist attacks and target killings, mainly perpetrated by the Baloch insurgents and religious extremists, have increased gradually, particularly from 2006 onwards.

In 2011, Balochistan suffered the highest number of fatalities in sectarian attacks for any region — 106 people killed in 21 attacks — all concentrated in the cities of Quetta and Mastung. According to a Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) annual security report, the figure for Balochistan represented 33 per cent of the total sectarian-related fatalities in Pakistan in 2011.

Afghan Taliban, al Qaeda and local militant outfits like Tehrik-e-Taliban Balochistan, sectarian outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Imamia Student Organisation (ISO) and Sipah-e-Muhammad and an ethno-sectarian group Jundullah have their presence in the province in one way or the other. These organisations are pursuing their own parallel agendas while the Baloch movement continues to occupy the centre-stage in the broader Baloch conflict.

The PIPS report, titled ‘Conflict and Insecurity in Balochistan’, identifies four support factors for the possible presence of Afghan Taliban in Balochistan: first, a free cross-border movement along Durand line from the times of Soviet-Afghan war; secondly, the presence of Pakhtun community in the province; thirdly, widespread network of Deobandi madrassas particularly those belonging to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, and fourthly, the Afghan refugee camps.

At present, Afghan Taliban and their local associates may be using Baloch territories as safe haven for retreat and focusing on their activities in Afghanistan but their long-term presence can trigger the process of Talibanisation in the province in the future. Armed jihadist groups are present in the province and can be mobilised by the Taliban leadership.

Jundullah has emerged as a new phenomenon in Pakistan blending religious sectarian agenda with nationalist separatist ideology. It is an anti-Shia and anti-Iran militant outfit which operates in the Iranian province of Sistan–Balochistan, bordering Pakistani districts of Chaghai, Kharan, Panjgur, Kech and Gwadar. The number of Jundullah activists is now estimated to be around 800. According to an ABC television report, the group is also getting fund from America’s Central Investigative Agency (CIA).

Jundullah’s activities are growing in Iran that have hurt the Pak-Iran relations. The group is also said to be aligned with the local anti-Shia outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan to target the Shia Hazara community.

Sectarian outfits have a significant presence in Balochistan. Target killings, especially of Hazara community, have become a common phenomenon.

These outfits are pursuing their agendas with relative freedom and independence compared to insurgents and Afghan Taliban. The government does not deny the presence of sectarian groups in Balochistan, particularly in Quetta, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Sipah-e-Muhammad, and Sunni Tehreek; the officials only link the Shia-Sunni clashes with their ‘donors’ Iran and Saudi Arabia. They believe the religious clerics of both the sects have a lot of funds to promote the agendas of their donors.

SSP has a big support base in Balochistan. It was banned twice by the government but in Balochistan it remains intact and provides the ground support for LeJ terrorists.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is another anti-Shia Sunni outfit which operates in and around Quetta. Two groups of LeJ, known as Usman Kurd group and Qari Hayi group are active in Balochistan. Whereas LeJ concentrated on Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan after its terrorist camps in Kabul and Kandahar were destroyed during the US forces attacks on Afghanistan in 2001, outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), the mother organisation of LeJ, remains a silent supporter of LeJ.

It has become a wider group and attracts other jihadist organisations into its fold as well. Few factions of Jaish-e-Muhammad’s defunct group have established operational relationship with LeJ. A big number of Harkatul Mujahideen and Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI) have also joined the group.

Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) is a well structured group with a huge influence on the Shia youth as well as mainstream Shia politics. Its president Nasir Shirazi claims that ISO is not a sectarian organisation but it has always played an important role in sectarian-based violence. The Shia outlawed sectarian group Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) has former ISO members in its fold. In Quetta, ISO has remained engaged in clashes with other sects.

Security experts believe sectarian violence will continue to be a long-term challenge because of the growing nexus among the various sectarian groups, Taliban and al Qaeda and the reorganisation of the violent Shia sectarian groups as a reaction, especially in the context where the law enforcement agencies have consistently failed to keep up with the emerging challenges.