Time to Rebel

'I rebel; therefore we exist' – Albert Camus

Crisis in Yemen: An attempt to explain the current conflict

For too long has the conflict in Yemen remained in obscurity owing to a disinterest by the Global Community in comparison to matters deemed more newsworthy. However for good or worse it is perhaps one of the more pressing matters in Global Politics at the moment. Many here in Pakistan are unclear about the facts surrounding the crisis and considering the fact that we’re most likely to enter the conflict on the GCC’s side many would want to know the basis of this conflict in Yemen.

There’s a lot of confusion about what’s going on in Yemen. A simplistic narrative would be that it’s a Sectarian war between Sunni and Shitte groups backed by the GCC (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain; Oman though a GCC member isn’t part of this conflict) and Iran respectively. But is it really just a Sectarian conflict or a far more complicated situation with multiple key players each with their own vested interest? Is the Sectarian conflict just a convenient label to gather support for political positions of regional players?

To explain the answer to these questions we must take a look back at the contemporary history of Yemen. Yemen as most countries in the region was struck by the Arab Spring protests against the President at the time, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2011. It is important to understand who these protesters were. Along with the Youth groups and Human rights groups were political parties and powerful Tribes (Like the Al Ahmar). At the forefront of these protests were members of the ‘Joint Meeting Parties’ which is a political alliance of five major Socialist, Nationalist and Religious parties. The largest political party in this alliance is the Al-Islah Party, which is a group of tribal and religious parties. Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Laureate and Human Rights activist is a member of this party.

Another significant group in the protests were Ansarullah who are Zaidi Shias, fighting to revive their Religious Ideology and the return of their Imamate. Ansarullah are also more commonly known as the Houthis, who take their name after their deceased leader Hussain Badreddin Al Houthi. Hussain was killed fighting the forces of Ali Abdullah Saleh, bitter enemy to the Houthis as they’ve fought no less than six wars with each other. Protesters were supported by dissidents in the Military such as the influential Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar (A kinsman of Ali Saleh but closely allied with Al-Islah). These protesters demanded the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ruling the country for over 30 years. Ali Abdullah Saleh was a key ally of Saudi Arabia and USA as he was staunchly against Al-Qaeda in the region and allowed the US an ‘open door’ to deal with the AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; possibly the most dangerous Chapter of the Terrorist Organisation). His willingness to cooperate with regional and global powers allowed him to maintain his despotic regime while the World looked the other way.

That’s until the Arab Spring Protests. Yemenis eventually rose up to oust him. 2000 people were killed as a result in escalating tensions. To neutralise the tensions Saudi Arabia, leading the GCC, brokered a deal (the Gulf Initiative) between the Opposition Parties and Saleh’s Ruling General Peoples Congress Party, whereby Saleh would resign and hand over the power to his deputy, Vice President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The deal was brokered with the aid of the UN. Crucially, the US and EU backed the deal. Initially resisting the deal as many as three times, while attempting to put his son, Ahmed Saleh in power, Ali Saleh eventually succumbed to the pressure built by the International community. Abd Rabbuh Hadi then won elections with the approval of the Ruling Party and the leading Opposition party. President Hadi was the lone candidate in an elections that had a healthy turnout percentage at 65%. Following his victory at the Elections, President Hadi continued as per the Gulf Initiative, by establishing the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), where Political and Tribal representatives would determine the future of Yemen by solving key conflicts and paving the path for Elections throughout the country. One of the key hindrances to the talks was the boycott of various parties, such as the Southern Secessionists. The two Yemens, i.e. the South and the North, had merged in 1990 under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since then the Southerners felt they were being marginalised by the North. The talks concluded with a decision to divide Yemen up into 6 autonomous Federal Units. This was opposed by the Ansarullah (Houthis) and Hirak (Southern Secessionist Movement). Houthis felt their respective unit wouldn’t have access to lucrative natural resources. Hirak wanted a division of two Federal Units; North and the South. The United Nations Security Council endorsed the NDC by passing a Resolution (2140); furthermore threatening those attempting to sabotage the peace process with sanctions and travel bans.

Here’s when things started to get out of hand for President Hadi. Ex-President Saleh and two senior members from the Houthi militia were deemed, by the UN, to have violated the peace process and the transition of power. The UNSC responded by freezing their assets and implementing travel bans on the three individuals. Ali Saleh, exerting his influence ousted President Hadi from the Ruling Party (General Peoples Congress Party). This was a major setback for President Hadi as it now reduced his earlier influence as Head of the largest political party in Yemen. Houthis disappointed with the decisions of the NDC stepped up their armed rebellion against Hadi’s Government, swiftly capturing Sana’a. The ease with which the Capital City was captured was worrying. It happened as key military commanders refused to fight the Houthis. This was a result of President Hadi’s reforms in which he targeted Ali Saleh’s loyalists (including his sons and nephews) in the Military and refused to strengthen the standing of the pro-uprising Military commanders who had helped him into power. This further fragmented the army and added to the resentment against Hadi within the armed forces. Al-Islah who are staunch opponents of the Houthis lost confidence in President Hadi as he was unable to exert his control on the Houthi rebels and Al Qaeda who routinely destroyed power cables causing power outages within the cities. Protests had erupted under against Hadi’s Government for his inability to provide basic services such as Electricity and his Government’s ill advised decision to raise fuel prices. President Hadi tried to rectify these mistakes by overturning the decision to raise fuel prices. It was all a little too late as the chain of events that follow would prove.
The Houthi takeover could not have been possible without the astonishing alliance with Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Ironically, it was Saleh who was responsible for the Houthis’ sense of deprivation and he was responsible for the killing of the Houthis’ Godfather, Hussein Baderdin Al Houthi. Furthermore, he refused to return Hussein’s body back to his relatives and it was the current President Hadi who returned the remains of Hussein, 9 years after his death, as a goodwill gesture. This alliance provided the Houthis with the assistance of Saleh loyalists within the Military who aided the rebels and in some instances refused to check their advance when instructed to do so by Hadi’s Government.

Subsequent peace deals failed to serve their purpose owing to lack of mutual trust and President Hadi was forced to resign and flee to Aden in the South. Once in Aden President Hadi restated himself as the constitutional and legitimate President of Yemen. Again Hadi, despite hailing from the South was unpopular in the region. President Hadi was the Defence Minister who led the offensive against Aden in the 1994 Civil War. This strengthened the Houthis position further.

Having attempted to address the causes and happenings of the conflict within Yemen we will now direct our attention to the larger regional turmoil; one that is further fueled by the conflict in Yemen.

The GCC has fully thrown its weight behind President Hadi as they refuse to allow an Iranian proxy to takeover an Arab country in their own backyard. Their worries stem primarily from the close ties Houthis share with Iran and its affiliates, the Hezbollah (the Houthi militia is modeled after the Hezbolla). Iranian officials have likened the Houthis to the Hezbollah and have spoken of exporting the revolution to the Gulf. Hadi’s Navy had seized a ship bringing sophisticated weapons to the Houthis. It is also reported that many Houthis were trained in Iran for this uprising. It has long been Iran’s strategy to exert control in the Middle East through Shitte proxies such as those in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.

As mentioned earlier a simplistic narrative would seem nonsensical when challenged by the unique facts of this conflict. Ansarullah came into existence as a result of persecution by Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh wasn’t oppressing the Houthis owing to Sectarian differences as he himself is a Zaydi Shia. Furthermore those accusing Saudi Arabia (and GCC) of fighting a Sectarian war wouldn’t be able to explain why the Kingdom supported a Zaydi Shia (Saleh) backing him with funds and resources to rule a predominantly Shaafi (Sunni) country. It should also be noted that Houthis intend to revive the Imamate. The Imamate ceased to exist after 1962 after a bloody Civil War in Yemen. Interestingly the Saudis supported Imam Muhammad Al Badr, the last Imam of the Zaydi Shias, backing him with finance and resources against the Nationalists. If the narrative indeed is true then why would Saudi Arabia support President Hadi who doesn’t enjoy major support from the Sunni faction. It’s all realpolitik for Saudi Arabia instead of the stereotyped image of an ideology set to persecute Shias in the region. This is true for the Houthi rebels too who have struck the most unlikeliest of alliances with their true oppressor, Ali Saleh.

So what are the actual causes of worry for Saudi Arabia and the GCC which has led them into this conflict.

The major worry for Saudi Arabia (Also Egypt and Sudan) is the geopolitical significance of Bab-Al-Mandab. It is the strait that links the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and Suez Canal. 2.5-3% of the World’s Petroleum flows through this region. Around 8-10% of the World Trade passes through this route. It contributes around $5 Billion to the Egyptian Economy; which is why the significance of this Strait cannot be overstated. Losing it to an Iranian proxy would be disastrous not just to the Saudis and the Egyptians but Europe too.

Another cause of worry for the Saudis would be the territories of Asir, Jizan, and Najran which owing to historical reasons could still be considered disputed by a hostile Yemen. Though the issue was resolved by the Treaty of Jeddah (2000) signed by ex-President Ali Saleh granting total control to Saudi Arabia over these territories.

Which leads us to Iran’s rising influence in the region. Saudi Arabia owing to International pressure couldn’t intervene in Syria and Iraq and watched silently as these Northern Arab States drifted further into the Iranian nexus. Yemen on the other hand was a conflict which would allow Saudi Arabia to gather regional and international support for its cause, which they did quite shrewdly. Another positive development for the Saudis is the formation of the Peninsula Shield; a unified task force or military. This has been a priority for Saudi Arabia for a while now and due to various hindrances couldn’t be realised. Until now. This shifts the balance of power back in favour of the Saudis as it allows them to be a regional power at the helm of a multinational alliance. These developments suit them in the long run.

Iran may feel it has made developments but they seem to be short term gains. Iran could not have expected such aggression from Saudi Arabia who are trying to reassert themselves under a new King. The wide International (EU/UN) support GCC’s intervention has gathered makes any gains made by Iran seem unsustainable. Countries which aren’t necessarily opposed to Iran have seemingly jumped into the Saudi camp; countries such as Pakistan and Morocco. This development will make Iran wary of further aggression or retaliation as it wouldn’t want new enemies especially on its border. Iran is more interested in exporting turmoil, not bringing it back home. Thus, Pakistan’s involvement in the conflict could serve in its part by balancing the odds and forcing the rivals onto the negotiating table. This is another tactical victory for the Saudis. More than 150 Warplanes and 150,000 Troops on its border were more than sufficient to deal with the Houthis but insisting on Pakistan’s participation was an attempt to gain moral backing and putting pressure on Iran to back down from the conflict in the region. A matter of deterrence.

Locally the biggest winner so far seems to be ex-President Ali Saleh. The man has proven to be a shrewd and astute politician who has a very clear understanding of the Yemen’s political realities. His ability to grasp politics of necessity and make others, especially his rivals do the same is extraordinary. Reportedly he is trying to position his son, Ahmed Saleh to take over the reigns from President Hadi. Instability in Yemen suits him best and that’s what he has accomplished. It seems almost certain that his love affair with the Houthis will come to an end sooner than later as while the Houthis seem dogmatic in their beliefs and cannot be persuaded or reasoned with Saleh is projecting himself as one who is willing to cease hostilities. It is very likely that the GCC may be forced to consider such a proposal in the near future as it would weaken the Houthis significantly, who Saleh will willingly sacrifice to serve his purposes.

Other groups sure to benefit from the current crisis would be the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Islamic State. The common factor between Saleh, Hadi, and the Houthis is that they are all sworn enemies to the terrorists. However as we’ve seen loyalties change to suit necessities in the region and that could be the worrying fact. A sectarian narrative doesn’t just suit Houthis and Iran but also Al-Qaeda and IS. It propels them to the forefront of the conflict gathering recruits from a majorly Shafi (Sunni) territory. It makes for good propaganda and would give them much needed support to thwart the ‘Shia takeover’. This was the major reason why IS made great gains in Iraq and Syria. Due to the currently weak nature of most political and tribal forces against the Houthi-Saleh-Iran nexus, there is a propensity to look at other options for assistance. The Sunni Tribes in Yemen may look at IS or Al-Qaeda for this much needed assistance. It will be worth remembering that Al-Qaeda and IS each have their own agenda and aims for the future but in the current conflict they’d be most likely interested in working together. IS started flexing its muscles through recent bombings in an attempt to assert itself as the main opponent of the Houthis hoping Sunnis would rally behind them for support.

Which is why the Saudi led intervention couldn’t have been more timely (from the Saudis’ point of view). Saudi Arabia is as apprehensive about an Al Qaeda/IS takeover as it’s about conceding Yemen to an Iranian proxy. It is Saudi Arabia’s official position that they will not let Iran sow seeds of Sectarian strife in the region. Sectarian conflicts will only serve to strengthen IS/Al-Qaeda.

Zaydis don’t have the historical tensions their Ithna Ashari cousins have with Sunnis. As I’ve mentioned earlier the last Zaydi Imam was a Saudi ally. This sudden sectarian war being pursued by the Houthis is foreign in nature to Yemen. It must be pointed out that all Houthis are Zaydis but not all Zaydis of Yemen are Houthis. Some even accuse the Houthis of having subscribe to Iran’s ‘Islamic Revolution’ Ideology during their historically close ties with the Iranians. Hussein Al Houthi formed his faction after returning from Iran and had close ties with the clergy there. This is why Saudis feel the sudden rise in sectarian strife has outside connections.

Finally this isn’t the only conflict going on in Yemen. There are various tribes with their own ambitions (and varying loyalties). Then there’s the issue of the Southern secessionists. Which is one of the most pertinent issues in Yemen and has been eclipsed owing to the current conflict. This adds another dynamic to the conflict.

I hope we realise the complex nature of this conflict and refrain from making simplistic assessments as it’ll only undermine the significance of the actual issues faced by the Yemeni people. I do believe that a sectarian tag would irk most Yemenis as they’re less concerned with the sect of the warring parties and more focused about the basic necessities such as peace, prosperity, and rights. They want an end to this conflict and are more concerned with an end to corruption and resumption of basic services than joining any particular bloc.

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Even darkness must pass

Everything around us is in motion; nothing is truly stationary. So are our lives, ever in motion. Time is intangible; whether it exists, I cannot truly say. It is only observable in its aftermath. It is in the wake of a calamity that we are reminded of what befell a land. Similarly it is in change that we can truly perceive time.

It would be fairly inaccurate to say that some incidents have the power of holding time still in its tracks. However it is quite possible to perceive such a halt. I believe I can speak for many of us when I say that the Peshawar attack was one of those occasions. It felt as if the World decided to stand still. The sheer enormity and unprecedented nature of the attack left us dumbfounded. Many simply did not know how to react to it. No words seemed eloquent enough to describe the great human tragedy that had transpired. Our lives were brought to a sudden standstill. It was one of those moments you do not quite understand how to react to. You cannot recall an appropriate reaction from your social experiences which would do justice to the victims who lost their lives. The pain and agony the victims’ families are currently experiencing is unfathomable to the rest of us. This was humanity at its worst.candle-lit-vigil-at-phc-london-for-peshawar-attack-victims-1418922956-8102

It is impossible to walk away from a grotesque horror such as this while remaining the same person. As you go back to living your life, you carry a part of that agony with you. And while the world steadily starts to spin again, you however aren’t quite the same.

1842b6da-6e33-49f1-9977-a41e71dab7b5-620x372As the shell shock starts to subside, we realise that the worst is not over but just upon us. It is the walk back from the funeral that is the most difficult. What now? Where do we go from here?
A lot of people experienced genuine emotions due to this tragedy. The TTP have perpetrated the most heinous of crimes. All life is sacred. Young, old, men, women, and children alike. Yet it is the innocence of children which is a universal belief. They know nothing of our conflicts and our evils so by no means should they ever have to be involved in them. Parents shield their little ones from all of life’s evils. All of the lessons they impart to their children are to ensure the longevity of their innocence. Our educational system and our way of life are in spirit optimistic; ‘highlight the good in life’ is generally the theme. Considering this, to imagine the horrors the children experienced and were subjected to, makes one’s heart weep. A tragedy that shook a country which has seen its fair share of life’s evils and has had dark periods in its history would be incomprehensible to little children who are only aware of happy endings.

To merely grieve then is not enough and it is thus understandable for people to demandB5EiJusIQAEnHDM retribution. Some crimes are so horrible in nature a promised punishment in the afterlife doesn’t seem to be enough. So with a heavy heart and grieving the premature demise of innocence we set out to seek vengeance. But first however, there are many questions that need answering and I intend to pitch some of them to you. We must do so in order to be explicitly clear about our intentions. Are we genuinely pursuing an action in an effort to prevent such occurrences in the future or are we trying to take the easier exit? The easier exit is one which allows us to reassure ourselves by pursuing a simplistic policy. By simplistic I may also mean primitive. By burying the issue, we feel that all atrocities would be avenged and we can start anew. We cannot escape our realities. Unfortunately, that is what we’re trying to do at the moment.

One should only glimpse at the way our society is reacting to this tragedy to know what we’re becoming as a people. In our pursuit for vengeance we cannot let ourselves embark on a blood lust. We cannot let our anger turn into madness. It is not the enemy that we must fear; it is the possibility of not being able to differentiate ourselves from the enemy that should frighten us.578548_271362149648638_1231213908_n

Death and destruction seems to be on everyone’s minds. Is the media reflecting upon our society or is it shaping it? People on television; the analysts and journalists are calling for blood, demanding executions. Dead bodies are being displayed and cheered on. Is the media taking its cues from TTP’s PR team? It is akin to dancing on dead bodies; abhorrently by a supposedly civilised society. Why are we reduced to such barbarity? Do we not see that if we let them take away our humanity then the terrorists have already won? If both sides of the conflict resort to what is necessary regardless of morality then what exactly separates us? Renowned newspapers are displaying chilling images of executed terrorists; still suspended by the noose. Looking at that picture one ought not to be reminded that our government executed these people. It was a carefully planned, cold blooded execution. We are divided by contrasting views on capital punishment but to me it’s as simple as – they behead and we hang; eventually we both celebrate death. What’s the difference? Amidst all this violence and blood lust what impression are we leaving on our children, the very children we set out to protect? Between us and the terrorists, we are collectively murdering the innocence that should be preserved. We are gradually making our children and society immune towards violence and bloodshed. Is there wisdom in dressing children up in military attire talking about vengeance and murder? One could say that the entire reason why the terrorists resort to these crimes against our society is to lay waste to our way of life. It is highly illogical to aid them in the process ourselves. We are now going to hang a person who was 14 years old, a child, when he committed the crime he was convicted for. It hasn’t been a month since the resumption of the Death Penalty and we already have a controversial case. This is a new low for our society. We are willing to execute people to feel better; for the sake of our reassurance that we’re ‘doing something’. Does the execution of a few terrorists really solve the problem? Can a few dead terrorists undo years of indoctrination, that too by a State as part of a policy in previous decades? Such thinking is superficial in nature. just-cause-you-got-the-monkey-off-your-back-doesnt-mean-the-circus-has-left-town

There are other difficult questions that need to be answered. Over a decade of military operations has been unable to prevent or mitigate the sorrow and grief, would a continuation of that strategy yield better results now? Millions of civilians have been displaced and thousands of casualties have occurred as a result of these military operations, yet we are unable to keep our children safe. Now with all the demands of vengeance, indiscriminate bombings will continue to increase the casualty figures. Further worsening the human crisis there is absolutely no accountability of these military operations. There have been civilian casualties owing to military bombardment and subsequent protests by victims’ families have been conveniently brushed under the rug. And yes children have died in these bombings. The military refuses to let International Aid Agencies and Human Rights Groups cover the operations. Are we now going to question and demand accountability from the Military?

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We are fighting against a madness that is epidemic in nature. Death penalties, indiscriminate bombings, and a fanatic mob-like attitude towards the issue isn’t a substitute for the bad policy making by our State that has led us to this situation. If you think the issue will be resolved by more executions and a steady influx of pictures of dead (who may or may not be) terrorists then you’re mistaken.

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The argument that death penalty is a suitable deterrent against terrorism is weak. How do you deter a suicide bomber with death? Add to that a flawed justice system which may send potentially innocent people to the gallows. It feels like opposing views will not be tolerated within the near future. I don’t know if this is our version of the ‘9/11’, but I do believe this is our version of ‘McCarthyism’. Any opposing views could be labeled as apologist or as inciting terrorism. The repercussions could be far worse. Our Interior Minister encouraged the Nation, on national television, to report incidents of people buying ‘more than an average number’ of bread! He went on to demand that citizens inquire and report to the police, tenants who pay an unusually high rent. Being paranoid is the new State Policy in the wake of this attack. This will in effect create a polarised society, one which we cannot afford at the moment.
In conclusion, let us also spare a thought for the brave and proud people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, who as front line regions have had to endure unparalleled violence for the last decade. In response the people have shown characteristic courage and resilience. The Government needs to remember that whenever a policy regarding the War on Terror was drafted, it is the people of these regions who were the most affected, followed by the rest of Pakistan.

It is a picture of desolation and devastation that surrounds us at the moment. But it doesn’t have to be so. We must remember, in times of such horror and peril, the human values that form the foundation of our society and morality; Compassion, Patience, Truth, Justice and Perseverance. To give in to madness now would be to lay waste all the sacrifices made by our people and our children.
Sam
As Tolkien wrote in the Lord of the Rings, ‘Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.’

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-TAN

On the 28th of January,1933, a certain individual, along-with three signatories, penned a pamphlet. The historic significance of this writing would only be realised later, but it was evident, Chaudary Rehmat Ali, Mohammad Aslam Khan Khattak, Sahibzada Sheikh Mohammad Sadiq, and Inayat Ullah Khan had contributed significantly to an idea, which was considered, at the time, both heretical, and impractical. An idea, that demanded a separate home for the Muslims of India; a demand for independence.

The pamphlet, titled ‘Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?‘ began with the following statement.

At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan.

Thus, the name ‘Pakistan’ was coined.

A lot has transpired since then. We’ve come a long way. Why I bring this up, is because, somewhere along the line, we forgot that Pakistan essentially, came into being as a ‘Federation’ of autonomous Provinces. Failure to ensure this policy, cost us ‘East Pakistan’. Yet, we failed to learn from our reminder. 64 years on, we continue to make the same mistakes. Our failed policies, have driven another province into a state of chaos. This article is an attempt to highlight the plight of Pakistan’s largest province. The ‘TAN’ in PAKISTAN – Balochistan.

 It is interesting to note, that despite making up of about 43% of our national territory, Balochistan is the most neglected, and impoverished Province in the Country. Here’s the paradox. The richest Province in terms of natural resources (oil, gas, gold, and copper), has in fact the highest poverty rate in the Country. Moreover, Balochistan stands out as the Province, with the worst social indicators, scoring the lowest in 10 key indicators for education, literacy, health, water and sanitation as compared to the other Provinces.

Compared to the other provinces, Balochistan, has the fewest number of educational instituitions.10,281, to be exact, as compared to Punjab’s 106,435, Sindh’s 46,862 and PakhtunKhwa’s 36,029. The Province has the lowest literacy rate in the Country, despite having the smallest population as compared to the other Provinces. Punjab, despite having the largest population, has the highest literacy rate in the country. Balochistan produces 36% of the nation’s gas output. Yet, only 12 districts in Balochistan have  gas supply, the other 18 have no gas facilities. Balochistan, being an arid province, has always faced a water crisis. Yet we see, that no long-term solution has been found to such a problem. Despite draining the province of it’s resources, we have been un-able to provide what happens to be their most basic requirement. Moreover, to make matters worse, a loss of 13 billion rupees was incurred by the province, as a result of water theft, by the province of Sindh since 1991. Another issue worth highlighting is, Reko Diq, which has the world’s 5th largest Copper and Gold reserves, and was sold out to a multi-national corporation, with no significant incentives for the locals of the province. It’s interesting to note, that this contract was offered just one month after the assassination of former Governor Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who as is known, was demanding more autonomous rights for the province, and expected the dictatorial government of Musharraf to give a larger chunk of the resources in Balochistan to the locals. Both Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz, are now wanted for the murder of Bugti as per recent court rulings. What the government has provided though, to the people of Balochistan, is a police state, and a perpetual state of war. There have been 5 conflicts in the province, since 1947. As with all cases of military intervention within your borders; the resultant is evident in the form of immense radicalisation amongst the masses. In the face of such grim conditions, would it be irrational to state, that the people of Balochistan, would feel neglected, wronged, and oppressed? Would it be wrong to say, that what we’ve converted Balochistan, into a colony; exploiting its resources, while failing to give any material benefits in return. However, when the people of Balochistan would demand their rights, and more control over their own resources, we’d label them as traitors, and duly exterminate them. Such is the way of things here, where we are punishing people, for raising their voices against tyranny, and oppression. What we need now, is a reconsideration, of the way we’re looking at the crisis in Balochistan. We cannot be victims of the ostrich syndrome any longer. Instead of playing the blame game, and claiming, that such-and-such countries are causing the crisis in Balochistan, we should acknowledge our mistakes, and our crimes against the people of Balochistan and start addressing their grievances.The fact that there is a presence of separatist forces in the province is a testimony of the failed policy of the country towards the people of Balochistan. Moreoever, the fact that the media doesn’t effectively portray the scenario in Balochistan, and shirks away from bringing the Baloch nationalist leaders to the forefront, so that their concerns can be heard, too highlights the failure of the media to effectively do its duty. This again, infuriates the masses further, pushing them towards radicalisation. One wonders, if instances such as the wedding of Shoaib Malik, and Sania Mirza is more news worthy than the state of affairs of Balochistan. Where hours and hours of airtime is spent on lucrative ‘info-tainment’, the media shirks away from it’s fundamental responsibility by affectively reporting on Balochistan. The failure of the media in doing its duty, has led to a general ignorance about the crisis in Balochistan in the rest of the country. I have this test, of asking people to name 5 cities, in Balochistan, and I’ve yet to come up with one who can effectively answer that question. What I’m trying to say, is that Balochistan, is alienated to such an extent, that people aren’t aware of the plight of the people of Balochistan, at all. This is detrimental in the long run, because apathy feeds on ignorance. You cannot fix an act of injustice, if you’re not aware of the injustice in the first place. There’s so much more, I’d like to add. If we will not strive to find a just, and conclusive solution to the crisis in Balochistan, we’ve given up on the very ideals that this country was built on. We’d have given in to a centralised, authoritative model, which imposes its decisions on the most downtrodden of our countrymen, while we witness this act of cruelty, apathetically. We were meant to be a federation of autonomous provinces. Whenever we’ll forget that, we’ll have moved a step closer to losing this country. It’s about time we realise our faults, and undo that which is wrong. There is still hope in our cause, and therefore we should exhaust all possibilities to regain the trust, and belief, of the people of Balochistan. We cannot afford another Bangladesh, and for that reason, we must ensure that this crisis comes to an end. Remember what’s at stake here. It’s ‘Now or Never’.

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