Pakistan’s Achilles’ heel in the War against Baloch

energy crises

By Ali Qambar

It is the economy that matters. War is never an end by itself rather a mean to achieve certain objectives. In a colonial setting; all the military deployment, security networks and intelligence services make sure that certain interests of the colonizers are protected.

Nothing can better portray economic angle in the ongoing conflict between the Baloch freedom fighters and Pakistani army in Balochistan than the recent “power breakdown caused by militants blowing up the transmission towers.”

Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported:

Federal Secretary of Water and Power Younus Thakkar on Sunday claimed the country-wide power breakdown was caused by militants who had blown up two transmission towers in Balochistan.”

 “Two transmission towers were blown up by miscreants in Sibi (Balochistan) late on Saturday,” Thakkar said.

“Early on Sunday, Pakistan had been plunged into darkness after a key power transmission line broke down. The power failure, one of the worst the country has experienced, caused electricity to be cut in major cities, including the capital Islamabad.”

The attack brought Pakistan in a state of paralysis. Energy is the backbone of not only economic growth but an indispensable prerequisite for running a state machinery. To cut the power is to weaken the state itself. It has now been almost 48 hours at the time of writing this piece that power has not been fully been restored. It means that state computers, communication networks, security devices and all the other necessary electronic appliances were impacted by a single bomb attack that blew up the two transmission towers.

The whole above scenario is cited to show how infrastructure and economic resources are crucial parts of running the state machinery. The worst-case scenario is Pakistan’s dependence for economic and energy resources located in Balochistan, a colony going through an armed conflict for independence.

Pakistani state is too dependent on energy resources located in Balochistan.  Today, the fifth Baloch uprising against the state is mass-based and clearly focused on cutting off energy resources to the occupier, weakening its ability to continue operations in Balochistan and function as a viable force.

It should be noted that the Pakistani security forces are there to protect the interests of the state in the occupied Balochistan; they are not there just to occupy this huge mass of land for the sake of occupation. They are in dire need of the resources and strategic leverage that the occupation brings in. The strategic location of Balochistan and the huge energy and mineral resources are worth sacrificing a few thousand second class citizens, especially, Sindhi and Pashtun who are mainly deployed in conflict zones in Balochistan. They are used to protect the interests of Punjab and its army.

Until and unless the occupying power realizes that it is futile to occupy, they won’t be defeated. It’s a psychological relation between the occupier and the occupied. When the cost of occupation becomes more than the profit it generates, the occupation itself ends. It means when the ends become futile the means become futile too.

So the purpose of a freedom movement is always to target the economic interests of the occupier, the profit it generates from the occupation. The means the occupied people employee differs from Gandhi’s non-violence and is rooted in Mao’s guerilla warfare. Sometimes it is a combination of both. Baloch has adopted both means in the struggle for freedom. However, the emphasis has been targeting the economic and energy resources that Pakistan gets from Balochistan.

It is said that Baloch might not be able to defeat Pakistan militarily because Pakistan military has huge human resources and it can conscript millions to be deployed in Balochistan. To protect Pakistan military Inc., the state is willing to get its security personnel killed and engaged in prolonged battles. It also can bring in fresh contingents of the armed forces if the existing ones exhaust.

On the other hand, the economic warfare can bring a difference in the fight between Pakistan and Baloch freedom fighters. If a single attack on a transformer can bring all Pakistani economy to its knees, then how about thousands of such attacks on gas lines, electricity, minerals transportations, smuggling of oil from Iran to the much needy cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. If such a scenario ever occurs, it will be a nightmare for the Pakistani state because its existence depends on these crucial resources. It will collapse virtually within a span of few years or forced to adopt a compromising position from the current belligerent policy. It is the Achilles’ heel that can bring its downfall.

To conclude, Baloch armed organizations and the peaceful ones should make Pakistan realize that it is not worth to occupy any more. In other terms, the Pakistani state should be forced to understand that the economic cost of occupation exceeds the profit it generates from the occupied Balochistan. When the state realizes the facts, it also will have to re-think the war of occupation and begin withdrawing from Balochistan. Otherwise, the occupation never ends if it gets what it has aimed at plundering from a subjugated nation.

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