ISIS rears its head in Balochistan

vigil to pay tribute to

The reported nexus between the Pakistan army and the Islamic radicals has come full circle. The tail is now wagging the dog.

By , Toronto Sun

Nearly 100 people died Monday in an attack by Islamic State (ISIS) on a hospital in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Balochistan, the size of France, is a strategic territory at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz that can effectively choke off all oil traffic to and from the Persian Gulf.

In March, 2012, I wrote the following about the war in Balochistan for the Sun papers:

“A terrible war is unfolding in a faraway land called Balochistan. Almost daily, bodies of young men, kidnapped and tortured to death by the Pakistan occupation army, end up in ditches. Others, still alive, are thrown from helicopters into the arms of the rough mountain terrain below. Yet, not a single western journalist covers this ongoing, slow-motion genocide of the Baloch people.”

An independent country before it was occupied by Pakistan in 1948, Balochistan has witnessed a 65-year insurgency by nationalist guerrillas seeking freedom for their once independent country.

Baloch leaders say that to counter the largely secular independence struggle led by left-wing revolutionaries, the Pakistan army introduced Islamic right-wing jihadi death squads to carry out assassinations of the Baloch intelligentsia, the political leadership, journalists, lawyers and academics.

For example, most of the dead and wounded victims of ISIS in the latest attack were lawyers, who had come to the hospital after the head of the Balochistan Bar Association was shot dead a few hours earlier by gunmen.

Two weeks ago, Baloch human rights activist Wahed Baloch, who ran a private library of 10,000 books and was lovingly referred to as the “Baloch Bookman”, was abducted from a bus and has since disappeared along with tens of thousands of other Baloch who had the misfortune to obtain higher education.

The reported nexus between the Pakistan army and the Islamic radicals has come full circle. The tail is now wagging the dog.

One faction of the Pakistan-backed Taliban has split and joined ISIS. It calls itself Jamaat-ur-Ahrar

It was this group that claimed to carry out the horrific suicide bombing in Quetta. Its spokesman said in an email, the group “takes responsibility for this attack, and pledges to continue carrying out such attacks. We will release a video report on this soon.”

The response from the Pakistan government was callous at best, seemingly more concerned about the economic impact on its investments than the people who died.

The prime minister was overshadowed by the country’s armed forces chief of staff, whose spokesman claimed the attack was aimed at wrecking the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Corridor (CPEC), being built to link a Chinese naval base on Balochistan’s coastal city of Gwadar and China’s Xinxiang region.

The Twitter post by the military’s spokesperson drew a sharp rebuke by exiled Balochistan leader Mehran Marri, who wrote: “100 people killed in #Balochistan’s capital & the shameless #PakistanArmy is worried about the China-Pak CPEC deal.”

While the spectre of ISIS in Balochistan is a scary development, Baloch leaders claim the attack may have been staged by the Pakistan military to extract American funds.

Marri put it this way on Twitter: “Is it a coincidence, days after U.S. blocks $300M to Pakistan there’s a major terror attack? Who r the Pakistanis fooling? China or the USA?”

Meanwhile the latest victims of ISIS in Balochistan went largely unnoticed around in the world.

Imagine if they had died in Gaza, or Glasgow

Courtesy: Toronto Sun

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