Friday, 23 December 2016

The Nightmare in Balochistan

By @FlyingNazgul
Originally posted here

First, this post will be a bit disjointed and messy: it takes too much time to write well and I’ll otherwise keep procrastinating. I I am writing for people with relatively decent understanding of Balochistan and I want to answer questions directly – no pointless waffling, I hope.

Second, I do not know everything. This explanation is the best I have. I have followed Balochistan very closely since 2013 and talked to bureaucrats and police officers stationed there for over three years, so I know quite a lot. But I do not have the same about of detail on the politicians or the military – but their actions and interactions with the bureaucracy and police reveal enough, I think.


This is what is happening in Balochistan (casualties):

2013: 1315
2014: 479
2015: 186
2016 (so far): 686

After the nightmare that began under Musharraf, things started improving in 2014, were much improved in 2015, and have yet against started deteriorating. What’s happening?

India and Afghanistan

While India and Afghanistan are certainly up to no good (abstracting from the details of the involvement), over this period, we would expect things to start heating up in 2016 (after the deterioration of ties with India). However, that is very recent (Uri was in September). Also, most the casualties come from religiously affiliated groups’ attacks and not the nationalists that India openly supports (which doesn’t mean no possibility of support for the others). This is something hard to measure, but not something I would deem to utmost significance right now in terms of the recent deterioration in the law and order situation.

Justice Isa 

Qazi Esa’s report has clearly accepted foreign interference’s possibility, however, they’re clear that the facilitators and terrorists are Pakistani. Hence, our automatic blaming on Afghanistan and India is stupid and counter-productive if it’s hasty and if it detracts us from the real issue at home – the enemy exploits our issues. Nevertheless, when looking at the deterioration, this would be an understandable cause (more effort by enemies means more attacks slip through the net regardless of our efforts), but for now, I’d say it’s a smaller issue.


Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri 

PML-N and National Party have been in power since 2013, with the middle class, mild-mannered Abdul Malik Baloch as Chief Minister until December 2015, and the powerful tribal chief Sanaullah Zehri in power since then. Leadership styles matter and a lot of executive power that should lie with the IGP lies with the Chief Secretary or the Chief Minister. The Inspector General of Police, Balochistan does not have the authority to suspend a DSP – the Chief Secretary does. The IGP does not have the power to appoint the DIG (CCPO) Quetta. The power legally does not lie with him. Secondly, it matters how much political interference there is. If illegal Afghans are part of the problem, are MPAs and MNAs protecting them? If some madrassas are up to no good, is the government backing the police to go after them? Is the police being provided with the resources that are possible within the budgetary limits?

Abdul Malik Baloch was relatively timid: he didn’t want to annoy any politician nor bureaucrat. He’d give an order in a meeting to the Chief Secretary at the request of the IGP, the Chief Secretary would ignore it, he’d be reminded and that was that. If the PAS cadre wants to put protection of its power over the province, Malik was okay with that. Politicians attending law and order meeting with the police and military are supporting illegal Afghans, Malik was okay with it.

Nevertheless, he was a relatively humble person. He was happy to go visit the lowly IGP himself and thank him. He was polite. He was not a control freak. He let the IGP do mostly as he wanted: the police didn’t get the complete support it needed, but Malik didn’t try and wring his officer’s neck every day. Having your boss breathe down your neck all the time is not the environment you want to be working in. When the situation became a bit tough in Quetta after serious attacks on Hazara in 2013-2015, he was strong enough and he cared enough to admonish his IGP.

Zehri is a much more powerful and crueller person. He is more used to power and he’s more used to cruelty and loss. He’s not crazy. He’ll keep his CS and IGP happy, even though neither were his choices (Malik didn’t get that luxury either). He’s a bit too uninvolved in such matters and certainly not interested in any reform. He’s the status-quo.


The police officers in Balochistan are stuck there: they were sent on Iftikhar Chaudhry’s orders, but have had a hard time returning because no-one wants to go. GoP has shown very little interest in the matter as usual. Mostly only a few of the worst and weakest officers get sent. One example, Hussain Habib, a PSP officer in Punjab, refused to go to Balochistan in contravention of establishment division orders. However, he just got promoted by the central selection board a couple of days ago. If bad behaviour gets you promotions, why bother?

Why Was 2015 Better?

I think 3 things: (i) some change in army thinking, (ii) an honest competent IGP and (iii) a mostly non-interfering CM.

Why did the Army change? Two simultaneous attacks on Quetta airbases (Samungli and Khalid) started the process (even though the simultaneous attacks were very successfully thwarted by by LEAs – no LEA death, all terrorists killed). However, APS really changed all. Not every terrorist was now an enemy, but the more annoying ones who didn’t listen and felt like being too independent were dealt with mercilessly.

IGP Amlish, unlike most officers, was not focused on making money, and pushed the gov’t, army and his own officers to take on terrorists. You’d be surprised to find how much this matters: the police itself is often afraid of taking on these elements, such as raiding a madrassa that may be helping terrorists. There’s no issue from the CS, CM, military – just the police not being brave enough. Are you working on making the CM, CC, CS happy and making money or focusing on improving the police? Are you request the CM for money for yourself or for the police: money for police martyrs or police lines or money for your fort of a residence? (For example, the work on IGP’s residence destroyed in 2013 when Sukhera was IGP, and his wife was inside the house, started under Sukhera and he got a lot of money allotted but it nearly halted under Amlish, because he didn’t bother asking for funds. Sukhera did, Mehboob did, and under Mehboob the house is now done). Are you up at night at midnight and afterwards making sure that the patrols and raids are going as planned? Your officers know you care and they make a greater effort – otherwise, what happens in these cases? Nothing. Lethargy. Even when there is no danger to your life, government officers will tend to do nothing, but when you could die doing this work, why would you go the extra mile if your seniors don’t care? A good IGP, CS, Home Sec, CM make this happen.

In addition, Amlish acted against corruption wherever it happened. Nobody in Pakistan really wants to touch the powerful – DMG/PAS officers will protect their own and PSP officers will protect theirs. You get ostracized if you act against you own. Hence, when an inquiry is ordered, you absolve the accused, because after all, tomorrow that guy may be in a powerful position and in Pakistan, you won’t get even your deserved right without help. Hence, a few inquiries were held against PSP officers, including the brother of a Joint Chief and reports sent to establishment division for action against them. Punitive action shouldn’t remain just for the lower cadres, the rankers. If an SHO is minting money, so is the ASP/SDPO supervising his work.

Finally, I had heros. Everyone is Pakistan compromises a bit. Amlish took no action against the military officers involved in ‘inappropriate’ actions. He will certainly have made other mistakes too. No one is perfect.

PTC Quetta Attack

My understanding is that PTC martyrs were recruited in 2015. They’d been through the long process, and were now finally getting trained. It was one big step towards becoming a police constable – tough duty, low pay, lots of bravery. IGP Ahsan Mehboob asked the CM for a boundary wall. PTC Quetta certainly needed it irrespective of its utility in stopping this attack. However, the IGP and IGFC need to answer this: why, with prior intel and a high alert throughout city, was just one person guarding PTC? When there’s a high alert: patrols have been increased, Special Branch officials are roaming the streets, then your failure is galling. In addition, if your complaint is lack of personnel (which is unreasonable in this context), then you had hundreds of trained constables sitting inside doing nothing – why could no moron say hey, there is a terrorism alert, if we don’t have enough people, let’s give a few of these trained constables weapons from the PTC armoury for protection of the school. There were options, none were utilized by the police.

There was no money for the PTC boundary wall, but many crores were found to rebuild the new IGP House (after its destruction in 2013). This is the police force whose IGP (in 2013) was complaining that his men do not even have enough weapons to fight terrorists. CS and IGP are both more focused on making money, so such stuff gets neglected with daily dinner parties and counting your daily cut. At least Mushtaq Sukhera, however vile he may be, got stuff done. CS Chatta, who hates politicians, had Ahsan Mehboob appointed when there were better options: Hussain Ashgar, Dr Mujeeb among other capable officers. When the criteria for selection is friendship and subservience to politicians and the place of work is Balochistan, then why bother working hard?

The head of PTC was a retired military officer, who moved to the police based on the military quota, but had been passed off for promotion, hence didn’t really care at all about his job. Incompetent people doing what they do best.

The Army

This is where the real power lies. This is the province where the real Chief Minister is the Corps Commander, where CM Malik would jump up to greet the Corps Commander, and he’d essentially be the chief guest. Everyone knows there where the real power lies. If a drug trafficker is caught, and the army or military agencies want him released, he’s released. If they want some terrorists or criminals not to be touched, they won’t be touched. And may the Almighty help the one who even mistakenly touch the army supported crooks.

FC doesn’t coordinate well with the police. There’s the typical army arrogance. The IGFC is a Major General, legally a BPS-21 officer, equivalent to a normal IGP (though the current IGP is a BPS-22 officer, equivalent to a Lieutenant-General) yet will not hold a meeting with the IGP as an equivalently ranked officer, the IGFC has to lead. I’ve seen an IGFC get annoyed because the IGP sat in a more senior position during a ceremony. The IGFC will rarely, if ever, be present during press conferences with the CM and IGP. Instead, a Brigadier, an officer of BPS-20, a DIG, will be present. Recently, it’s been seen that the Corps Commander will lead meetings together with the CM, sitting at the head of the table, symbolically showing us what the real power structure is.

I have an interesting anecdote, but I have it from the aggrieved party so I had no idea at all how true it is: the disgraced recent IGFC Ejaz Shahid says that he was overlooked for promotion to Lt-Gen and acted against on corruption charges because at one FC organized ceremony the Governor spoke and the CC Janjua wasn’t invited to speak. Take this as you wish.


Obviously, many other issues, many touched upon by Qazi Isa are important, but remain untreated.

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