ISIS in Balochistan and role of Pakistani state in fostering extremism
Pakistan occupied Balochistan in 1948. At the time of occupation Baloch were governed by secular Baloch code which clearly defines legitimacy of the state and its sovereignty in term of secular Baloch nationalism. Baloch resistance movement still retains this political character of secularism which has resisted any attempt of redefining of Baloch nationalism in a religious perspective. Thus, Baloch followed a state system which is based on principles of Westphalian Order of the World.
On the other hand, Pakistan statehood is based on a religious ideology called Pakistan ideology. Pakistan ideology defines Pakistani nationhood on the assumption that all the Muslims living in South Asia are one nation. This ideology is based on the interpretation of an Islamic State widely preached by Muslim Brother, and other Islamist organizations which denies the principal of international co-existence.
The secular Baloch rejected such notion of religious definition of nationalism and did not accede to Pakistan and opted to remain Independent. But Pakistan forcefully occupied Balochistan on 27th March, 1948 and has kept it under illegal occupation. Baloch have resisted Pakistani occupation since the day first. To end Baloch resistance, Pakistani state understands that the Baloch nationalism should be replaced with Pakistani nationalism. So Pakistan has opted for a policy of Islamisation of secular Baloch that is in place more than half century. Recently, Pakistan has made this policy the centre of counterinsurgency in Balochistan.
In the below text, we will try to analyse some features of Pakistani policy of Islamisation in Balochistan : the text will also try to elaborate some basic themes, trends and new developments in this regard.
Countering Baloch Nationalism with Islamic Extremism
Baloch call themselves secular. Pakistan and its religious fanatics call Baloch paid agents of the west and "Anti-Islam" for preaching their secular values against the Islamism.
To counter the Baloch psyche, state has been sponsoring religious factor in Balochistan since the very beginning. Almost in every remote village and town of Balochistan you will find dozens of mosques & religious schools, but very few primary schools who provide the basic education. Idea had been, to get the Baloch children get education only through religious schools. Kids of age 4-5 are supposed to get start learning reading and writing. Parents wish their kids learn to read and write. While there are no schools, parents are obliged to send their kids in religious schools.
And the villages where state schools are (and if by chance rarely functional), a kid first taught of 5 Islamic "kalma's" which are to be the very baisc of Islamic theology. Islamization is systematically developed and kids are encouraged by schools to go the religious schools to learn more in reading and writing the spellings in Arabic script.
In the state-run schools, it has been BSO (Baloch Student Organization) countering the Islamic Theology and promoting humanitarian secular values, so the kids wont get trapped with Islamic theology.
By banning the BSO in 2013, state has tried to counter the hurdles in Islamizing the Baloch youths.
Baloch National Movement (BNM), the largest political party which opposes the religious fundamentalism & supports Baloch secular values in public, is also in supression by the state's army and religious militants. Hence, the BSO & BNM are now in hiding, after loosing too much of their cadres and activists including the founding chairman of BNM, Ghulam Mahmad Baloch, who was picked up by Pakistan's security forces in a day light in front of hundreds of people and later their bodies were found dumped some 40 KM away from Turbat city.
Islamic theology is free to be preached, Islamic literature is free to be distributed, and Ismaic militants are free to move openly. Pakistan tries it best to promote Islamism against the secular values of Baloch nation in Balochistan. But it’s the Baloch norms which is resisting the religious fundamentalism. Baloch National politics openly confronts all the shapes of fundamentalism and discriminations. Baloch armed organizations are in a clear confrontation with the Ismamists and attacked the ISIS and other Islamist militants in Balochistan. In turn, the Islamists have attacked all the civilian populations who resists the Islamization of Baloch society.
State wants to promote Islamism to reduce the intensity of Baloch secular values and Baloch struggles to protect and promote their secular values which is the tradition of Baloch society for centuries.
This conflict is getting harder and harder day by day, as all of the civilised world is supporting Pakistan, which bakced the Islamism as its very basic reason of survival as a state.
Religious Schools in Balochistan: the cradle of Islamist militant Organisation
Religious schools are spreaded over through out Balochistan. There are no primery schools in most of villages, or there are mostly ghost schools, but there are Religious Schools fully functional in all the villages of Balochistan. Even, too much of the religious schools are primarily serving as recruitment camps for armed religious groups.
State is fully supporting religious education in Balochistan with finance and all other kind of supports. Recently a newspaper linked to New York times reported that more than five thousand foreign students being educated in religious schools in Balochistan through the financial support of "Brotherly Muslim countries". While more than 1,20,000 students are listed in more than Five thousand religious schools in Balochistan, and the amount of religious schools and the students are far more than the reported ones. (http://tribune.com.pk/story/841298/countering-extremism-in-balochistan-234-madrassas-receive-foreign-cash-official/).
Pakistan has continuously promoted religious mosques all over Balochistan and promoted some of the religious schools in Militant training camps in the mountainous Balochistan. In the religious schools they work to brainwash the kids and youngsters, and shift them to their militancy camps to use them for their jihad, the holy war, all around the globe. They (religious schools) openly preach hatred against the western values and connect the Baloch national struggle with the west. And west supports Pakistan ignoring Baloch, while Baloch is a natural ally with all the nations who believe in secularism, and individual equality and freedom.
Religion and Baloch Resistance
Religion has not been having any significant role neither in Baloch national identity, nor in Baloch movement throught its history. Baloch parliament in 1948 rejected Pakistan's invitation of annexation of Balochistan to Pakistan, stating that "we (Baloch) are a nation, and we won’t agree to degrade our identity and join Pakistan which calls itself a Muslim nation. Adding, if Pakistan thinks that Muslim is a nation, then it also must be merged with Islamic Afghanistan and Iran rather than to offer us to surrender our cultural-ethnic identity and merge to the Islamic Nation."
Islamism and secular Baloch nationalism is the basis of the conflict between the Baloch and Pakistan/Iran.
ISIS in Balochistan
In August 2014, Ballnigwar, a tiny village in Dasht area of Kech made headlines.The scene was a day-long heavy fighting between the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and ISIS. The BLF attacked a house where Lashkar-e-Khurasan Makuran head Mulla Hanif was taking shelter. Soon, The Frontier Corps (FC), a Pakistani paramilitary force, came to rescue the ISIS men and started shelling BLF fighters. In the battle, the ISIS lost its Makuran’s head (the BLF lost one fighter too). It was the first time we saw ISIS in action in Balochistan and the start of BLF’s war against the ISIS. The battle also revealed the fact that Pakistani state is using ISIS as a counter insurgency force in Balochistan which will have repercussions on the future of the region: Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia.
Since June 2014, the ISIS has emerged and transformed from a terrorist organization into a state actor: it now rules a large sloth of territory carved out from Syria and Iraq through conquests, with resources worth trillion of dollars mostly from oil and gas. Now it also a well-established political and administrative system in Pakistan.
It is the ISIS’ expansionist policy that has unnerved the world. Soon after capturing territories in Iraq and Syria, the ISIS declared its mission of a global Caliphate, a centralized Islamic state covering all Islamic regions.
To pursue its aim of the global caliphate, the ISIS has established links with Jihadi networks across the world. Some of these groups and organizations have openly declared allegiance to the ISIS. Pakistan is a perfect place to further the ISIS’ cause.
In Balochistan, the ISIS is operating through local Jihadi networks. These include but not limited to Lashkar-e-Khurasan, Tahafuz-e-Hudood-ullah, the Al-Jihad, Lashkar-e-Islam, Al-Furqan and Ansar-ul-Islam. All these groups are allied with the ISIS and work for it. These groups are escorted by FC and Pakistani agencies in Balochistan to counter the Baloch separatists.
The vanishing of secular Baloch values and its consequence on the region
Baloch people are being hated by theocratic states of Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran, because they are secular. Baloch wont think that the religion is having any particular role in the Government or society.
By vanishing the Baloch people, the theocratic Islamic States want to cover all the resource rich mountainous region together from Pakistan to Iran, covering the warm sea and coastal belt hundreds miles away from the strait of Hormuz. The region can be a better breeding place for Islamists to train the militants and spread them throughout the world.
Balochistan is having more minerals than Iran & Pakistan have. Be it natural gas, gold, uranium, copper, sulfer, oil or its coast & strategic location. All of these can be used to finance the Islamic chauvinists, to keep the entire world disturbed.
Baloch people are resisting at high cost of lives to protect all their resources as well as to protect their secular social values. Even though Baloch has been marginalized from life and have been deprived of resources, and have not received enough support from the civilised world, they are still struggling not to the land and resources beused of the Ismalists state and non-state actors in its territorial limits.
In reaction, the islamists have unleashed their barbaric wrath over Baloch political activists and civil society that do not tow to their lines. If islamist backed by Pakistani state agencies succeed in eliminating secular Baloch forces, the world should be ready for a catastrophic consequences on the region and beyond it that has no precedent in the world history.