Balochistan remained in the grip of violence again during the current week: horrific images of mutilated bodies, landmine blasts and a road accident marked the week in the province. Five people perished when a reckless driver rammed the tractor into a passenger van bound for Zhob near Muslim Bagh in Qila Abdullah district on Tuesday night, November 15. In sum, nine people lost their lives in the volatile province during the week.
In its report, Crisis Management Cell (CMC) of the federal interior ministry has conceded that despite government measures, the level of violence in Balochistan is soaring intermittently. The report underlines that during last nine months in 161 incidents of violence at least 270 people have died in different circumstances related to insurgent, sectarian and inter-communal violence.
At a time when Balochistan government has declared Gwadar a winter capital; the government now finds it difficult to accommodate 65 lawmakers and assembly staff at the under-developed coastal resort. And it is facing serious logistics problems for holding assembly winter session which is scheduled for mid December and will continue for 15 days.
After leveling charges of contract breach against the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), the Balochistan Mining Committee (BMC) has refused to extend the mining contract of the firm. Meanwhile, TCC has blamed the Balochistan government for violating mining rules.
Week in Review
a) Acts of Terrorism/Subversions
- At least five people died and eight injured, including two children, when a tractor crashed into a passenger van bound for Zhob near Muslim Bagh in Qila Abdullah district on Tuesday night, November 15.
- Armed men on Tuesday, November 15 torched a container, carrying military hardware for NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan, near Dasht area of Mastung district, about 45 kilometers south of Quetta. According to the Balochistan Levies, the NATO container was on its way from Karachi to Kandahar, Afghanistan, when assailants on a motorbike opened fire, injuring the driver. Later, armed men set the container ablaze and escaped. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Two security forces’ personnel were killed and three others injured in a landmine blast in Janu Berri area of Dera Bugti District on November 19. According to the Levies sources, a vehicle of the security forces was patrolling the area when it hit the landmine. Resultantly, two security personnel were killed on the spot and three others were injured.
- Two bullet-riddled and mutilated bodies of Baloch missing persons were found dumped in the coastal town of Pasni on Sunday, November 20. The deceased were identified as Abdul Khaliq and Zahid Hussain Dashti, a local official of the Levies force revealed.
- According to a report by the interior ministry’s Crisis Management Cell (CMC), submitted to the National Assembly on Friday, November 19, “— at least 270 people were killed and 388 injured in 161 incidents of violence in the last nine months alone.” And thus, “— claims by the interior ministry that there has been a visible decline in target killings in the province, appear to carry little weight.” The report also illustrates that the “— administration has spent approximately Rs 900 million so far by deploying 17 units and paramilitary troops to put an end to the disturbing trend that has only increased in the province over the last two years.”
b) Economic Front
Mohammed Hameed, a 34-year-old partially blind man, has been struggling to make ends meet ever since Iranian officials suddenly closed the informal trade route Zero Point two months ago. Zero Point, located at the Taftan crossing point, was the main trading point upon which thousands of families relied for their livelihood (reported in the press on November 14).
The Balochistan Mining Committee (BMC) has refused on November 16 to grant a mining license to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) for the Reko Diq project under Balochistan Mines Rule 2002. The BMC, headed by Director General Mines and Mineral Department Balochistan, was formed to examine the feasibility report of TCC on the Reko Diq project. A senior official told that the advocate general of Balochistan, Amanullah Kanrani, will submit a report provided by the BMC to the Supreme Court today (Wednesday). The report says that the feasibility report provided by TCC was incomplete.
Meanwhile, TCC has rejected the government’s stance altogether, and asserted in its press release: “The licensing authority’s summary refusal to grant the mining license, to which TCC is entitled, breaches not only the Balochistan Mineral Rules (2002), but also TCC’s rights under the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement and Pakistani law.” Furthermore, Chief Executive Officer of TCC, Tim Livesey deliberated “We firmly believe that our activities to date have been fully in line with the Balochistan Mineral Rules (2002) and we will welcome the opportunity to discuss this with the provincial regulator and the government.”
About half a century ago, Pakistan paid three million US dollars to the Sultanate of Oman for an enclave – a hammerhead-shaped peninsula that juts into the Arabian Sea, off the Makran Coast – called Gwadar. Five decades on, Oman has given Pakistan $17 million to set up an international airport, and realize Gwadar’s dormant potential. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has acquired 4,300 acres of land for the proposed Gwadar Airport and would soon start construction on the largest airport terminal in the province, Director-General (DG) CAA Air Marshal (retd) Khalid Chaudhry said on Sunday, November 20.
c) Political Front
The Balochistan government is finding it hard to make arrangements for the provincial assembly’s session after declaring Gwadar as the winter capital. The Provincial Assembly Secretariat sent a summary to the Chief Minister on November 18 inquiring about the arrangements for holding the provincial assembly’s winter session, which is scheduled for mid December and it will last for 15 days. Hence, it appears difficult to arrange accommodation for 65 lawmakers and dozens of staff officers and members in Gwadar,” he said.
At a time when the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government is a target of the opposition’s scathing criticism, its member in the National Assembly from Quetta, Syed Nasir Ali Shah, seemed to have joined the opposition chorus saying that the PPP had failed to “deliver”. He said on November 20 with special reference to the Hazara community killings last month outside Quetta: “The PPP has distracted from its manifesto and has failed to deliver.”
 Five killed in Quetta road accident’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/292406/five-killed-in-quetta-road-accident/
 Two Security Force personnel killed in landmine blast in Balochistan’, at http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/detailed_news3.asp?date3=2011%2F11%2F20&image2.x=0&image2.y=0#2
 Missing Persons: Two bullet-riddled bodies found in Pasni’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/295092/missing-persons-two-bullet-riddled-bodies-found-in-pasni/
 Target killings in Balochistan: Interior ministry admits failure in curbing violence, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/294263/target-killings-in-balochistan-interior-ministry-admits-failure-in-curbing-violence/
 Closure of Zero Point border leaves Taftan residents jobless’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/291545/closure-of-zero-point-border-leaves-taftan-residents-jobless/
Reko Diq: Balochistan government refuses to grant license to Tethyan Copper’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/292708/reko-diq-balochistan-refuses-to-grant-license-to-tcc/
 Nine years on, work on Gwadar airport terminal to begin ‘soon’’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/294781/caa-purchases-land-to-build-gwadar-international-airport/
 Winter capital: Logistical issues surface for Gwadar’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/293702/winter-capital-logistical-issues-surface-for-gwadar/
 PPP MNA continues to protest govt inaction over Hazara killings’, at http://tribune.com.pk/story/295119/ppp-mna-continues-to-protest-govt-inaction-over-hazara-killings/
Tags: Acts of Terrorism, Balochistan, Balochistan government, Balochistan Mining Committee, Balochistan Weekly Monitor, BMC, Gwadar assembly winter session, incidents of violence, insurgent, inter-communal violence, landmines, military hardware, NATO container, NATO forces, sectarian, security forces, TCC, Tethyan Copper Company, violating mining rules, violence in Balochistan