Quetta bombing aimed at Baluchistan nationalist movement
On August 8, a suicide bombing killed at least 110 and injured a further 200 at a state-run hospital in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. Responsibility for the blast was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, JuA, which is a splinter group from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, TTP, that has close links with ISIS. The bombing was clearly a planned attack on the legal profession in Baluchistan, whose members have actively supported the national liberation movement and defended democratic rights. Many lawyers were at the hospital at the time to mourn the death of Bilal Kasi, the President of the Baluchistan Bar Association, who had been assassinated that morning.
Pakistan's top civil and military leadership, however, have presented the bombing as part of an attempt by the ''enemies of the country'' to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC, that is being constructed from the port of Gwaidar, through Baluchistan and on to Western China. The prime minster, Nawaz Sharif, ordered all security institutions to respond with their full might and to eliminate all the terrorists and said there was no doubt in his mind that, “enemies of Pakistan are after the CPEC… the Pakistan Army, under the leadership of General Raheel was doing a commendable job to neutralise the security threat towards CPEC”. General Raheel Sharif is the Army Chief of Staff who has given a free hand to the intelligence agencies to target anyone they believe to be linked to the terrorist attack.
Baluchistan is facing its fifth military operation since 1948. The current operation started in 2005, since then, some 20,000 people have “disappeared” most of them were political workers, students and lawyers. Hundreds of mutilated bodies have been found, including in a mass grave discovered by a shepherd on January 25, 2014 in Tootak, Khuzdar District after which the locals converged there to recover bodies. According to the “progressive and nationalist” government representatives, 13 bodies were found, while the Asian Human Rights Commission has counted 103 dead bodies recovered from the graves. Local people say the body count is 169 and believe there are more graves in the area but the security forces have cordoned off the area and are not allowing anyone to go there.
The chief minister of Baluchistan, Sanaullah Zehri, and central government ministers, immediately accused the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, of being behind the Quetta attack. Many in the media echo this official view, which is rooted in Pakistan's attempts to justify the oppression of the Baluch people and denial of their right to self-determination. Their argument is that the Baluch national movement is just a puppet of US imperialism which, together with India, is using it to undermine CPEC, thereby not only curtailing Pakistan's economic development but also China's expansionist plans.
This approach sees history as one long series of conspiracies, ignoring the unpleasant fact that such nationalist movements erupt because of socio-political crises and intensified exploitation and oppression. Of course, the imperialist powers, all of them, interfere in the internal politics of other nations. No doubt both the US and India give backing to elements within the movement to try to manipulate it in their own interest, but the reality is that the movement is fighting against national oppression, plunder of their resources, military occupation and development projects designed to reinforce Islamabad's control.
The “War on Terror” is used to justify destruction and military operations in Baluchistan. Thus, even though Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, LeJ, has close links to the Taliban and Al- Qaida, and has been involved in many attacks on the Hazara community in which hundreds of people were killed, military operations are conducted against the strongholds of the Baluch national movement, not the LeJ's networks. The truth is that the security service uses the Islamists to control and check the nationalist movement.
The state is using the environment of fear to justify operations both in Baluchistan and further afield in the whole country, but that will bring nothing but more hatred, racism and war mongering and, ultimately, it will actually encourage terrorism. At the same time, it intends to utilise the situation to justify increased surveillance, for example, with new “anti-cyber-crime” laws and the scrapping of basic human rights in the name of fight against terrorism. These laws and regulations will then be used against the nationalist, working class and popular struggles, as in Okra, Faisalabad and Gilgit Baltistan. We must oppose these laws that are attacks on democratic rights, just as we oppose the military operations and racism against the Afghans.
Imperialist war and military operations only breed more reactionaries and brutality. This is clearly shown in the Middle East where they gave rise to ISIS. In Pakistan, they have not brought an end to war but a continual expansion of war, extending now into the cities and bringing more destruction and chaos. The policy of the imperialist powers and of the Pakistani state, are quite clearly failing.
Liberal groups and the Left are more critical than two years ago, but still do not in principle oppose the military operations and imperialist wars. Revolutionary socialists are clear that imperialism and its agents are responsible for war and terrorism and, as revolutionaries, we place no hope in either the imperialist powers or the state. What is needed is a mass working class movement against both the war and the Islamist reactionaries.