Ghazain Marri to enter the political arena of Balochistan

ANI | Updated: Oct 01, 2017 22:16 IST

New Delhi [India], Oct 1 (ANI): Balochistan's former home minister Nawabzada Ghazain Marri was whisked away by the personnel of law enforcing agencies (LEAs) as soon as he landed at the Quetta international Airport on September 22 to end his 18-year-long self-exile. Marri said he intended to face all court cases pending against him, and would join mainstream politics.

Outside the airport, a large number of Marri tribesmen had gathered to welcome their chieftain. They were carrying a huge banner with Ghazain's picture. However, as soon as he stepped on to the Pakistani soil, the LEA took him into custody and shifted him to an undisclosed location. Several criminal cases are pending against him. He had told the media in Dubai prior to his arrival that he would face all the cases in Pakistan and join the mainstream politics. Bloch leader feels it is opportune moment to enter the political arena of Balochistan. Balochistan is simmering with discontent and violent reactions to ongoing Chinese mega project CPEC linking northwestern China's Xinjiang region to Gwadar port.

Ghazain Marri arrived from Dubai. He is the son of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri. He left Pakistan after General Parvez Musharraf seized power by coup d'etat in 1999.

In 2006, he was arrested in the United Arab Emirates at the request of the Pakistan authorities, in connection with the murder of high court judge Nawaz. He was later tried in an anti-terrorist court in Pakistan.

He lived in self-exile since 2000, Ghazain is a younger brother of PML-N leader Nawab Jhangez Marri and elder brother of Hyarbyar Marri, the chief of the outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), and Zamuran Marri, the chief of banned United Baluch Army (UBA). Recently, in Switzerland posters demanding independence of Balochistan appeared .They carried his photo.

The state government, according its home minister, would scrutinise all criminal case against Ghazain in his native district Kohlu and other parts of Balochistan. Earlier, the UAE had detained Ghazain on some charges on the request of Pakistan. He had been confined to his residence and the Gulf state had conducted prolonged investigations against him.

Ghazain had, however, been exonerated from the charges levelled by the Pakistan government as nothing could be found against him. The UAE had also turned down a request by Pakistan to repatriate him in connection with a money-laundering case.

Quetta sessions court granted bail to Marri against sureties of Rs. 1million. He would be released from detention only if not wanted in any other criminal case.

Balochistan is at the heart of a $60 billion, Chinese-funded "Belt and Road" trade and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a joint venture between the two countries that already is well underway.

It will connect northwestern China's Xinjiang region to Gwadar's deep-water port in southwest Pakistan via a network of roads, railway, communications and energy project. China will invest $50 billion. The ongoing project is expected to be completed by 2030.

Last week two bodies of suspected Chinese were found close to CPEC construction site.

Earlier in May 16, 2017 unknown assailants opened fire on labourers building a road in Gwadar, killing 10.

A day earlier, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up in Balochistan, killing 25 people while targeting a convoy of a prominent politician.

A force of over 25000 security personnel, police and paramilitary personnel under Pakistan's Army is deployed in Balochistan to crush uprising. A special maritime security "Task-Force 88," commissioned by Pakistan's Navy, was introduced in December 2016 to protect the port's sea routes.

The Baloch are bitterly opposed to presence of Chinese and exploitation of local resources.

The development of a Baloch national identity stretches back to the pre-colonial era. It was a highly fragmented society then. Nasir Khan was the first leader to unify the Baloch tribes in the middle of the 18th Century. He created an army of 25,000 men and set up the first administrative system of government in the region.

Pakistan attained independence on August 14, 1947. Balochistan was not a part of Pakistan. However, on August 15, 1947, Pakistan forcibly annexed Balochistan. After the birth of Pakistan, Punjabis became dominant in the civil and military bureaucracies of the state, Baloch had little or no say in governance.

There are three largest Baloch tribal groups namely: Marri, Bugti, and Mengal tribes. Leaders from these tribes are capable of raising large armies and supplies but remain highly suspicious of each other. Pak armed forces specifically targeted the Bugti areas.

The largest conflict driver in Baluchistan today is the construction of Gwadar port. Announced in 2001, the Chinese-funded project is aimed to transform the small fishing village of Gwadar into a major transportation hub on par with Dubai. Despite its importance, the federal government has excluded Balochs from the Gwadar development process. The project is run entirely by the federal government and employs only handful Baloch people in construction of the massive port, The presence of Chinese engineers and labourers is overwhelming. Balochs gained nothing from the project.

(By V K Gaur . Writer is former IG, BSF, and has written more than 50 Books on issues related to Defence, Strategy and Internal security.)