Earthquake tragedy: BLF chief says international, private help welcome

Published: September 28, 2013

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) says it has dispatched 25,000 tents and 6,000 blankets to the affected areas, as more than 100,000 people made homeless by the quake face a third day in scorching heat. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

An impasse looms large over the relief effort in Balochistan’s earthquake-devastated region – an area known to be a hotbed of Baloch rebels – which has already resulted in mushrooming clashes in the region. However, a top commander has offered a way forward through the mistrust between rebels and security forces: Let the relief effort be handled by private or international organisations.

Talking to The Express Tribune from an undisclosed location, Dr Allah Nazar, the purported chief of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), alleged that the army’s large deployment in the area was a cover for conducting operations against the rebels, which, he claimed, had been under way for the past two days. This charge was strongly denied by military sources.

Dr Nazar, a former student leader who is now often referred to as Balochistan’s most wanted rebel and is the most widely-respected leader among various separatist groups, said that the workers of private, non-government organisations or international bodies, such as the United Nations, would be welcomed by the rebels. They have nothing to fear from the side of the rebels, he assured, adding that there will be no attacks on civilian convoys. A military official in Awaran also confirmed that the rebels are only attacking security forces and not civilians.

Another military source said that up to 1,500 troops have been deployed to the area for relief work. But Dr Nazar, who has been underground for the past seven years, held that the huge aerial and ground deployment by the army was to crack down on rebel elements under the garb of relief efforts. “They are taking advantage of a human tragedy,” he said. “Their presence is unacceptable.” Referring to the attack on military helicopters, Dr Nazar claimed that the choppers were engaged because they were launching an offensive on the bases of rebel elements along with ground troops. The helicopters, he said, were also surveying areas that were known to be sympathetic to the rebels instead of hovering above the devastated areas.

Military sources confirmed the engagement between rebels and the army, but held that it was retaliatory fire by the security forces. The military source also rubbished the claims made by Dr Nazar about an offensive by security forces. “One attack took place [on Friday] at 1030 hours and the other at 1330 hours,” they said, adding that there was also fire exchanged between rebels and ground troops in the Buzdad area. The attack on the military helicopter took place in the Mashkey area.

In any case, Dr Nazar, who, unlike the self-exiled leaders of other rebel groups, operates from the ground in Balochistan, said the ‘movement’ rejects the army presence in the region saying that they had ulterior motives. “They will tell the world: Look how bad the rebels are… they are attacking relief efforts,” he said, but added that the army was taking advantage of the affected people’s desperation.

As proof of his claims of the army’s hidden agenda, he questioned why no private aid or workers were being allowed through, or facilitated, and pointed out that, if they were allowed through, they were restricted and warned against travelling to areas other than the ones chosen by the security forces. Private individuals or international workers will not be attacked he said, adding that, conversely, they would try their best to give them security. A military source refused to comment on this proposition. A military official in Awaran said that aid was being dropped by helicopters to ‘inaccessible areas’.

Dr Nazar claimed that dozens of relief-carrying vehicles were being stopped between Quetta and Khuzdar, and the military was not allowing any private efforts and insisting that they will do it themselves. “Sixty-five thousand houses have been destroyed, there are over a 1,000 dead,” he said. “This is a human tragedy of massive proportions. The area’s entire infrastructure and economy has collapsed.”

Travellers to Awaran on Friday confirmed that entry and movement in the region was being heavily monitored and checked. It was also added that a lot of aid was yet to move forward into Balochistan from the office of the deputy commissioner, where many relief trucks stood parked. It was unclear why they had not moved forward yet. They also narrated incidents of aid convoys being stoned by villagers, and added that there was an air of scepticism surrounding the role of the security forces in the area.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2013.

Reader Comments (25)

  • Humza
    Sep 28, 2013 - 3:49AM

    The fact that criminals attacked relief helicopters speaks for itself. A few self styled miscreants do not speak for the majority of Baluchis who welcome the Pakistani military’s aid efforts. There are ample reports showing that a small group of foreign paid criminals is smuggling in weapons from across the border in Afghanistan so why shouldn’t security forces check for any illegal influx by criminals. The US Defense secretary Chuck Hagel has mentioned anti state activities in Pakistan having a base due to foreign agencies across the border in Afghanistan. I think that the Baluch people know that the Pakistani army is on their side with the relief efforts unlike the miscreants who are shooting at helicopters.

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  • Ali (Texas)
    Sep 28, 2013 - 4:01AM

    for that earth quack you need international help????
    sharm ka maqam hay….
    how about selling some of those bullet proof cars from the government inventory and spend that money on these helpless people !

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  • Osama Ashfaq
    Sep 28, 2013 - 4:23AM

    You are damned if you do, you are damned if you do not do. People still playing politics while people are suffering. Sorry state. Although i know the Army has it’s history in Baluchistan, but sorry this time around i am with the Army because i have seen their work in other areas of Pakistan in times of disaster and it has always been relatively positive. All though i am sympathetic to the balochs, but sorry this time these guys are wrong.

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  • @khalid
    Sep 28, 2013 - 4:34AM

    I guess its time to teach BLF rebels a lesson, Army is the only trusted and most organized institution that can do relieve efforts, its nonsense to talk that they are doing this relief operation to make their grounds.
    Its time to root all these terrorists from Khyber to Karachi

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  • Sep 28, 2013 - 4:48AM

    We already got the welcome message by RPG fire to relief helicopter.

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  • Sajid
    Sep 28, 2013 - 4:58AM

    I hope both the stakeholders stop using this human tragedy for their political benefit.

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  • Logic europe
    Sep 28, 2013 - 5:04AM

    A state within thevstate of state of pakistan lead by this character
    Pakistan wake up!!!!!

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  • Sana Asghar Khan
    Sep 28, 2013 - 5:35AM

    Get aid from foreigners, what about all our Muslim brothers from the Arab states where are they? too busy using your men as slave laborers to built their gaudy designs of high buildings and sports recreation centers. Another temptation to bring aid is to get the foreigners there so they can be put in harms way? There is enough foreign remittance from Pakistanis abroad why does the government not put an exercise tax on 2% of money coming into the country to pay for natural disasters. Why don’t Pakistanis take care of their own they blame foreigners for everything then they stretch out the hand to receive?

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  • jg
    Sep 28, 2013 - 5:37AM

    Well there is a reason.BLF international backers will bring in more arms to terrorists.Pakistan witnessed that during 2005 earthquake.
    And who is BLF chief to call the shots.He is from a minute group of people who hardly represent one district maybe.ET should not give importance to statements of such irrelevant persons which public donot even know

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  • Muhammad Akbar
    Sep 28, 2013 - 6:25AM

    Lets also hear the military version of the situation. If rebels didnt attack civillians then I am sure army would not have been that catious. I believe army was forced to take protective measures allowing aid workers to goto safe areas only.

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  • Humayun
    Sep 28, 2013 - 8:09AM

    Please do not politicize and militrize the Relief. I would like to take the Aid Offers on face value. If there is any evidence against any one, please go the court of law.

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  • M. Emad
    Sep 28, 2013 - 8:37AM

    In 1970 November East Pakistan costal cyclone 0.5 to 1 million people died. The whole world came with aid except West Pakistan ruling government and people. The boats/ helicoptors/ food/ housing materials/ money etc given by foreign governments / NGO-organizations were few months later used in military operations by Pakistan Army in East Pakistan (1971 Bangladesh). Also a major part of the aid were transfered to West Pakistan in 1971.

    I think BLF chief knows well the 1970 – 1971 East Pakistan cyclone history.

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  • Gratgy
    Sep 28, 2013 - 12:09PM

    @Humza
    The US Defense secretary Chuck Hagel has mentioned anti state activities in Pakistan having a base due to foreign agencies across the border in Afghanistan.

    No he didn’t, unless his speech was translated into Urdu by your favourite neighbourhood mullah

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  • john
    Sep 28, 2013 - 12:11PM

    @Humza: you are living in s fools paradise. Read the article carefully: the majority of the people dislike the army. Do not make up your own fantasy story.

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  • shahrukhkhan
    Sep 28, 2013 - 1:53PM

    If that alleged rebel (established terrorist) love his people that much than why don’t he helps the victims of tragedy, all he would require to spare only few rockets to build a new village.

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  • Paki
    Sep 28, 2013 - 2:06PM

    Why we beg for outside help for any thing ! Are we a nulcear power state or not ??

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  • Baloch
    Sep 28, 2013 - 3:46PM

    Dr. Nazar is simply trying to lessen the damage to his reputation after his troops attacked aid convoys. We Baloch welcome the efforts of the military in providing relief/help to our stricken people. Private foundations do not have the capacity to provide or organize aid at this scale.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Sep 28, 2013 - 3:50PM

    @M. Emad
    Can you back up your claims with evidence/proof? I was posted in East Pakistan during the cyclone. No foreign aid agency was mad enough to send their aid 1000 miles away to West Pakistan. What you are saying is complete non-sense. It would be better if ET validates comments before posting them.

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  • Sen
    Sep 28, 2013 - 4:22PM

    I think India should help Baloch people, just like Pakistan doing their thing in Kashmir. Feel the pain.

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  • Muneeb
    Sep 28, 2013 - 4:34PM

    @jg, your ignorance doesn’t mean no one knows about Dr.Allah Nazar Baloch. Sit tight in your air conditioned house and ask for a military strike on the Balochs.

    You people from Punjab and Karachi are so ignorant of what’s cooking outside your city let alone province. We don’t need to hear it from you. Don’t tell ET what it should do and what it shouldn’t. You should rather get educated yourself. Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch is a household name in Balochistan, whether you in your ignorance likes it or not.

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  • unbelievable
    Sep 28, 2013 - 6:06PM

    If Pakistan wants to hold out sovereignty over Balochistan then it’s time to step up to the plate and provide the relief effort they deserve. The reality is clear – Pakistan has little control over most of the territory it holds out as Pakistan – the term “failed state” comes to mind.

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  • kallo baat
    Sep 29, 2013 - 3:39AM

    kya jab dekho mangtay rehtay ho.
    Sell that nuke technology to one of the ummah!! Problem solved.

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  • sami kakar
    Sep 29, 2013 - 1:48PM

    surprise…that no body knows about the history of Baluchistan and Pakistan and still they are taking part in this discussion..sorry for ur 0%knowledge about situation of Baluchistan.

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  • MX
    Oct 5, 2013 - 6:24PM

    No surprise how ET is publishing and advancing the propaganda of terrorists in its own reports as well as user comment threads.Recommend

  • Eela
    Oct 5, 2013 - 6:26PM

    Right, so Dr. Allah Nazar doesn’t like it that the army is only allowing aid to be delivered through itself, yet he himself is demanding the exact same thing, that all aid be channeled only through his little group of murderers and terrorists, otherwise he will fire on helicopters, blast vehicles delivering relief goods with roadside landmines and set fire to confiscated relief goods. Funny listening to them acting all humane!Recommend

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