Days after 20 construction workers were methodically killed in Turbat, army chief General Raheel Sharif issued a stern warning to the foreign spy agencies that are stoking unrest in Balochistan by bankrolling and arming terrorists.
The army chief warned foreign states and their intelligence agencies against trying to destabilise Pakistan by supporting terrorists in Balochistan, the chief military spokesperson, Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, said on microblogging site Twitter.
“We will defeat them comprehensively,” Gen Raheel said during a visit to the headquarters of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Quetta on Wednesday. IGFC Major Gen Sher Afgun briefed the army chief on the overall security situation in the province and the operations conducted by the paramilitary force.
Although Gen Raheel did not name any country, Pakistan has long accused archrival India of using the Afghan soil to support outlawed Baloch militant groups who have been fighting a low-profile insurgency in the province since 2004. The issue has been raised with Indian officials at political and diplomatic level umpteen times.
The army chief’s daylong visit came four days after gunmen stormed a roadside camp of construction workers in the Gogdan area of Turbat, in Kech district, and killed 20 labourers at point blank range after identifying they were from Punjab and Sindh. The outlawed Baloch Liberation Front, led by Dr Allah Nazar, claimed credit for the grisly mass murder that reeked of ethnic hatred.
The army chief attended a high-level huddle to review the security situation in the backdrop of the Turbat massacre. Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua, IGFC Maj Gen Sher Afgun, Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani and senior police officials were in attendance.
Gen Raheel expressed grief on the brutal killing of the poor and innocent labourers and vowed to support the provincial government to purge Balochistan of terrorists.
The provincial home minister, Mir Sarfraz Bugti, had blamed ‘foreign-funded armed groups’ for the Trubat massacre. “The groups funded by Indian secret agency RAW cannot destabilise our state. They will be chased and killed or captured,” he had told a news conference after the tragedy.
The army chief said terrorists, their abettors, sympathisers and financiers would be unearthed. “None of them will find a place in the country to hide. We will go to any extent to ensure the writ of the state,” he said.
He commended the law enforcement agencies, the FC in particular, for their sacrifices and untiring efforts to improve law and order in the province. He vowed to stand by the people of Balochistan to bring peace and prosperity. He added that the Frontier Works Organisation, an active-duty military administrative (non-combatant) staff corps, would continue development projects for people of Balochistan.
Gen Raheel was briefed on the security challenges in Balochistan, the largest (in terms of landmass) and the most impoverished province of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2015.
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