Thursday, December 23, 2010


1970s Operation in Balochistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Baloch insurgency
Part of the Balochistan conflict
Two cobra helicopters at Multan.jpg
Huey cobra attack helicopters (two Pakistan Army AH-1S Cobras pictured here at AVN Base, Multan) were supplied to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's military operation against the insurgency.
DateFebruary 1973 - December 1978
ResultPakistani victory
  • Weakening of Bhutto government and a factor in its removal
  • Military government restores status quo ante bellum
Supported by:
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Baloch separatists
Commanders and leaders
Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Pakistan Tikka Khan
Iran Shah Reza Pahlavi
Pakistan Rahimuddin Khan
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Khair Bakhsh Marri
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Ataullah Mengal
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army.svg Akbar Bugti
Casualties and losses
about 3,000-3,300 killed[1]~5,300 killed[1]
~6,000 civilians killed[1]
The 1970s military operation in Balochistan was a a five-year conflict in which a separatist movement in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, engaged with the Pakistan Army after then-Prime MinisterZulfikar Ali Bhutto ordered a military operationin the region in 1973. The movement, initiated by Baloch nationalists in the aftermath of thesecession of East Pakistan, had been fuelled by Bhutto's dissolution of successive provincial governments. It was largely coordinated by the Baloch sardars, or tribal chiefs, against Bhutto's operation, which was led by General Tikka Khan. The conflict led to unrecorded civilian casualties, as well as heavy losses for the insurgency, until July 1977, when the Bhutto government was deposed by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
The incoming martial law administrator, Lieutenant General Rahimuddin Khan, declared an amnesty and oversaw a complete military withdrawal in 1978, by which time he assumed the province's governorship. He then embarked on an ambitious series of development policies and bloodless military action that broke the insurgency, and is also credited to have led to the province's stabilization.[2] This period forms a pivotal chapter in the longstanding Balochistan conflict.



[edit]Calls for Balochistan's independence

The 1971 Indo-Pakistani War had ended with the defeat of Pakistan at the hands of India.East Pakistan declared itself to beindependent. It became a new sovereign statecalled Bangladesh, to be ruled by Bengalileader Shaikh Mujibur Rahman. Mujib had been a major personality in the events that had led to the war, having called for greater provincial autonomy and rights for what was then East Pakistan, only to be met with utter disapproval by the then military ruler Yahya Khan and his West Pakistan-based political opponentZulfikar Ali Bhutto. Despite Mujib's having won the federal elections of 1970, both Yahya and Bhutto refused to let Mujib form the central government. The ensuing unrest gradually deteriorated into civil war, and ultimately the secession of Bangladesh after the India-Pakistan War of 1971. India also played a large part in the independence of Bangladesh by arming and financing the separatist group Mukti Bahini which rebelled against the Pakistani State.Most importantly,it sent its troops into East Pakistan to aid the Bengali separatists in suppressing the Pakistan army.
This would greatly influence Balochistan's leading political party, the National Awami Party. Led by ethnic nationalists and feudal leaders such as Sardar Ataullah Mengal and Khan Wali Khan, the party dominated the province due to a the large amount of individual political influence its leaders held. Emboldened by the secession of Bangladesh, the party demanded greater autonomy from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had become the new President of Pakistan following his predecessor Yahya Khan'sresignation in December 1971, in return for a consensual agreement on Bhutto's Pakistan Constitution of 1973.Bhutto, however, refused to negotiate on any terms ,that might have involved a reduction in his powers, with chief minister Ataullah Mengal in Quetta and Mufti Mahmud in Peshawar. The already significant civil unrest now turned volatile as tensions between the NAP and Bhutto erupted.

[edit]Bhutto launches military operation

Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto sacked two provincial governments in quick succession, before launching a military operation in the region
The ethno-separatist rebellion of Balochistan,of the 1970s, the most threatening civil disorder to a United Pakistan since Bangladesh's secession, now began. Surveying the political instability, Bhutto'scentral government sacked two provincial governments within six months, arrested the two chief ministers, two governors and forty-four MNAs and MPAs, obtained an order from the Supreme Courtbanning the NAP and charged everyone with high treason to be tried by a specially constituted Hyderabad Tribunal of handpicked judges. Following the alleged discovery of Iraqi arms in Islamabad in February 1973, Bhutto dissolved the Balochistan Provincial Assembly and infuriated Balochistan's political oligarchs.
In time, the nationalist insurgency, which had been steadily gathering steam, now exploded into action, with widespread civil disobedience and armed uprisings. Bhutto now sent in the army to maintain order and crush the insurgency. This essentially pitted the ethno-separatists against the capital Islamabad. As casualties rose, the insurgency became a full-fledged armed struggle against thePakistan Army. The sporadic fighting between the insurgency and the army started in 1973 with the largest confrontation taking place in September 1974 when around 15,000 ethno-separatists fought the Pakistani Army and the Air Force. The Iranian military, fearing a spread of the greater ethnic resistance in Iran, also aided the Pakistani military.[3]Among Iran's contribution were 30 Huey cobra attack helicopters and $200 million in aid. The Pakistan government declared its belief in covert Indian intervention just like the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation.However India claimed that it was fearful of further balkanization of the subcontinent after Bangladesh and stated it had not interfered. After three days of fighting the separatists were running out of ammunition and so withdrew by 1976.
The army had suffered more than 3,000 casualties in the fight while the rebels lost 5,000 people as of 1977.[1]

[edit]Rahimuddin's stabilization

General Rahimuddin Khan's governorship steadily crippled the insurgency
Although major fighting had broken down, ideological schismscaused splinter groups to form and steadily gain momentum. Despite the overthrow of the Bhutto government, calls for secessionand widespread civil disobedience remained. The military government then appointed General Rahimuddin Khan as Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan as well as Governor. Rahimuddin's immediate steps were to implement a general amnesty for belligerents willing to give up arms. He oversaw military withdrawalthereafter. Rahimuddin then pointedly isolated the more prominent feudal figures of Balochistan from interfering in provincial affairs.[4]Defusing their influence, coupled with authoritarian government, caused the Baloch separatist movement to grind to a virtual standstill.[5] Prominent tribal sardars Ataullah Mengal and Khair Bakhsh Marri left the province for foreign countries, whereas Akbar Bugti aborted his separatist activities.[6] No effective protests, civil disobedience or anti-government movements took place throughout Rahimuddin's rule.
Governor Rahimuddin's tenure also ushered in sustained development.[5] Following the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, Rahimuddin used the resultant foreign attention on Balochistan by introducing an externally financed development programme for the area.[7] Forty million dollars (USD) were committed to the programme by the end of 1987, by which time Rahimuddin had resigned.[8] He expedited the regulation of Pakistan Petroleum Limited, the exploration company charged with the Sui gas field. He consolidated the then-contentious integration of Gwadar into Balochistan, which had earlier been notified as a district in 1977. Addressing the province's literacy rate, the lowest in the country for both males and females,[9] he administered the freeing up of resources towards education, created girls' incentive programs, and had several girls' schools built in the Dera Bugti District. As part of his infrastructure schemes, he also forced his way in extending electricity to vast areas with subsoil water.[10]
Tensions have resurfaced recently in the province with the Pakistan Army being involved in attacks against a terrorist organisation known as the Balochistan Liberation Army. Attempted uprisings have taken place as recently as 2006.


  1. ^ a b c d Eckhardt, SIPRI 1988: 3,000 military + 6,000 civilians = 9,000, Clodfelter: 3,300 govt. losses
  2. ^ Foreign Policy Centre, "On the Margins of History", (2008), p.35
  3. ^ BBC, News page (2005-01-17). "Pakistan risks new battlefront". Retrieved 2006-04-08.
  4. ^ Foreign Policy Centre, "On the Margins of History", (2008), p.36
  5. ^ a b Newsline: A History of the Baloch Separatist Movement
  6. ^ Scribd: Obituary of Akbar Bugti
  7. ^ Emma Duncan, Breaking the Curfew, (1989), p.155
  8. ^ Emma Duncan, Breaking the Curfew, (1989), p.156
  9. ^ Daily Times (2007). "Balochistan home to lowest-literacy rate population in Pakistan". Retrieved 2009-01-05. "Balochistan is home to the largest number of school buildings that are falling apart. It also has the least number of educational institutions, the lowest literacy rate among both males and females."
  10. ^ "Tribal Politics in Balochistan 1947-1990" Conclusion (1990) p.7

[edit]See also

[edit]External links

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