The influence of the CIA in Pakistan

Mar 11, 2011 12:00 AM

By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Owing to Balochistan’s strategic importance as an energy transit route, its people have long served as pawns for major world powers. The Balochi are an ethnic group belonging to the larger Iranian peoples and speak dialects distantly related to Kurdish.
In the 19th century the Persian (precursor to Iran) and British empire divided up Baluchistan (spelled with a “u” prior to becoming a Pakistan province in 1970) into three main parts: Northern or Afghan Baluchistan, which became part of Afghanistan; Western or Iranian Baluchistan, which became part of Iran, and Eastern or Central Baluchistan, which up until 1948 was an autonomous, semi-independent state west of Pakistan.

The British recognized Central Baluchistan as independent during the period they occupied India. Moreover the Tripartite Agreement signed in August 1947, which granted India and Pakistan independence from Britain, formally recognized the sovereign status of Baluchistan. This ended when Pakistan army invaded Central Baluchistan on March 26, 1948, ending 300 years of autonomous rule.
By annexing Baluchistan, Pakistan nearly doubled the size of their territory, as well as gaining access to valuable oil and gas reserves, gold, copper and other valuable minerals.

Very little of the wealth generated from these resources were shared with Balochistan, which remains an extremely poor province. Ironically even Quetta, the capital, had to wait until 1976 to enjoy their own natural gas in the form of bottled LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).
The supply of piped natural gas is still extremely limited, and only 25 % of Balochi enjoy electrification and only 20 % access to safe drinking water (http://archives.dawn.com/2006/02/06/ebr7.htm).

Iran’s Baloch separatist movement
The Iranian Balochi, unlike the rest of mainly Shiite Iran, are Sunni Muslims. Their own independence movement received major support between 1950 to 1980 from Arab nationalists in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. The strength of their insurgency against Iran inspired a similar armed uprising among Balochi in Pakistan, which was quashed by the Pakistan army, followed by long periods of martial law in 1973 and 1977.
Iraq massively renewed their support for the separatists in Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Meanwhile the independence movement in Pakistan was resurrected by the Soviets following their 1979 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

The 2006 expose published by the London Institute of South Asia (http://www.lisauk.com/baluchistan.asp) features a fascinating interview with the two ex-KGB officers responsible for creating the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) in 1980.
According to the ex-KGB officers, the Soviets’ primary motivation was to create internal difficulties for Pakistan, which was funding, arming and training (with CIA oversight and support) the Mujahidin guerrilla movement that was fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The role of Indian and Russian intelligence
Soviet support for the BLA ended in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed. However the London Institute reports, based on their KGB sources and extensive interviews with local Balochi, that the CIA took over logistical support after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
With the assistance of RAW (Indian intelligence) and RAD (Russian intelligence), in 2002 they set up the first BLA training camp for 30 Balochi youth, under the leadership of Moscow-trained electronics engineer Balach Marri, who used training manuals from the KGB archives.

According to Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky, the operation is a replay of the CIA-financed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which facilitated the breakup of Yugoslavia and Serbia to create a US client state (Kosovo) adjacent to the oil-rich Caspian Sea basin.
RAW was a natural ally in recruiting disgruntled Afghan and Baloch youth for the BLA, owing to RAW’s extensive spy network in Pakistan -- and Afghanistan -- where they sided with the Northern Alliance (and Russia) against the American and Pakistani backed Taliban. The Russians were also key, owing to pre-existing relationship with the BLA and their ability to supply an infinite amount of cheap, untraceable weaponry.

All three countries support Balochistan independence, owing to the province’s strategic importance as an energy transit route.
Not only is it a conduit for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India oil pipeline (which is mostly non-functional because the Taliban keep blowing up the Afghanistan section) and the planned Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, but more importantly it adjoins the Arabian Sea and the Straits of Hormuz, which annually tranship 30 % of the world’s oil resources pass every year.

The Chinese-built Gwadar Port
The Chinese-built Gwadar Port in Gwadar, Balochistan, as well as the extensive highway infrastructure the Chinese have built connecting the port with the rest of Pakistan, is of even greater concern to all three countries.
It guarantees China, America’s primary economic rival, a virtual monopoly on the Iranian oil entering Pakistan via the port.

According to the London Institute, the joint CIA/RAW/Russian operation (which now operates numerous secret training camps) has been a source of new wealth for poverty-stricken Balochistan. According to the Institute’s local informants, BLA militants are paid $ 200 ($ 300 for section chiefs).
Evidence of this cash influx is seen in the flashy new SUV’s many BLA activists drive and the luxurious homes going up in Baloch cities -- as well as in lavish local weddings, where dancing troupes of “eunuchs and cross-dressers” are raking in massive amounts of cash.

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