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Baloch CM deputy 'arrested' in Barrick, Antofagasta case; fate unknown

by Ahmar MustikhanThe Examiner
October 7th, 2014

Fate of a top aide of Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch is still unclear, Balochistan political and journalist sources reached by phone said Tuesday. .

Ghulam Shah Dashti, was abducted from Dast-i-Kuddaan by the Baloch Sarmachars or freedom fighters in an attempt to ask Barrick Gold Corporation and Antofagasta of Chile to stay away from Balochistan.

"Armed men came in a four-door Vigo and took him away around sunset on Sunday," Bahram Baloch, who knows the kidnapped official said on phone from Islamabad.

"We do not have any news yet," Engineer Hameed Baloch, a senior official of the ruling National Party said on phone.

However, the Bramsh News Media mouthpiece of the Baloch Liberation Front announced Dashti, aka as Ghulam Shah Qahtani has been arrested by the Sarmachars or freedom fighters.

Dashti is a first cousin of former Balochistan speaker Mir Akram Dashti, a right-hand man of the chief minister.

Abdul Malik is in Paris where he has gone to represent Balochistan government in the International Arbitration Court in a case lodged by Barrick and Antofagasta after the Supreme Court threw them out of Balochistan.

On Oct. 3, Ho Chi Minh of Balochistan Dr Allah Nizar, who heads the 6,000-strong Baloch Liberation Front, tweeted "MNCs should not waste their money on contracts with Pakistan to explore & plunder resources in Balochistan because Baloch won't allow this."

The BLF has massive support among Baloch intelligentsia, middle classes and youths, who look upon Allah Nizar as a Robin Hood fighting to protect their resources and ports. The organization made world headlines after it killed three Chinese engineers in Gwadar.on May 2, 2004.

In contrast, Dr Abdul Malik, who once belonged to the freedom camp, looks the other way as Pakistan military and intelligence services reportedly carry out war crimes and crimes against humanity in Balochistan. He kept quiet even when 169 bodies of Baloch victims of enforced disappearances were recovered from mass graves in Tootak, Khuzdar.

Malik belongs to the Rais tribe. His close relatives in interviews with this correspondent accuse him of selling his soul to Pakistan's military rulers, who occupied Balochistan in March 1948.

London-based Hammal Haider, who is international spokesperson for the Baloch National Movement, in a statement warned Barrick and Antofagasta any agreement with Dr Malik will be considered illegal. He said Dr Malik barely obtained four percent of the votes in the 2013 elections that were boycotted on the call of the Baloch Sarmachars or armed organizations.

In addition to the B.L.F., the other Sarmachar outfits are the Baloch Liberation Army, Baloch Republican Army, United Baloch Army and the Lashkar-i-Balochistan (secular). All these armed organizations are united on the issue that foreigners should stay away from Balochistan until such time Balochistan gains independence from Pakistan.

Mostly comprising young men in the age group 18 to 40 these men vow to defend Balochistan ports and resources even if they have to sacrifice their lives. Sarmachar is a Balochi word which means someone who is resolved to sacrifice his life for the motherland.

It is still unclear why the global mining giants ventured into Balochistan's war zone in 2006 in the first place while Pakistan army operation against Balochistan's most popular premier Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was in full swing.

Though media reports suggest the case is winnable, for reasons best known to themselves Abdul Malik and Senator Hasil Bizenjo, president of the National Party, have obtained the go-ahead from Islamabad to go for an out of court settlement on the $500 billion project.

A close relative of Abdul Malik works for Tethyan Copper Company, a subsidiary of Barrick and Antofagasta. and the chief minister has also reportedly Chile and Canada as on a free juncket.

A non-Baloch investor from Karachi, Muslim Lakhani, with close links to the Musharraf regime facilitated Barrick's entry into Balochistan .

Lakhani is now a philanthropist in Washington DC.

Balochistan government is represented by Barrister Cherie Blair, wife of former UK Prme Minister Tony Blair while Tethyan Copper Corporation is being represented by New York-based Donald F. Donovan, who is president of the American Society of International Law.

 

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