State-sponsored terrorism is a violent side of diplomacy. Pakistan is facing terrorism from many dimensions; religious terrorism having safe havens in FATA and tentacles elsewhere in the country and Balochistan terrorism funded and sponsored by the US and India claiming to be fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. With strained US-Pakistan relations, Balochistan-insurgency, which thrives on armed and media terrorism has intensified and become the gravest national security problem today, even more serious than extremists’ threat in its FATA belt bordering Pashtun part of Afghanistan. This problem has multiple manifestations; deadly terrorist attacks on security forces, target-killing of non-Balochs and destruction of vital state infrastructure.
The attacks on information front are no less deadly. Blowing up the issue of Missing Persons out of proportion on the basis of exaggerated and fabricated accounts in collaboration with some elements of electronic media and undue media coverage to non-representative, self-exiled immature scions of Baloch sardars who have been blood-suckers of ordinary Balochs, are some of the tactics being employed to arm-twist national security institutions into submission to the major actor of Baloch terrorism.
The latest of these tactics is the presence of USS Enterprise, on its final voyage before decommissioning in December 2012, somewhere near the port of Gwadar. According to a news story in Examiner.com, “Baloch all over the world are joyous that the USS Enterprise is close to the territorial waters of Balochistan near the port city of Gwadar. These Baloch are appealing to Balochistan leaders to come out openly and publicly in support of the U.S. carrier. The USS Enterprise moved close to Balochistan’s territorial waters exactly one week after Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said U.S. patience with Pakistan was running out. A U.S. team negotiating the restoring of NATO supply routes was also abruptly called back few days ago. Most Baloch leaders, including Geneva-based Sardar Brahumdagh Bugti of the Baloch Republican Party, are miffed why the U.S. is talking to Pakistan on these routes instead of the Baloch. The American Friends of Balochistan called upon its members and supporters in the U.S. and abroad to distribute sweets over the development– a traditional way of showing mass gratitude and happiness.”
Can a Carrier, in its farewell voyage, lift the spirits of terrorists in Balochistan? Most likely, it should not. Even a symbolic solidarity is unlikely to make ripples. But it is a failed attempt. The only thing it can raise is false hopes.
For Pakistan, Sardar Brahumdagh Bugti is equivalent of Osama bin Laden who is rich enough to afford living in Switzerland and directing from afar the terrorist activities in Balochistan. He is reported to be the recipient of millions of dollars from USA and India to lead the movement for separation of Balochistan. Although Balochistan is inhibited by Balochs, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Hazaras and many other ethnic groups, and the Bugti-led insurgency is not supported by a majority of Balochs, the media attention received by the insurgents is due to callous indifference of political class. A sizeable amount of taxpayers’ money is usurped by Baloch sardars who extort greater-than-needed pie of the national funds without spending these funds for development of the province, for real, on-ground development would spell end of exploitative Sardari system in Balochistan.
The intriguing questions is; what is the legendary aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, doing on the last deployment of its 50-year career. The carrier and its crew of 3,100 left Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia in March in the ship’s 22nd deployment. The ship’s air wing and other naval staff aboard add another 1,500 personnel. It has been deployed in the Navy’s Sixth Fleet and Fifth Fleet areas of operations, which cover Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including current hot spots Iran and Syria. Nicknamed the “Big E,” the Enterprise, CVN-65, is the eighth U.S. Navy vessel and second aircraft carrier to carry that name. The first carrier Enterprise was built in 1937 and was one of only three carriers built before World War II to survive the conflict. That Enterprise was decommissioned in 1947 as the most decorated warship in U.S. naval history.
The current Enterprise, at 1,123 feet the longest ship in the U.S. Navy, saw its first action 11 months after its commissioning, when it was dispatched to enforce a blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. It participated in strikes on North Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s. In 2001, Enterprise was one of the first ships to respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks, as its warplanes dropped 800,000 pounds of bombs on Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The ship was the star of the U.S. Navy for many of its 50 years, and that included a role in “Top Gun,” the 1986 Tom Cruise movie about naval aviators.
Pakistan may be furious but mercifully there is no sign of panic in Pakistan’s military on presence of the Carrier near Makran coast. The ship has to be decommissioned and shredded into pieces very soon. So are the plans to scare and terrorize Pakistan. Pakistan will, from now on, participate in the War on Terror on its own terms.