The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway Construction Amid Baloch Insurgency

Construction on the recently completed 893 kilometer long Gwadar-Ratodero motorway, also known as M8, was started by a Chinese contractor back in early 2004 on former President Pervez Musharraf's watch. The work was soon abandoned when three Chinese engineers were killed by a car bomb during the first week of May, 2004.  In 2003, a year before this incident, Indian intelligence agency RAW had recruited Kulbhushan Jadhav as an undercover agent. He was issued a passport under an assumed name of Hussein Mubarak Patel and sent to Chabahar in Iran to orchestrate insurgent attacks next door in Balochistan.

After the Chinese left the project, another contractor who was awarded the project could not continue M8 construction. Eventually, Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) completed the project 13 years later in 2017. This success has come at great cost in terms of time, money and human lives. FWO has lost dozens of military and civilian employees and many more have been injured in insurgent attacks. Meanwhile, a combination of military and intelligence operations by Pakistan Army and serious infighting among militants have significantly weakened the Baloch insurgency.

Pakistan Motorways. Source: Pakistaniat.com

M8 Motorway:


The M8 motorway connects Ratodero in Sindh to Gwadar in Balochistan. It is 893 long and runs through Baloch cities of Khuzdar, Awaran, Hoshab and Turbat along its east-west route.  Its recently completed first phase has two lanes and an additional two lanes are planned to handle future traffic growth. The motorway passes over Dasht River and also provides access to Mirani Dam completed in 2006. It is the world's largest dam in terms of floodstock capacity of 588,690 cubic hectometer

Local Baloch residents now use M8 motorway on a daily basis. They say it has significantly reduced the time needed to travel from Gwadar to Turbat, and indeed, reduced the time for produce and supplies to be transported between cities, according a report in local Pakistani media.

Detailed M8 Map. Source: Scroll.in

Indian Support of Baloch Insurgency:


The current Baloch Nationalist revolt in Pakistan started in 2003, the same year that Indian intelligence agency RAW recruited Kulbhushan Jadhav and gave him a new identity as Hussein Mubarak Patel, according to Indian media reports. This was three years before the killing of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti on August 26, 2006. Jadhav was sent to Chabahar in Iran to orchestrate insurgent attacks next door in Balochistan.

Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan in 2016. He has confessed to orchestrating insurgent attacks on targets in Balochistan that resulted in deaths, injuries and destruction of property.

India's former RAW officers, including one ex chief, have blamed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistan in 2016, for getting caught in Pakistan as a "result of unprofessionalism", according to a report in India's "The Quint" owned and operated by a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media. The report that appeared briefly on The Quint website has since been removed, apparently under pressure from the Indian government.

It is believed to be the strongest and longest of the insurgencies seen in Pakistani Balochistan which has had earlier bouts of it in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77.

State of Baloch Insurgency:

Baloch insurgency has been significantly weakened recently by the continuing military and intelligence operations of the Pakistan Army.  The other probably more significant reason for it is serious infighting among insurgent groups from various tribes,  according to pro-insurgent US-based Baloch analyst Malik Siraj Akbar and a former US military intelligence officer retired US Lt. Col. Ralph Peters who supports Baloch insurgency.

In a US Congressional hearing on Balochistan, Peters said the most serious issues with the Baloch independence movement is “deeply troubling” infighting, according to a report in HuffPost. He condemned such bickering; going so far as to assert: “they are quickly becoming their own worst enemies.”

Peters has also pointed out gross human rights violations committed by Baloch insurgents against civilians. He said, “I am very concerned with Baloch extremists. Killing teachers and doctors is just dumb. It might feel good as revenge but it is not going to win you friends in Washington. Assassinating these folks is just hurting their movement.”

Frontier Works Organization (FWO):

The Frontier Works Organization (FWO) is a branch of the Pakistan Army that employs both active duty military officers and civilians. It was commissioned in 1966 and its first major project was the construction of the Karkoram Highway, the world's highest road that connects Pakistan with China.  Since then, the FWO has  built motorways, bridges, roads, tunnels, airfields and dams in Pakistan.

FWO has successfully completed several large construction projects in some of the most hostile conditions ranging from rough hilly terrains to insurgency-hit parts in Balochistan and federally administered tribal areas (FATA).  This success has come at great cost in terms of human lives. Dozens of FWO's military and civilian employees have lost their lives and many more have been injured in insurgent attacks.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor:

Currently, FWO is engaged in several large infrastructure projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. In addition to major road construction, FWO is building housing, water projects, power plants and oil refineries in different parts of the country.

Various militant groups, including Indian government proxies, are engaged in sabotaging CPEC. While some attacks have been successful, it is believed that the Pakistani military has been able to prevent many more. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of intelligence officers are believed to be working to manage the security situation all along the western route and in Gwadar.

Summary:

The construction of the recently completed 893 kilometer long Gwadar-Ratodero motorway, also known as M8, was started by a Chinese contractor back in early 2004 on former President Pervez Musharraf's watch. The work was soon abandoned when three Chinese engineers were killed by a car bomb during the first week of May, 2004.  In 2003, a year before this incident, Indian intelligence agency RAW had recruited Kulbhushan Jadhav as an undercover agent. He was issued a passport under an assumed name of Hussein Mubarak Patel and sent to Chabahar in Iran to orchestrate insurgent attacks next door in Balochistan.

After the Chinese left the project, another contractor who was awarded the project could not continue M8 construction. Eventually, Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) completed the project 13 years later in 2017. This success has come at great cost in terms of time, money and human lives. FWO has lost dozens of military and civilian employees and many more have been injured in insurgent attacks. Meanwhile, a combination of military and intelligence operations by Pakistan Army and serious infighting among militants have significantly weakened the Baloch insurgency.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
From Dawn newspaper:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1402319

A senior Baloch activist claimed on Tuesday that he heckled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif during his 2015 visit to Washington at the behest of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Ahmer Mustikhan, foun­der of the American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) group, posted three online statements on Facebook on Tuesday after a district court in Maryland rejected an appeal to muzzle him.

AFB’s two Indian supporters — Soumya Chowd­hury and Krishna Gudipati — had filed the appeal, asking the judge to stop Mr Mustikhan from publicly sharing the internal affairs of the group. The court agreed with the Baloch activist’s plea that the US constitution guaranteed his freedom of expression.

Mr Mustikhan, who is also a journalist, claimed in the videos that he was “let down” by RAW operatives working from the Indian embassy in Washington. He identified one of them as Nagesh Bhushan who, Mr Mustikhan said, manned RAW’s Balochistan Desk.

On Oct 22, 2015, Mr Mustikhan heckled Mr Sharif during his speech at the US Institute for Peace in Washington and was removed by security personnel as he continued shouting for several minutes.

He then appeared on a series of Indian talk shows, explaining why he heckled the prime minister. He also heckled other Pakistani leaders, particularly former president Pervez Musharraf.

“I did this with a heavy heart, as I have no fight with Nawaz Sharif. He is an elected prime minister,” he told Dawn.

“Others, I heckled willingly.”

Mr Mustikhan said that India was supporting terrorism in Pakistan and this support started after the Kargil war and that’s why the current insurgency had continued for 12 years.

Mr Mustikhan claimed that RAW encouraged militants to kill Punjabi, Pakhtun and even Sindhi civilians. “We have no fight with civilians. They are our brothers,” he said. “They gave me a lot of mental torture [for opposing their plans]. They say if you kill, you are a hero otherwise you are zero.”
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: India’s External Intelligence Agency
India’s primary espionage agency and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have long been at odds in a long-standing battle for influence.

Backgrounder by Jayshree Bajoria


https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/raw-indias-external-intelligence-agency

Since its inception in 1968, RAW has had a close liaison relationship with KHAD, the Afghan intelligence agency, due to the intelligence it has provided RAW on Pakistan. This relationship was further strengthened in the early 1980s when the foundation was laid for a trilateral cooperation involving RAW, KHAD, and the Soviet KGB. Raman says RAW valued KHAD’s cooperation for monitoring the activities of Sikh militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Sikhs in the Indian state of Punjab were demanding an independent state of Khalistan. According to Raman, Pakistan’s ISI set up clandestine camps for training and arming Khalistani recruits in Pakistan’s Punjab Province and North West Frontier Province. During this time, the ISI received large sums from Saudi Arabia and the CIA for arming the Afghan mujahadeen against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. “The ISI diverted part of these funds and arms and ammunition to the Khalistani terrorists,” alleges Raman.

---------------

As a result, India established a dedicated external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. Founded mainly to focus on China and Pakistan, over the last forty years the organization has expanded its mandate and is credited with greatly increasing India’s influence abroad. Experts say RAW’s powers and its role in India’s foreign policy have varied under different prime ministers. RAW claims that it contributed to several foreign policy successes:

the creation of Bangladesh in 1971;
India’s growing influence in Afghanistan;
the northeast state of Sikkim’s accession to India in 1975;
the security of India’s nuclear program;
the success of African liberation movements during the Cold War.
Over the last forty years the organization has expanded its mandate and is credited with increasing India’s influence.

RAW’s first leader, Rameshwar Nath Kao, led the agency until he retired in 1977. Many experts, including officers who worked with him, credit Kao with RAW’s initial successes: India’s triumph in the 1971 war with Pakistan, and India’s covert assistance to the African National Congress’s anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. “To a large extent, it was Kao who raised RAW to the level of India’s premier intelligence agency, with agents in virtually every major embassy and high commission,” writes Singh. But the organization has been criticized for its lack of coordination with domestic intelligence and security agencies, weak analytical capabilities, and complete lack of transparency.

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