New Delhi: The Pakistani Army is running two indoctrination camps built on the lines of Uyghurs re-education camps of China for Baloch fighters in a bid to control the situation in its restive southwestern province of Balochistan. Pakistan’s biggest province is dealing with its local insurgency over Islamabad’s strong hand as locals say the resources are being drained the region.
The layout of the camps closely aligns with those run by Chinese authorities in its westernmost province of Xinjiang. The main objective of these clandestine camps is psychological, social and cultural conditioning of Baloch fighters and forcefully instil ‘values’ in them by “transforming them into law-abiding” citizens, as per a document seen by Zee Media on the camps stated.
The document lists Pakistani studies, religious- patriotism and jihad as the key subjects at the camps and focus is to remove any remnants of Balochi nationalism. The camps run by Pakistani Army extensively use of mullahs or religious preachers especially those affiliated to Jamaat e Islami. Guests speakers are also invited to conduct guest lectures which include politicians like Mubeen Khan Khilji and Nawabzada Gohram Bugti and Jamaat e Islami’s Maulana Abdul Haq Hashmi.
Xinjiang has been in the news as Chinese authorities try to rein in the largely Muslim local population in a forceful manner via government-backed camps.
Indoctrination camps in Balochistan
The idea of such indoctrination camps was suggested by Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa former director-general of the media wing of the Pakistani Army. He was in the eye of the storm recently as his name cropped up in shady financial dealings. He is currently the Special Assistant to Pakistani PM Imran Khan on Information and Broadcasting and also the Chairman of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Remember General Bajwa has close ties with the Chinese communist party for multiple reasons, one being CPEC.
The duration of both the camps is around three months. The first batch was from December 17, 2018, to March 9, 2019, and consisted of 50 fighters, out of which five were regional commanders and 45-foot soldiers. The second batch from April 29, 2019, to July 27, 2019, had 128 fighters. The age group of most of the fighters are between 18 to 40 with most from Dera Bugti, followed by Sibi and Kohlu districts.
Currently, the camps are being run by Major Gen Irfan Ahmad Malik of GOC 41 Division. He succeeded Major Gen Abid Latif Khan on October 19, 2019.