Despite the Army supporting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s latest initiative to start dialogue with the armed resistance of Balochistan, experts believe the effort is bound to fail, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Even moderate Baloch political leaders who have been advocating a negotiated settlement of the Baloch crisis refuse to accept the idea of holding talks, said a professor of the Balochistan University, on condition of anonymity.
Prime Minister Gilani’s initiative came on Wednesday when he informed a gathering in Islamabad that he had asked the governor and chief minister of Balochistan to engage the “annoyed” Baloch leaders in political dialogue.
Islamabad has always described the Baloch armed resistance as “upset” or “annoyed” in order to lessen the gravity of the decades-old conflict.
The prime minister’s decision appears to be backed by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who last week in Quetta, while praising the “patriotism” of the Baloch, said that the Army was willing to extend support to the civilian government in case it decides to hold talks with the Baloch Naitonalists, said a source familiar with the matter.
“The Army cannot hold direct talks with the annoyed Baloch leaders in the presence of a democratic government,” Kayani had said, adding, that the Army would however, support the civil government if it were to hold talks with the Baloch leaders.
In a related development, President Asif Ali Zardari summoned provincial Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani along with his cabinet ministers to Islamabad next week for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the Balochistan issue.
According to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) sources, President Zardari also summoned Interior Minister Rehman Malik and heads of national security organisations for the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Baloch National Party (BNP) and National Party leaders during a joint meeting in Quetta on Thursday announced that they would launch a struggle against the killings of Baloch activists and take a stand against what they feel is the exploitation of Balochistan’s resources by the federal government.
Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini who took command of the BNP after party chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal went into exile also rejected Gen Kayani’s claim that the Army and intelligence agencies were not involved in the kill-and-dump operation targeting Baloch political activists.
Political observers in Quetta view the prime minister’s initiative as an ad-hoc arrangement to remain in power.
The Indian factor
Army officers posted at the Chamalang coal mines in the Marri tribal area are convinced that the Baloch armed resistance is backed by India.
Colonel Adil told The Express Tribune that Marri and other Baloch militants were being supplied with arms and ammunition by India via Afghanistan. “We have undeniable evidence that India is funding the Baloch insurgency since the last few years,” said Col Adil.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.