Opening our eyes on Balochistan

Published: March 5, 2012

Baloch insurgents at a camp south of Quetta, PHOTO: AFP

In the last couple of days, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has made a series of startling revelations about Balochistan, claiming that separatist Brahamdagh Bugti was running a training camp for between four and five thousand people and that this had been shut down by Afghan President Hamid Karzai after Pakistan provided his government with information on it. Malik also said that amnesty would be given to more Baloch separatists and that there were only a handful of ‘missing’ people in Balochistan. So far, these statements haven’t been backed with any substantiation. Even if they are true, however, that doesn’t mean that the Baloch problem is any closer to being solved. That Brahamdagh Bugti may have been training his men in Afghanistan and that the camp has now been shut down will not in itself end the insurgency he is leading. Bugti will simply transfer his camps to another area and will not give up the fight. More importantly, such measures do little to address the root of the problem, which is the sense of alienation and frustration that most Baloch feel towards the centre and its policies on their province. Amnesty, too, is not a solution as that also does nothing to assuage the Baloch separatists that their demands are being heard.

A good start would be to consider the recommendations made by two committees that, quite ironically, were drawn up during the time of the previous government, when General Pervez Musharraf was in power. One dealt with constitutional matters, while the other looked at tangible issues related to socio-economic development that could be introduced in the province. While the current government has introduced the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package, other than the media hype that initially accompanied it, not much else was achieved. The federal government and the establishment both need to be on board with whatever needs to be done, especially the latter, since much of the Balochistan policy is formulated and implemented with its input and thinking. Clearly, this thinking needs to overhaul itself because whatever has been tried till now has not worked. The province is drifting away from the federation, it would seem to some, and the matter has even been raised by a member of parliament of a foreign nation. What else do we need in order to open our eyes on this matter?

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2012.

Reader Comments (8)

  • Mir Agha
    Mar 6, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Hypocritical, saying that safe-havens in Afghanistan for Baloch terrorists are not an issue while yelling at the top of the lungs about going after supposed “safe-havens” in Fata.

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Mar 6, 2012 - 2:21AM

    “Malik also said that amnesty would be given to more Baloch separatists and that there were only a handful of ‘missing’ people in Balochistan.”
    Part about the missing people = classic Malik blunder
    There’s no way that didn’t anger a whole lot of people in Balochistan.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Mar 6, 2012 - 3:50AM

    Baloch must be given all their rights and more. It is better to mend the differences than force people to pick up the arms. Balochistan must be made an army-free province as Baloch want. The armed forces should be at the borders not among the population or in the provinces. If we have not learned anything from the humiliation of East Pakistan then we would never learn anything.

    Recommend

  • Disco
    Mar 6, 2012 - 4:03AM

    More importantly, such measures do little to address the root of the problem, which is the sense of alienation and frustration that most Baloch feel towards the centre and its policies on their province.

    Foremost of these policies is not helping the Baloch get rid of the sardar’s that take the lion’s share of their earning, prevent them from becoming educated, trample on their rights and then demand more from the centre. They should be declared criminals.

    Recommend

  • Rameez
    Mar 6, 2012 - 10:41AM

    More reforms are needed, much needs to be spent on education, healthcare, and creating jobs. Give them hope. A lot can be achieved through counter intelligence activities a good example is how the CIA fought the communist insurgency in the 1920′s and the 30′s.

    Recommend

  • wonderer
    Mar 6, 2012 - 12:43PM

    @Disco:

    Have you any idea what will happen after they are declared criminals?

    Please think before you suggest anything.

    It is surprising no one is blaming India.

    Recommend

  • Mar 6, 2012 - 3:11PM

    If creation of Pakistan is justified, then why not creation of Balochistan.

    Recommend

  • Humayun
    Mar 6, 2012 - 5:09PM

    Amnesty : Instead of Media Campaing to malign and project negative perceptions among Pakistanis, why can not the accused be taken to the court of law. I tend to conclude that this is becuase the State not clean.

    State should stop making scapegoat out of Sardars & Nawabs and take its resonsibilities towards its subjects seriously.

    Recommend

More in Editorial