As Balochistan edges ever closer to open, rather than covert, revolt against a country that some say it never actually wanted to be a part of in the first place. And, as it does, that our supposed allies in the all but failed ‘war on terror’ have joined India in supporting the insurgents in their call for independence which, given the current volatile situation throughout the region, should give pause for thought.
Ever since the creation of Pakistan, successive governments have meted out some unforgivably dreadful treatment to the people of a province bursting at the seams with mineral wealth and, for many years, both the military and the paramilitary have violated the human rights of the Baloch at each and every given and ‘created’ opportunity. Yet, everyone — except the unfairly persecuted Baloch themselves — raises their eyebrows in astonishment at Baloch nationalist attempts at asserting their indisputable right to live on equal terms with the rest of Pakistan’s inhabitants.
Balochistan, the largest and least developed province, is continually exploited in one way or another and the plight of its people, the majority of them struggling to survive against odds stacked high against them, is totally ignored or temporarily assuaged with a battery of empty governmental promises which, not surprisingly, are no longer accepted with even the proverbial pinch of salt. That India, despite repeated denials to the contrary, has long given active support to the separatist movement present there is no secret.
America’s timing on publicly poking the Baloch fire, as it did by tabling a Senate bill calling for resolution on the province’s problems recently, is alarming if it is examined, as it should be, in conjunction with the current stand-off with Iran, the despicable mess it has created in Afghanistan and its ever-increasing interference in Pakistan itself. The restive province of Balochistan, sitting as it does slap bang in the middle, so to speak, of its ‘problematic’ neighbours, could very well be the hinge on which long-term regional stability hangs and oiling rusty hinges for personal gain is a skill in which, quite wrongly as it turns out, America arrogantly thinks it excels.
The idea of an All-Parties Conference (APC) on Balochistan, as mooted by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, has done nothing more than raise the hackles of everyone, including Baloch leaders. In the unlikely event of the APC actually taking place, it is liable to raise far more questions than it can conceivably answer. Therefore, it may serve to increase the belligerent animosity it intended to solve, which would be to play right into the hands of those under the impression that they will gain by pushing for, first the independence of Balochistan and then, according to some analysts, the dismemberment of Pakistan as currently designated on the global map.
If, or more likely when, the people of Balochistan combine to take decisive revolutionary action against their ‘oppressors’, the resultant bloody outcome has the potential to spark a civil war. The only way to prevent any such conflagration from erupting is for the government of Pakistan to resolve all Baloch issues on an emergency basis and this time, with deeds rather than hollow words.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2012.