Stabilising Balochistan: Six-member body formed to talk to Baloch dissidents

Published: May 30, 2012

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani chairs a high level meeting on Balochistan at the Prime Minister house on Tuesday. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: 

It could be a case of being too little, too late – or, perhaps, a case of better late than never. In either case, the urgency was apparent.

The country’s top political and military leaders met on Tuesday in an effort to urgently kick start new initiatives in Balochistan to tame what some participants called an active insurgency similar to the one that caused Pakistan’s disintegration in 1971.

Presided over by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and attended by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam as well as Balochistan’s chief minister and governor, the meeting came up with a few initiatives including announcement of a fresh push to begin dialogue with disgruntled Baloch leaders and forming a committee for this purpose.

After the meeting, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told media that the meeting had decided to form a six-member committee to spearhead the proposed dialogue with Baloch leaders.

Giving details, he added that the federal and provincial governments will have three members each in the committee. The body is to meet weekly to present its report. Its members, who are to be nominated later, are also to oversee the implementation of the government’s legal, political, economic, constitutional and social initiatives in Balochistan.

The meeting also focused on what is considered one of the key issues in the province: The role of the Frontier Corps (FC), and how to curtail its powers.

Kaira told media that the FC, often accused of being embroiled in cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan, will be under the complete control of the provincial administration.  According to Kaira, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani will be vested with the sole authority to deploy the FC and assign it the task of maintaining law and order in the violence-stricken province.

“From now on, the entire deployment of the FC in Balochistan will be decided by Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani,” Kaira told media.

Additionally, the effort to curtail the FC’s powers has been extended to relieving the paramilitary force of its anti-smuggling duties in border areas. This will spare members of the force for focusing on maintaining law and order in areas decided by the provincial government.

The meeting came days after a conference on Balochistan convened by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) which called for an end to a “garrison regime” in the province and replace it with an absolute civilian setup.

This statement, accompanied by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s statement this month that the FC was involved in more than 80 per cent of enforced disappearances in the province, is perhaps what spurred army chief Kayani to assure the meeting that he was on board with the plan.

The information minister said the military chief had put his weight behind political leadership to resolve the missing persons issue and put the FC under de facto civilian control.

Kaira said Kayani had assured the meeting that the military would not hinder action if anyone from the FC was found to be involved in enforced disappearances – although insiders present at the meeting did not confirm this.

The meeting also decided to bring in necessary changes in the law of evidence and other legislation dealing with the prosecution of terrorists, the information minister announced. Kaira said the meeting discussed six dimensions of the Balochistan issue in depth – operational, developmental, administrative, legal, political and financial aspects of the situation were brainstormed.

(Read: Sorting out the mess in Balochistan)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2012.

Reader Comments (9)

  • Adnan
    May 30, 2012 - 6:09AM

    The only solution to Baluchistan problem is dialogue with Baloch nationalists. We should let Baloch people govern their land by conducting free and fair elections and all political parties including nationalists should take part in that.

    Recommend

  • Lawangin
    May 30, 2012 - 7:59AM

    When it goes o committee forming and their routine meetings, simply the buck is passed to one who have no concern. The Government got relieved itself of the huge responsiblity. Believe me the situation would remain the same…. nothing would change…

    Recommend

  • kaalchakra
    May 30, 2012 - 8:02AM

    No compromise on balochistan.

    Recommend

  • kala_bacha
    May 30, 2012 - 8:05AM

    Look this, it does not look like in Pakistan. Ghareeb Awam kee government. I wish our politicians ever be true to the oath and follows the constitutional rights of people of Pakistan. Instead of talking or releasing press or making more committee things won’t change in Balochistan.

    Recommend

  • Mahakaalchakra
    May 30, 2012 - 9:34AM

    Dear readers, please watch the following TV talk show by Mehar Bukhar of today about the killings in Balochistan issue specifically the statement of Hamid Mir:

    http://www.zemtv.com/2012/05/29/crossfire-with-mehar-bukhar-on-dunya-news-29th-may-2012/

    Thank you.Recommend

  • Zabandraz
    May 30, 2012 - 10:58AM

    hahahahahaha !!! Another committee , time wasting committee just like the commission for Abbottabad & Mehran Base Attack. I can bet nothing good will happen in Balochistan

    Recommend

  • Shaheer Malik
    May 30, 2012 - 12:33PM

    To solve the national problems we need honest and wise leadership but unfortunately lack both the qualities.

    Recommend

  • AV Bhagowal
    May 30, 2012 - 12:37PM

    For God’s sake, ban forming of committees to resolve issues.It has a history of being used
    as a tactics to delay matters or avoid taking strong measures.With so much power with
    the Prime Minister and the President,when they can challenge all pillars of the state without
    any remorse or counter challenge, why implementing policies already made for the redress of Balochistan should pose any insurmountable blocks. Please do something positive so you are remembered for at least one major nation building contribution to the state.

    Recommend

  • Shaheer Malik
    May 30, 2012 - 4:27PM

    My suggestion is that a committee consist of top leadership of all political parties, including Imran Khan Nawaz Sharif, ANPs MQM etc should be formed on one side and other side all top leadership of parties from Balochistan, lawyers, notable, journalist be formed who will not only talk to people for also give serious suggestion to the issue. Otherwise time is very short.

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