Despite the efforts of the Supreme Court — spread over many months — and the various meetings called by the government, the situation in Balochistan remains unchanged. Hundreds of people have gone missing from the province over the years and more continue to go missing. The Supreme Court has made it clear that it holds the Frontier Constabulary (FC) responsible for the situation in the province. The same conclusion was, of course, reached long ago by human rights groups monitoring affairs in Balochistan.
The denials by the FC of involvement have not been accepted by the bench, which has heard the versions of the police, the distraught families of those who have disappeared and a host of other people. The problem, however, is to get the FC under some kind of civilian control. Despite orders issued by the federal government, in the wake of court orders, that the FC was to work directly under the provincial authorities, this does not appear to be happening. Indeed, the ambiguity over who is in charge of the paramilitary force is extremely disturbing.
The situation in Balochistan demands that something be done urgently to stem the rage that is sweeping across the province and deepening the divide. The events over the past few years have been horrendous, with some two dozen people disappearing in the Khuzdar area alone in 2011. The Supreme Court continues to demand a list of the missing persons and of those whose mutilated bodies have turned up by roadsides. The demand has not been honoured. The issues of Balochistan need to be looked at far more broadly. Solutions need to embrace the political issues involved; the rising nationalism in the province cannot be taken as a security issue alone. It is far more complex than that and these complexities need to be recognised and addressed if any lasting outcome to the problem is to be found.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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