Balochistan's plight: Are we even trying to help?

While the fight against Taliban has become a global buzzword, very few know of the dire conditions in Balochistan.

Sarah Munir September 20, 2012
Don't wash your dirty linen in public.

This is a principal that the Pakistani politicians generously endorse when it comes to the issue of Balochistan. From the panic triggered by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's introduction of a resolution in the US House of Representatives earlier this year, calling upon Pakistan to recognise Balochistan's right to self-determination to the current visit of the two member UN mission on enforced disappearances, a lot of sore nerves are irked when it comes to Pakistan's other war.  

The reaction is always the same. Pakistan does not need external sources interfering in its internal issues. Terms like 'national sovereignty', 'conspiracy' and 'destabilisation' of Pakistan are also included in the rhetoric for good measure.

Rohrabacher’s resolution was just that ─ a resolution with no legal binding and the vigorous negative reaction in Pakistan was unnecessary.

The UN team is not here to conduct an invasive investigation on Pakistan’s turf but to collect and facilitate information between relatives and the government. The mission is in accordance with international rules but has nevertheless generated debate in the National Assembly. It has also been refused a meeting by the Inspector General of Frontier Corps on grounds of being too busy. Even Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, a champion of the missing persons issue himself, refused to meet the delegation, calling the province “a volcano ready to erupt” and saying that outsiders reviewing Pakistan’s internal issues could be dangerous.

The point here is not to defend foreign input in Pakistan’s internal issues but to highlight our own unease, which in the case of Balochistan, stems from guilt and years of sidelining its problems. These problems encompass everything from extra-judicial killings to uneven distribution of national resources, and yet they have never gotten their due share of attention ─ neither by the governments in power nor local and international media.

While the war on terror and the fight against Taliban have become global buzzwords, very few are even aware of the dire conditions that exist in Balochistan. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Baloch population and leaders welcome any attention that gives them hope, regardless of what corner of the world it emanates from.

Parallels have been drawn between the Balochistan and East Pakistan separation too often for us to ignore. After failing them for decades, the lukewarm response by the Pakistani authorities and politicians to support international agencies like the United Nations is only going to alienate the Baloch population further.

I think its time we replace criticism with cooperation and let universal values of justice and humanity trump national sovereignty on this one.

Read more by Sarah here or follow her on Twitter @sarahmunir1

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Sarah Munir A graduate from the Columbia Journalism School and is currently heading the Magazine Desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @SarahMunir1 (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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