KARACHI: There is nothing wrong in exercising physical force against Baloch insurgents as the state keeps the 'right to violence' to safeguard its sovereignty, believes Balochistan home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti.
He was talking about the issue of reported human rights violations in the south-western province at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.
According to Bugti, the excuses of negligence and underdevelopment that insurgents put forward as justification for their armed movement are absurd. "In Sindh, Shikarpur and other cities are less developed than Karachi," he claimed. "Will it be okay if the people living in those cities take up arms and start waging a war to demand development?"
Balochistan, the largest province of the country - 43% of the country's territory, to be exact - and rich with minerals, has been afflicted with violence for long that has repeated itself in intervals. The fresh wave of insurgency dates back to 2005 and continues up till now.
Describing the background of the province, Bugti cited the example of the Khan of Kalat (Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the 32nd and last ruler of the princely state of Kalat), who wrote in his book, Inside Balochistan, that joining Pakistan was an article of faith for him.
Bugti asserted that the 'so-called separatist movement' in Balochistan has been backed by Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), while explaining the problems in countering the insurgency. "Nobody trades dollar with rupee," he said.
While the event was supposed to discuss the security and challenges in the making of the $46 billion, 2,442-kilometre-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the minister shed very little light on the subject.
Criticising a 'segment of society' which advocates holding of talks instead of using force, Bugti called it a dual mindset that on the one hand opposes talks with Taliban and, on the other, supports dialogue with Baloch militants. "A person doing violence in the name of religion is eyed as a terrorist, then how come a person doing the same in the name of a so-called movement is called an angry Baloch," remarked the home minister. "Aren't they [the latter] killers?"
According to Bugti, the insurgent leaders are living luxurious lives in foreign countries at the expense of RAW while the poor Baloch have been brainwashed to fight the security forces. "The children of tribal elders study abroad in prestigious institutions and the children of commoners are still barefoot," he said.
He reiterated that while the government was serious about holding talks with insurgents, it won't tolerate violence at any cost. "The whole saga is about personal interests [of dissident Baloch tribal elders]," he claimed. "No one actually fights for the rights."
Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar said that people saw the political arena of the province confined around a trio - Akbar Bugti, Attaullah Mengal and Khair Bakhsh Marri. "There's much more beyond them," he said. There has been a mass exodus in history and so many people have been killed, said Kakar, questioning if it was still right to criticise the state for using power against miscreants.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2016.