Electoral politics in Balochistan

Youth of the province should be provided a platform for constructive integration

Raosen Taj Raisani April 04, 2018
The writer is a research associate at the Lahore University of Management Sciences

In the seventy years of Pakistan’s history, the most recurrent and complex electoral political situation has existed in Balochistan. Insurgencies, violence and countless explanations have complicated the issue. In finding solutions, the retrogressive condition of the political parties has created a vacuum of political dialogue and leadership.

Due to the severity of conditions involving assassinations of political workers and ruthless killing of masses in suicide bombings and sectarian targeted killings, the nationalist and religious parties of the province had lost touch with the masses. The representation of people, although minimal, has now becoming obsolete as the precarious nature of politics in the province becomes evident. Despite being an election year, there are almost no gatherings and conducting a political rally is out of the question. In this situation when the deep-rooted local political parties have been unable to fill the void and the absence of the role of the national political parties, the electoral strategies look ineffective.

The politics of the province has evolved not from political inclusivity. It has been incubated through mistrust and apprehension. The number of political options and strategic manoeuvres that have been employed tell the story of the gradual evolution of Balochistan’s distinct political culture. The regressive nature of solutions to the problem has also maximised the shortcomings of political participation.

In a nutshell the experience and performance of the governments have raised the stakes of administration. Until recently the public was despondent and hopeless in the electoral process as evidenced in the elections of 2013. The situation has improved but the extremity of positions in the political environment has not generally dampened. Adding to this mix the dismal role of political parties with a national perspective in the province has added new sense of hopelessness.

To cope with this complex situation, the need is of a political process that includes the indigenous voice. The exclusive political nature of polity in the case of Balochistan has hurt the evolution of cooperative nature of the province. This system needs to change but can it be changed by a single party or local political elites? The task is huge and the track record of players is bleak.

In the face of these overwhelming circumstances, the renaissance of electoral politics in Balochistan is dependent on many things. There exists the need to understand that the politics of the region should include public opinion. The longevity of peace requires the voice of people to be heard. The votes cannot be found in the trash cans again. It is imperative to understand that the political process needs to follow an organic and inclusive growth. In addition, the political parties that claim to represent the whole nation need to alter their policies for Balochistan.

The absence of any reformative framework for the issues of development and policy options for integration of the peripheral population is the biggest hindrance in the way of their electoral agenda. The narrative needs to advance from violent dealings to participatory dialogue. The impact of the local parties in Balochistan cannot be undermined. There is a need for these parties to integrate with the power brokers at the centre. They must understand that they have an existential problem. To broker a positive change in Balochistan, cooperation is a must.

The youth of the province should be provided a platform for constructive integration after the effects of the long conflict. The indigenous solutions to the problems should be welcomed with a will to implement. The spirit of democracy requires this much and the state owes this much to the people of its most neglected province.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2018.

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