KARACHI: The entire nation suddenly seems to be in search of a ‘magic balm’ that may somehow soothe the aggrieved people of Balochistan.
Such an approach has shifted the entire blame of the creation of a separatist movement in Balochistan on to the shoulders of the state. This unfortunately encourages Baloch nationalists to become more vociferous in their demands for a separate nation. It also ends up legitimising the use of violent means to achieve such a goal by positing it against state oppression, in effect serving to de-criminalise it.
We tend to forget that the idea of a nation means that there is shared and equal citizenship. There is no denying the fact that the people of Balochistan were deprived not only by the state but by the Baloch elites and tribal leaders as well. One can argue that while ordinary Baloch have been in fetters and oppressed by the state, their treatment at the hands of tribal elders was no different.
The situation in Balochistan warrants the urgent attention of the state. The genuine grievances and demands of the people of Balochistan should be accepted without delay and they should be implemented.
That there needs to be some kind of change is also an undeniable fact now. However, the kind of change that takes place depends on the choices that the people make? If the choice is to take independent charge of their affairs and govern themselves then that is possible through a political dialogue/process. But if the choice is to pick up arms and fight for a battle of independence then I am afraid there will not be many takers for that in the rest of Pakistan.
Lt-Col. (retd) Muhammad Ali Ehsan
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.