The Supreme Court’s warnings regarding Balochistan are no doubt apt. That the province is indeed sliding into anarchy right before our very eyes and that the Court has noted the apathy on the part of both the central and provincial governments in this deteriorating situation is a step in the right direction. Certainly, measures should have been taken a long time ago to restore order, but what is crucial now is to address the root causes of the persisting problems in the province. How did we reach this state? Why has Balochistan crumbled into anarchy and is the government simply to blame? Such questions need to be taken up urgently.
The law and order situation in Balochistan is, as we all know, linked to a multitude of factors. How much of it the government is directly responsible for, remains somewhat ambiguous. The problems of Balochistan range from people going missing, tortured bodies being discovered in streets and the anger this creates to the prevailing sense of rage which in turn leads to targeted killings, kidnappings and acts of vendetta against a state which the Baloch people widely believe has treated them unfairly. We also know that the acts of illegal disappearances, which in many aspects are at the core of the problem, are the work of agencies. More than one report by human rights monitoring groups has pin-pointed this and the apex court, too, has reached a similar conclusion. Given the history of Balochistan, and the military’s involvement in it, it is also not difficult to say which forces truly determine events in the province.
The old paradigm of national security interests has been used repeatedly to justify this and it is far from clear if the government has any say at all in the matter. It is because of these paradoxes that our state operates with and runs affairs that need to be sorted out in order to regain the trust of the people of Balochistan. Simply blaming the government alone is pointless given the nature of the problem. A more holistic view is required to put things into perspective and decide on a way forward for the mutual benefit of the nation and the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.