The demand by the Hazara community in Quetta for the military to take control of Balochistan has baffled the nation’s top analysts who insist that the military, the ISI and the Frontier Corps (FC) are involved in committing genocide in the province. Strictly sticking to the facts, Pakistan’s military is garrisoned in Quetta and is not deployed there; hence, it is not out there abducting and slaying people as claimed. It is only the FC that is deployed in Balochistan and terrorists captured by it are usually released by the courts. Only after regressive steps were taken to strip the FC of its powers in Balochistan did terrorist attacks increase multifold. The massacre of Hazaras on January 10 has led the government to reinstate the FC with full authority and has furnished it with police powers for two months.
I recently had an opportunity to interview the DG-ISI, Lieutenant-General Zaheerul Islam, where he mentioned that there is an insurgency in Balochistan and for any insurgency to succeed, the law-enforcement agencies have to be made ineffective. During the British colonial rule, Balochistan was divided into A and B areas; the former were directly controlled by the British and the latter through Baloch sardars. This continued after Pakistan’s independence until General (retd) Pervez Musharraf converted the B areas (almost 95 per cent of Balochistan) into A. Hence, maintenance of law and order of the majority of the province was handed over to the police instead of the Levies, who mostly served the interests of the sardars. However, in 2010, the now-sacked chief minister of Balochistan converted A areas back into B and the police was withdrawn from over 240 stations. This move made the first responders, the police, ineffective and enabled militant outfits, including the Taliban, to reorganise in the area. These groups did not face much challenge from the Levies, who neither had the training nor the resolve to tackle such a situation. The second response consists of the FC, which has been put on the defensive since the issue of the missing people was raised. After the law-enforcement agencies in Balochistan were successfully hindered, violence raged on in the province uncontrolled.
Much as our analysts assert that the military is scheming to take over Pakistan and derail the democratic process, rest assured that the military is content remaining on the sidelines. The PPP government has managed to destroy public institutions like the PIA, railways, steel mills and the energy sector. The average GDP growth rate during the past four years has been the lowest in the history of Pakistan, and as per the IMF, the country’s debt is not sustainable without foreign help.
The 2013 elections will not unleash any substantial political tsunamis because the PPP will likely win the ‘democratic’ election simply due to its ability to secure a large number of seats in parliament. A democracy should empower the people rather than elect corrupt politicians and their brood repeatedly. Thus, till a radical shift takes place, Pakistan is doomed to nosedive into oblivion. Militancy has opened the door to non-state actors who have eroded the writ of the government in external and internal affairs. Furthermore, it has led to sectarian cleansing as was witnessed in Balochistan. The clerics have not used their authority to contain violence and have instead been instrumental in preaching hatred. If the clerics are not contained, sectarian divides will keep the country in a near state of civil war. The judiciary, on the other hand, is yet to punish a single terrorist. Without addressing cases through an oversight office, such as an independent supreme judicial commission, the judiciary will remain heavily influenced, forcing people to seek justice through other means. Likewise, the police have to be depoliticised and granted an independent protocol in order to make it effective.
Constitutional amendments to expunge the Objectives Resolution should be considered since it goes against the unifying concept promoted by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Any political party that has a manifesto promoting intolerance of other groups shows direct contempt for the Pakistani flag whose white portion symbolises inclusion of minorities in national life.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2013.