Alarmed by repeated threats, Balochistan’s political parties fear local insurgent groups will unleash widespread violence in an attempt to disrupt the next elections.
Insurgent groups, including Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and Baloch Republican Army (BRA), have warned political parties against contesting the 2013 elections.
The vice president of Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A), Sajid Tareen, said that rampant violence might put a dampener on electioneering and deter some political groups.
“Unabated terrorism by militants is a cause of concern for all those who believe in parliamentary democracy,” said Tareen told The Express Tribune. “How can parties contest elections in such a frightening state of affairs?”
Tareen said that his party’s president Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who is in self-imposed exile in the UAE, would return home to lead his party in the elections only if the government ensured full security for him and his party’s candidates and activists.
The provincial president of Awami National Party (ANP), Aurangzeb Khan Kasi, says that militants are also distributing pamphlets against democratic parties.
“They are trying to convince Baloch people that democracy has failed to resolve their basic issues,” he told The Express Tribune. Kasi noted that the insurgent groups were mainly active in Quetta and Baloch-dominated areas of the province. “There are no such threats in the Pakhtun-dominated areas of the province,” he added.
Chairman of Friends of Baloch Mir Amanullah Gichki, who has served as a federal minister and an ambassador, said that the by disrupting the election process, the militants wanted to escalate anti-state activities in the province.
Former deputy chairman of Senate Jan Jamali asked the government to take serious steps to redress the Baloch youth’s sense of deprivation in order to prevent them from being misled by separatist groups.
“The Baloch youth are increasingly becoming non-democratic, violent and aggressive … they are opposing the political process due to their lack of trust in the government and its policies,” he told The Express Tribune.
Dr Bashir Azeem, the general secretary of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), the political wing of BRA, claimed that while the party did not consider elections to be the solution to Balochistan’s problems, it had issued no threats to other political parties.
Although political parties fear the BLA, BLF and BRA, leaders of these groups blame a fourth outfit – the newly emerged Baloch Musallah Difa Organisation (Armed Baloch Defence Organisation).
Led by a young religious militant from the Mengal tribe, the group is active in Quetta and Khuzdar. The outfit operates counter to the BLA, BLF and BRA – last year it inflicted heavy losses on the BLA when it attacked the residences of Harbiyar Marri and his slain brother Nawabzada Balach Marri in Quetta.
One of Marri’s houses is still in BMDO’s possession since. The followers of Sardar Akhtar Mengal were also reportedly targeted by BMDO last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2013.