The Balochistan crisis
30 November, 2011
By Dr Qaisar Rashid
No package can meet success if mutilated and bullet-riddled dead bodies keep on appearing in Balochistan. Each dead body sabotages the Balochistan package
Balochistan is suffering from a serious crisis of governance. There are two expressions of the Balochistan problem. First, the Baloch are being picked up and tortured, and their bullet-riddled bodies are being dumped. The Baloch believe that the intelligence agencies or the Frontier Corps (FC) is responsible. The second manifestation is that the FC is under attack and basic infrastructure such as gas pipelines and electricity connections are being destroyed. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has taken responsibility for these acts.
Commenting on the causes of the Balochistan crisis, two schools of thought have emerged. The first school of thought opines that the British system of appeasing the Baloch sardars, (monetarily, socially and politically) at the expense of the local population should have been abandoned by the central government after independence. The extension of that process led to the continuation of dependence of the locals on these Baloch sardars and not on the state. Second, the process led to the pampering of the sardars who are now addicted to that convention. Third, the policy of patronage led to the underdevelopment of the province, as the sardars hoarded the wealth and spent little on their areas. Fourth, the sardars remained powerful enough to incite people to revolt against the government if and when required. This school of thought was seconded by General Pervez Musharraf who used to say that Balochistan's problems were due to three sardars,: Nawab Khairbaksh Marri, Nawab Akbar Bugti and Sardar Ataullah Mengal.
Opponents of this school of thought say that the sardars hold sway in only a few areas of Balochistan, so why is the rest of Balochistan backward? For instance, in Makran division, where there is no sardari system, backwardness is rampant. Secondly, what about the sardars who have always been protected by the state? A case in point is District Lasbela, which is the seat of the Jam of Lasbela who has always been in the government. The district is one of the most backward areas of Balochistan. When one of the three sardars, as pointed out by Musharraf, has been eliminated by the army and the other two have been sidelined, why is the situation not improving?
The second school of thought comments on the causes by saying that, in the post-partition phase, there broke out at least five insurgencies in Balochistan, the latest one being led by the Bugti tribe, a 'product' of the BLA. The insurgents demanded the independence of Balochistan and started launching attacks on the security forces. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti demanded only greater autonomy for Balochistan but the security forces alleged that he was supporting the BLA and that this correlation led to his eventual death in August 2006.. In reaction to the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, in 2007, the Balochistan Republican Army (BRA) surfaced. The BRA started attacking the security forces and destroyed infrastructure. This school of thought was also seconded by General Musharraf.
The opponents to this school of thought ask a question: why did the alleged support of India to the insurgents not figure before Musharraf's era? Secondly, whether India is supporting the BLA clandestinely or not, how many Baloch are to be killed to sever the alleged link between the Baloch and India? Thirdly, if the Baloch are considered guilty, why are they not tried in open courts and why do they go missing and their bullet-riddled bodies found later on? Fourth, are the security forces not generating a Baloch generation of rebels?
The Balochistan Package, introduced in 2009, was expected to bring a sea change. The package has introduced two big positives: first, the Sui Cantonment has been converted into an education institute and, secondly, about 5,000 Baloch have been given employment in the government sector.
Unfortunately, the list of failures in the package is long. First, cases against several nationalist Baloch political workers have not been withdrawn and many workers are still languishing in jails. Second, the FC has not been placed under the chief minister. The FC is more powerful than the police. The FC commander (inspector general) can overrule the verdict of the chief minister. The FC cannot be held accountable in court so it works with impunity. Third, investigations into the killings of Baloch leaders such as Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, Balach Marri, Lala Munir and Munir Ahmed have not been carried out to any logical conclusion. Fourth, no significant development has taken place on the Nawab Akbar murder case. Fifth, no effort is being made to bring the self-exiled Baloch leadership to Pakistan. Sixth, political dialogue with major Baloch stakeholders has not been initiated. Seventh, the role of the intelligence agencies in Balochistan has not been reviewed, as the number of missing people is continuously increasing. Eighth, the slow progress on the package indicates that the central government is not tabling a report in parliament on the implementation of the package after every three months.
There is a perception in Balochistan that there is no guarantee that promises will be kept or agreements will be respected. The Baloch think that the political government is under the influence of the army. Hence, there is a gulf of mistrust between the central government and the nationalist Baloch. The government needs to understand that the recovery of missing Baloch political activists is vital for peace in Balochistan. No package can meet success if mutilated and bullet-riddled dead bodies keep on appearing in Balochistan. Each dead body sabotages the Balochistan package. The government has to establish its credibility in the eyes of the Baloch. Only then can the nationalists come back from their self-imposed exile. The government must declare and consider the Baloch nationalists as being pro-Pakistan and offer amnesty to all.
Courtesy: Daily Times