Islamabad's Balochistan policy
SENATOR SANAULLAH BALOCH
The president dramatically has softened his approach towards the leaders of the
two mainstream parties due to the increased internal and foreign pressures. But
regime policy towards moderate and autonomy seeking Baloch nationalists seems
unchanged. After using full force and persecution now Islamabad is determined
to politically marginalise the natives of strategically significant and resource
rich province of Balochistan .
Balochistan is among the unfortunate region, suffering since the take over of
military rule in 1999. Top policy makers in Islamabad believe on indiscriminate
repression of the Baloch people, those demanding politico-economic autonomy.
Legitimate nationalist parties have been bared to freely express their views
and their representatives have been harshly targeted for not supporting military's
unpopular war in Balochistan. Credible and popular Baloch leadership is marked
as enemy number one by the security agencies. Contrary to the constitutional
safeguards high level of intimidation and harassment campaign was launched by
the government against political representatives and innocent citizens of province.
Mr Akhter Mengal, the former chief minister of Balochistan and head of Balochistan
National Party is detained since November 2006. Balach Marri, a young Baloch
politician and son of prominent Baloch leader was recently killed. Each day police
and paramilitary troops continue to detain innocent citizens without lawful procedure.
Although the government has always
been tried to discredit the Baloch leadership, labeling
them anti-development, corrupt, anti-social and even
anti-state elements, it's
evident that nationalist leadership in Balochistan has
never been involved in any mega corruption and loan embezzlement
like other pro-establishment and politicians of dominated
In November, 1999, NAB published a list of more than 320 names of Pakistan's
top loan defaulters, but none of Baloch nationalist, politician or business man
was among the nonpayer of $4 billion loan embezzlement. Eighty percent of these
debtors were from Punjab province and majority of them were close allies of the
president, holding important political offices during 2002 to 2007.
Islamabad's unpleasant policies are resulting in to deep alienation of Baloch
masses from the center. There is total ignorance and lack of understanding in
the establishment about Balochistan and their demands. Majority believes that
recognition of the Baloch demands will encourage other regions to raise their
voice for autonomy. But this presumed argument is totally baseless. Because rest
of the regions and national groups are well represented in top policy making
and implementation institutions and they have been dealt fairly and friendly
by the civil-military bureaucracy in last six decades. But Balochistan has gone
through repeated military operations and deprived of its fair political and economic
share in the federation.
The current frustration in the province has manifested after a pause of three
decades, where the establishment fails to address the province problems according
to the wish and will of the people. Continued political and economic marginalisation
has compelled them to raise their concerns on mega projects, as they perceive
that these developments will not result in greater economic opportunities.
Islamabad is capable to win the military battles in Balochistan but its hard
to conquer the hearts and minds of Baloch people. Population in Balochistan is
not power crazy and neither have they demanded any top political slots in the
country, but they are passionate to see that their society is equally empowered.
Islamabad's slow motion response to the burning issues of Balochistan is unwise.
Central government's continued leniency towards corrupt and unpopular groups
in Balochistan is disastrous.
It's hard to understand that why security agencies are annoyed with credible
Baloch leaders and feel comfortable with corrupt and ill-mannered self-created
Islamabad must rethink its strategy towards Balochistan and allow all moderate
leaders and parties to fairly take part in the political system. All detained
Baloch leaders and workers must be released. There should be free, fair judicial
and legal remedy available for the every citizen in province. Government authorities
must stop the practice of collective punishment and should focus on their job
without ethnic and regional prejudice.
No doubt, that there is no pressure on the regime to reverse its policies towards
Balochistan, but as a citizen of country Baloch people also deserve equal treatment
and right to live in peace.
The writer is member Senate of Pakistan