Bringing peace in Balochistan

Bringing peace in BalochistanDr Muhammad Khan

Monday, June 17, 2013 – On June 15, 2013, the terrorists blasted the historical Ziarat residence of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of the nation, where he spent last few months of his life. No one in Pakistan expected that, terrorists would go to this extent of burning this historical site to ashes. As this was not enough, the terrorists planted a bomb in women university bus, killing 14 innocent girl students and injuring many.

Following this, the terrorists attacked Bolan Medical Complex and kept hostage many in the complex. They kept fighting with security agencies for hours, until four of them were killed and one was arrested. In the clearing process of the Medical Complex, Deputy Commissioner of Quetta, Abdul Mansoor Khan, four hospital nurses and four FC personnel lost their lives during the attack.

Overall, 28 people lost their lives during these multiple terrorists attacks on June 15, 2013. Beside others, President, Prime Minister and all others condemned all these attacks. Dr Abdul Malik, the newly elected Chief Minister of the Province, is determined and vowed to fight back the militancy. While condemning the attack on Quaid’s residency, Dr Malik said that, “I would even call foreign experts to restore the Ziarat residency in its original form.”

Unfortunately, ever since the beginning of 21st century, the province is under the grip of militancy. According to the available statistics of home department, during the last decade, violence in the province has claimed over 2,100 lives and left 3,845 injured in over 3,232 incidents of bomb blasts and rocket attacks in this period. The past governments have not been able to overcome the violence leading to sectarian strife and targeted killings.

Sub-nationalists and religiously mislead people are considered behind these violence and target killings. During the sectarian strives from 2008 to 2012, over 758 members of the Shia community, bulk of them belong to Hazara community; have been killed in 478 incidents. Some banned religious outfits and three main sub nationalist groups supported by their trans-frontier supports are reported to be committing these killings.

Indeed, the current instability in the province has been caused by many domestic and international factors. There is in fact a history of these occurrences. Balochistan, has immense geo–strategic significance in the emerging international political and economic order. These incidents and tendencies have been the major concern for the successive governments, which even resorted to military operations by security forces to counter these.

This indeed is the fourth time that, the province of Balochistan is facing such an upheaval. Indeed, Pakistan’s security dynamics essentially relate to the changing global environment, internal problems being faced by the country especially after it became a nuclear power in 1998, and later the incident of 9 /11 further fuelled the situation. Involvement of external forces in exploiting the issue is no more a secret. Major actors involved in the destabilization of the province include most of the regional countries and major global powers.

Besides anti-Pakistan sentiments, these regional and global actors are indeed being attracted by geo-strategic and geo-economic positioning of the province. The God gifted province of Balochistan has immense natural resources with traditionally proud and strapping manpower, who mostly remained deprived of basic amenities of life. The Nawabs, Sardars and Khans in a bid to retain their age-old grip over their tribes and general masses have most actively contributed to the miseries of their people by design. Resultantly, the socio-economic conditions deteriorated to an extent that terms like patriotism, federation and national cause became alien to the people of the province.

The current crises in Balochistan are centred on two things: first; continuous deprivation and extensive poverty of the Baloch masses compounded by the lack of economic and social development and second; lack of national unity and inter-provincial harmony, further fuelled by external powers through sub-nationalist elements. A cavernous analysis of the distrust between Balochistan and the centre would lead us to the essence that; establishment of the writ of the state is always taken as a threat to the existence of tribal system by Baloch sardars. Provincial government has neither been able to enforce the writ of government nor shown capability to improve governance.

Indicators like lack of job opportunities and no development of the area have remained one of the main causes of poverty in the province. The insurgents have always exploited this fact. Similarly, the education and health facilities outside the cities and towns are almost nonexistent or poorly managed. Even the educational institutions are plagued with sub-nationalistic agendas that generate negative politics. Unemployment and low literacy rate in the province are really contributing to the sense of deprivation of the people. External factor like foreign involvement have always exploited the unstable situation of the Province.

A careful following of the pattern of terrorism in Balochistan would reveal that, the terrorists have stepped up their terrorist activities following the General Elections-2013. This is evident from the fact that, twelve people were killed and their bodies dumped within first week of the May 11, 2013 elections and five more were killed on the day, Dr Abdul Malik, took oath as the Chief Minister of the Province. This indeed is the extreme frustration of the anti-Pakistan forces, which were against the election and a resultant stability in the province.

Premier Nawaz Sharif has taken a good start by providing an opportunity to the nationalists to form the provincial Government, despite having majority in the Provincial Assembly. Since the new Chief Minister is from a middle class family and determined to stabilize the province through confidence building measures. In this regards, he sought, support from Federal Government and security forces to show progress for restoring peace in the province in the initial 100 days of his rule. He has promised to reach over to all separatists groups for their come back to mainstream national politics.

Let us hope that, the new wave of terror unleashed after the election 2013 would not become a hurdle in the course of bringing peace and stability in the province. Mainstreaming and restoration of peace in the province is the real challenge, facing Dr Malik and Main Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, both are most appropriate to do this challenging task.

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