New approach needed for Balochistan
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan
In 1948, while addressing Quetta Municipality, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said that, “you know, I take special interest in Balochistan because, this province is my special responsibility, therefore I want that it should play its role in Pakistan affairs like other provinces.”
Unfortunately, this great leader died in the same year and his vision could not be implemented. Area wise, it is half of Pakistan, but forming 5% of the total population. The leadership, following the Quaid, did not pay worthwhile attention towards the affairs of the province, thus there remained deterioration of the situation with each passing day. There have been grievances of the locals, turned into insurgencies and rebellions in the province, but use of force was considered the only option to quell all, rather addressing the causes.
The successive governments and their functionaries have been dealing with the Baloch issue without consulting the real stakeholders, the people and national acumen. Generally, governments have their own way of doing the things with vested political interests and priorities as per their conveniences’. On the issue of Balochistan, traditionally, there has been single handed and bureaucratic approach adopted by successive governments to resolve the issue without knowing its dynamics. Indeed, there have been no worthwhile efforts at national or provincial level to resolve this complicated issue. It is very encouraging that the literate class of Pakistan has finally realized the significance of national issues and started organizing debate and conference to resolve them. In this connection, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) organized a national conference on Balochistan on May 26, 2012. SCBA had invited the leadership from all political and religious parties in this national conference. In the conference, entitled, “Balochistan Issue and its Resolution,” the participants of the conference called for “taking on board all segments in the province over all policies and development projects, besides, redressing their genuine demands.”
Indeed, there is a need for the national mobilization to understand and address the national issues of Pakistan in the best national interests of the state of Pakistan. Political parties have their own agendas and evaluate the issues from their own particular perspective. Generally, there is a point scoring and relegation of the other party’s viewpoint. There remains a clear difference between what is said in the meetings and conferences and how the implementation takes place. Therefore, there is requirement for the dedication, clarity of the objectives and over and above the sincerity to resolve the issues, leaving behind the personnel or political party agendas.
At the conclusion, the conference adopted a fifteen-point resolution, demanding an end to the deprivations of the Baloch people and asking for an end to the military operations from the province. Whereas, various leaders from political and religious parties gave their own viewpoints for the resolution of Balochistan, Dr Abdul Malik, President of the National Party stressed the need for granting rights to the Baloch people. He said that, “Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan and we have to find out solution by dialogue with all the stakeholders. This indeed was the most important aspect of the Balochistan issue, highlighted by a nationalist Baloch.
Between the lines, Dr Abdul Malik, has stressed the need for understanding the Baloch issue realistically, rather making political statements. His wordings were loud and absolutely clear. It is a fact that, in the entire history of Pakistan, Baloch people have never been given their basic rights. They are just the Baloch and have been used as tools both by national and provincial leaders. They have been deprived of basic necessities of life. They are Baloch and they are Pakistani, so must be given what the constitution of Pakistan has authorized to grant them.
Indeed, as practised during the British era, in the tribal society of Balochistan, the sardars acted as agents of the British crown and kept the people under suppression and oppression. They did not allow the basic right to the locals. The locals became habitual of this pattern of living. They even continued these repressive policies after the decolonization and independence. Whenever, an attempt was made to curtail the powers of sardars, they would rebel and tried to violate against the federation of Pakistan by mobilizing the suppressed Baloch community. The poor people of Balochistan would not know, as to why they have been asked to take arms for fighting, except that, it is the order of Sardars. It is generation after generation that such a practice is continuing in the Baloch dominated areas of Balochistan province. Today in the rural Balochistan, there are no basic civic facilities for the common Baloch. School and colleges are scant, resultantly; the youth of the province is deprived of the basic education, a necessity for an award society. There is a lack of hospitals and medical centers in the province; therefore, treatment of the people once they fell ill has been a real issue.
These deprivations are not accidental, but deliberate and planned. After all, all areas of the province have elected representatives, and in case of Baloch MPs, over 90% are ministers too. Then there are senators, MNAs, and Federal Ministers from the Balochistan, all have some responsibilities towards their people and areas. Generally, there has been no dearth of the funds, issued for the province, particularly in last two decades. Then, there was no reason that local development in Balochistan could have been compromised. It was bunch of same sky rocketing politicians, who were making hue and cry in the conference, without questioning, as who is responsible for this backwardness of the people of Balochistan.
Some of the participants of the conference targeted the law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies. The most critical were; PML (N) leader, Main Nawaz Sharif and Asma Jehangir, the former President of SCBA. Both made provocative statements and Main Nawaz went ahead by saying that, Baloch has the right to rebel. He said, “The Baloch have a right to rebel why shouldn’t they, after all that they have been put through?” The statement indeed, depicts the originator as an obtuse personality, who can do anything for his cheap popularity. Promoting and encouraging violence and rebellion is a felony in itself. Should a leader with national stature do it, is a big question mark? Accusing intelligence agencies and LEAs in Pakistan is the easiest thing. Even a common man on the streets would do it quite conveniently. It has become a fashion for people like Hamid Mir, Asma Jehangir and Mian Sahib to criticise the institutions. No one questions these people’s credibility of these accusations and their linkages elsewhere. After all BAL Thackeray, RAW and CIA has no love with Pakistan, who have linkages with people in Pakistan to promote their cause.
As a matter of fact, it has become rhetoric in Pakistan, that ‘agencies are doing this and that’. Nevertheless, no fact-finding body has been designated by the Governments; federal and provincial to know the real hands behind all these acts of killings and disappearances. After all someone should think, who is the real beneficiary of the Baloch killings and disappearances? What advantage intelligence agencies and FC or any other LEA would get from these acts. On the one hand, some leaders, so-called human rights activists and media persons, otherwise quite generously following the global format (script), should not know the global agenda.
Being at the crossroads of the history, we must revisit the Quaid’s vision about the Province and reassess the issue through a nationalistic approach, leaving behind the personnel agendas. We must leave behind the politics of accusations and adopt a new approach’ the people centric approach to resolve the issue. The foremost requirement would be to know, who is doing this all to destabilize Pakistan. Then, there is an immediate need to provide basic facilities to the deprived people of the Balochistan. To start with, basic health and education facilities should get preference.