Developments in Balochistan
A massive military operation was carried out under the Musharraf regime against the Baloch nationalis movement, starting in the last days of 2005, that resulted in further alienation and estrangement of the Baloch people with the Federation.
The present government, after the extension of apology by Asif Zardari to the Baloch people, is taking out some measure to bridge the huge gulf that marks the Baloch conflict.
Recently, Adviser to Prime Minister on Interior, Rehman Malik said that the government would release all political prisoners of Balochistan. He announced exclusions of names of all political leaders of the province from Exit Control List (ECL), including Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and Nawabzada Gazin Marri. He also informed that Sardar Akhtar Mengal is living in Sharja as a result of these measures.
Rehman Malik also said, after his meeting with high government officials from Balochistan, that he had a list of 1,102 people who are missing in Balochistan.
This is quite shocking, moreso for the reason that it is Rehman Malik who is giving out this information. One perception can be that there is still heavy presence and influence of military in Balochistan, an expected hangover from the decade of military rule, that is creating hindrances for the provincial and federal governments to operate in Balochistan.
In this perspective, the government’s decision to abolish 35 of the 54 FC Posts in Balochistan is a welcome step. This can help in removing the military presence from Balochistan to some extent.
One may welcome these steps (they certainly give a respite to the Baloch people and allow them space to organize politically), the government’s actions must be scrutinized properly. One objective of the government appears to concentrate on fighting the Taliban in the NWFP. Fighting the Taliban is necessary. However, if the fight in not conducted properly, especially if it is conducted within the paradigm of “war of terror” and with a strategy dictated by the U.S. Imperialism, the spill-over of the war can be very dangerous for the people of Pakistan and can strengthen the reactionary forces of religious extremists (as it is often correctly pointed out, the two barbarisms fighting the “war on terror” reinforce each other).
While grant of certain civil liberties to the Baloch leaders must be supported, it must be crystal clear that this does not solve the Baloch conflict in any way. The recent debate in debate in Senate, leading to snubbing of Kashmir Affairs Minister Qama Zaman Kaira by female senators from Balochistan, shows what the Baloch problem is actually about. The debate in the Upper House started when it was pointed out that out of a total sum of Rs 17 billion given from Pakistan Baitul Maal to the provinces during the last five years, the Punjab got Rs 8.9 billion, Sindh Rs 3.6 billion, the NWFP Rs 3.2 billion and poor Balochistan received only Rs 704 million. Islamabad alone got 901 million, more than Balochistan!
Can the government of People’s Party solve the Baloch conflict to the end? I seriously doubt. The Baloch problem can only end with the relentless struggle by the Baloch population, of which they are perfectly capable. The present times call for the Baloch people to organize rapidly in the struggle for their social and economic rights. The progressives from other provinces, particularly Punjab, who have consistently supported the Baloch national struggle in their silent ways, must also utilize the liberty accorded to the Baloch nationalist leadership to mobalize public support from the masses of their respective provinces for the Baloch national cause.
Govt to release all political prisoners of Balochistan, says Rehman Malik
Over 1,100 people missing in Balochistan, says Malik
Most FC posts in Balochistan to be abolished: Baloch leaders to be released, cases to be withdrawn
‘Islamabad alone grabbed more charity money than Balochistan’