Millennium Post

In Baluchistan, it’s war for peace

Prime minister of Pakistan for the third time, Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif, takes on the yearning with grit for a new Pakistan which is very different from the dazzling-but-vacuous concept of ‘Naya Pakistan’ envisioned by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief, Imran Khan. The very choice of the National Party leader, Abdul Malik Baloch, a much-respected leader for whom over 120 NGOs appealed to the new prime minister for leading the troubled Pakhtun province, as the chief minister of Baluchistan deserves praise. Columnist Nasser Menon too emphasised the imperative for building anew the poverty-stricken (but rich in mineral resources) province which has for many years remained a ‘tinderbox’ with hundreds of people brutally killed in an orgy of extra-judicial murders and targeted shootings. The state had virtually abdicated the province and left it at the mercy of an assortment of militant outfits and corrupt politicians.

But the province possesses rich natural resources, minerals, natural gas and coal, aside from fisheries and tourist spots. Although it contributes to less than five per cent of national income, its provincial income growth averages at 2.7 per cent. All this notwithstanding, most of the people of the province constitute the ‘wretched of the earth’ subsisting below the poverty line. Against this gloomy ethno-economic scenario, the new Pakistan is set to emerge in Baluchistan braving tendentious terrorism of a section of extremists belonging to the Baluchistan Liberation Army. The BLA’s state of nervous breakdown was reflected in the blasts at the Bolan Medical Complex in the Baloch capital Quetta on 14 June, killing at least 19 women including 14 medical students and the deputy commissioner plus four security personnel through a remote controlled bomb that detonated aboard a bus parked in the parking lot of Sardar Bahadur Khan University.

The Taliban imprint in the violence was unmistakable for two reasons – targeting women medical students as the faction is against modern education for women and the attributed demolition of a portion of Quaid-e-Azam’s Residency in Ziarat. It was razed to the ground by grenades and bombs while the guard protecting it laid down his life at the hands of BLA terrorists. Mohammed Ali Jinnah stayed there during the weary end of his life when he was fighting terminal cancer.

The Baloch government sagaciously promised assurance for rebuilding the demolished portion within three months in sync with the growing recalcitrance towards internal violence. The Pak people are sick and tired of ‘Political Islam’ that thrives on externally inspired terrorism. It’s not the first time Pakistan has confronted forces that are for ‘development of underdevelopment’ which ceased to be an endemic Latin American or African phenomenon. The reaction against the BLA’s act was somewhat unprecedented, particularly the siege before the Bolan Medical complex until the arrival of security. Pat came the statement from Mian Sharif, appealing the Baloch to ‘remain brave in the face of such devastating tragedy’.

The national interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Monday came out with a firm statement on the determination to take up the burst-out over Baluchistan issue, expressing shock over how the entire security apparatus along with security agencies could not put a curb on terrorism in the restive province.

The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai too blasted the security agencies with sarcasm that they could ‘find a needle in a haystack but still the law and order situation continues to remain in a poor state.’ Achakzai’s brother, Muhammad Khan Achakzai, an economist and a former bureaucrat, is the new Governor of Baluchistan where PMAP with 11 legislators is the single largest party in the Baloch provincial assembly. The party carries the heritage of Badshah Khan. The BLA has been blasted by the chief of the banned group Jamaat-ud-Dawa-Hafiz Saeed, who in an interview said that extremist activities within Pakistan are not ‘jihad.’ He asserted that militants should not carry out attacks in the country as ‘militant activities in Pakistan’ do not fall under the category of jihad.

He reportedly said ‘I appeal to all jihadi organisations not to carry out attacks inside Pakistan, as it is not jihad (holy war). America and India are taking benefit from their activities.’ Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan, also comprising 44 per cent of the country’s total land mass. For Mian Nawaz, it is a construct-or-perish situation and this challenge is beyond ‘party-o-cracy’. It seems he too has embarked on this unknown and unchartered trajectory.

Freehand to Malik is its symptomatic impression. He too seems prepared to face the complex conundrum with a straight bat unlike even the PTI chief, who is more theatrical approach to hard
hitting balls unlike a true cricketer.

Which is why Malik in his first statement after taking oath as the 14th Chief Minister of Baluchistan called for abolition of secret funds. The other decision was his effort to find out missing persons, bullet-riddled bodies and kidnappings for ransom. ‘I am sure we will definitely sort out the issue if it happened,’ said Malik, deploring that Baluchistan was aflame with almost every educational institution in a mess. At the same time, he appealed to the Baloch armed groups to take part in a dialogue for the betterment of the province. The terrorism has a socio-political aspect and hence it needs a political solution, not a military one. High rate of unemployment and poverty which could not have happen had its natural resources been judicially utilised with resources generated and distributed equitably. IPA

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