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Mainstreaming Balochistan

A number of development projects have been signed during the visit of Chinese President. Most of these mega projects shall benefit the people of Balochistan. Some of envisaged infrastructure does not suit a few neighbouring countries and a few distant countries. Their interest converge and they are, individually as well as conjointly, making effort to keep Blochistan unstable so that these development projects do not materialize on ground. For this they are exploiting traditional ethno-sectarian fault-lines. Besides international intrigues, handful of local anti-Pakistan elements are also conspiring against the province of Balochistan with a view to destabilize the province by exacerbating dissent, sectarian violence and stirring sentiments of separatism. Moreover, international players have also hired some local cronies to draw international focus by trumpeting so called Human Right’s violations in Balochistan.
Balochistan is resource-rich province of Pakistan, and its geostrategic location has significance for international business and transit trade. Thus world powers and regional countries, including some ostensibly friendly ones, have designed their respective Balochistan specific game plans. Most of them are covertly working to create conditions to control and influence the resource rich zones. The situation is complex requiring delicate handling.
Since the start of Gawadar port project, a lot of lose money has always been readily available from some of the foreign NGOs/ think tanks for sensationalizing the Balochistan situation. Such sponsors nominate speakers for such events, control the contents and throw up recommendations of their choice. Some Pakistani entities and individuals unknowingly walk into the trap; and for some it’s their bread and butter. Noble causes like freedom of speech, autonomy of academic research and Human rights are often referred to for justifying their bizarre acts.
As a great majority of the people of Balochistan is patriotic Pakistanis, a relentless effort is on to create confusion in their minds by floating horror stories about Balochistan. Balochistan has been a battlefield of mischievous interests of the anti-Pakistan elements for the last many years. Most of the time there is an artificially created atmosphere of lawlessness, chaos and anarchy. Innocent people are killed sometimes in the name of sectarian conflict and sometimes in the name of linguistic and ethnic differences; ethnic cleansing is another sorry state of the overall picture. State does not subscribe to any such activity. However, terrorists are doing their best to enforce the impression that the law-enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies are behind the bloodshed in Balochistan. In the process HR narratives about Balochistan have become overly politicized.
National Commission on Missing Persons/Forced disappearances, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, in 2010, had put to rest exaggerated claims of missing persons in Balochistan; findings brought to light that such number was less than one hundred, and other three provinces and AJK each had larger number of unaccounted for persons. Later, a delegation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances carried out its ten-day official visit to Pakistan on government’s invitation. During the visit, the Working Group held a number of meetings with representatives of all sectors of the civil society including NGOs, HR activists, lawyers and a number of relatives of disappeared persons in all parts of the country. It reported: “The invitation extended by the Government to us and other special procedures of the Human Rights Council is a testimony of its will to cooperate and take human rights issues seriously…Meanwhile, Pakistan is facing important security challenges…The State has to deal with multiple threats, coming from terrorist movements or violent groups. The conflicts taking place in neighbouring countries or territories is an additional factor of insecurity. The Working Group acknowledges these threats and the need for the State to ensure the right to life of their citizens”. Working group received a number of complaints, but found nothing close to fairy tales of “hundreds of thousands of missing persons”.
On April 11, twenty construction workers were killed and three others injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat. The victims belonged to Sindh and Punjab. Banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) promptly claimed responsibility for the attack. Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch believes that RAW is behind all these; he has stated that terrorists, receiving funds from RAW, were involved in this heinous act. In a recent interview with oneindia portal/website managed by the RAW, Dr. Aala Nazar, chief of BLF spelled out in detail various issues ranging from the attempts made by the Chinese to have foothold in Balochistan with the help of Pakistan, and also the role that India could play in Balochistan. In 2004 also, the BLF had claimed responsibility for attacks on Chinese engineers in Gwadar.
In a follow up to April 11 incident, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif along with Chief Minister and Governor Balochistan attended a briefing at FC Headquarters Quetta on April 15. During his trip the General warned foreign governments and intelligence agencies against meddling in Balochistan and thereby sustaining the insurgency that he vowed would be defeated “comprehensively”. He said: “We will unearth terrorists, their abettors, sympathisers and financers. None of them will find any place in the country to hide.”
There are pluses of Balochistan polity which are often ignored. For example after peaceful general elections in 2013, Balochistan became the first province to hold local bodies’ elections; and since then both local and provincial governments are functioning in harmony. Other provinces are yet to hold their local bodies’ elections. Moreover, during both these elections, turnout of voters was quite high, even in the areas having poor law and order situations people came out in good numbers to vote; surprisingly women voters turn out even in insurgency hit areas was quite promising. This indicates the faith common Bloch people have in the country and its democratic processes. A number of education and vocational training being run by Pakistan Army are bringing a quiet revolution in Balochistan that does not suit the old guards in Balochistan. Moreover, enabling environment has been created for the Baloch youth to join the officer cadre of the armed forces; as many as 15 Baloch cadets passed out of Pakistan Military Academy in the 132nd passing out parade held at Kakul on April 18. Balochistan is moving in the right direction, however the pace is slow. Law enforcement agencies need to put their act together and arrest high profile dissidents of the like of Dr Aala Nazar and bring them to justice. This will deliver a strong message and hasten normalization of Baluchistan.

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