EDITORIAL: Balochistan cannot suffer anymore

Trouble has hit a new high in Balochistan. On Wednesday, the capital city of Quetta received three rockets in different parts of the city from a nearby mountain range resulting in the death of some four people and injuries to another 18. The first target was a traffic-heavy area where a roundabout, Saryab Pathakh, is located. Two other rockets were fired and hit two houses but, thankfully, no injuries were reported. In addition to these attacks, the bodies of two missing Baloch men were found in the Lasbela district. These men had gone missing some five months ago from Gwadar and Vindar respectively; they have now been found in much the same way many missing Baloch are recovered: mutilated and decomposed bodies. On the same day, the Quetta Express was bombed. Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi said that he did not see any progress in talks with the “angry Baloch” who were engaged in a struggle to attain their human, social, economic and political rights. He also said that some headway could only be made after the next general elections with a new leadership making the effort necessary to resolve the abysmal situation.

Meanwhile, as Balochistan keeps discovering and burying its sons and daughters, Prime Minister Gilani does not deviate from his usual rhetoric. Addressing a delegation led by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani on Tuesday, he once again assured that all efforts would be taken to improve the security situation in the province with closer coordination between the federal and provincial governments — words we have heard all too many times before. Citing the Balochistan Package, he ‘reassured’ that all possible directives for the start of different development projects would be issued. This gives rise to the question: it has been over a year since the package was introduced as a solution to all Baloch woes; why on earth is it still on the planning room floor?

Balochistan is not a playground for “foreign elements”, as much as the PM would like to have us believe. Governance in the province has been hijacked by a reportedly brutal Frontier Corps that has claimed the area as its exclusive preserve. Innocent Baloch who may be able to contribute to the betterment of their society, political workers, educationists, doctors, engineers, etc, are being picked up and whisked away, reportedly by paramilitary forces and the government seems unable — and unwilling — to stop them. Resources located in Balochistan are hungrily swooped up by the centre without allocating a sufficient share for the Baloch people. They have no faith in the government and the army and hence separatist sentiment runs deep. Economic, industrial and resource development has not taken place, resulting in an increasingly poor population without access to rights and fair play. Is it the fault of the people or those who rule them for the mass frustration that is now taking a violent turn?

Every dead body that ‘mysteriously’ turns up in Balochistan after ‘mysteriously’ going missing — the last count was 13,000 dead — is another nail in the coffin of any peace and stability in the province. It will not be long before we will be burying the soul of the largest province in this country. Short-sighted hated policies, cruel treatment, what comes close to an illegal occupying force in uniform and the consequent hate-fuelled sentiments of the Baloch people have turned one more part of Pakistan against the centre. Enough with the rhetoric and the cosmetic promises; Balochistan needs a determined political solution, otherwise we can, literally, kiss it goodbye – dailytimes