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Jul-29-2012 14:58printcomments

Sunday Editorial: Consider Balochistan

Serious analysts count Balochistan as one of the top most failures of the PPP government.

Balochistan, where freedom of the press does not exist.
Balochistan, where freedom of the press does not exist.

(KARACHI, Pakistan) - Every few months we are reminded of Balochistan, on one pretext or the other. The last time the media approached the issue with some degree of seriousness was when the Republican legislators’ resolution came, demanding right of self-determination for the Baloch.

Other than that, the issue gets picked up, albeit superficially, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court raising it, while sitting in the capital or actually going to Quetta with fellow judges.

This time we were compelled to focus on Balochistan when the newly elected prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf addressed a national workshop at the military-run National Defence University in Islamabad. The thrust of his statement was that there was unrest in small pockets in Balochistan that could not be equated with insurgency and that his government would not negotiate with those who did not respect the Pakistani flag.

It came as a stark reminder of how close the PPP government stands to the military vis-a-vis Balochistan — one is not sure if it actually believes in this position of denial or is it only for public consumption.

The saner elements have taken strong exception to his statement and have reacted accordingly. The decision to not talk with those who do not respect the Pakistani flag has been a subject of criticism for a government that has repeatedly announced opening the channel of talks with militant extremists in other parts of the country.

Serious analysts count Balochistan as one of the top most failures of the PPP government. From its encouraging announcements in the earlier parts of its tenure, its position has only hardened with passing time and this has only aggravated the situation. It now seems in agreement with the military’s solution of the problem, ruling out any kind of political solution. The lessons of East Pakistan are left for academic discussion only.

Meanwhile, an added ethnic and sectarian dimension has been added to the complicated Balochistan problem, raising the level of violence many times over. The Baloch youth are now completely disgruntled and chances are that when the government talks of refusing to talk to those who do not believe in Pakistan, it is referring to a majority of Baloch youth.

Our analysts for today’s Special Report warn that time is running out and Baloch problems must be addressed sooner and in better ways than suggested by the prime minister. We wonder if someone will pay heed since all earlier warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears. As always, all analysts are based outside Balochistan.

First published by The News on Sunday

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