As the acutely disturbing situation in Balochistan fails to get any better, it arouses widespread concern across the country. Official circles, political as well as military, judicial authorities, the media and intellectuals and even the common citizens, are getting increasingly worried about the shape of things to come. Reports of a foreign hand at work, discontented chieftains stirring trouble while sitting abroad, the militants who have sought refuge from the army action in Fata and other vested interests wanting to keep the pot boiling – these are, indeed, confusing reports that demonstrate how complex the situation is. There has been a lot of talk about these challenges and the sense of deprivation of the local population being the cause of disturbances and, of course, of solutions. Yet hardly does it seem that the issue has been thought through. Beyond asserting that the problem calls for a political approach and not an armed action, nothing of substance that could really turn the corner has happened.
On Tuesday, both Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Director-General Military Operations Maj-General Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmad, went to the National Defence University to address the participants of a workshop on “Balochistan situation – Perceptions and realities and the way forward”. Mr Ashraf’s apprehension that the sore might spread to the country at least created the feeling that he realized the urgency with which the issue needed to be tackled. His intuition appears to be guiding him correctly as he invited the disaffected elements to come forward and talk over their grievances to the government, telling them “The entirety of Pakistan is yours.” Like quite a few other government functionaries, including former Interior Minister and now Advisor Rehman Malik, the Prime Minister also referred to the Balochistan woes as “foreign abetted”. Yet, it is evident that the government has been unable to prove or come to grips with the troublemakers. And one reason why the local rogue elements do not lend credence to the official utterances is that the previous commitments have shown little of benefit coming to the ordinary man. Be it the President’s apology, the Haqooq-e-Aghaz-Balochistan Package or the Gwadar Port, there has been no change for the better in his life. Unless radical steps are taken to give him affordable facilities of education, health, travel, etc. there is little scope of any reconciliation occurring.
The DG MO has conveniently denied that any military operation was going on in the province and advocated a political solution. At the same time, he asserted, contrary to the evidence that the Supreme Court says it possesses, that most of the missing persons were either in Ferrari camps or in Afghan jails. Before anything else this confusion, perhaps, needs to be clarified.