The proceedings of the day were marred by government’s apparent frivolous attitude, as neither Interior Minister Rehman Malik nor Defence Minister Naveed Qamar, who is also head of a recently formed committee over Balochistan situation, were present in the house. This government’s apathy resulted in separate walkouts by PML-N, JUI-F, ANP and BNP.
Not even any other high official of the interior ministry was present when the house started discussing the issue. The situation led the opposition, government’s ally ANP and even Senate Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari to voice their serious concerns over it. The chairman remarked that the conduct of interior minister and the ministry high ups amounted to disgracing the house and then he suspended the proceedings for 15 minutes. But then Rehman Malik rushed to the house and tendered his apology.
Senator Hamdullah of JUI-F taking part in debate said that the affairs of Balochistan are handled through GHQ in Rawalpindi and the establishment was the only force that could clean its own-created mess. He said the situation deteriorated because of the unending intervention of the military establishment.
“It is all because important decisions are taken at GHQ not the democratically elected governments,” he said. “By declaring Baloch nationalist leaders as traitors, they are going to repeat the same saga that resulted in separation of East Pakistan,” he remarked. He said mere apologies and formation of committees over the issue would not bring the desire results.
Hamdullah said that interest of the US and China in the province was also adding fuel to fire. He was of the view that unrest in Balochistan was one of the most important factors, which had pushed Pakistan into international isolation.
Hamdullah said Balochistan has vast reserves of natural resources, besides five sea ports. Several international powers are interested in the province due to its geographical situation. He said as many as 600 Punjabis have so far been killed in the province while teachers and intellectuals were being targeted callously.
Earlier, opening the debate, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of JUI-F criticised the government, saying that the current regime has made no serious efforts to find real solution to the Balochistan issue. He urged the need to expose those elements, which wanted to create East Pakistan like situation in the province. “Such elements at first declared Nawab Akbar Bugti as traitor and then killed him.”
Haideri said the government always engage in negotiations with those Baloch leaders who do not reflect the true aspiration of the people at large. He called upon the government to hold talks with those angry Baloch leaders who are perched on mountains. He said that Balochistan issue was purely political and constitutional one and it could not be solved by merely announcing special packages and carrying out development work in the province.
He said that despite being rich in mineral resources, Balochistan was still underdeveloped. Some national and international forces were creating hurdle to make Gwadar port fully functional as it would usher in a new era of progress and prosperity not only in Balochistan but the whole country, he added.
Senator Ilyas Bilour of ANP said it was the internal forces, not the foreign, which were contributing to deteriorating law and order situation. Talking part in the debate, Suriya Amirud Din said more facilities should be given to the Baloch people to remove their sense of deprivation. She appreciated that the government had announced a special package for Balochistan and released hefty development funds, besides recruiting around over 4,500 teachers, but she said the law and order situation was grave. People were being kidnapped for ransom and later their families receive their mutilated bodies, she said, warning that continued inaction could result in Bangladesh-like disaster.
She said a number of committees were formed on Balochistan but to no avail, adding that more job opportunities should be given to the people.
Senator Kalsoon Parveen said that they were raising the issue in the house for the past 10 years. This issue cannot be resolved by mere speeches; rather, it needs serious practical steps, she added. She said that “we have to bring around enraged Baloch people and find a pragmatic solution”. She said unfortunately Aghaz Huqooq-i-Balochistan package was not implemented in letter and spirit and urged all the parties to play active role in resolving the issue.
The senate on Wednesday also unanimously adopted a motion to constitute a special committee to help remove various anomalies in the Electoral Rolls (ERs) announced last day by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).