A welcome move

THE decision by Balochistan's banned militant groups to suspend their activities for an indefinite period is welcome as it may lead to the cessation of attacks on vital infrastructure and installations in the province. The groups include the Balochistan Liberation Army, the Balochistan Liberation Front and the Balochistan Republican Army which remained involved in subversive activities over the past many years. Their spokesmen used satellite phones to inform the media that they had suspended their activities for the Baloch people, but could resume them if the military operation was not stopped. No nationalist leader has ever endorsed the activities of these shadowy organizations, but their insistence that the government should try to find out why the Baloch were supporting them, indicates that by resisting the naked aggression the BLA and other militant groups have gained acceptance among the public. They claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on the security forces, mainly coming as a reaction to the military operation. Balochistan witnessed the worst kind of repression over the past eight years of military rule, when hundreds of people were killed and kidnapped merely because they were demanding protection of their rights and resources. The nationalist leadership was blamed for not positively responding to the government's offer for talks but the former found it useless to start a dialogue with those who had no regard for their words. Nawab Akbar Bugti's murder is a case in point. He was hounded out of his native Dera Bugti and killed in a military action days after a two-member troubleshooting team assured him that a comprehensive plan had been prepared to mitigate the sufferings of the poor Baloch. But the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee headed by Ch Shujaat Hussain never saw the light of the day. If at all there were some recommendations that can help in restoring peace in the restive province, then the current dispensation should implement them since it had pledged to compensate the Baloch for the excesses committed against them.   The BLA spokesman's contention that their decision to suspend their activities was not the result of any deal need not be disputed. But the government can restrain them from taking up arms again by creating socio-economic opportunities, launching new development projects and easing resentment among the restive population caused by the prolonged military operation. Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani must fulfill the promises he has made with the Baloch leadership during his recent visit to Quetta, that helped him muster support for Mr Asif Zardari's election to the Presidency. It's time to give a healing touch to Balochistan which continued to bleed over the past eight years of military rule. 

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