The largest province of Pakistan has historically been battling with an intricately woven web of grievances, leading to deadly militant attacks and insurgencies in the region. Balochistan’s turbulent past with complexities coupled with external involvement has a deeply ingrained sense of marginalisation in the masses. The fragile security environment in the region has experienced a surge in militant attacks, resulting in substantial infrastructure damage and instigating major setbacks for security forces. The Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) reported an astounding increase in militant attacks by up to approximately 80 percent. Balochistan endured an unfortunate increase in violence in July, making it the most lethal phase for the province in recent times. Several attacks in Zohb Garrison, Sherani checkpoints, Noshki and Panjgur have been orchestrated by various militant groups. These attacks were claimed to have been carried out by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Despite efforts and initiatives by the armed forces, the question arises as to why unrest persists in Balochistan. The current security environment, characterised by a reactive or firefighting approach, has proven to be less effective. In this regard, a more holistic, comprehensive, and proactive approach is required to address the deep-seated causes of resentment and grievances of the people of Balochistan. A particularly concerning problem of Balochistan’s people is the growing resentment among the Baloch youth. While the government has made several attempts to fix this issue and reconcile with Balochistan’s youth, insufficient political commitment from the individuals in power has led to tattered attempts and a disillusioned economy. The intermediaries involved in the reconciliation efforts have become despondent. Moreover, the presence of India in the region has also contributed to the region’s current turmoil. Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy, arrested by the Pakistani security forces revealed Indian involvement in inciting chaos through various militant attacks in Balochistan. Stronger border security and cooperation with neighbouring states are required in this scenario to tackle these problems.
The Sardar system has impeded the development in Balochistan. Tribal leaders have manipulated and exploited their influence. Moreover, economic resource distribution is one of the fundamental causes of Baluchistan conundrum. Despite abundant mineral resources, Balochistan remains poor and vulnerable. The 7th NFC award though aimed to focus on reducing financial inequalities by shifting distribution parameters, yet people are dissatisfied due to the lack of accountability and poor financial administration. Uneven distribution of resources, characterised by programs like Saindak Gold and Copper projects, is benefiting the external actors rather than the local communities. Despite the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project in the region, the people of Balochistan are facing inadequate inclusion in federal services in addition to poor healthcare facilities and substantial unemployment.
To address these issues, the authorities should promote inclusive development to ensure transparent and proportional allocation of resources. The government must emphasise the infrastructure development for health care, and education and provide employment facilities to instill a sentiment of collective action and ownership. Collaboration between federal and provincial governments and effective accountability measures can promote development. Empowerment of the local institutions and inclusive governance methods are also required to dissolve the vicious cycle of reliance on the Sardar system. Setting up a reconciliation commission, genuine dialogue and involving nationalist leaders and all relevant stakeholders can foster peace and stability. The path to growth and stability necessitates a comprehensive approach to eradicating the deeply ingrained causes, grievances and insurgencies in the region and promoting sustainable growth and a stable environment.