The situation in Balochistan is concerning, with Balochistan National Party – Mengal (BNP-M) holding protests in Quetta and other parts of the province. The protestors are asking the government to not carry out an operation like Dera Bugti in Wadh, where a tribal feud escalated conflict between two groups, in July. Amidst upcoming elections in January, this escalation in the province is not a good trend. It will only disrupt the electoral process and deter people from casting votes.
The leaders and members of BNP-M rallied outside Quetta Press Club and other districts including Khuzdar, where Wadh is situated. Their cry is to not displace locals and solve the worsening situation through negotiations. Balochistan has its unique tribal dynamics, which often escalate to levels that pose grave security risks. But the issue has persisted for ages, and the government’s insistence on using force has only complicated matters further.
Authorities’ response to Wadh’s situation reveals how treating the symptoms and not the malice has downplayed Balochistan’s troubles all these years. Holding negotiations with different stakeholders in the province, listening to their concerns regarding autonomy and development, and then coming up with an agreed-upon way should be the ideal course of action. But everything was done except this. Today, what is happening in Wadh is only a reminder that such issues will keep resurfacing until and unless the core of the issue is touched.
Utter seriousness and urgency must be adopted to bring the law and order situation back to normalcy. This must be done on a priority basis because elections are near and peace must prevail during all this time. But the response should not just be limited to this one case that has escalated already. While this can be the starting point, the state must win the trust of the locals in Wadh and beyond. What should then actively be pursued are long-term reforms where Baloch leaders must be included in decision-making.