Balochistan: waiting for justice

Balochistan High Court Bar Association President Hadi Shakeel’s petition in the Supreme Court (SC) under Article 184(3) of the constitution, making the federal government and nine others respondents, has yielded some results. The apex court has directed the Attorney General of Pakistan, Maulvi Anwarul Haq, to meet Prime Minister Gilani and apprise him of the security situation in Balochistan and the concerns of the Baloch people. It is indeed a welcome step that the apex court has taken renewed notice of the kidnappings and targeted killings in Balochistan. The SC also directed an ISI official to ask the director general (DG) of the ISI to take up this issue with the prime minister. The Balochistan chief secretary, inspector general of police, DG Military Intelligence (MI), inspector general Frontier Constabulary and DG Levies have also been summoned by the SC. By directing the prime minister and DG ISI to discuss the issue and summoning other high-ups, the apex court has signalled that it is taking a deep interest in the woes of the Baloch people. On Saturday, lawyers staged a protest demonstration in front of the Quetta Press Club, condemning the abductions of four lawyers. They have vowed to hold demonstrations every day until their colleagues are recovered.

Pakistan’s security establishment has dealt with Balochistan in a very heavy-handed manner. The largest province of Pakistan has seen little development over the last six decades. Lack of education, infrastructure and political power has alienated the Baloch from the rest of the country, particularly Punjab, which they see as their ‘enemy’. The recent policy of eliminating moderate nationalists, who are in open national politics, is a dangerous trend. Thousands of Baloch have disappeared under mysterious circumstances or have been picked up by unknown elements. They are not only tortured but many of them are killed brutally and their bodies are later found from different parts of Balochistan. This policy adopted by our security establishment is leading to an increase in separatist sentiment among the Baloch.

It is no secret that neither the federal government nor the provincial government has any real say when it comes to Balochistan. The real power lies with our security establishment, which has a narrow and non-political repressive policy. It is time that they understand that force, repression and killing cannot resolve this issue. A political solution is needed and for that the democratic government needs to run the show. The Baloch have been waiting for justice for decades now. It is time to address their grievances.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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