Excuses galore

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Monday that foreign powers and elements were involved in Balochistan and Pakistan has solid evidence to that effect. Mr Gilani’s statement about the involvement of ‘foreign hand’ in Balochistan is akin to undermining the struggle by the Baloch people against decades of state oppression. Instead of addressing the genuine grievances of the Baloch, Prime Minister Gilani is hiding behind the usual excuse. Mr Gilani, and all those who allege that the Baloch insurgency is funded by external powers, should put their money where their mouth is. The promised evidence, which has been doing the rounds ever since Mr Gilani’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Sharm el-Sheikh, has still not materialised. Mere assertions to this fact are less than convincing since we have not seen a shred of such evidence. It is time that this so-called evidence is shown to India and the people of Pakistan. If there is no such evidence, which is more likely, then the government should stick to facts and address the issues at hand.

Balochistan is in turmoil once again. Lawyers in Balochistan boycotted court proceedings on Monday to protest the kidnapping of judges and lawyers. The legal fraternity seems to be the newest targets of assailants in Balochistan. This is something new and dangerous. Sibi District and Sessions Judge Jan Muhammad Gohar Yasinzai and Balochistan Bar President civil judge Muhammad Ali Kakar were kidnapped by unknown men recently. Four senior lawyers were also kidnapped before these two judges. Some legal analysts are of the opinion that these new developments are related to the restoration of the Sibi Circuit Bench of the Balochistan High Court and the unhappiness of our security establishment at its restoration. If this is true, then there is more cause for worry. No institution of state should be held hostage to the whims and fancies of our security establishment.

Prime Minister Gilani expressed his concern at the kidnappings and said, “We invite their [Baloch] leadership (for dialogue) and we are ready for talks”. The solution to the Balochistan imbroglio lies in dialogue and not the use of force. The democratically elected government must initiate a political dialogue before the situation gets out of control.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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