Killings in Balochistan continue

When people all over Pakistan will be celebrating Eid-ul-Azha, the people of Balochistan will be mourning their loved ones. The responsibility for this lies with the Pakistan military, its intelligence agencies and the Frontier Corps (FC). The entire nation should be ashamed of the brutalities unleashed by the military against its own people in Balochistan. Javed Naseer Rind, a young journalist, was abducted in September and his tortured, bullet-riddled body was found the other day in the province. More than a dozen Baloch, including women, were killed last week in less than 24 hours during a military campaign in Balochistan; the same week when the FC was placed under the provincial government of Balochistan. The fifth military operation of our history is underway against the people of Balochistan but it seems that the rest of Pakistan remains oblivious to it. The apathy of the government and the nation is something that has further alienated the Baloch from the Pakistani state. Thus a new wave of separatism has found resonance in Balochistan. The lessons from 1971 have not been learnt.

The PPP-led government in Islamabad seems helpless before the Pakistan Army and its skewed policies. Even then there is no reason that the government cannot put pressure on the army and make a logical case against its brutalities. Promising development and aid will not serve its purpose unless and until the military is called back from Balochistan and the people of the province are empowered in letter and spirit. The Baloch insurgency started only to ask for their just rights but in order to quash their nationalism, the military under General Pervez Musharraf started using force. Even after the ouster of General Musharraf, the same policies are being carried out. When democracy returned to the country in 2008 after nine years of military rule, it was hoped that the civilian government would do away with a military dictator’s wrong policies. Instead, we have been disappointed with the way the ‘kill and dump’ policy is being carried out with impunity in Balochistan. Thousands of Baloch are still missing while hundreds of them have been slaughtered like animals by the army. Is this the way to deal with a demand for just rights?

The need of the hour is to settle this conflict through a political settlement. Military means cannot crush the honourable Baloch people. The government must talk to the Baloch leadership, both in the mountains and those who are in self-exile, and bring an end to the insurgency on a just basis. All the missing persons should be brought back to their homes safely. The military operation must be stopped at once. The Balochistan government is toothless and cannot do much to stop what is going on. The federal government must come to the rescue. If things keep on going the way they are, the federation will be in trouble. The government should not take this matter lightly. The Baloch deserve better from a democratically elected government. Cruelty is not the answer to anything. Peaceful means and political negotiations are key to bringing peace and prosperity in Balochistan.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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