Balochistan and the military

The Supreme Court (SC) has started focusing on the Balochistan issue after a long hiatus. Between 2007 and now, the SC has either been in disarray or distracted by other cases. It is good to see that it has finally taken up this issue in earnest once again. The SC expressed its dissatisfaction over the Intelligence Bureau (IB) report on the law and order situation in the country’s largest province and has sought reports from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI). The court also wishes to talk to the prime minister in this regard. What is happening in Balochistan is no secret, yet our military and political leadership keep denying that there is a military operation going on in the province. Extrajudicial killings and a general breakdown of the law and order situation is not something that can be swept under the rug. The SC may have taken up the issue again partly because the situation has gone from bad to worse and partly because of the longstanding and increasingly louder complaints of the Baloch.

In another interesting development, Louie Gohmert — a US Republican Representative — proposed that in order to beat the Taliban, the US should carve out a new, friendly state [Balochistan] from within Pakistan to stabilise Afghanistan’s western border. Even if Mr Gohmert does not necessarily speak for Washington, it is logical to assume that he made this observation after picking up the buzz in American political circles. The US wants a consulate in Quetta but so far Pakistan has resisted this ‘request’. The geostrategic location of Balochistan and its potential in minerals, gas and oil is something that interests the world’s sole superpower. The Baloch resistance movement is one of the few, if not the only one, that has not been declared a terrorist movement by the US. The US’s soft attitude towards this resistance movement does not necessarily mean that they are enamoured of the complaints and aspirations of the Baloch but that the Americans have their own vested interest there. They may now want to snip away at the roots of the Pakistan military’s dual policy in the war on terror by a ‘flanking’ move in Balochistan.

Before this loud thinking is embraced as policy by Washington, for our own territorial integrity, we should do away with our double game in the war on terror and politically settle Balochistan’s issues. By helping the Afghan Taliban and other jihadi groups, we have only weakened our own country. It is time that the military realises this folly. Indiscriminate killing of the Baloch by the military and its intelligence agencies cannot and must not be tolerated. The political leadership must talk to the Baloch resistance. Only through negotiations and a dialogue can the Balochistan issue be settled peacefully.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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