Balochistan: Problems & Solutions Ishfaq Kundi

government must open meaningful talk with the leaders of Balochistan instead of fake leaders produced by the agencies.

Balochistan history since the time of the formation of the country represents an unending narrative of the increased conflicts. It is obvious why the central government has been obsessed with keeping tight control of Balochistan. It is not only the largest province in Pakistan in terms of area but it has also vast natural resources. Not surprisingly, Balochistan literacy is the lowest among the four provinces.

Despite being the major supplier of natural resources to other Pakistani provinces, the Baloch are behind the rest of the country not only in terms of education but also in social development. They have the lowest per capita income among the four provinces, with sixty three percent living below the poverty line, 85 percent lacking safe drinking water and about eighty percent without electricity. Conflicts in Balochistan historically have several underlying reasons. Balochistan’s political elite have been continuously excluded from policy and decision making, or under represented due to the population basis used for electing political representation in the National Assembly.

The Baloch political parties have always demanded the political, socio-economic, cultural rights from the Federation as enunciated in the Lahore Resolution of 1940. Baloch political parties have been provided with no serious opportunities and platforms to talk about the Balochistan conflict and how to tackle it. The elected representatives of the province have also shown an apolitical and non democratic attitude instead of highlighting the genuine needs and interests of the people.

The complaints and issues of the local people in Balochistan about the situation of development or the lack of it are absolutely genuine beyond any doubt. There is no doubt that the province has been neglected for about six decades and has taken a back seat in the minds of the ruling elite. The basic facilities including health, education, communication sources and infrastructure are in very poor condition. Poor transport and communication infrastructure is a big hurdle in the progress of the province. The resources wealth and development projects have never benefited the people of Balochistan.

The federal government gives only a fraction back to Balochistan from what it earns through gas extracted from the province. And that fraction is too not properly planned and spent. There is no disagreement that over the years, the income from natural resources in the province has neither been properly paid nor fairly distributed and beyond doubt, the common Balochi people have not benefited from it.

Despite being the major factor, the backwardness and development lag is not the sole explanation of the insurgency in Balochistan. In the current geo-political context, the separatist movement is in the process of being hijacked by foreign powers. British intelligence is allegedly providing covert support to Balochistan separatists. The question is that what is the role of international players in Balochistan quagmire and what is at stake for these coutries. One of the basic objective for such interference is to destabilize Balochistan by stimulating insurgency and creating voilance for its detachment from Pakistan. Secondly, it has vast natural resources due to which it has become the cynosure of the world. India is at the moment chief regional ally of the US and NATO. India believes that Pakistan is at the brink of break-up and India must focus on building its relationship with the Central Asia, Iran, and Afghanistan and capture oil and gas reserves from central Asia and Iran through Afghanistan and Pakistan. India also believes that an independent Balochistan will likely become a proxy of Iran, India, and Afghanistan. The term settlers is used in Balochistan to describe those Balochis who are ethnically neither Baloch nor Pathan. These settlers in Balochistan have been living in the area for generations. We find this factor extra-ordinary. Ethnic Balochis are also themselves settlers under one definition, and so are Pathans, as both ethnic groups arrived a few hundred years earlier and are not indigenous to Balochistan. During the current wave of violence in Balochistan, the settlers have been particularly targeted and have suffered immense violence at the hand of the insurgents. The targeted killing of the

Punjabi-speaking minority has been on going since the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akber Khan Bugti. Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan and the passage of the 18th Amendment in the Constitution include: most of the measures for reviving good relationship of the state with Baloch people. The package has five different dimensions. The basic points of this package include: withdrawal of army from Sui and Kohlu areas, halting the cantonments in the areas, replacing of army by FC, inquiry in the death of Nawab Akber Bugti and also into the murder of other Balochistan leaders such as Lala Munir or Ghulam Muhammad and fact-finding in the ongoing current target killing in the province. The package also includes the creation of extra 5000 jobs for Balochistan people in government, semi-government and other such organizations. But unfortunately this much awaited package did not bring any immediate relief to the people struck with turmoil and strife.

To tackle the Balochistan problem, the federal government must open meaningful talk with the leaders of Balochistan instead of fake leaders produced by the agencies. Confidence building measures are required to defuse the situation. Development and dialogue is the best option. Army should be withdrawn. NFC award and Huqoo-e-Balochistan initiative should be urgently implemented and should be dealt with seriously. All missing persons must be released. Employment opportunities should be created to satisfy unemployed youth. The federal and provincial governments should provide sufficient funds for education and healthcare sectors. All the players of Balochistan must understand that Pakistan and Balochistan have no future at all if they are separated. The solution based on justice and fair-play is the only option for Balochistan.
(The writer is a freelance journalist)

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