Balochistan: As I see it

Balochistan is always projected as an area having many problems. For the last decade or so it has turned into a playing field of different regional and global powers. Intelligence agencies of different countries have been using politically and ideologically half-baked, directionless and unemployed Baloch youth for their vested geo-political interests. The Baloch youth, acting under catchy slogans, are used as a fuel in a battle to control major geographical choke points, resource-rich areas and their major possible routes. In addition to logistic and financial help of the foreign actors, the moral and political assistance from few media elements, civil society activists and certain political parties, have placed these foreign funded separatists at a much advantageous position as they have managed to divert public opinion in their favour despite their crimes against national security and common people in Balochistan. These armed groups have mainly focused on soft targets in Baloch-dominated areas to remain alive in news headlines and create problems in Balochistan. Firstly, they started targeting non-Baloch teachers, doctors, engineers and labourers. But when it became harder for them to find anymore such soft target, they switched to Baloch political workers, teachers, doctors and tribal elders. They acted on a simple formula; whoever is not following your political line, or has some personal or tribal clash with you, just go and target him. Once he is targeted, declare him an ISI Agent and claim responsibility of his killing by using a foreign-gifted satellite phone and harass his family and friends. Till 2008, these separatists received a considerable attention from a segment of Baloch political workers, civil society and common masses. But once they started targeting innocent Baloch people because they had faith in Federation of Pakistan or they had tribal or individual differences with these terrorists, the people of Balochistan started to shed away shadows of fear and dared to speak against them in public. With the passage of time the victims of these foreign–funded terrorism started to get united and mobilised. Now, by this time, the people are strong enough to force these elements to vacate certain areas including Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Khuzdar.

At present, one can safely claim that only pro-federation majority is the only stakeholders in Balochistan issue. Anti-state camp is represented by Hairbiyaar Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti, Dr. Allah Nazar and Javed Mengal. While pro-state camp is led by Sarfraz Bugti, Shafique Mengal and Siraj Raisani. The cause of concern here is to unfold the fact that our so-called independent media, civil society and political parties, following the traditional rhetoric are denying to accept existence of the important pro-Pakistan stakeholders in Balochistan. It is about time that they should also change their prejudiced lenses and should acknowledge the role, contribution and importance of these pro-federation Baloch figures fighting disgruntled elements in Balochistan. Irony of fact is that they are targeted by anti-state elements and our so-called independent media and vibrant civil society, because they are pro-Pakistan. In today's media activism, one hardly finds representation of the community which is torch-bearer of resistance against those who are resisting writ of the state in Balochistan. In the most cases, we see either nationalists or least bothered federalists speaking their brand of Balochistan conflict.

Amid this whole scenario, if one wants to move towards a serious and genuine conflict analysis in Balochistan, he needs to be mindful of the fact that it is not Balochistan of 1960s and 1970s when just few tribal nawabs (chieftains) were the only stakeholders. A major difference between present situation and past movements is the active role of youth. In majority of cases, small groups of youth operate independently under a loose command. In such a situation, they get influenced by petty local considerations and end up in using this foreign-funded political infrastructure to settle their non-political individual issues. Due to leadership role of youngsters at this level, a clear manifestation of reactionary and immature decision-making has been noticed in militant groups. Killing of innocent people including teachers and doctors, destroying electricity polls and targeting relief activities during recent Awaran earthquake are examples of the immature decision-making. Such policies on one hand have resulted in complete isolation of militants and on other hand have paved the way for emergence of a strong reaction against these terrorists from within the Baloch society. If we analyse the main targets of these armed groups during past three four years, it will become evident that in more than 70% cases, they have targeted people associated with Sarfaraz Bugti, Shafique Mengal or Siraj Raisani. So, this situation boils down to a point that if we speak of major stakeholders of present conflict within boundries of Pakistan, these are three, namely: Pakistani Government, Baloch militants and their pro-state Baloch opponents in Balochistan. So, if there is any attempt of reconciliation excluding these pro-state activists, it will prove ephemeral and will burst into pieces like a bubble and may lead to law and order situation in the province. Once weaken, these pro-federation elements will be easily targeted by the militants.

So, the need of the hour and writing on the wall requires us to open our minds and eyes to see the changing political circumstances in Balochistan and acknowledge and appreciate role of the new major stakeholders in the issue. Our national security and ground realities demand to re-think, re-visit, and re-formulate our understanding of Balochistan conflict by keeping in mind these new dynamics for a sustainable conflict-resolution. It is need of the hour to give due respect and consideration to all forces in Balochistan to strike a pragmatic balance among different stakeholders. Just holding talks with foreign-funded elements and pushing in isolation to patriot factions in Balochistan will not serve the purpose and will turn the things from bad to worse. It will simply mean that we have given our national fate, destiny and pride in hands of those who, in collusion with their foreign masters, want to destabilise Pakistan. If such mindset persists and continues to flourish, God forbid there may be times when no one from Balochistan dares to take name of Pakistan, let alone standing against its enemies. Today, the people of Balochistan denounce these militant groups and stand united to fight them. The people of Balochistan only deserve due share in the power structure of the federation. They must be fully supported to live in peace and harmony, and continue participating in prosperity and well-being of Pakistan.

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