Foreign intervention in Balochistan could spark a terrible new war in the region. The breaking away from Pakistan of Balochistan, complicated by an increasingly hands on US approach to Iran, could well set in place circumstances which could precipitate in another world war.
screen of denials, these actors have now picked up the courage to come
to fore openly. Pakistan’s reaction has been quite appropriate. Two
demarches’ to the American ambassador within a week would radiate amply
strong message to others who are too prompt to kowtow American line on
such issues. Ambassador Sherry Rehman needs to take charge of the
situation and employ potent lobbyists, otherwise this campaign would
snowball. Before long the issue would be raised in the House of Commons
and later in the European Union etc. War in Afghanistan is impacting the
Balochistan situation in a number of ways. This war has facilitated
several foreign actors to influence the developments
in the region and complicate the issue. Nevertheless, internal scrutiny
is in order, for external seize can only be blown off through a
pressure created by the political will radiated in the form of national
of concern is the inability of the democratic setup to rectify the
situation for over four years, that too when same party governs the
federation as well as the province.
Resource provision has not been an issue. A candid estimate has it that cumulative flow of development intended cash to the province during the last four years has been of the tune of eight billion rupees. This huge funding,
at the cost of well being of the people of other provinces, does not
show up in the form of projects; there is hardly any measureable change
on the ground. Miseries of a common Baluch have not reduced. Policy of
political appeasement has not been able to buy out calm in Balochistan .
A province of 30 districts has around 60 minsters, each having annual development fund of Rupees 25 Crore. APC needs to find out the utilization of these funds.
Love for money and the rot of political appeasement was amply visible
during the passage of 20th constitutional amendment by our Senate that
has cost the national exchequer Rupees 46 crore. Senators refused to
vote for the amendment untill they were prepaid on the account of PDP I&II and their life time VIP status was notified. Knowing how much out of development funds
are actually spent by the majority of our legislators, it is too naive
to think that pumping in of money through ministers/ MPAs of Balochistan
would generate desired effects at the grass root. Around 70 percent
hospitals in the province do not have staff and medicines while 70
percent schools have been closed down. In fact most of these very MPAs
are the biggest hindrance to development of rural Balochistan . Publicly
they present a different face and propagate the deprivation of a common
Baluch; whereas privately they obstruct any meaningful attempt aimed at
the well being of a common Baluch. Situation in Balochistan has come
to such a pass due to faulty policies of successive governments, both
civilian and military. For them, political expediencies and narrow
legitimacy goals are the primary objectives; larger national interests
are generally pushed to the back seat.
model of administration in Balochistan . They used to purchase the
title holders and notables; barter terms and conditions were complete
internal autonomy to them in exchange for maintenance of ruthlessly
effective law and order. Common Baluch never figured in colonial calculus; for local chieftains a commoner had only one role and one choice: to go along with the colonial design in exchange for his right to live. Not much has changed. Even today, for the purpose of law and order,
Balochistan is categorised into ‘A’ and ‘B’ areas. “A” area, 5% of
total land mass, falls under the jurisdiction of police and FC. “B” area
(remaining 95%) is under the levies. Levies are employed and equipped
by tribal chieftains. Levies personnel are paid by the provincial
government through respective chieftain. Through a bold decision by the
previous government entire Balochistan was declared “A” area, but
surprisingly the decision was reversed soon after the takeover of
present Government, mainly to appease the tribal chiefs. Hence a common
Baluch was handed back to the wolves. Since then the law and order in on a nose dive.
It is unfair to blame FC for all the woes of Balochistan , while it has
partial jurisdiction over only 5 percent of the area. IGFC Balochistan
has recently stressed for collective political efforts alongside
socio-economic development to address the current precarious law and order
situation. Although the present situation is largely a result of
political vacuum, IGFC needs to take stock of the highhandedness of his
force, and evolve a culture whereby FC could acquire a people friendly
image. He could take some cues from the Motor way police. Though there
is no ongoing army operation in Balochistan , public perception to the
contrary is rather overwhelming.
for youth means a decline in their influence, and eventual fall of
their fiefdoms. National strategy should be evolved to ensure job
availability to each youth of Balochistan . Youth is yearning to get out
of the suppressive environment of tribal chiefs, the nation must
support their struggle, federal and provincial governments should not
strengthen the wrong party—tribal chieftains. National leadership
should recall that our visionary Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had
abolished the Sardari system of Balochistan back in the early
Above all, Balochistan does not belong to Baluch community only; they
represent only half of the population of the province. A workable power
sharing arrangement needs to be evolved whereby the Pushtun population
and the settlers have guaranteed representation in all spheres of life,
proportionate to their numbers. Though the situation in Balochistan is
deteriorating, it is also being over projected. Out of 30 districts,
only five - Quetta, Sibbi, Dera Bugti, Turbat and Khuzdar- have volatile
situation, rest of the province is calm. Effort of Pak Army in bringing
the Baluch youth into national mainstream need political ownership,
otherwise even its positive outcomes would continue to carry negative
tags. At diplomatic front, a concerted campaign should be launched to
expose the blatant involvement of CIA, RAW, Mossad, RAAM, MI5/6 etc.
Balochistan situation is manageable, national consensus and political
will can bring and early calm to the area. Piecemeal political
appeasement must be avoided. A meaningful ‘All Parties Conference’ could
be the starting point, followed by effective implementation of its decisions.
By Cdre Khalid Iqbal (R)
The writer is Consultant Policy and Strategic Response, IPRI Islamabad.
He is a former assistant chief of air staff of Pakistan Air Force.