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Wishful thinking: 'Balochistan conundrum: Khan of Kalat’s return is a distant possibility'

ISLAMABAD: An initiative by the Balochistan caretaker chief minister, Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai, to facilitate the return of self-exiled Khan of Kalat Mir Agha Suleman Daud from the United Kingdom failed primarily because of a lack of trust.

“The initiative could not succeed due to a trust deficit,” a relative of the Khan of Kalat, told The Express Tribune. “The khan is not willing to trust the federal government on this issue.”

Soon after taking over as interim chief minister in March Barozai announced that he would travel to the UK to convince the Khan to end his self-exile. He also intended to meet other Baloch separatist leaders in London and Europe to initiate dialogue with them.

“The initiative failed to kick off mainly because Barozai did not receive a positive response from the Khan,” a senior official of the Balochistan government told The Express Tribune. The official requested not to be named in the report because he is not authorised to speak to the media on the subject.

Prince Mohiuddin Baloch, a prominent figure of the Kalat royal family who is also the father-in-law of Mir Daud, said his son-in-law would never return under the prevailing circumstances.

Prince Mohiuddin – who served as a federal minister for nine years under General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship – suggested the federal government cut a deal with the khan with international bodies, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as a guarantor.

Prince Mohiuddin, who heads his own political group Baloch Rabita Ittefaq, believes democracy is the best system of governance but “unfortunately it was not allowed to take roots in Pakistan”.

“Those who are sending people to London to bring the Khan back to Pakistan lack credibility,” he said. “Those who are being used as a mediator don’t have guts to guarantee the implementation of any accord, if reached, between the Khan and the government.”

Mir Daud went into self-exile after the assassination of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 and formed a government in exile of Balochistan. He also plans to approach the International Court of Justice against Khan-e-Kalat Mir Ahmed Yar Khan’s decision of ceding the princely state of Kalat to Pakistan at the request of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1948.

A close family friend said Mir Daud also fears reprisal from the federal government for his anti-state activities. Prince Mohiuddin confirmed this. “History bears witness to the fact that the federal government reneged on the commitments it made to my uncle, Prince Agha Abdul Karim Baloch and Baloch militant leader Nawab Nowroz Khan Zehri,” he alleged.

Prince Abdul Karim led an armed rebellion against Pakistan after his elder brother Ahmed Khan agreed to cede the Kalat state. He surrendered to Pakistani authorities after he failed to enlist official support in Afghanistan. Subsequently, he was imprisoned in Haripur jail where he spent 10 years.

Political observers hope that prime minister-in-waiting Nawaz Sharif, who is committed to resolving the festering Balochistan conflict, will work for the return of the self-exiled Baloch leaders, including the Khan of Kalat, as a trust-building measure.

“Nawaz Sharif is in a position to resolve all the issues pertaining to the crisis in Balochistan,” Amanullah Gichki, a former Baloch diplomat and president of the Friends of Baloch think-tank, told The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2013.