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Himalayan Mistrust

By Sanaullah Baloch

Balochistan’s unheard voices gained Himalayan attention after the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs loudly raised its concern over the appalling rights violations and systematic repression by Pakistan’s ethnically-structured State apparatus against Baloch people. The hearing was followed by the introduction of a three-member bill that called for Balochistan’s right to self-determination.

Instead of admitting heinous crimes committed by the state agencies and providing a clear road map for addressing Balochistan’s indisputable grievances, the Pakistani political and diplomatic machinery responded illogically and reacted violently — enforcing their outright authority — and claimed that Balochistan was their internal “subject”.

Pakistan cannot claim its copyright on Balochistan and its people. Looking at history, any protracted conflict unresolved for years is bound to attract international attention. Countless researchers are working on the subject and think-tank organisations are encouraging their policymakers to pay more sober attention to the Texas-sized Baloch-land, a region with immense natural wealth — and known as strategic jewel of south-west Asia.

Nevertheless, Islamabad’s ethnically structured civil-military establishment is indifferent to the issue. Their shortsightedness with regard to Balochistan has resulted in the wholesale alienation of the Baloch masses. Except in countless military garrisons, naval bases, Frontier Corps’ facilities or government buildings in Quetta, the so-called enforced writ of the government is completely diminished.

The super-costly military operation to deal with the very political question is yielding no positive outcomes. The policy of silencing moderate Baloch voices through kill and dump backlashed, the blood-littered mutilated bodies of innocent victims are transmitting a more powerful picture and message of ground realities to the outside world.

Besides the recent US hearing on gross human rights violation and the resolution in Congress, several national and international human rights organisations have criticised the oppressive regime of security forces in Balochistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in its June 2011 report, titled ‘Blinker slide into chaos’, blamed non-native Frontier Corps for the abductions and killings and regarded the provincial government as non-existent.

Amnesty International including New-York-based rights group Human Rights Watch, in its July 2011 detailed report titled ‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’, highlighted the fact that security agencies are involved in abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings in the province.

No doubt, over the past few days, Pakistani media is debating Balochistan but not in support of the helpless Baloch — they are wrongly focusing just on the US hearing and the resolution tabled in the US Congress. However, our vector of analysis is Balochistan and the gross violations over the last 10 years which no one has bothered to pay attention to.

In the last one decade, around 10,000 people have been killed, thousands rendered homeless, hundreds disappeared, all of which has affected the lives of over thousands of Baloch families.

This despair and social anger has impacted much more than the lack of development itself. Abductions, torture, killings, intimidation and large-scale displacement and injustices have created an extreme divide between Islamabad and Balochistan. Addressing this divide will require perhaps double or triple the time the establishment has taken to disrupt Balochistan’s social and political fabric. This divide is now of hearts and minds, not to be filled by the so-called All Parties Conference or by allocating petty developments projects.

Conflict in Balochistan is neither about Sardars (tribalism) or non-Sardars; it is about Islamabad and the Baloch people. Had Islamabad used logical and genuine development tools to bring the province at par with the rest of the country, it would have won credibility. But it used the policy of guns and canons to maintain its flawed rule. Even as we are reading these lines, hundreds are protesting for their loved ones to come back home.

Rapidly changing geo-strategic dynamics in the region demands greater understanding and swift modification of obsolete policies concerning Balochistan. Security-centric policy of centralised governance, implemented by ethnically-structured security apparatus is yielding disastrous results.

There is common but genuine perception among the Baloch, based on historical facts, that Pakistani leaders are not remotely interested in peace on terms that would satisfy even the minimum Baloch demands and needs for justice.

Due to this Himalayan mistrust between Balochistan and Islamabad no talks and efforts will produce encouraging results. Genuine Baloch leadership and true stakeholders will not negotiate any political deal with Islamabad without direct mediation and international guarantees.

Islamabad has to offer an extra attractive alternative to the Baloch demand. Paying lip-service and using deceitful tactics would further inflame the situation.

Empirical evidence suggests that many intractable conflicts have been resolved with the help of international experts, reliable mediators and granters. No doubt, Pakistani establishment lost a major part of Pakistan in 1971 due to its arrogance, less flexible and shortsighted approach. There is little hope that Islamabad will consider internationally mediated and guaranteed solution of Baloch-Islamabad conflict. (Courtesy: The News on Sunday)

The writer is a Baloch leader who resigned from the Upper House in protest against Islamabad’s discriminatory policies against Baloch people. He can be reached at

Faiz Baluch