Way Forward in Baluchistan
Alam Rind
9/3/2012

 

Complexity of Baluchistan unrest is growing with every passing day. It is being compounded on account of increasing sense of deprivation, lack of development, rampant corruption, nepotism and above all foreign support to dissident elements.

Through a well¬-orchestrated campaign educational institutions have been destroyed, teachers assassinated and settlers made to migrate from the province. This single development has plunged the future generations of Baluch's and Pashtun's residing in the province into darkness of illiteracy and deprived the province of the skills that Punjabi and Sindhi settlers had. The issue of missing persons and mutilated bodies coupled with efficient media campaign against the government and its security agencies has increased the sense of insecurity among the people. This ever growing void between the government and the people can be highly detrimental for the security of the country.
The situation that we confront today is the result of incorrect policies adopted by the government during last sixty five years. Controlling the province through appeasement of Sardar's hasn't worked. Moreover, individuals elected though political process have also failed to deliver. Most striking example is that each member of the sitting provincial assembly of Baluchistan received twenty five to thirty crore each year for the development of their areas, whereas, no money has been spent on ground. This state of affair reflects on rampant corruption in the governmental institutions. It won't be incorrect to conclude that provincial government lacks capacity and oversight mechanism to implement developmental projects. This certainly is a very depressing state of affairs.
The situation is further complicated by the activities of dissident elements operating from abroad. Brahamdagh Khan Bugti, Dr Allah Nazar, Munir Mengal and like are sponsoring terrorist activities in the province. There are confirmed reports that these individual have linkage with CIA and RAW. There outfits are funded, armed and tasked by these hostile intelligence agencies. Killing of seven coalminers in Baluchistan by BLA is a latest example of their brutality. To further complicate the situation for Pakistan hostile intelligence agencies are engineering ingress of Taliban into Baluchistan. That will add to the difficulties of Pakistani security forces.
Concurrent to these developments another important change that has come about in Baluchistan is that batten of leadership has shifted from old traditional Sardar's to youth. What we experienced in FATA was elimination of Maliks that created leadership void to be filled by religious and Taliban leader. This stage hasn't reached as yet in Baluchistan. Moreover, this phenomenon may not be implementable in total due to cultural variations. But the fact is that the power of Sardar's has been eroded by trigger happy foreign funded youth. It creates another dynamic into complex Baluchistan situation.
Addressing Baluchistan situation needs an in-depth reappraisal of the developments taking place in the province. It certainly would require a multipronged approach that at one end would check the insurgent and on the other end implement developmental projects to win over masses. At the core of this approach lies welfare of people. A common man needs food, shelter and security. For provision of these basic needs government must create jobs for the people of the province that would be a tall order but is doable. For the purpose studies need to be conducted to identify skills and aptitude of people residing in different parts of the province. Such an undertaking must also include exploitable natural resources available in the area, which could be used to create jobs for the people. The projects so identified must be implemented with full force.
From where to start would be another important question to be answered. Normally favours are extended to the tribes and leaders hostile to Pakistan. This constitutes a source of grievance for those who stand for Pakistan and are patriotic. A common argument against this practice is that you reward those who talk and act against the interests of the state. That is a plausible argument, which needs to be addressed. Taking up developmental projects in areas which are friendly would be easier and will have greater acceptability. It will also help in reinforcing the positive inclination of the people of the area towards state besides checking expansion of fundamentalist and centrifuge elements.
Development at the grass root level presents long-term solution to Baluchistan problem. Funds provided for the purpose normally fall prey to corruption and inefficiency. To guard against such eventualities a mechanism needs to be evolved. Ideally developmental works should be lead by local representative so that people of the area have its ownership. He should be supported by technical expert and monitored by an efficient oversight body to prevent pilferage. Making such arrangements in peaceful areas shouldn’t be difficult, only thing that we require is will and commitment of the government. Sooner we start such projects better it will be.