Balochistan unrest – the other view
Disgruntled Baloch leader and former chief minister of Balochistan Sardar Akhtar Mengal appeared in the Supreme Court and let loose a barrage of accusations before a three-member-bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Mengal presented before the court six recommendations that he termed the bare minimum preconditions for the beginning of talks between Baloch militants and the government. “Before initiating a meaningful process of conflict resolution it is imperative that the Government of Pakistan should take and practically implement some measures which are must to build a conducive atmosphere for the reconciliation process,” Akhtar Mengal said. His recommendations are: “All covert and overt military operations against the Baloch should immediately be suspended; all missing persons should be produced before a court of law; all proxy death squads operating under the supervision of ISI and MI should be disbanded and persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of dead bodies of Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice”.
Akhtar Mengal decried killings of Baloch and Hazaras but did not make a mention of the target killings of Punjabis and Pakhtuns in Balochistan. One of the readers has commented in a daily suggesting that to counter Akhtar mengal’s six points Pakistan government needs to put forward the following six points: Stop and cease all terrorist training camps being run in Afghanistan; stop asking support from foreign countries and secret agencies for independent Balochistan; stop the target killings of Punjabis, Pathans, and Mohajirs; all rich and influential Sardars should share their wealth with the common Baloch; stop sabotaging any development activity in Balochistan; and bring to justice all the terrorists who were involved in the target killing of settlers. We hear a lot from human rights organizations about killings of Baloch insurgents. They all express sympathy with the insurgents, centrifugal forces and nationalists. But nobody mourns over the target killings of innocent citizens like teachers, professors, doctors and even skilled and semi-skilled workers coming from other provinces.
The apex court is hearing the case of missing persons and on the deteriorating situation in Balochistan. On Thursday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in his closing remarks has reportedly said that the ISI and MI “death squads” should be abolished. He subsequently adjourned the next hearing of the case to Friday.
The court, after Mengal’s statement, sought the reaction of the president, prime minister, ISI, MI and IB, and directed the Balochistan chief secretary to submit it on Friday. According to the joint statement submitted by the chief secretary, no proxy death squads were operating under the ISI and MI, and no covert or overt military operation was being carried out in Balochistan by the armed forces. It said no person alleged to be missing was in the custody or under detention of any law enforcement authorities or any other agency of Pakistan. The joint reply further stated that all-out efforts were being made to find out the whereabouts of the persons who were alleged to be missing. In this regard, detailed statements and affidavit have already been filed on record of the court.
On Friday, talking to newsmen after over an hour-long meeting with Mian Nawaz sharif, Sardar Akhtar Mengal maintained: “My six-point charter submitted to the Supreme Court should not be considered as different or less important than that of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.” Unfortunately, he drew parallelism with six points of Sh. Mujib-ur-Rehman, in the presence of Mian Nawaz Sharif, who said there was a need to ponder as to what circumstances had forced Sardar Akhtar Mental to express such feelings. Both the leaders during the meeting however conveyed an impression that those who had the real power in the country (what they mean is armed forces) were responsible for Balochistan’s deteriorated situation, and that they were also responsible for the East Pakistan tragedy. Mian Nawaz Sharif said: “We should not forget the ‘Fall of Dhaka’, and should think over the blunders committed in case of Balochistan to save the country; the day of Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing was the worst and blackest day in the history of Pakistan…We stick to our stance that the murderers of Akbar Bugti should be brought to book.”
Nawaz Sharif pointed out that a petition had been filed in the Supreme Court to ascertain as to whether Akbar Bugti was killed or he had committed suicide. This is what military and even former president Pervez Musharraf has demanded. In fact, Mian Nawaz Sharif has grudge against former President Pervez Musharraf who had overthrown his government, and out of vengeance he is willing to go up to any extent to get Musharraf in the dock. But he should spare the present military leadership and should stop maligning agencies, as they have kept their neutrality despite provocations. The nation has been listening to the venomous language from dissident Baloch sardars. Sardar Ataullah Mengal rarely appeared on TV for comments, yet in his television interviews at least twice he said that America did not pay any attention to the restive Balochistan, and that he was willing to accept American help.
Through Balochistan package, the government has tried to address the concerns of people of Balochistan, but unfortunately the people did not benefit because of corruption by the elected leaders of Balochistan, which point has been highlighted by the Public Accounts committee of the parliament. On the other hand, Army’s role in Balochistan’s development and efforts in social sector are commendable, but sardars want to keep the Baloch illiterate so that they could continue to enslave the poor Baloch. Whenever efforts are made to hold talks with Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Harbiyar Marri and Brahamdagh Bugti they balk at negotiations on the ground that the elected government is not in a position to address their grievances, as it has no powers. But they condemn the security forces for missing persons and killing of Baloch dissidents; hence they would not talk to military leadership. Since majority of people of Balochistan are not with the dissident sardars, their efforts to cause harm to Pakistan would fail.