• Tuesday 20th October 2020

Analysis: Balochistan: The Gwadar Aspect Dr Qaisar Rashid

Clearly, the past of Balochistan is haunting the present and swaying the future, as Balochistan’s is a story of broken promises and frustrated expectations

The known history of Balochistan is laden with persistent insurgency of variable intensity. The latest spike in insurgency is an artefact of the post-2000 events. The counter-insurgency launched by the state has also proved counter-productive, as the strategy has bolstered the resolve of the Baloch insurgents to rely on militancy for protection of the Baloch rights.

In fact, violence is an endemic problem Balochistan is faced with. The Balochistan version of violence has two actors: the insurgents and the security forces. The former uses the weapon of violence to instigate disorder and show its discontent while the latter uses the instrument of violence to restore peace and demonstrate its awe. The question is: can both the actors achieve their ends by resorting to violence?

Caught in the crossfire are the political forces. Matters are decided by either the insurgents or the security forces. That is how violence overrules the rest. In this militant equation, the political forces have lost their say. Neither can they persuade the insurgents to renounce militancy nor can they rein in the security forces to exercise restraint.

One of the reasons for the incapacity of the political forces is that they cannot offer any guarantee to the insurgents that the promises made with them by anyone, including the state, will be respected. That was one of the reasons that veteran Baloch politician Sardar Ataullah Mengal advised Nawaz Sharif on the latter’s recent visit to Karachi to speak instead to the Baloch insurgents hiding in the mountains. His statement alone reflects the enormity and gravity of the crisis buffeting Balochistan. Secondly, his statement indicates the scale of the cost – in terms of political and economic concessions – of neglecting and depriving Balochistan for years; the state must now be ready to pay. Third, his statement points out that hardly any broker is available in Balochistan. Clearly, the past of Balochistan is haunting the present and swaying the future, as Balochistan’s is a story of broken promises and frustrated expectations. Eventually, the political forces are waiting on the sidelines for the victor to surface to side with.

Within the political sphere, there is another quandary. The provincial government of Balochistan is not considered a true representative of the Baloch. The electoral result of the 2008 elections is considered a doctored one and the provincial government is considered a puppet one – which is always ready to dance to the tunes of the Centre. Consequently, the provincial government is failing to raise the concerns of the Baloch with the Centre. For instance, one of the concerns is the future of the Gwadar port.

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