• Thursday 20th June 2019

Exclusive Interview: Dr Baloch Speaks His Mind On Challenges By Qaiser Butt

Dr Baloch, however, believes only political engagement is the way forward. “We are keen to bring the militants to the negotiating table with the help of the federal government,” he said.

“I don’t want confrontation with the Frontier Corps. We [provincial government and FC] will collectively solve all the issues facing our province,” says Balchistan Chief Minister. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:

Unlike his predecessors, he’s not a khan, a nawab or a sardar. He belongs to a middle-class family. An eye specialist by profession, he persevered in his 40-odd years of political struggle. In the end it was all worthwhile. Today, he’s the chief minister of Balochistan.

Dr Abdul Malik Baloch successfully led his National Party in the May 11 elections and clinched enough seats to form

a coalition government with the help of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

Dr Baloch is aware of the challenges his administration is faced with in a province reeling under a strange mix of ethno-political, sectarian and militant violence since 2004. And he appears to have a roadmap to steer his province out of the current mess.

“Restoration of peace tops my priority list,” 58-year-old Dr Baloch, a humble and soft-spoken politician, told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview at Balochistan House in Islamabad.

The Frontier Corps has been accused of extrajudicial killing and illegal detention of ultranationalists and political workers in Balochistan. And Dr Baloch’s predecessor, Nawab Aslam Raisani, had tried, though unsuccessfully, throughout his tenure to bring the federal paramilitary force under his administration’s control.

On the contrary, Dr Baloch thinks the FC and political administration can work in synch for peace. “I don’t want confrontation with the Frontier Corps. We [provincial government and FC] will collectively solve all the issues facing our province,” he said.

Efforts by previous governments to win over a medley of Baloch separatist groups – including Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and Baloch Liberation Army – failed miserably in the past.

Dr Baloch, however, believes only political engagement is the way forward. “We are keen to bring the militants to the negotiating table with the help of the federal government,” he said. BRA chief Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti is living in self-exile in Switzerland, while BLA founder Nawabzada Herbiyar Marri is seeking political asylum in Britain. Dr Allah Nazar Baloch has been leading his BLF insurgents from his hideouts in Balochistan. Similarly, the Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud Khan, is also living in self-imposed exile in London.


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