Editorial
The government's announcement of the Balochistan package has put to test not just the political leadership's resolve to give the long-denied constitutional rights to the province but also the Baloch people's patience with such promises.

context
Balochistan: 
A test of resolve
Why the Baloch are angry
No student of history will deny that the Baloch have taken up arms as a last resort and not the first one
By I. A. Rehman
Few things irritate the Balochistan nationalists more than the question by many interlocutors from outside the province as to what makes them angry with the central government and drives them towards armed struggle every few years. Such queries, in their view, betray a feigned ignorance of what has been done to them for six decades and an effort to deny the questioner's share of responsibility for it.

Ballistic exile
The Baloch leaders in self-exile say the package is mute on the "ruthless military operation" and other issues
By Murtaza Ali Shah
The true measure of what the government is up against in the context of the restive Balochistan province can be gauged from the extreme reaction the much-hyped Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan (AHB) has generated, on the part of the Baloch intelligentsia, at home and abroad. They have already dubbed the package as an exercise in futility because, in their opinion, it does not acknowledge the presence of the proverbial big elephant -- the military operation -- and the mushroom growth of military cantonments in the province, especially in Bugti and Marri heartlands.

review
Package deal
Balochistan would receive billions of rupees in additional funds which, if properly utilised, may be helpful in resuscitating the moderate elements
By Adnan Adil
As expected, the government's reform package aimed at defusing the ongoing tension within the province of Balochistan has not found favour with an overwhelming majority of Baloch leaders across the spectrum. While the separatist Baloch leaders have termed it a conspiracy against the nationalist movement, the federalist Baloch leaders are calling it inadequate. Their main grouse is that they were not taken into confidence while framing these proposals.

"Govt must announce general amnesty for all Balochs"
--Senator Waseem Sajjad
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Waseem Sajjad, who has headed a parliamentary committee on Balochistan in the past, terms the announcement of the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package as a step in the right direction, "provided certain issues are taken care of".

In the name of security
The presence of Police, FC, levies, coastal guards, etc, reflects political turmoil in the province
By Dr Ishtiaque Ahmed
Balochistan nationalist parties criticise the role of police, Frontier Corps (FC) and other law enforcement agencies on the issue of the missing people, which is one of the root causes of resentment of the people against the security agencies. The visible security apparatus, including police, FC, levies, coastal guards, etc, in Balochistan reflects the amount of political turmoil, lawlessness, and instability in the province. These issues have weakened the state.

Before it's too late
It is time the government addressed the grievances of the people of the province by ensuring a transparent and speedy implementation on the package clauses
By Muhammad Ejaz Khan
Constituting committees and announcing administrative or financial packages for redressing the six-decade old Balochistan grievances are not a new phenomenon. In retrospect, we find similar packages were announced by previous governments, but they came to a naught. All claims of development were exposed when the people of the province realised they were made just false promises.

Absolute minority
The Pakhtoons in Balochistan are left to suffer
By Raza Khan
Pakhtoons comprise nearly half of the population of Balochistan, but it seems that while announcing the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package the federal government overlooked their concerns.

 

 

Editorial

The government's announcement of the Balochistan package has put to test not just the political leadership's resolve to give the long-denied constitutional rights to the province but also the Baloch people's patience with such promises.

From the government's point of view, this is certainly not a bad start. At least a beginning has been made. And, for all serious observers of Balochistan, this time around, the establishment appears to be on board. How else could such a comprehensive package, involving each and every facet of the larger problem, be made public?

The Baloch leaders and the people, variously termed as anti-Pakistan and anti-federation, have been put to the sword for demanding their rights promised to them in the very Constitution of Pakistan. While they have faced state oppression under democratic governments, it was under the military regimes that they were treated most brutally. One recent example which turned out to be the most potent was the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti -- an act that added to the resentment even among those Baloch who remained less expressive of their anger.

In this backdrop, the package comes as a ray of hope for many who had been advocating granting of constitutional, political, and economic rights to the forsaken people of Balochistan. On paper, the package seems to promise almost everything that the disillusioned Baloch have been demanding -- from constitutional reforms, which include the deletion of the Concurrent List from the constitution, to the release of political leaders and the initiation of a meaningful dialogue "with all major stakeholders", and so on.

And yet there is room for scepticism. There are critical questions that remain unanswered. Will the promises made to the local Baloch be fulfilled? Will the resources of the province eventually return to their rightful owners? And will the Baloch continue to scrape a living by herding sheep on the barren tracts of land? These are not simple questions anymore. Time is running out fast.

While cynics may not see much in the package by way of implementation, one hopes the announcement (of the package) works to bring down the high temperature of mistrust between the disenchanted Baloch people and the adamant state institutions. This may well be the first little step towards the resolution of outstanding issues in the future. One really hopes so, also because, as said earlier, the establishment appears to be on board.

 

context

Balochistan:

A test of resolve

Why the Baloch are angry

No student of history will deny that the Baloch have taken up arms as a last resort and not the first one

By I. A. Rehman

Few things irritate the Balochistan nationalists more than the question by many interlocutors from outside the province as to what makes them angry with the central government and drives them towards armed struggle every few years. Such queries, in their view, betray a feigned ignorance of what has been done to them for six decades and an effort to deny the questioner's share of responsibility for it.

Throughout the country's history the people of Balochistan have complained of the failure of the custodians of state power to make a sincere effort to understand, or even acknowledge, their plight. As a result their lament has grown lengthier and lengthier and their bitterness at being abandoned deeper and deeper.

Although the whole population of Balochistan has been agitating against their deprivations, the Pushtuns and the Baloch have different sets of grievances and it is only the latter that have been taking up arms in support of their cause. We are at the moment concerned only with the Baloch's alienation form the state as it is the main cause of the present crisis in that region.

The Baloch have never got over their shock and anger at the way the accession of Kalat state was manipulated. What hurt the nationalists more than the military operation against the Khan of Kalat was their feeling of betrayal.

Unlike the Indian Congress that viewed the future of the princely states after the British departure from the subcontinent wholly in terms of the political rights of their populations, the Muslim League leaders persisted in a purely legalist interpretation of the end of British paramountcy. As a result, the Khan of Kalat and the state's relatively young radicals could not reconcile themselves to a negation of the Kalat brief that the Quaid-i-Azam himself had presented before the Cabinet Mission.

The result was that Prince Abdul Karim gave a call to arms. He failed because the people in general had been taken into confidence, or considered worthy of being approached even, neither by the Kalat Khan nor the leaders of Pakistan. The latter thought the matter ended once Abdul Karim was put in a jail in Lahore. No attempt was made to explain to the people why matters followed a particular course.

Balochistan was promised something like provincial status on the morrow of independence. In February 1948 Quaid-i-Azam recognised the right of the Balochistan people to have the same rights as were allowed to their compatriots in the rest of the country. A reform committee set up in 1949 recommended a provincial legislature, adult franchise and some regard for tribes' unity while demarcating electoral constituencies. But the people of Balochistan were made to wait till 1970 to attain provincial status.

Between 1949 and 1970 the centre's policy of ignoring the Balochistan people's opinion forced them into confrontationist politics, especially during 195470 when most of the time they had to agitate against the One-Unit. One of the offshoots of the One Unit scheme was the revolt of Sardar Nauroze Khan. The way the 80 years old chieftain was treated makes the Baloch angry to this day.

In 1972, the Baloch believed their rights had begun to be recognised but their representative government was dismissed and the central government chose to deal with the Baloch youth's resistance through a military operation instead of the democratic way of negotiation. The impasse ended only when Gen Ziaul Haq pretended a change of heart and acting contrary to the advice he had given to Mr Bhutto and PNA leaders he stopped military action. But there was no meeting of the hearts, no political discourse, and the Baloch were left to sulk and nourish their grievances.

The Musharraf era has been the darkest phase for the Baloch because in this period the government excesses started directly affecting the common citizen. The grabbing of the Gwadar land hit a large number of people who were not sardars. The exclusion of the Baloch from the beneficiaries of development projects radicalised the educated and jobless youth. The Baloch were humiliated in unprecedented ways. None of the politicians who crossed Gen Musharraf's path was humiliated the way Sardar Akhtar Mengal was. The ordinary Baloch were insulted on account of the hair on their face and for wearing their traditional shalwar. (As a reaction the young sardars and students who had switched over to jeans resumed wearing their shalwar and keeping long hair with a vengeance.) The Baloch have reached their present state of alienation because the centre has proved to be unworthy of their trust.

No student of history will deny that the Baloch have taken up arms as a last resort and not the first one. More often than not they have reacted to use of force against them.

Writing from his death cell to his favourite child (Ms Benazir Bhutto) Mr Bhutto observed that a settlement of the Balochistan crisis had been made difficult by the fact that much blood had been shed. His successors did not study his finding and continued to bleed Balochistan (i.e. Nawab Akbar Bugti, Ballach Marri, Ghulam Mohammad, Rasool Bakshsh, et al) and make the political tangle more and more intractable.

The present government started making gestures of goodwill towards Balochistan but it has been found wanting in capital to deliver on its promises. Its latest package is unlikely to generate a meaningful debate.

There were many occasions in the past when open-hearted dialogue could lead to healing of the Baloch's wounds. But killing Nawab Akbar Bugti was preferred to negotiations with him and Nawab Khair Bukhsh Marri was kept in prison instead of talking to him. Now that the Baloch youth have been alienated Islamabad wants to talk to any Marri, any Bugti, any Mengal or any Bizenjo, but neither the senior nor the younger leaders of the Baloch resistance are listening. They will not respond positively so long as their support among the youth continues to grow.

The real problem Islamabad faces today is that it lacks both the intellectual strength and the authority needed to establish a discourse with the Baloch youth. The situation will not improve till a fresh election is held in Balochistan but elections cannot be held until the Baloch people's over-riding concerns about missing persons and displaced people are addressed and decision-making powers are restored to civilian, elected representatives of the people.

 

Ballistic exile

The Baloch leaders in self-exile say the package is mute on the "ruthless military operation" and other issues

By Murtaza Ali Shah

The true measure of what the government is up against in the context of the restive Balochistan province can be gauged from the extreme reaction the much-hyped Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan (AHB) has generated, on the part of the Baloch intelligentsia, at home and abroad. They have already dubbed the package as an exercise in futility because, in their opinion, it does not acknowledge the presence of the proverbial big elephant -- the military operation -- and the mushroom growth of military cantonments in the province, especially in Bugti and Marri heartlands.

The Baloch were hoping that the package would make radical announcements about the on-going military operation besides giving the reassurance that no acts of human rights violation will take place in the province in the future. Only it turned out to be a 'damp squib' for them, as it didn't set any dates or acknowledge the brutal facts which have driven the Baloch up the rugged mountains from where they can launch action against what they once called their own army.

In a series of interviews, TNS learns that the exiled Baloch leaders have drawn certain important conclusions for them: a) the civilian government is completely helpless, and b) it is the military that actually pulls the strings and can rampage -- unchecked -- whenever and howsoever it wants to. Nearly all of them said they were never consulted or taken into confidence on the package proposals.

Hyrbyair Marri, the most radically positioned and vocal of the new-generation Baloch leaders, called the package a farce and an insult to the Baloch nation's intelligence. Former provincial lawmaker, who has been living in London ever since the Pervez Musharraf regime levelled charges against him and his family for a murder (at the time when the accused Marris were not even present in Pakistan), said the Baloch question should no more be considered as "charity handouts" but as a vital question about a nation's aspiration for freedom from the bulky occupiers (Iran and Pakistan).

Marri said that the level of resentment against the army's presence was so deep in Balochistan that nobody was bothered what the Centre was going to announce.

"I cannot imagine myself sitting and talking about charity packages with those who are spilling the blood of my people," he said, "Stop the massacre, don't allure us with phony packages."

The current Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Dawood Khan told TNS that 63 years of trust deficit and injustices cannot possibly be addressed in a package that had been prepared vaguely. "Nobody knows why the government didn't talk to the real stakeholders and, instead, relied on those who have lost credibility."

The Khan put forward his own proposal about land and resources, exhorting that these must be given in the possession of the Baloch people as a way of accepting the sovereign right of the Baloch over their resources. "International mediation, as far as I am concerned, is a must for us to sit down and discuss with the government of Pakistan.

"Too many promises have been broken. There is no trust left. We need a guarantor. We can't just talk. We are weak and they are strong. They are not talking to the real leadership, and that's the problem."

Nooruddin Mengal, a regular speaker on Balochistan issues at the United Nations forum and UK think tanks, told TNS that the Baloch nation was "not struggling for meaningless packages, but for independence. We see this package as another conspiracy against the province and a part of the systematic genocide of the Baloch people. It has undertones of dishonesty.

"This is a package of deceptions that clearly represents the mind of an occupier bent upon maintaining its hegemony and insulting the people's intelligence by doing something on the contrary."

The young Mengal continued: "They are still bombing our homes, torturing our people in concentration camps and murdering innocent, defenseless women and children. We are in a state of war; therefore, it is even absurd to think that we will agree to anything short of complete independence.

"How can we even expect them to recognise us and give us our rights after all the injustices they have done to us? How does anyone expect us to believe they feel remorse for what they did to Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti when they are still doing the same against his supporters?"

Ahmer Mustikhan, the head of American Friends of Balochistan, said the package was a "sugar-coated poison for our future generations. Almost 15 million Baloch people all over the world want nothing less than their independent homeland. We are resolved we will eat grass but establish our independent state".

He said Baloch people were thinking more about Nawab Bugti, Mir Balaach Marri, Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Dr Khalid Shaheed among thousands of others.

He called upon the international community, mainly the US, European Union, Russia, China and India to ask Pakistan and Iran to give a firm timetable for the pullout of their troops, security forces, intelligence agencies from Eastern and Western Balochistan.

Dr Naseer Dashti, a London-based Baloch intellectual and physician, said there was nothing substantial in the package that will appease the people of Balochistan. In his view, the first and immediate substantial step would be for the state of Pakistan to acknowledge the cause of the conflict it has with the Baloch people.

"The conflict is about the political, cultural, social and economic rights of the Baloch people. In response, the establishment has launched a brutal military campaign to suppress our voice."

As a first step, Dashti proposed, the basics of the conflict should be recognised. Secondly, the state should talk to the real representatives and the stakeholders. And, thirdly, genuine confidence-building measures should be initiated prior to any positive and substantial talk.

Samad Baloch, Secretary General, Baloch Human Rights Council, said the latest package didn't have anything substantial for the Baloch people, and said the government had created hype about the package to divert the attention of the Baloch.

"The PPP government is suggesting that we are beggars and need charity. We are the owner of the land and should be the masters of its resources. It is unfortunate that we don't enjoy the ownership of our own rich resources."

He advised that if the government was serious about resolving the issue then it should stop the military operation, release Baloch prisoners. In addition, the IDPs from Balochistan should be settled in their lands, and those who are killing and maiming our people should be held accountable.

The writer is Assistant Editor at The News-UK edition and can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

review

Package deal

Balochistan would receive billions of rupees in additional funds which, if properly utilised, may be helpful in resuscitating the moderate elements

By Adnan Adil

As expected, the government's reform package aimed at defusing the ongoing tension within the province of Balochistan has not found favour with an overwhelming majority of Baloch leaders across the spectrum. While the separatist Baloch leaders have termed it a conspiracy against the nationalist movement, the federalist Baloch leaders are calling it inadequate. Their main grouse is that they were not taken into confidence while framing these proposals.

The Balochistan Nationalist Movement comprises two planks. The secessionists, who openly call for an independent Balochistan dismissing any resolution within the framework of Pakistan, include leaders such as Brahamdagh Bugti and Hyrbyair Marri. Some of them are living in Afghanistan and London and campaigning to take up the issue in the United Nations, at the pretext of human rights' violations against the Baloch people by the state agencies. It was expected that they would not accept any reform plan announced by the government as they even dismissed participation in the electoral process within the federal framework and considered it harmful to their struggle for complete independence. The strength of these separatist groups lies in the support base among the Baloch youth and the covert support they are allegedly receiving from international actors interested in keeping Balochistan on boil for their own interests in the region.

For the time being, the situation is in favour of the Baloch nationalist leaders who can up the ante against Islamabad and it is certainly not helping the establishment since the military is already busy in the tribal region, fighting the Taliban insurgents.

The alleged presence of Pakhtun fighters in Balochistan makes the Baloch a natural ally of the international community because of the inherent possibility of expansion of the Afghanistan war theatre. Consequently, neither can the establishment use ruthless force nor can it withdraw from Balochistan because of regional security situation. That is why the Baloch separatists are increasingly seeking international support to attain their political rights as could be seen from the recent statements of leaders like Brahamdagh Bugti.

What little support Islamabad could hope for was to be got from moderate Baloch politicians such as Hasil Bizenjo, Abdul Malik and Abdul Hayee Baloch, but even they have rejected the government's policy as inadequate and insufficient. Some of them have even expressed the doubt that the proposed steps will actually be implemented.

In the midst of these suspicions, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani came forward with the reassurance that a cabinet committee will oversee the implementation of the reform measures and necessary legislation will be made to ensure the enforcement.

The opposition from the moderate Baloch leaders can be viewed in the context of their on-ground political compulsions. They are already on a weak wicket and fast losing ground to hard-line nationalists. The moderates cannot go beyond a certain point lest they would be seen as cooperating with Islamabad, because this way they stand to lose popular support in their respective constituencies. Only if they have something concrete to deliver to their supporters can they take the risk of supporting a government plan through and through. Islamabad, therefore, needs to bring the moderates among the nationalists on board.

The nationalists had boycotted the last general elections and, thus, they are out of provincial and national assemblies. But they could be consulted to examine the possibility of a mid-term provincial election in Balochistan so that they could have a stake in the system and become part of the implementation process.

One major reason why the government plan has come under fire is that it does not contain any substantive promise for provincial autonomy as demanded by the Baloch nationalists. The kind of autonomy the moderate nationalists are seeking borders on a confederation instead of federation. They want all powers, barring three or four subjects, to be transferred to the province. The proposed package does offer increased provincial powers by abolishing the concurrent list in the Constitution but this is, obviously, very little compared to what the Baloch nationalists have been asking for.

Doubts are cast even on the promised autonomy as it concerns constitutional amendments which, again, is a complicated issue.

Cautious optimism about the success of the proposed relief measures rests with their successful implementation. As per the package, Balochistan would receive billions of rupees in additional funds which, if properly utilised, may be helpful in resuscitating the moderate elements. For example, if the federal government does actually employ 5,000 Baloch youth, as it has announced, it may assuage their outrage. Something like this also happened in the early days of Gen Ziaul Haq who employed 500 Baloch young men in grade-16 and grade-17 positions in different federal departments and state-owned corporations, thereby successfully warding off an insurgency. The Baloch youth are the backbone of the Baloch nationalist movement and much depends on how successfully the federal government is able to negotiate with them and bring them into the mainstream.

 

"Govt must announce general amnesty for all Balochs"

--Senator Waseem Sajjad

By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Waseem Sajjad, who has headed a parliamentary committee on Balochistan in the past, terms the announcement of the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package as a step in the right direction, "provided certain issues are taken care of".

In an exclusive interview to TNS, Waseem Sajjad says the proposed package should have been discussed in Balochistan Assembly before it was taken up by the parliament. "The people of the province have the first right to analyse the package and discuss its pros and cons. Their suggestions and feedback would have been of vital importance and helped make the package more comprehensive."

He also thinks the government should have shown generosity and "announced a general amnesty for all Balochs instead of considering cases on individual basis. This step is necessary to build trust between the Centre and the people of the province who have always complained of being victimised and neglected.

According to Waseem, there are many Baloch leaders who were labeled as terrorists and left with no option but to leave the country. Besides, he says, there are nationalists who have their own grudges and sets of demands. "The need of the time is to take everybody on board and listen to whatever they have to say."

Waseem says it would have been an ideal situation if the constitutional package and Balochistan package had been announced simultaneously. "A number of issues such as grant of autonomy and that pertaining to concurrent list are likely to be addressed in the constitutional package," he says, adding that if a breakthrough had been achieved on these fronts, the package would have a much greater impact.

He also suggests that the office of Gwadar Port Authority be moved from Karachi to Gwadar: "There are fears among the people of Balochistan that the development of Gwadar will do nothing good to them. "This may never be so, but their fears are very well-placed, considering the history of cities developed in the past."

Waseem says people from other cities were brought in large numbers and settled at newly developed locations every time. "This must not happen in this case and the local population shall be accommodated on priority basis. The population of Balochistan is little as compared to other provinces and can be provided jobs easily."

He says that many a time people from outside are settled in cities on the pretext that the locals do not have the skills required for particular jobs. "Therefore, I suggest the government should set up vocational institutes in Balochistan and also train locals for jobs likely to be announced in the future.

"The government must start acting on the package immediately and adopt a proactive approach rather than opting for a wait and see policy," he adds.

Waseem claims credit for most of the recommendations made in the package as they were there in the drafts prepared by the PML government. "We had a great hope at that time but the process was stalled once the case of Dr Shazia Khalid surfaced and the overall atmosphere became tense."

 

In the name of security

The presence of Police, FC, levies, coastal guards, etc, reflects political turmoil in the province

By Dr Ishtiaque Ahmed

Balochistan nationalist parties criticise the role of police, Frontier Corps (FC) and other law enforcement agencies on the issue of the missing people, which is one of the root causes of resentment of the people against the security agencies. The visible security apparatus, including police, FC, levies, coastal guards, etc, in Balochistan reflects the amount of political turmoil, lawlessness, and instability in the province. These issues have weakened the state.

The situation has gone from bad to worse largely owing to the fact that the leadership that had the political will and vision to employ were not given the opportunity to work for the progress of the country. Those who lacked the vision were always egged on by 'treacherous' powers and political actors to exploit the available resources mercilessly. In all the districts of Balochistan, Sindh and NWFP, the armed forces have been deployed to counter the threat on the ground.

Generally, the political sub-divisions in our country place the urban areas in grade "A" category and the rural areas in grade "B" category. In the "A" category the police are dominant whereas in the "B" category the levies (a sort of tribal police) and FC corps are collectively doing well.

However, the army is called in only in crucial moments such as to deal with target killings, etc. The coastal guards usually safeguard the national waters available to a state as international political maritime space of the oceans. The role of law enforcement agencies cannot be ignored. They put in their efforts in defending the national frontiers, by employing all the available technology and resources.

"While security forces operate in Balochistan, there are other law enforcement agencies that have allegedly kidnapped the "missing persons" and that number has gone beyond 800 people whose whereabouts are still mysteries to be discovered", says Habib Jalib, General Secretary of Balochistan National Party (BNP), while talking The News on Sunday (TNS). In Balochistan, the role of law enforcement agencies is under scrutiny for abusing their powers.

It is due to the missing people that the situation in Balochistan has deteriorated. The vendetta of the Baloch nationalist parties is growing because the Baloch nationalist leaders have not been taken into confidence. It is obvious in their reaction.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, behind every war there is a violation of rights. So, it is now an established fact that Baloch nationalist parties have been facing deprivation for the last six decades. Today army, which is an important institution of the state, is disliked by common people because the citizens in Balochistan have only seen the men in khaki committing cruelties, killing their near and dear ones. In this bleak security situation, police has suffered the most. They have lost many precious lives while providing peace and security to the citizens of this province. Many others have lost their body parts and are now living disabled lives.

It is the right time for the government to promulgate constitutional laws so that one day there is no need of the security personnel patrolling in the A and B areas of the 26 districts of Balochistan, consuming funds from the national exchequer.

 

Before it's too late

It is time the government addressed the grievances of the people of the province by ensuring a transparent and speedy implementation on the package clauses

By Muhammad Ejaz Khan

Constituting committees and announcing administrative or financial packages for redressing the six-decade old Balochistan grievances are not a new phenomenon. In retrospect, we find similar packages were announced by previous governments, but they came to a naught. All claims of development were exposed when the people of the province realised they were made just false promises.

"I have lived all my life in Quetta but I've yet to see any development take place. All you get to see are false promises and fake packages made by one government after another," says 60 years old Abdul Mannan Baloch, a shopkeeper, while talking to TNS at Saryab road, Quetta.

These views are not peculiar only to Abdul Mannan. A majority of the population in the interior feels they have long lived with a lack of basic amenities such as potable water, electricity, healthcare and communication networks. The future also seems bleak to them, despite the fact that all the hidden mineral and natural resources are found here.

The five-tier Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package -- constitutional, political, administrative, economic and monitoring mechanism -- envisages the withdrawal, from Sui, of the Army that would be replaced with the Frontier Corps; a fact-finding commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court/high court to probe into the death of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti; inquiry by the superior judiciary into the killings of three Baloch leaders -- Ghulam Muhammad, Lala Munir and Sher Ahmed -- and target killings. Had the basic necessities and rights as per Constitution been given to Balochistan earlier, the present political unrest could have been avoided.

Malik Baloch, a graduate who is unemployed for the past five years, is ready to believe in the veracity of the package. He says he is hopeful he will get a job now -- that is, if appointments are made on merit.

The irony is that the exiled Baloch leadership rejected the package even before its announcement, while the Baloch nationalists are of the view that it is not a substitute for the constitutional package. "We demand a constitutional package that encompasses all aspects of provincial autonomy and control over the province's mineral and other natural resources," asserts Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo of National Party.

Conspicuously, the PPP leadership claims to have taken the stakeholders into confidence, while talks are in progress with several others. But Mir Suleman Daud Khan, the current Khan of Kalat, says the government has failed to bring all stakeholders on board. He also points towards the amount given in the package being "meagre".

"The authority to use and utilise its mineral and natural resources should be Balochistan's own matter, just as Punjab and Sindh consider their agriculture and other produce as their provincial matter," he adds.

"Here, the authority rests with the Centre -- a disparity which is not identified by the Constitution," says Professor Nadir Bakht, Head of the department of Political Science, University of Balochistan.

The PPP leadership believed the announcement of the "rights" package for Balochistan was a long-desired step towards the solution of the basic problems faced by the people of the province. According to Senator Raza Rabbani, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will himself monitor the implementation of the package so as to avert any bureaucratic hurdles on its way. The federal government has assured that the constitutional committee is working to finalise the constitutional package for all the four provinces and that the package will also be introduced in the joint session of the parliament soon. But the nationalist groups in Balochistan believe that their problems cannot be resolved unless a constitutional package is drafted that grants the provinces the right to the resources that are produced on their land.

 

 

Absolute minority

The Pakhtoons in Balochistan are left to suffer

By Raza Khan

Pakhtoons comprise nearly half of the population of Balochistan, but it seems that while announcing the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package the federal government overlooked their concerns.

In the words of Akram Shah, Central General Secretary of Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), a dominant political force in the region, "the very mechanism is contemptuous.

"For a long time it has been the standpoint of the Baloch Pakhtoons and our party PkMAP that all the nationalities in Pakistan under the 1940 Pakistan Resolution must enter into a social contract that ensures internal independence and rights of different ethnic groups over their natural resources," he told TNS. "Against this background we consider packages like Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan as an insult to the people of the province.

"The term 'package' sounds as if the federal government has doled out alms to various nationalities in the region. We are for properly determining the share of the people and provinces in Pakistan. Otherwise, it's just like you plunder somebody's house and then give him a five-rupee note as a salve."

Akram Shah was of the view that the federation was not pushed, despite massive usurpation of human and politico-economic rights of the inhabitants of Balochistan. "They are using words such as 'sense of deprivation' which suggest that we only feel deprived and are not actually so. This is complete nonsense," he added.

As a result of the constant negligence on the part of the state, the Baloch Pakhtoons believe they went ahead with whatever means they had at hand and started their own little businesses and agriculture, thus curtailing their dependence on the state. However, with the increase in population the meagre resources became even scantier, and a decent way of life remained a dream.

Naseeb Khan, a development coordinator working with the World Conservation Union Balochistan programme, told TNS that the Pakhtoon areas in the province needed massive development, "but the state has not responded to the call, while international organisations have limited resources."

Quoting the example of Muslim Bagh, a Pakhtoon area with 80 percent literacy rate, Naseeb said, "We want education and development."

About how the Pakhtoon issues could be resolved, Akram Shah said: "We have already presented our recommendations before the Constitutional Reforms Committee. Our demand is that all Pakhtoons of Pakistan, Pakhtoonkhwa (NWFP) and Southern Pakhtoonkhwa (Pakhtoon part of Balochistan) must have an integrated province like other nationalities do."

"Hence, if the federal government cannot unite the Pakhtoons, at least it should grant us an equal space in Balochistan. We must be treated on par. Lip-service alone wouldn't do."

Akram Shah said that the PkMAP was not consulted prior to the finalisation of the package. "The federal government had announced Rs 37 million for the construction of dams in Balochistan and all these dams were to be built in the Baloch-inhabited area. Ironically, in Balochistan, all agriculture is carried out in Southern part such as Zhob, Pishin, Loralai, Qila Abdullah, Qila Saifullah, Ziarat districts etc. All of them are agriculture lands. In a way, the Pakhtoons here consider themselves as more deprived than even the Balochs."

 

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