WE, as a nation, must address whatever misconceptions or grievances that exist within a few in Baluchistan and heal the wounds. The State must display its magnanimity and benevolence whilst simultaneously exerting its writ. The decision to appoint a Caretaker PM from Balochistan is a wise step. However, a lot of work has to be done to address whatever may be the reason, for what seems to be an element of mistrust. It is very essential that this mistrust must be addressed and the few individuals in Balochistan, who have these doubts must be engaged with. We must accept that grievous mistakes were made in the past, when trigger happy men at helm committed excesses in 1959.
There is no doubt that the state is constitutionally obligated to put down armed insurgency with all the force at its command, if those who challenge the writ of state are not willing to lay down arms and surrender. However, once the alleged insurgents lay down arms, it is obligatory upon the state to honour terms of surrender and pledges given. The moral authority of the state is very paramount to exert writ of laws. The reenactment of One Unit by Ayub Khan effectively reduced that majority population living in East Pakistan, to be at par with the population in West Pakistan.
This resulted in further erosion of trust by the already aggrieved East Pakistan. The last proverbial “Straw that broke the camel’s back”, was the illegal and immoral decision by former President and CMLA Yahya Khan not to hand over power to the majority political party that had won a landslide majority in general election. With power comes responsibility and the “buck stopped at his table”. Yahya Khan not only betrayed their trust but ordered a military action, which was bound to fail and the rest is history.
The state cannot be seen to act in haste and resort to violence, when those who challenge its authority are willing to lay down arms. In 1948 Khan of Kalat, Ahmad Yar Khan signed the instrument of accession to join Pakistan, and the matter should have been settled at that. However, his brother revolted in July 1948 and moved to Afghanistan with a few of his supporters, but could not achieve anything. Khan of Kalat’s brother surrendered. It was the adoption of one unit by GG Iskandar Mirza in 1955, which created many misgivings in East Pakistan and also amongst many Baluch dissenters.
Sardar Nowroz Khan, head of Zarakzai and a former subject of Khan of Kalat, along with about 150 followers, including his sons, took to the hills and an insurgency followed. This group was outnumbered and surrounded by the army. Lt Col Tikka Khan was the officer in command who offered them amnesty if they surrendered. According to Baluch sources a pledge was given on oath of Holy Quran, and they surrendered on May15, 1959 during the tenure of Ayub Khan. On 15 July 1960, seven leaders including sons of 85-year-old Nawroz were executed and he was sentenced to life imprisonment, where he died in 1965. The Khan of Kalat was forgiven and rehabilitated.
This state monopoly over use of force within geographical boundaries places a lot of responsibility on it, whenever a situation occurs that demands such an intervention. The Constitution of Pakistan has very clearly defined the role of defence forces and the concept of civilian superiority, as elaborated by Quaid on 14 June 1948 while addressing Staff College Quetta. A disciplined, well equipped army, funded by tax payers of the country is an essential prerequisite for any nation that faces external threats to its security, especially in a country like Pakistan, which has a neighbour on its east that has many within its political elite, who have never accepted the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Lahore.
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