Southern Balochistan issue and recommendations
THE recent few months have witnessed an increase in terrorist activities in Balochistan resulting in loss of precious lives and disturbing the law and order situation.
This is not first time that unfortunate eventuality has been unleashed in Balochistan, a historic repetition in circles of ups and downs.
This issue needs to be dissected threadbare so a viable strategy to counteract this can be devised.
The reasons: The raison detre of the whole issue is the sense of deprivation, poverty, ignorance exploited further by anti-state forces.
Successive political governments have paid lip service without addressing the root causes. There is a visible absence of policy continuity, and disjointed and fragmented development, the only prime focus of every regime has been the electables and tribal chiefs.
Unfortunately at this juncture of history, there is an unwanted convergence of national and international actors on destabilising Balochistan, each one has a set of different interests though.
International Players: The US for reducing China’s influence and economy supports insurgency.
Israel for destabilising Pakistan is part of the nexus and both jointly support” Jundullah” which has been confessed publicly by the captives.
India fuels and supports separatist groups and terrorist organisations to its advantage. Iran for sectarian, and economical reasons supports separatists, they also use India’s nefarious designs to their advantage, using it as a bargaining chip.
The gulf countries covertly support the “problem creators” for their own economic and geostrategic interests.
The current regime in Afghanistan though immersed in its problems have a stake too and they would like to hobnob with any entity.
Nationally on the Political scene, the Baloch Separatists and nationalists for their reasons have a stake in igniting and amplifying the insurgency.
Due to its anti-regime stance, the PDM wouldn’t like in all sincerity the amicable resolution of the issue.
Pashtun nationalists, for their political interests and sphere of influence wouldn’t like a resolution without any political advantages.
The other stronghold of Balochistan society ie “The Mullah” has its deep stakes too and their support should no more be taken for granted.
In brief, it’s a mix of national and international interest groups added by a sense of deprivation, exploitation and poor governance that has perpetuated terrorism.
(1). In the 1st instance, a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission “should be established.
(2). The report should be presented for public debate. The recommendations should be holistically and fairly implemented.
(3). Building National Consensus: A “Charter of National Cohesion” to be signed off by all political and religious leaders; developed with consensus of a broader representative section of Balochistan society- Not the elites.
The Charter should ensure continuity of the national policy and the Balochistan development package at least for the next 10 years.
This can be passed through Parliament and ratified by the Balochistan Assembly.
A broad-based high powered Committee which includes Parliamentarians from both opposition and treasury, intellectuals, religious scholars, reputed media personalities be tasked to kick off negotiations.
4. Developing An enlightened inspiring and just “Narrative” that is palatable to all including the dissidents
5.Developing a “Double Compact Social contract” with Common Balochis- on one hand with the common people and the other with the Tribal chiefs, so no one feels alienated. This hybrid system has the potential to anchor all segments together.
6. Establishment of Balochistan Coordination and Monitoring Cell: Much has gone down the drain in Balochistan without tangible benefits for the commoners except the elite.
A mechanism of check and balance and coordination of the Balochistan development process needs an empowered body which can ensure real development on the ground and ensure value for money and accountability.
The body should be duly representative of Balochistan technocrats, development sector professionals, academicians and men of high repute from judiciary and services. The head of the body should be granted the status of a state minister.
(7). Establishment of District, Tehsil and UC Development Committees: Under this new arrangement inclusive “Citizen Committees” be established at district, tehsil and UC levels that would provide advice on all development schemes, monitor the work and engage the local communities.
It is important that we apply “Positive discrimination” here and 50 % of seats are reserved for the poor and middle-class people, 20% for women and 10% for tribal chiefs, 20% for the converted dissidents.
All government projects would come under their purview in their areas. They can also provide recommendations to the provincial government or federal government, the Coordination Cell would pursue their recommendations with the concerned and report to the Federal Cabinet on the progress.
(8). Ownership and equal opportunities for Locals: The Balochistan Coordination Cell would ensure that all local projects, ventures and development schemes have a maximum of local employees, partners, contractors and suppliers.
The necessary framework for ensuring that should be promptly developed and approved by the government. The Cell would monitor the progress
(9). Empowered Local Bodies system: 95 % of the insurgents are from poor families having no influence, opportunities.
Decades-old system of political and resource extraction by the elite have created a sense of deprivation, but the irony is that the same forces are exploiting “this exploited lot” against the state.
This cycle must be broken for sustained stability and requires certain bold decisions. The factual position is that this poor lot have no representation and can’t get any in the current system.
This must be replaced with a new system that allocates 50 % seats for the poor and middle-class people.
Details of the system can be developed later. A mere shift toward this new system would address the misgivings and anti-state emotions. This would also expose the real culprits – the Vampires.
—To be continued.
—The writer (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) is an internationally recognized public policy, health expert and political analyst.