November 30, 2011

Balochistan: Increased Body Count Stokes Fear and Frustration

The discovery of two more bodies in Turbat has moved representatives from across the region’s political spectrum to unify and call for an end to military operations and targeted killings.  

Below is an article published by Business Recorder:

In a yet another case of suspected extra-judicial killings, two bodies were found dumped in the Aap Sar area of Turbat this week and identified as those of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) central information secretary, Jalil Reki, who belonged to Quetta, and Baloch National Movement (BNM) activist Mohammad Yunus, a resident of Panjgur.

And once again, Baloch nationalists announced a three-day shutter-down strike in the restive province to protest the killings.

There have been so many cases of such killings over the past several months that it is difficult to keep a count of them.

Respected human rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, have been pointing an accusatory finger at the agencies.

Ironically enough, bodies of the Baloch dissidents arrested by armed men have been appearing with greater frequency than before, ever since the Balochistan High Court started taking notice of 'enforced disappearances'.

Use of force in situations like the one prevailing in Balochistan has never helped achieve the desired results.

If anything, it reinforces a people's sense of victimhood, strengthening their resolve to fight on.

No wonder, Baloch leaders expressing anger and frustration with this policy represent all shades of the political spectrum, from extremists to pro-federation moderate parties and leaders, including the ruling Peoples Party's own appointed Governor, Chief Minister and the party's provincial chief.

For a month, PPP MNA, Syed Nasir Ali Shah, staged a sit-in in front of the Parliament House to protest his party's failure to stop targeted killings of political activists and members of the minority Shia Hazara community.

From time to time, other Baloch legislators in Parliament have also been trying to draw the government's attention to the fact that in many parts of the province flying the national flag or singing the anthem is no longer possible.

Reminiscent of a dark chapter of this country's own history, these things show how deep run the anti-federation feelings in Balochistan.

The present PPP-led government at the Centre has made some attempts, albeit feebly, to address old Baloch grievances, but it has done little to resolve the issues that now feed the insurgency.

The situation being what it is, Baloch demands are quite reasonable: end military operations, and give an account for all the 'missing' people.

The powers-that-be are in negotiations with the tribal areas-based violent extremists fighting the state.

There is no reason why the same policy cannot be adopted towards the Baloch insurgents/nationalists.

While trying to convince Nasir Ali Shah on Wednesday [23 November 2011] to end his sit-in, Prime Minister Gilani said: "targeted killing in the province is unacceptable." Of course, no civilised person can support such activity.

But words alone are not enough.

He must translate his words into action, and do all it takes to stop custodial killings, targeted murders of the Hazara community members, and also resolve other issues that deepen Baloch alienation from the federation.

A grand reconciliation plan is in order.