Reconciliation in Balochistan

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Naseebullah Khan
Balochistan matters. Its strategic importance and its richness of natural resources have been a source of a curse rather than a blessing for the dwellers of the province. Since 1948, this province has experienced four insurgencies yet. People have myriad of reservations which are true when we come to know the pathetic situation of the social indicators. The incumbent Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan has made Mr. Shahzain Bugti, the current MNA from District Dera Bugti and the grandson of Late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti who was killed in 2006, in an operation in a cave_ as a special Assistant on reconciliation and harmony in the province. This is a positive and appreciable step by the Prime Minister and one should hope that he might succeed and the fate of this reconciliation approach may not be like that of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif’s tenures. Mr. Zardari when came to power as President announced a general amnesty for the Baloch leaders and initiated an admirable step of Aghaz_e_ Haqooq Balochistan package and further in the 2009 NFC award, increased the share of this marginalized province, and the eighteenth amendment which gave some authority to the province for its natural resources. Later on, When Main Nawaz Sharif came into power, the then Chief Minister of Balochistan and coalition partner of Pakistan Muslim League, Dr. Abdul Malik started talks with the Baloch insurgents and himself met in Geneva with Baloch exile Leader Bramdagh Bugti. According to Amir Rana, a prominent writer of Dawn newspaper, Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan has rightly observed that other countries were using the Baloch insurgents because of their old grievances and negotiations will ultimately eliminate the Indian leverage. The Indian factor in Balochistan is undoubtedly a reality. How to encounter it and not let our own people become prey to them needs pragmatic strategies. These strategists must concentrate upon the past events, their causes with a holistic approach. History is witnessed that the more a nation or an area is developed and prosperous, the less the chances of reservations occur. On the other side, when reservations, marginalization, and a sense of deprivation take place, the ultimate result is the rising insurgency and resistance_ that we have been observing in Balochistan. Despite the economic reservations, another issue of the province is political. The emergence of king parties at night and the reservations on free and fair elections have further complicated the turmoil in the province. Would Mr.Shahzain Bugti have any mandate to convince the real representatives of the province for the next elections to be free and fair? Accordingly, Mr. Bugti himself has been alleged for rigging in the election of 2018.The poorest province in the country, the least developed, the province with the least literary rate, the lowest quality of health facility, the nutrients crises, the energy crisis, the unavailability of natural gas, have been the serious issues of resentments in the province. According to the Pakistan Social and Living standards Measurement survey 2019_20, the average score of districts in Balochistan in health, education, information communication and technology, and living standard is behind the other provinces. Acceptably, the provincial leadership can be held responsible for the sorry state of affairs but the responsibility of the federal government cannot be set aside. Article 172(3) is still in the struggle of implementation_where the province has been deprived of its due share of resources which is 50 percent. Could Shahzain succeed? I wish he may be. But some issues might be in consideration as the present Nawab of Bugti Mr. Ali Bugti, and even the brother of Shazan, Mr. GugramBhgti are not on good terms with Shahzain himself. How could he be successful on the provincial level is a million dollars question. Sanity demands that the ground realities in the province be taken into consideration. How could Shahzain deal with Sardar Akbar Mengal, the Murree Tribe, and even his cousin in exile Bramdagh, will prove his negotiating worth. Hugging own people is neither a crime nor it should be an issue of ego. The state must behave like a mother. The concerns of the people of the province should be addressed according to the law of the land. The socio-economic development in the province followed by the protection of the revenue rights of the province on its natural resources according to article 172(3) should be the priority of Shahzain Bugti. Nevertheless, the issue of the revenue is solved, the reservations on the CPEC is settled, if the real representatives of the province have not been taken into confidence if the provincial officers are not empowered in the federal ministries if free and fair elections are not held, and if steps for the socio-economic development in the province on the part of the federal government are not taken_the fate of such approaches look dismal.