SEVEN months after the PPP-led coalition assumed power, Mr Zaradri has taken the first step towards resolving the grievances of the people of Balochistan which have given birth to a widespread sense of deprivation. The Reconciliatory Committee on Balochistan appointed by the President announced a roadmap comprising Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Reallocation of resources. Addressing a cross-section of intellectuals, professionals and political activists from the province on Friday, he made a number of promises and offered suggestions that need to be explored. He told the audience that his government would address the grievances on a war footing. There would hardly be two opinions about the step brotherly treatment that he said had been meted out to the people of Balochistan by previous governments. Many would however question if the present government has so far gone beyond symbolic gestures like the release of a couple of Baloch leaders and withdrawal of cases against a prominent tribal chief and his son.  Claims regarding a conciliatory process having been initiated, and of politically motivated cases withdrawn have been challenged. Sardar Akhtar Mengal has complained that numerous missing persons were yet to be located and the operations by security agencies continue unabated while thousands of people who had been displaced as a result of these operations are yet to be rehabilitated. Unless these complaints are urgently redressed, it might not be possible to create an environment of trust conducive to a meaningful dialogue with the political forces of the province. Among the foremost issues raised by the Baloch nationalists is that of the ownership of the province's natural resources. The secrecy shrouding Gwadar project, to the extent that even the provincial assembly was neither taken on board while conceiving the project nor at the stage of executing it, gave birth to apprehensions and led to a widespread opposition to the project. President Zardari's promise that Balochistan will have the first claim over its resources should hopefully provide some confidence to the people of the province. So will his idea of making local people stakeholders and partners in development projects and of adopting a public-private partnership model for Gwadar under which the people of the area would be the direct beneficiaries of development. The ideas however need to be worked out in detail to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, which could be accomplished during the proposed jirga of the political forces of the province. Unless this is done these will remain no more than slogans.