Inspector-General of Frontier Constabulary Maj-General Ubaidullah Khan Khattak’s straightforward talk with journalists over the situation in Balochistan deserves attention. In his view, it is poverty and ignorance rather than politics that is the root cause of violence in the province.

The general consensus is that the main source of resentment is people’s marginalisation in every sphere of life from education to basic health services. Neglect by successive governments has aggravated the conundrum to such an alarming degree that the ordinary Baloch easily succumb to joining criminal outfits not so much motivated by anti-Pakistan sentiment but from the need to earn bread and butter for their families. Despite being the main producer of gas in the country, large parts of the province resemble an area from the Stone Age which is a sad reflection on the state of our leadership. Maj-General Khattak’s candour in pointing out this sensitive factor is appreciated. It is comforting to hear him say that FC is currently inducting locals into the force in greater numbers. But while conscientious officers like him are busy doing their bit, it is high time the PPP setup’s promises and apologies were followed up with concrete steps. It is this poverty, lack of socio-economic development and general despair that the troublemakers tap into for creating grounds for political instability. On the role that Brahamdagh Bugti and other separatists are playing from abroad, one fully seconds his comments that the issues plaguing the province could not be resolved by people ensconced in Europe. However his feeling that the Khan of Kalat might come back into the national political spectrum as a patriotic Pakistani is welcome news since it would help check separatist tendencies. But at the same time Maj-General Khattak expressed his firm determination to hunt down criminals and non-state actors alike. Under the circumstances, the sensible way is to respect those who are willing to live by the writ of the state but also harsh action against troublemakers who have added to the misery of the hapless people through acts of terror.

It is time that the resources and mineral wealth of the province was spent on the downtrodden and not wasted yet again in appeasing certain tribal elements who have agendas of their own. It is hoped that the remedies that Maj-General Khattak has suggested serve as a guide in the right direction.