Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has told the Balochistan Chief Secretary that to bring peace in the province, it is essential to obey the Supreme Court’s directives in letter and in spirit. He said this in the course of a meeting with the Chief Secretary on Saturday, when the latter called on him in Islamabad. However, the instruction inevitably raises the question why the Prime Minister does not follow his own advice, and heed the Supreme Court’s orders. After all, the reason Raja Pervaiz is in receipt of a contempt of court notice from the Supreme Court is because he has not obeyed the Court’s orders, to write to the Swiss authorities about President Asif Zardari’s corruption cases. This is the same reason the Supreme Court found Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt, no longer qualified to be an MNA, and thus to be Prime Minister. This is one of the consequences of the government’s persistence in defying the Supreme Court’s order. By not sending the letter, the Prime Minister is providing an excuse for other government servants, both elected and permanent, to argue about court orders.

However, the Prime Minister’s reminder, that the federal government was ready to provide the Balochistan government anything it needed to overcome the crisis, showed a seriousness of purpose that is direly needed. The federal government has not derived as much benefit from having one of its partymen head the provincial government as it should, and the killings on Saturday, in which no fewer than seven people fell victim to target killings, merely provided another example of how the federal and provincial governments were both left helpless in the face of the bloodshed.

That Balochistan has become a battleground of regional interests in pursuing the ends most to their benefit, is known, but the federal government has not raised this issue in its contacts, even though that interference is being carried out by some whom it regards as friends. The federal government has not provided aid here, and by merely making available federal forces which are accused of being responsible for the disappearances which have done so much to create a sense of alienation among the Baloch. The PPP in power in both the Centre and the province should realise that it is expected to help defend the province against the disorder afflicting it, and that can only be done if it takes measures to end that sense of alienation. The time has come for there to be serious measures taken for a solution.