The Balochistan situation is very complex and is not being handled properly by the PPP government. The ground reality is that Pakistan Flag has disappeared from the province and the students no longer sing the National Anthem in their schools. The non Baloch settlers are being killed as part of target killing. Our enemy agents are exploiting the situation and operating in full swing by pumping funds and providing weapons to the rebel leaders. Even USA parliament has discussed our Balochistan problem and passed a resolution to support the separatist movement in Balochistan. This is a blatant interference in our internal matters thus showing dual standards vis-a-vis Kashmir Issue where the Muslim freedom fighters are being massacred by the Indian forces (over 100,000 killed since 1989) and they are quiet on this issue.

The government at centre including President Zardari perhaps think that by starting "Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan" they would win over the rebel Baloch Sardars. It is not so as nothing practically has been done by our government. Actions speak louder than words. They were perhaps not even consulted before embarking upon any program for Balochistan or their people. Gone are the days when the governments used to pacify these Sardars by making false promises to them. Now the people are more aware and can assess the intentions or mindset of the government. The sufferers are the best judge of the rulers. They know the ground realities vis-a-vis the hollow slogans of the government. On the other hand, billions of rupees are being sunk in Benazir Income Support Program, Waseela-e- Haq and other PPP government sponsored welfare programs for making tall claims. But the deserving poor people are still suffering and running from pillar to post to get such help. They do not know whom to contact and how to get this help.

In Balochistan, the government has never invited the rebel leaders to Islamabad to listen to their grievances. By doling out 250 millions rupees to each legislator of Balochistan Assembly would never solve their problems as the money would never reach the poor or for that matter to alleviate their sufferings. They only talk of royalty of gas and other mineral resources which runs into billions and trillions as they claim. They must be explained the total distribution of these resources and its effects on the national economy. They must be convinced about their share and settled across the table. On the same negotiating table they should be given record of total development funds given to Balochistan government ever since 1947 vis-a-vis the utilization of these funds by their leaders or the funds were misappropriated. It is a hard fact, that all the funds given for the development of this so-called neglected province were never used for the purpose these were allotted. These leaders who got these funds lived a royal life, sending their children abroad, building castles in Karachi/abroad, buying expensive cars. They never bothered to alleviate the living standard of their tribesmen.

Some parliamentarians should go to the far flung areas of Balochistan to meet the people there. They would be horrified to see the living conditions there  and should also ask the poor tribesmen how much they have to pay to their Sardars per annum e.g Sheeshak (1/6th of their earnings) and cattle they have to cough out to their Sardars. So these Sardars besides getting from the government, fleece their own people also. They provide no facilities like education, health etc to them. Each Sardar has his own justice system and maintains private jails where people defying their orders rot for years like animals. They must be told about these facts also.

The advice to the government is to close all the foreign missions, NGOs and consulates immediately, ban entry of all foreigners to Balochistan even that of diplomats serving in Islamabad.

MUHAMMAD AZHAR KHWAJA,

Lahore, March 3.