Hard on the heels of his two day briefings in the Senate, Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s assurance of not carrying out military operations in Balochistan comes as a crumb of comfort. It is often admitted by leaders from the province that while the army itself is not there, the FC has been carrying out operations at its behest. At the same time, the Supreme Court has been putting hard questions to the FC of disappearances and human rights violations, though the DG FC has simply denied them. It is partly why the government is blowing hot and cold over how it is going to win over the outraged elements whose main grouse concerns the presence of FC.

All that the federal setup has done is to endlessly talk of negotiations and worse without identifying which groups to placate and which to apprehend. This will make no difference in improving the situation or for that matter achieving a political settlement. During Saturday’s press briefing, Mr Malik did say that parleys with Brahamdagh Bugti might be held but given the bad blood between him and the government, one only wonders if he is flogging a dead horse. As things stand, the foreign hand remains free as ever without the federal government being able to sever its links with local non-state actors. Verbal assurances to the Baloch, without following them up with meaningful action, only amount to condoning the daily atrocities.