PRIME Minister Gilani has moved rapidly to address the Baloch grievances in a substantive manner rather than through committees and packages that the target recipients have already rejected. His new initiatives on Balochistan, some of which have already been operationalised, are a major step forward in reconciliation between the Baloch leaders and the Centre. A major issue of contention was the presence of the Army inside the province and the PM has already issued orders for the withdrawal of the same from Sui and Dera Bugti. He has also ordered the raising of three special wings of the Frontier Constabulary in which preference would be given to Baloch recruitment. In keeping with the principle of greater autonomy, the PM has said that a plan to put the FC under the control of the Chief Minister of the Province was also being worked out. Again, the contentious issue of check posts has been dealt with, and seven of them are to be removed. Another critical issue was the bringing to justice of Nawab Bugti's killers and here also the Prime Minister has moved beyond mere words and declared that a commission would probe the murders of not only Nawab Bugti but also Balach Marri and other leaders killed under suspicious circumstances. As for the sensitive issue of missing persons, he said of a total of 952, 262 had already reached their homes while an effort was underway to locate the others. Economic measures relating to jobs were also announced and are a welcome development. That funds for the repatriation of displaced persons from Dera Bugti were also announced shows the responsiveness of the PM to Baloch sensitivities. However, one of the most important moves made by the PM, has been the general amnesty for the Baloch leaders in exile and the offer of dialogue across the board. This single move should open the path for a longer lasting settlement of the political issues that underlie Baloch discontent. There can be no doubt that Prime Minister Gilani has finally broken the mould of the Centre's tendency to vacillate on Baloch issues and remain unresponsive. Gilani's qualitative shift cannot be underplayed, but appreciated as a wise and bold step reflecting a genuine effort to forge the federation together through consensus. The ball is now in the Baloch leaders' court. They also need to show goodwill and respond positively to the Gilani initiatives. As a first step, the exiled leaders must show their willingness to return and dialogue with the Centre in order to establish a new political consensus for Balochistan. Swords must now be turned into the proverbial ploughshares and peace be given a genuine chance to take root in Balochistan. Certainly, the PM's moves are a beginning and not the end; but further progress can only be made if the other side responds with equal goodwill. This historic opportunity to alter course for a better future for all Baloch people must not be wasted by their leaders.