“That corpse you planted last year

in the garden,

Has it begun to sprout? Will it

bloom this year?”

–The Waste Land by TS Eliot.

We know that the independent anchors of our free electronic media in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi have too much on their plates to accommodate discussion on the continuous bloodshed in Balochistan or war ravaged Pashtuns of FATA in their prime time shows. They are engrossed in deciphering the nuances of the proceedings of the Inquiry Commission of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (often mistakenly called the Judicial Commission) about the 2013 general elections. No one can blame them as it may apparently be a discussion about a process which is for all practical purposes history by now but which may turn out to be a defining factor in deciding the future of “Takht-e-Lahore” (the throne of Lahore) which can be exactly the future of Pak power politics. Even the minutes of the Apex Committee in Sindh (supposedly a non-political civil-military administrative coordination body for the implementation of NAP) or even the press releases of Rangers in Karachi about the governance issues in the province are more relevant topics as they may contain more significant vibrations about the shape of emerging power games. But the bloodshed in Balochistan refuses to be swept under the carpet. Even when the judicial inquiry about mass graves in Khuzdar gets buried under the heaps of dust and even when the higher judiciary of the country refuses to be interested in the fate of Baloch missing persons or their mutilated dead bodies, events like the massacre of Pashtuns in Mastung, yet more target killing of Shia Hazaras in sectarian terrorist attacks in Quetta, dastardly murderous attacks of some Baloch militants on innocent non-local working class and multiple bloody attacks on police in Pashtunabad (Quetta), do attract the attention of common citizens of the country despite official indifference. People realize that something is terribly wrong in Balochistan contrary to the pious noises emanating from official quarters in Islamabad and Quetta.

Political and military conflict in Balochistan emerged soon after the inception of Pakistan as the independent Baloch state of Qalat was forcefully merged into the new state. Even subsequently no serious effort was made for working out a political solution to the problem for healing the wounds as the usurpers of political power and despotic dictators had no interest in promoting a sustainable peaceful democratic rule in the country. So every time, when the cumulative tribal Baloch political unrest would develop into an insurgency, a military operation was always the favorite option for the rulers. But, the military operation could be initiated even for provoking an insurgency. A good example is the military action in 1973 after the unconstitutional dissolution of the elected provincial government in of Balochistan in 1972. Ironically when some of the veteran Baloch political leaders were signing a federal democratic Constitution for the country in 1973 the federal government was taking military action against the same elected leaders. General Musharaf’s decision to kill Akbar Bugti, the most prominent and staunch supporter of Pakistani Federation, is another case in point. So far, four (according to some accounts five) military operations have been launched in the unfortunate province.

The passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment for granting substantial political and financial autonomy to the federating units in 2010 should have led to some diffusion in the crises in Balochistan. But the continued phenomena of the enforced disappearances of nationalist political workers, the unabated massacre of Shia Hazaras in the province and large scale kidnapping for ransom has kept the situation unstable. The worst aspect of the conflict has been the dumping of the mutilated bodies of the disappeared persons. There had been lots of expectation from the present provincial government partially constituted of Baloch and Pashtun nationalists for a breakthrough in political negotiations with the staunch opponents of the government, some of them also militants. But the biggest obstacle in any reconciliation process is not only the hard stand taken by nationalist militants but also the stifling grip of the federal security agencies over the provincial administration. The provincial government seems to be powerless in making this institution accountable. The security agencies have also been reluctant to strike at sectarian terrorists who work in a close alliance with Taliban and these outfits have almost enjoyed impunity in carrying out the massacre of Shia Hazaras. There is a lot of talk about the “foreign hand” , in particular with a reference to Indian intelligence in destabilizing Balochistan. That may be very much true. But the hostile foreign agencies would be only fishing in the waters muddied by our own misguided policies. Basically the political crises in Balochistan is made in Pakistan. The government can’t absolve itself of its own responsibility by blaming other countries. Any hostile country will use the opportunity created by our own blunders. Empower the people of Balochistan with their own identity and their elected provincial government in an equitable federation with full control on their resources and no hostile agency will find space for its subversive activities .

For resolving the aforementioned problems the federal government would have to give full control over the security agencies to the provincial government (for their operations in the province) to enable it to overcome the problem of the missing persons and the massacre of Shia Hazaras. Only then will it have the political credibility and stature to enter into any meaningful dialogue with militant Baloch nationalists and satisfy the population. Why should the government of Pakistan, which is taking credit for facilitating a dialogue between Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government, be hesitant in facilitating the process of a political solution of an old political problem with in the country?

There are two other main issues. One is the issue of demographic balance. Baloch population is deeply worried about the large-scale influx of non-

Baloch population turning the local people into a minority. It includes the expansion of Gawadar city which can attract outsiders occupying the area and overwhelming Baloch. Baloch concerns will have to be effectively addressed in this regard. The other issue is the fate of Pashtun population who were never part of Balochistan in the past and who were lumped with Baloch by the Yahya Khan led military dictatorship after the dissolution of One Unit in the newly created province of Baochistan in 1969. Pashtun live on their own land totally separate from Baloch areas. They would ultimately like to unite with their Pashtun brethren in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or form a province of their own. There can’t be a sustainable and peaceful solution without letting Pashtuns of Balochistan decide their own fate.