Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made a good gesture, rather renewed his earlier pledge, of holding talks with the angry Baloch leaders who were disturbing the peace in Balochistan. We are ready to go to their doorstep to resolve issues through dialogue, he told the media at Quetta on Tuesday after attending a passing-out parade of 5,000 army recruits from the province. Mr Gilani admitted that the neglect of Balochistan in the past had resulted in the present situation. However, he believed that his government was working to remove the sense of deprivation through a number of projects that had either been completed, were in the process of execution, or had been approved and were due to be taken up in course of time. Out of the Rs 305 billion allocated for these 133 projects, Rs 126 billion had already been spent and for the current fiscal year another Rs 28 billion had been set aside. The resource-rich province of Balochistan, with all the injustices it has had to bear at the hands of successive governments over the past 60 years, was crying out for special attention when the PPP-led set-up assumed power. President Zardari, no doubt, did offer an apology for the denials of legitimate rights of its people, but that was hardly enough to assuage the frayed tempers of the deprived elements. Building on the sentiments that apology might have created, the government ought to have moved fast to execute the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan it launched. That would have spoken for its sincerity and commitment to remove the feeling of alienation among the people. Unfortunately, the upshot of a relaxed approach appeared in the form of a dangerous meddling by hostile foreign forces, which have never been in short supply. Currently, joining hands with India, which is always on the look-out for an opportunity to create problems for Pakistan, and unfriendly Afghanistan, the superpower helped aggravate the situation and today the country finds itself at a crossroads: one of the main Baloch leaders running armed struggle against the government had for long had a safe house in Afghanistan to direct his campaign, but now has moved to Switzerland all this neither without the permission of Kabul, nor without the complicity of Washington. The US, being the occupying power, carries the main responsibility for stabbing an ally in the war on terror in the back. That is also evident from an array of consulates, officially listed or not, along the Pak-Afghan border, which are training recruits to the anti-Pakistan movement in Balochistan, give them funds and supply arms. Thus, there exists an indisputable evidence of the foreign hand. The task for Pakistan might appear formidable, but sincerity of purpose in redressing the grievances of the people of Balochistan would elicit a spontaneous positive response that would surprise these hostile forces; for the Baloch are no less patriotic than any other Pakistanis. Once their only grouse the denial of due share in the development of the country is taken care of, feelings of optimism would take root, the foreign hand automatically weaken and shrivel, losing its effectiveness, and peace will return.