Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has reiterated that the Balochistan issue is his government’s priority concern along with the energy crisis. Addressing a meeting of the provincial cabinet at Quetta on Friday, he rightly declared that force was not the solution. The pity is that Balochistan had figured equally prominently during the stint in office of his predecessor; yet, the authorities failed to come to grips with the problem. A greater pity is that the PPP-led governments have been in power both at the provincial and federal levels and there should have been no hitch in devising a coordinated response to the challenge. Yet, they have had a dismal record of helping the province get out of the mess it has been in. Incidents of terrorism, target killings and mysterious disappearances have, instead, grown in intensity as well as frequency. For some time past, the mania of sectarian killings has taken hold of the minds of the religious zealots and a minority group has been the unlucky target.The President’s unconditional apology, to which Mr Ashraf referred, had raised hopes that the grievances of the people of Balochistan would now be sincerely addressed. However, there is little evidence that this public acknowledgement of the wrongs done to them was followed up with moves that could have directly benefited them. The Haqooq-e-Aghaz-e-Balochistan launched with great fanfare has largely remained on paper. What was needed was a radical approach that could have visibly improved the lives of the general run of people. The NFC award did substantially raise the financial allocation of the province, but its utilization in the direction of the welfare of the local people alone could have set them thinking that the present government, after all, meant business. It has been quite a while since the government had accepted the widely held view that internal and external factors were keeping the fires of lawlessness in the province burning. Somehow, the government is still in the process of identifying these elements, as the Prime Minister suggested.The Supreme Court has, on its part, been relentlessly trying to figure out the fate of the persons which go missing; for the disappearances greatly impinge on the law and order situation. In this context, it has been coming hard on the Frontier Constabulary accused of picking up suspects in the quest for the rule of law to prevail. Only on Friday, it asked to recover 30 such persons.