The Independence Day celebrations in Quetta went beyond the symbolic festivities, 400 Baloch militants lay down their arms in a poignant, albeit highly guarded, ceremony. The government’s reconciliation and amnesty drive, in conjunction with a determined military operation, seem to be working; the insurgency in Balochistan seems to be simmering down and every week, more and more combatants surrender their arms to the government and pledge allegiance to the nation – these 400 being the biggest number yet. The government and the military have done a thorough job on their ‘carrot and stick’ policy. If the operation is diligent, so are the terms of surrender; hose returning to the fold are offered a cash reward, indemnity, the promise of jobs, education, and shelter. The little things stand out, such as children offering Pakistan flags to the combatants who lay their weapons down, which show that the government has put thought into the matter. If it actually delivers on its promise of rehabilitation, development, and representation, perhaps the Baloch insurgency can be a thing of the past.

Of course, this carrot and stick policy is not the only factor in this equation; the insurgency has a long history, one that cannot be wiped clean with monetary rewards and the threat of punishment. The insurgency is rooted in a profound sense of injustice and mutual mistrust. While tortured bodies keep showing up and people keep disappearing, this mistrust will remain, and the insurgency will simmer on. The mountain of human rights issues aside, the unresolved ‘missing persons’ case remains a major hurdle between the government and the people of Balochistan. As long as it festers, the government will always be seen as a tyrannical institution. The state, especially the military, must view the case through the lens of it’s reconciliation policy. The recent conviction of the APS perpetrators would have surely shown the government the power of accountability. Do the same for Balochistan, end the policy, probe the matter, deliver accountability; build faith in the former insurgents – so that this lingering wound may finally be closed.