The rejection of Brahmdagh Bugti’s request for asylum in Switzerland – carried out by one state to respect the wishes of another – might prove to be another stumbling block in the prospect of negotiating with separatist leaders of Balochistan. The grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti had been declared a terrorist by the Pakistan government, which led to the Swiss cancelling his application. Another prospective hurdle in the negotiations process might be the acquittal of Parvez Musharraf in the murder case of Akbar Bugti that was granted by the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Monday. Europe is going though its own turmoil with terrorism and immigration changes. It is not surprising that this request was refused.

The government has seemingly been mulling over the option of granting amnesty to exiled leaders such as Brahmdagh Bugti in exchange for bringing the separatists to the negotiation table. However, it is clear from the statements coming in from Bugti that he does not hold too much stock in what the government says unless the establishment is part of the reconciliation process. On his part, Bugti is justified in asking for this precondition; the security agencies have suppressed dissent at the barrel of a gun since 2005 when the insurgency began. The government has only looked on indifferently.

Brahmdagh Bugti is only one leader in a fractious and divisive Balochistan movement, with separatist groups often fighting amongst themselves as well as the establishment. While the militant wing of Bugti’s Baloch Republican Party (BRP), the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) has been fighting since the insurgency began, his influence as a leader of all Balochis is largely ceremonial, with each faction deferring to its own leader for guidance. Hence the statements coming in from Bugti might not hold too much weight unless all leaders are brought into the equation. Though the state has been lacking in its responsibilities to wards Balochistan, these warlords and tribal figureheads have not made the situation any better for the population either. If the government is serious about ending the Balochistan conflict then it must start with keeping security agencies in line. Targeted attacks against teachers, students, journalists and human rights workers must come to an end and the state must realize that the people of Balochistan need to be treated as citizens before they start trusting the state.