The enemy in Balochistan is neither the Baloch, nor the Pakistani army, but international hostile forces and their allies. The problem in the province is a deep sense of deprivation, alienation, grievance; the cycle of violence, underdevelopment of a sparse demography spread over vast spaces and, of course, geopolitics. Many Balochis claim to be fighting for their rights; however, a minority is either backed by foreign powers or seeks their intervention.

Against this backdrop, the six points enunciated by Sardar Akhtar Mengal should not be compared with Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s infamous six points. The environment in Balochistan is pragmatically different from the tragedy of East Pakistan. Pakistan has come to stay, much to the chagrin of its enemies. In fact, it will rise as a great nation. Those predicting its balkanisation must be rebutted vigorously.

By the same token, the angry and aggrieved Baloch should be welcomed back into national mainstream. The COAS has aptly and timely supported the political process (within the constitution) for achieving peace in Balochistan. The army and ISI while bravely defending Pakistan are keen to stabilise Balochistan. The army has launched and supported numerous economic development and educational programmes for it, which are creating a positive environment. Despite this, there is a need to involve other political forces to resolve the Baloch issue.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Nawab Talal Bugti and other Baloch leaders have toured the country to muster support for their cause. Talal has repeatedly stressed on the loyalty of Baloch with Pakistan. The major political parties, PML-N, PTI, JI and others, have wisely embraced the Baloch Brothers. These are happy tidings that can help to create an environment leading to a remedy for the malaise in beautiful Balochistan. Also, the Supreme Court has, to an extent, accepted the Baloch petitions as an aggrieved party. Hence, Baloch grievances should be heard and resolved in Pakistan, rather than in foreign courts and hostile lands.

Indeed, it is time to end the blame game and maintain permanent peace and stability in Balochistan. Nawab Talal Bugti, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Sardar Akhtar Mengal and other veteran Baloch leaders must be supported in a national reconciliation effort.

The geopolitics of Balochistan

Sinister forces appear to be at work to sever the Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan (called Seistan). It seems that this balkanisation agenda is part of a larger geopolitical design. An appropriate West Asian strategy is being chiselled by hegemonic powers. Reportedly, Nooruddin Mengal from Pakistan and Naseer Balodi from Iran in a three-day session recently briefed the EU Parliament. Both launched a tirade against Pakistan and Iran, besides pleading for foreign intervention (à la Libya, Nato-style intervention?). Before that the US Congress had introduced a bill to sever Balochistan from Pakistan. Coming on its heels, a UN mission on Balochistan had even suggested disciplinary action against military officers for alleged excesses. These may be the contours of a foreign intervention case.

A part of the so-called liberal media (foreign funded?) in Pakistan and liberal puppets living on foreign dole are already blaming the Pakistani state. These ‘Trojan horse’ tactics in the information age smack of shaping the battlefield. Their aim is to demonise the army, the ISI, divide the people of Pakistan, create political confusion, and galvanise terrorists so that mayhem abounds, leading to the paralysis of the state. After defaming and psychologically isolating the army and ISI, the stage would be set for a unilateral declaration of independence by a few foreign sponsored Baloch. The foreign forces could then be employed in intervention of Balochistan.

The Pak Army, therefore, supported by all patriotic citizens, must become proactive for the resolution of problems faced by Balochistan.

The solution of Balochistan

A holistic solution for Balochistan must include the following:

National Unity: The need of the hour is national unity. The Baloch leaders, mainstream political parties, judiciary, armed forces, civilian government, media and civil society have to combine their efforts for a peaceful and prosperous Balochistan. Pakistan and Balochistan belong to all Pakistanis.

Reconciliation: The army must take an initiative, along with the government, to accommodate the angry and affected Baloch. The PML-N, under the leadership of Mian Nawaz Sharif, is most well placed to placate the Baloch leaders. This scribe had suggested this to Nawaz Sharif in the Gwadar Conference 2012.

Baloch Aspirations: The Baloch sense of injustice needs to be removed. All Baloch leaders and others in Pakistan seek justice for Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing. The perception of injustice must be eradicated. The Baloch youth needs a special national package of free education and employment.

Economic Cycle: Balochistan has numerous treasures, which should benefit first the people of the province and then the rest of Pakistan. The greatest potential is in Gwadar concept amply highlighted in my book titled “Gwadar on the Global Chessboard”. This can bring prosperity and also change the destiny of the Baloch and other Pakistanis.

Security: The first act is to freeze the cycle of violence. An understanding based on reconciliation is the basis of security. While the army remains in its garrisons, the Frontier Corps should be more biased towards the western borders. A new internal security force for Balochistan may be considered with the bulk from Baloch areas.

Information Warfare: The media can help positively resolve Balochistan problem by encouraging reconciliation with the Baloch and discouraging foreign interference. Also, the army can further augment its information warfare capabilities. The ISPR has recently become more effective in projecting the army’s viewpoint. It should concentrate more on Balochistan solution with army’s positive contribution. The ISI while brilliantly guarding Pakistan needs to expose the foreign agendas and hostile agencies fishing in Balochistan’s troubled waters. A serious effort to retrieve the missing persons must be well projected.

Blocking Foreign Interference: Pakistan’s Foreign Office and the army under the government must present a unified case for blocking foreign interference in Balochistan. All forms of foreign interference, including propaganda, funding, training, and arming of insurgents or succour for their leaders abroad, must be dealt with firmly.

Even while blocking foreign interference through all elements of national power, the key to peace in Balochistan lies in national unity and reconciliation. Thus, all Baloch leaders have to be brought on board to maintain peace, prosperity and stability in the province. It should be remembered that Balochistan is as much part of Pakistan as Punjab or any other province. The military backed by people will defend Balochistan like the rest of Pakistan.

The writer is a retired brigadier  and has authored a book tittled Gwadar on the Global Chessboard. Email: nadirmir13@gmail.com

Blog: wwwpakistangeopolitics.blogspot.com