It is good to know that the government has finally decided to convene an All Parties Conference to discuss the deteriorating situation in Balochistan. Obviously, the situation did not worsen overnight and is a manifestation of years or rather decades of frustration of the Baloch people so in all fairness, all blame cannot be placed for it on the present government. It goes to the credit of the government that it did introduce the ‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package’ but unfortunately, it proved to be too little and too late. Moreover, there was no proper follow-through to see if it was attaining the objective or whether new, more effective measures needed to be introduced. I think we all have to realise that Balocistan issue is far more serious than that of former East Pakistan because of geographical situation as well as the interest of the international conspirators who are planning to get deeply entrenched in there and use the territory as a launch pad to destabilise Pakistan and Iran as also to give a seaport to land-locked Afghanistan where they have already announced a long-term stay, well beyond 2014, and perhaps in perpetuity, if only they are allowed to do that. 
I hope all parties will take the matter seriously and will not use the occasion as a point-scoring exercise. We lost East Pakistan because of our unfair treatment of Bengalese which started with the dismissal of the government of sincere Bengali leader Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din and culminated with unwillingness of our power-hungry leaders to hand over power to majority leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. However, we somehow managed to limp forward but this time round, there is far more at stake. The severance (God forbid) of Balochistan could prove to be a death knell for Pakistan. 
I hope for once, we take the matter seriously and do what needs to be done, and not just the cosmetic exercises that we have been conducting so far.
S.R.H. HASHMI,
Karachi, February 23.