After initially declaring the May 2013 elections to be fraudulent, the Baloch National Party (M) President, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, has taken oath as a member of the provincial assembly of Balochistan after 15 years. Mr Mengal's inclusion in the political spectrum is a reason for cautious optimism, as well as an opportunity for the federation.

The contents of his first speech after taking oath, appear to be meant to reassure both a national audience and Baloch nationalists, by bracketing "loyalty to Pakistan" with "loyalty to Balochistan".

Mengal has been rightly critical of the role of the security agencies, and their counter-productive policies that, he claims, are doing more harm than good. His criticism is unlikely to change policy on it's own. Politicians have been protesting the heavy-handedness of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for many months now. A political consensus of unshakable determination is now required to rally round Mr Mengal and insist that Balochistan's wounds are healed.

While conceding to the fact that Mengal is not the sole representative of all the people of Balochistan, not even all the Baloch, his inclusion into mainstream politics can have fruitful results, but not without a change in perspective.

It may be tempting for traditionalists to view a Baloch nationalist speaking candidly in the assembly on subjects of sensitive nature such as the missing persons, the "stolen" wealth of Balochistan and provincial  autonomy, with suspicion. But the instinct to bristle at the criticism must be ignored and a more sensible approach adopted, i.e. to view this as an opportunity.

In order to solve issues of such complexity as the province faces, the parties involved must remain patient and act responsibly. The mess in Balochistan is a result of 66 years of misguided policies and cannot be fixed in a matter of months. To expect that, is foolishness and to give up, not an option.

While the federal government should be appreciated for allowing the provincial government to handle the issues of the province independently, it cannot shy away from its responsibility.  Especially, when there is a power struggle for control going on between a federal institution, the Frontier Corps, and the National Party-led coalition.

In a tug of war, the stronger side always wrests more away; but more often than not, both the winner and the loser find themselves thrown off balance. The change in mindset and policy must be evident or as feared by many, Balochistan will continue to slip away.