A unanimous approach of all ‘stakeholders’ to bring back the angry Baloch youth into the national mainstream is paying dividends. For the past several months, insurgents from different groups have been surrendering arms before the provincial government.
At a special ceremony on Thursday two commanders of the banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) along with 23 others handed their arms to Nawab Jangez Khan Marri, the chief of the Marri tribe who is also a member of the provincial cabinet. According to Nawab Marri, “about 80 percent of the militants based in the mountains are in touch with me and want to talk to us for surrender.” The problem, he said, is that the surrender process is lengthy and difficult, hence too slow.
Thanks to the efforts of Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, backed by the federal government as well as the military establishment, to bring insurgent groups to the negotiations table and participate in a peaceful struggle for Baloch rights within the framework of the federation, there has been a steady stream of arms surrender events.
One of the key militant leaders, chief of the Balochistan Republican Party, Brahamdagh Bugti, has shown a willingness to talk. The Khan of Kalat, who left the country to live in self-exile in London following the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti, has also been responding positively to requests to return home and play his role in the restoration of peace. Only the BLA chief, Harbyar Marri, remains recalcitrant. The laying down of arms by his men therefore comes as a significant sign of success for the new approach. As a result, there is a considerable reduction in the incidents of terrorism and sabotage.
This though is only one part of what needs to be done. An equally important challenge for the federation is to address the Baloch people’s deep-seated sense of deprivation and injustice. Greater provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment helps take care of some of their grievances. But as the least-developed part of the country, Balochistan deserves special attention to make up for the past neglect.
The Prime Minister has been saying the people of Balochistan will be the main beneficiaries of the CPEC projects and the rail and road connections linking Gwadar Port with Central Asian States. That will take time. Besides, in order to benefit from these projects, the local people have to be provided with necessary facilities like education, healthcare, clean drinking water and roads so they can acquire necessary qualifications to take up jobs that are to become available when these projects are fully functional.
Earlier this year, the federal government sanctioned Rs 35 billion for development projects, which is a lot less than necessary. Hopefully, all the stakeholders will direct sustained efforts at alleviating lingering Baloch grievances that have periodically been erupting into insurgency.
Source: Business Recorder