Restoring peace to Balochistan


Efforts to resolve the Balochistan conflict, essentially a political problem that needed to be resolved through political means, seem to be bearing fruit. During the recent months, a number of militants laid down their arms before provincial cabinet ministers.

More significantly, a major insurgency leader, Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti, has been indicating willingness to give up his separatist agenda and carry on the fight for Baloch rights within the confines of the federation. Chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has been in talks with different estranged/rebel leaders, including Brahamdagh.

In an interview he gave a foreign media outlet on Wednesday from his self-exile in Switzerland, Brahamdagh confirmed reports of having met with the Chief Minister and Federal Minister, Abdul Qadir Baloch, to sort out issues of conflict. However, he claimed that the CM lacked the necessary authority to negotiate. The claim seems to be more of tactical device than an objective account of reality.

True, previous leaders of the provincial government openly complained of being powerless to do anything about the situation. But things are different now. Hence, Baluchistan government spokesman Jan Buledi quickly came out with a rebuttal, saying “the CM, Dr Malik, enjoys the authority when he negotiates on the issue with Brahamdagh Bugti because he is entrusted by the Prime Minister and the Army chief” to resolve the Baluchistan conflict as part of the National Action Plan.

Unlike in the past, he added, the provincial and federal governments and the military leadership are on the same page. That the powers-that-be are serious about settling the problem is obvious also from Abdul Qadir Baloch’s inclusion in the talks with Brahamdagh. He has important credentials to qualify as a mediator. Aside from being a Baloch himself who has served as governor of the province, he is a senior retired army officer, a Lieutenant General.

His personal links with both the restive province and the Army appear to be the reason he has been chosen to play a role in the negotiations process. It should be evident to the Baloch Republican Party leader that the two interlocutors have the mandate to negotiate terms of peace with him as well as other insurgent groups. The federation has compelling reasons – success of the NAP and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project – to do all that is necessary for a negotiated settlement of the protracted insurgency.

The doubts and suspicions Brahamdagh expressed should be expected of him. He needs to have certain demands accepted to placate the ‘angry Baloch youth’ who have been fighting against the State for nearly nine years now.

Not surprising, therefore, while announcing he is ready to drop his separatist plan, Brahamdagh averred that no peaceful solution to the enduring conflict is possible without ‘conditions.’ CM Malik, as a respected Baloch nationalist is the best person to deal with the ‘conditions’. Contrary to the rebel leader’s claim, Dr Malik’s role as a peacemaker is also valued by the military establishment.

If media reports are any indication to go by, the Army wants him to stay on as chief minister beyond the December 2015 time limit after which, as per an agreement between his National Party and the PML-N, it would be the latter’s turn to name its own CM. Whether he stays or goes, what matters is that he should succeed, with the backing of the Prime Minister and the Army, to restore peace to Balochistan.

Source: Business Recorder