"If Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan then Balochistan is the backbone of Pakistan." Raja Mujtaba

BY Hamid Waheed

The joint conference of Atta Ullah Mangel and  Nawaz Sharif on 19 Dec has once again heated up the debate on Baloch deprivation. There is no denying the fact that there is a significant substance in the theme that a common Baloch has been deprived of the basic rights throughout. There is also no denying  the fact that for at least last two decades same slogan has been raised by all governments and leaders  who have been promising a change in Balochistan. The question remains that despite the awareness, is this the difficult environment  or the duplicity in the will of governments and leadership which is not delivering ? Economy , security, more autonomy, more royalties and in some case  secession are the main issues which are and have been under discussion in Balochistan .  The wave of present instability started in 2002, and reached its climax after the death of Akbar Bugti.  The media reports converged on moulding ideas, building perceptions, and convincing people that the security apparatus is the main coercive tool being used against the natives to deprive them of their livelihood. Now people like Brahamdagh Bugti are openly demanding Azad or greater Balochistan. Such groups blame the Pakistani media for not reporting on the brutal realities of Balochistan in any meaningful manner. The Human Rights Watch gives verdict by saying “indisputable” evidence points to the hand of the FC, the ISI and its sister agency, military intelligence, behind the killings and kidnapping. However, they fail to convince the general public on issues like the killings of 11 people by unidentified armed men at a Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) camp in Palari area of Balochistan’s Gwadar district, targeting “settlers” educationists and government officials. The responsibility of all such incidents though has been publicly accepted by insurgent groups like BLA or BRA. The closing days of 2011 again find BLA claiming responsibility for attack on Shafiq Mangel’s house who is son of Naseer Mangel a former Balochistan minister killing 11 in Quetta . Shafiq denounces the act and calls it an act by Sardars of the area who are playing in foreign hands. Surprisingly when the lists of a thousand missing persons produced by interested groups is reduced in court to less than half a century no one questions. The local leaders prefer to remain silent as the 2011 clicks away.

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The recognition of Baloch deprivation and the remedial measures to address the issue in the last decade do show strong footprints of efforts at different levels. The seventh NFC award gave increased share to Bln from 5.1% to 9.09%. The royalty and distribution formula for gas was revised. The federal government also agreed to pay the arrears of gas development surcharge to Balochistan.   The other achievements include the creation of 5000 jobs in provincial government funded by the federal government. Furthermore, approximately 15000 people will be inducted under internship program. The proposals made by the government were named as the ‘Agaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan’, which was presented in the Parliament on 24th November 2009. This is a comprehensive package which covers four areas, including     Constitutional issues,     Economic matters and natural resources,   Political  and    Administrative issues . The other provinces have sacrificed their share to support Balochistan.

Contributions by security institutions included   Induction of Baloch in Pak Army on special quota by relaxing induction standards. Many  Schools have been renovated / refurbished by Army.  23,000 Balochistan Students are being educated in  Army / FC Public School and Colleges and technical institutes. The educational projects like    National Vocational and Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC) ,Balochistan Institute of Technical Education (BITE) and economic projects like   Chamalang Coal Mines and    Kasa Hills Project are reality which a local Baloch realizes. Military efforts for reconciliation in Chamalang succeeded in Dec 2006 and later land mines were lifted by Pakistan Army to clear area. What Baloch of the area got was, a free education scholarship for 2000 students, about two thousand Baloch men got employment in Chamalong Guard and the area got uplift package worth 1.5 crore packed with necessary humanitarian aid.

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On other hand the most criticized Frontier Corps (FC) has helped in maintaining peace in tribal feuds and sectarian clashes. There are 2 major gas compression plants of PPL and OGDCL, 162 wells and 367 kms of pipeline of PPL, OGDCL and SNGPL, which remain threatened due to the situation in the area. FC runs a large network of schools in interior of Balochistan to educate local Baloch children and conducts free medical camps. The inputs by Frontier Works Organization include Const of   New Gwadar International Airport and large network of roads and dams like   Construction of Gwadar-Pleri-Jiwani Sector and design and Constuction of Mangi Dam and Water Conveyance System.  

However, all endeavours have failed to deliver till the end of 2011. This  is the sad reality with which Baluchistan enters 2012. Bad governance, tribal system, ethnic diversity, corruption and issue of missing people have worsened the situation of peace and stability. Truth is what we have failed to face and talk uptill now. The money has come the efforts have been made but all has been diluted due to no checks and control. Absence of monitoring mechanism have made the mafia from strong to stronger.  The mafia has raised their private armies by using government incentives. They have never approved development projects in their areas. They know that better communication, transportation, education and health system would loosen their hold on their people. The mafia  themselves live in the posh areas of Quetta and Karachi let the poor wallow in the pains and sufferings. The mafia have their own vested interests which have hindered the development in the region. The local mafia  who have exercised a non-questioned-asked say over their tribes for years cannot withstand any measure of the government that could bring prosperity in the region and develop awakening among the masses that would lead to erosion of their draconian authority’. The private armies of local warlords need to be tackled. More than anything Balochistan requires a system of deliverance in tangible terms without political games. Leadership which can stand with them , speak for them and confront  the mafia. Someone who can question the killers who so boldly accept the terrorist acts and terrorise the Baloch society.