WHILE Gen Kayani’s statement on Friday that no military operation was under way in Balochistan may be technically correct, the reality is that the province is far from stable. And the way the military — specifically its intelligence apparatus — has handled the separatist insurgency has had a large part to play in fuelling Balochistan’s discontent. Speaking at a Defence Day event at Sui Military College in Dera Bugti, the army chief said that the military had stopped work on building additional cantonments in the province. He added that Baloch youth were being enrolled in army-run educational institutions and were also being recruited in the armed forces in greater numbers. These are all positive steps. Yet any goodwill such gestures generate is negated when Baloch activists go ‘missing’ and the dumping of their corpses continues. BNP-M leader Akhtar Mengal, who recently re-entered electoral politics, told newsmen some days ago that nothing has changed since the new provincial government took over. The Baloch politician added that a “fifth operation” was continuing in the province. Even the Supreme Court has reprimanded the Frontier Corps — headed by army officers — for failing to resolve the missing persons’ issue.
Balochistan’s problems are complex and many, ranging from separatist and sectarian militancy to poverty and lack of development. We have repeatedly said that extrajudicial counter-insurgency methods have only alienated the province further. The security apparatus can play a positive role by addressing allegations that it quietly supports kill-and-dump tactics by cracking down on any such impunity within its ranks. The provincial government has also to get its act together and be given the freedom to pursue a political solution to the Balochistan crisis. The federal government, which seems to have left the province to its own devices, must also play a more visible role in addressing the province’s myriad issues. Combined and sustained efforts from all these stakeholders will create the ground from where the reconciliation process in Balochistan can begin. Statements and photo opportunities will mean little otherwise.