MAKE no mistake, Balochistan is poised on a knife edge, and the May 11 polls are critical to how the insurgency in the province plays out. Allegations have risen to a crescendo that security forces are responding with brute force against those suspected of separatist sympathies. Hundreds of Baloch are missing while around 150 have fallen victim to a ‘kill and dump’ policy. Of late, the bodies of the missing have been turning up in areas of Karachi close to the border with Balochistan. On Thursday, yet another missing activist, Naseebullah Baloch, was found dead in the city, reportedly the 13th such case since March.
With the situation careering towards a point of no return, the only light at the end of the tunnel seems to be the participation in the coming elections of moderate nationalist parties such as the BNP-M and National Party, which boycotted the 2008 elections. The hope is that if these parties succeed in winning a place in the assemblies, they would be more representative of Baloch aspirations and thus in a better position to combate separatist tendencies. Continued excesses against the Baloch will only weaken their attempts and cause further divisions between the proponents of democracy and those who believe that only by taking up arms can the province’s many grievances be redressed. While the Supreme Court has been active on the missing persons issue and has probed the alleged role played by intelligence agencies and the FC in the disappearances, far more needs to be done. That the ruinous ‘kill and dump’ tactic continues to be practised at this extremely sensitive juncture indicates there are quarters that will go to any length to sabotage a political solution to Balochistan’s grievances.