THE Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has called for talks with insurgents in Balochistan, listing in a report the steps necessary to improve affairs in the province. Essentially, the measures see the parties involved stepping back from their current positions and conducting themselves within legal boundaries, thus allowing the elected Balochistan government to spearhead attempts at finding a political solution to a long-standing problem. HRCP has reiterated that enforced disappearances and the killing of people after kidnapping is a big hurdle in the way of talks. Just as the insurgents have been reminded to give up their violent ways and give dialogue a chance, a significant demand has been made in pressing for the right of the chief minister to oversee the work of the Frontier Corps. HRCP wants powers for the “chief minister to write the annual confidential report on the chief of FC Balochistan” and to head “all security agencies tasked with maintaining law and order in the province”.

The commission, which sent a fact-finding mission to Balochistan in June, demands rules where none exist. It wants a provincial rights commission set up after consensus between the political parties as also an adviser to the chief minister on human rights, mandated to raise resources from international donors to improve the situation. It recommends the framing of SOPs to govern the working of security and intelligence agencies which have been frequently accused of carrying out illegal activities, unanswerable as they remain to anyone and eager as they always are to hide their acts under the patriotic cover of national security.

This is a bold yet essential charter for Balochistan which, unfortunately, remains a remote land for many in this country. HRCP’s must-do list may again be argued against by those who refuse to remove their blinkers and see the reality as it exists. The tendency is to blame the conflict in the province on the all-powerful and convenient ‘foreign’ hand and then pretend that it will be sorted out by the security agencies. The fact is that this latest report reconfirms what has already been established by similar exercises in the past by human rights groups and the media. It is not improbable that foreign agencies would want to intervene in an area of unrest, but the indigenous nature of this insurgency is something the Pakistani state can ignore only at its own peril. It has wasted much time in treating it as a law and order issue. The sooner it opts for talks the brighter the chances would be for a solution.

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