Conduct unbecoming

Published January 3, 2024

CARETAKER Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar’s remarks concerning the ongoing Baloch protest in Islamabad have stirred controversy. His comments, particularly striking given his own heritage, seem to undermine the very essence of the struggle faced by the people of his province, ie, Balochistan.

For instance, telling supporters of the protest to ‘join the militants’ oversimplifies the complexities of Balochistan’s issues. Such statements risk alienating an entire populace that is already grappling with feelings of marginalisation.

It is crucial to recognise that the protest in Islamabad is a cry for help, a plea for the recovery of missing loved ones, and a stand against extrajudicial actions. The protesters are exercising their fundamental right to peacefully demand answers and justice.

Attempts to portray protesters and their supporters as sympathisers of militants is an unfair representation. This narrative not only undermines the legitimate grievances of the Baloch people but also potentially endangers the lives of activists, journalists, and human rights defenders who stand in solidarity with them.

Further, criticising the media and activists for ‘misleading’ the public and damaging the state, is a worrying indication of intolerance towards dissent and criticism. The role of the media and civil society in highlighting human rights issues is crucial in any democracy, and disparaging the protesters only serves to weaken the democratic fabric of the country.

It is imperative for all our leaders, especially those with a direct connection to troubled regions, to adopt a more empathetic, understanding, and constructive approach.

Dialogue, not alienation, is the key to resolving long-standing issues. The need of the hour is for our leadership to reassess their stance and strive towards building bridges, not widening schisms. The people of Balochistan deserve empathy, understanding, and, above all, a commitment to resolving their legitimate grievances. In the words of another prominent figure from Balochistan, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, this country belongs to all of us.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2024

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