Balochistan violence

Published March 13, 2011

FOR several years now, Balochistan has witnessed much violence with certain groups fomenting trouble in their pursuit of a strong nationalist agenda. These groups have often resorted to non-peaceful tactics to further their cause. A number of recent incidents indicate, however, that violence as a result of criminality is also on the rise, riding perhaps on the back of the nationalist movement or as a consequence of its nature. A week ago, a multi-party conference called for a strike against the increasing number of cases of kidnapping and robberies in the province — incidents that appear to have few political dimensions and little to do with nationalist goals. In fact, there are numerous instances of killing and extortion that can only be termed criminal, and not political, acts.

In many nationalist movements in other parts of the world, it has repeatedly been seen that when a struggle continues for a long time, splinter groups emerge from the dominant organisations. They operate separately from the original movement and have criminal motives. That this is becoming increasingly evident in Balochistan should jolt the state administration into action so that a greater effort is made to address the province's grievances. The often violent tactics used by Baloch nationalist groups do not detract from the fact that there are many serious and long-pending issues between the province and the centre that need to be resolved. The resource-rich yet under-developed province has not received a fair economic deal and efforts to improve the security situation have mainly taken the form of repression. The matter of the 'disappeared' Baloch is pending, despite judicial interest in the case and the government's pledge to deal with it. Meanwhile, the disconnect between Balochistan and the country's most populous province was revealed in a recent BBC survey. The latter found that people in the streets of Lahore had little idea of Balochistan's concerns, even though the province's sufferings are often in the news. It is high time the government turned its attention to Balochistan. Leaving the province's grievances unaddressed will only fuel the fires of separatism and encourage criminality.

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