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Balochistan: the trust deficit

March 22, 2013

BALOCHISTAN’S history since its formation represents an unending narrative of incessant conflicts. Longstanding resentments since its merger with Pakistan has led to a state of continued crisis in the province.

Despite all efforts made by successive governments, both political and military, the state of affairs seems to have gone from bad to worse. All that has been provided so far had been military crackdowns that have achieved very little.

The need has been to reach the root cause in order to provide recommendations to eradicate the menace that gives rise to these periodic upheavals.

The disconnect is still present despite the offer of the Balochistan package. Resentment still persists despite the presence of a politically-elected government as no practical steps have been taken to tackle the problem.

The truth is that power point plans will help no one, commitment and passion needs to be observed and translated into action. The affair has been left to spoil for so long that one may almost accuse the authorities of doing so by design; a trend liked and followed by successive governments in the past few decades.

With the package, money may be flowing into the province but is it reaching those who matter? The trust deficit between the nationalists and the government has not narrowed. The resources and wealth have never been made to benefit the local population and thus Balochistan is left to smolder in the intense heat of emotions of its own people.

Development remains a distant dream as all projects, one after the other, fail to provide relief to the locals. At this point it also needs to be asked how many developmental projects the government can claim to its credit during the last five years.

A classic example of failure in this context is the Gwadar port project that has been suffocated and after a decade remains non-functional. This exemplifies that the governments have been unable to provide or design any policy that aims at giving serious attention to the Baloch problem.

Lack of education and awareness plus deprivations and acute poverty gave space to terrorist activities by both internal and external enemies. In the current geopolitical context, the Balochistan separatist movement seems to have been hijacked by foreign forces.

Already some foreign intelligence agencies are providing covert support to Baloch rebels in Iran and Afghanistan to destabilise Balochistan and create violations for its detachment from Pakistan.

The current state of lawlessness in Balochistan can also be viewed as a part of the new great game for which foreign forces are deeply and heavily involved in Balochistan.

Keeping in view Pakistan’s strength, or lack of it, it is a possibility that all these forces may rip the province apart from its centre if nothing is done.

DR NIDA SHAMI Windsor, Canada