DEMOCRACY is the only option for Baloch nationalists, says Balochistan’s chief minister-elect Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. “We need to connect with national democratic forces to achieve our objectives. We need to work within Pakistan. We have no other option.”
In an interview to Dawn.com, he said a move by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to create a separate state for the Baloch would further confuse the people of the province regarding their struggle for rights.
“In the past, we were told the revolution will come from Moscow. Now we are told it will come from Washington. I disagree with such suggestions. We need to struggle for our rights within Pakistan. We need to work with other democratic forces in the country.”
Dr Baloch said that relations with neighbouring states, particularly India, Iran and Afghanistan had a direct impact on the situation in Balochistan. “Our institutions need to sit together and work out a new foreign policy if we want peace, particularly in Balochistan.”
The sectarian violence, he said, was directly linked to the Iran-Saudi conflict and “we need to devise a balanced approach to prevent these two countries from fighting their war on our turf.”
Dr Baloch will be the first chief minister of Balochistan who is neither a tribal chieftain nor a member of the former ruling families. Although nominated by Mian Nawaz Sharif, Dr Baloch has emerged as a consensus candidate of all political parties having representation in the provincial legislature.
When asked if he felt vulnerable because he was neither a tribal chief nor a member of former ruling families, Dr Baloch said: “Yes, we do not have armed guards or death squads. We are political activists. We do not know if we will survive this crisis or will die while struggling for our cause.”
Answering a question, he said he did not believe that Baloch nationalists could achieve their targets through an armed struggle. “Today, democracy is the thing. There’s consensus in the world on democracy.”
Asked to explain how he would persuade the nationalists to join him, Dr Baloch said, “My message to them is: do not leave us alone. Work with us. Sit on the opposition benches if you want. But do not opt out of the current democratic struggle.”
In response to a question, he said recovering the missing persons would be the biggest problem to be faced by his government.
“That’s a major issue. So is poverty. I urge all Baloch nationalist forces to join the democratic struggle.
“I do not claim that we will resolve all issues but we will do our best to produce positive results.”
Explaining how his government would be different from others preceding it, he said: “After more than 400 years, Nawaz Sharif has chosen a political worker like me. This is a change. The change is happening in other places too. “Who could have thought that one day the Pakistani media will criticise the Pakistan establishment but they do now.”
When asked whether or not India encouraged violence in Balochistan, he said: “It is multi-dimensional issue and involves all, Iran, Afghanistan, and India.
“The sectarian violence is also a part of this greater game. It is linked to a fight for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Their war is being fought in Quetta.”