By Zahid Gishkori
August 31, 2015
Balochistan has witnessed a substantial drop in violence this year, according to the provincial authorities. Experts believe that this development would help pave the way for a ‘conclusive reconciliation plan’ as regards the estranged Baloch leaders that was stalled due to different challenges in the troubled province.
Official documents, put together for the Balochistan apex committee monitoring the progress of the National Action Plan, claim a ‘dramatic decrease’ in violent incidents in the volatile areas of the province. The provincial home department said the emerging situation was the result of the joint efforts of the military and the civilian government for establishing peace in the province.
According to the official data, targeted killings have witnessed a significant drop: the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) reported that so far this year 143 people have been killed and 216 injured in attacks on minority groups, settlers and law enforcers.
By comparison, more than 275 people were killed and 731 injured last year. The year before that was worse: 530 people were killed and 1,162 injured by insurgents.
Home department officials said a joint intelligence-sharing mechanism was devised, whereby the military and the civilian government developed consensus over a meaningful policy to ‘disseminate a counter-narrative in the province’.
The LEAs reported 58 attacks on the Quetta Electric Supply Company, the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and the Pakistan Railways this year, 115 last year and 70 the year before.
Some 284 incidents of bomb explosion and rocket firing have been reported this year. Last year the number of such incidents was 803 and the year before it stood at 855.
The number of bullet-riddled bodies has also dropped to 76 this year, as more than 166 were found last year and 168 the year before. Police have registered around 183 kidnapping cases this year. By comparison, 373 such cases were registered the previous year. Moreover, 2,227 other crimes were reported this year. By contrast, 4,262 such cases were reported last year and 4,566 the year before.
Resolving the conundrum
Officials said Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti has been assigned a special task to persuade the estranged Baloch leaders to come to the negotiating table. Bugti has been meeting with the brains behind the insurgency in the province, a senior FC officer told The Express Tribune. “The nation can expect to hear something positive in this regard sooner or later.”
Wazir Ahmed Jogezai, former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, said the establishment had begun to understand the demands of the Baloch. “The Baloch never wanted freedom from Pakistan. They only want the freedom to exercise their rights on the resources of the province,” he added. Jogezai advised the civilian government to continue choosing ‘true representatives’ to govern the province. He said many Baloch living abroad in self-exile were ready to return home. “The government must avail this opportunity. The time is ripe for overcoming hurdles in the path of pursuing a reconciliatory policy,” he added.
Former senator Humayun Mandokhel said that compared to its predecessor, the present government was delivering better. “We recently witnessed positive developments. There seems to be hope after the meeting of the rulers with dissident Baloch leaders.”
He also praised the LEAs for their contribution. “It’s now or never. We must avail this opportunity to resolve the Balochistan conundrum.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13st, 2015.