Friday, November 13, 2015

Restoring peace to Balochistan

November 14, 2015

Efforts to resolve the Balochistan conflict, essentially a political problem that needed to be resolved through political means, seem to be bearing fruit. During the recent months, a number of militants laid down their arms before provincial cabinet ministers. More significantly, a major insurgency leader, Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti, has been indicating willingness to give up his separatist agenda and carry on the fight for Baloch rights within the confines of the federation. Chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has been in talks with different estranged/rebel leaders, including Brahamdagh. In an interview he gave a foreign media outlet on Wednesday from his self-exile in Switzerland, Brahamdagh confirmed reports of having met with the Chief Minister and Federal Minister, Abdul Qadir Baloch, to sort out issues of conflict. However, he claimed that the CM lacked the necessary authority to negotiate. The claim seems to be more of tactical device than an objective account of reality. 

True, previous leaders of the provincial government openly complained of being powerless to do anything about the situation. But things are different now. Hence, Baluchistan government spokesman Jan Buledi quickly came out with a rebuttal, saying "the CM, Dr Malik, enjoys the authority when he negotiates on the issue with Brahamdagh Bugti because he is entrusted by the Prime Minister and the Army chief" to resolve the Baluchistan conflict as part of the National Action Plan. Unlike in the past, he added, the provincial and federal governments and the military leadership are on the same page. That the powers-that-be are serious about settling the problem is obvious also from Abdul Qadir Baloch's inclusion in the talks with Brahamdagh. He has important credentials to qualify as a mediator. Aside from being a Baloch himself who has served as governor of the province, he is a senior retired army officer, a Lieutenant General. His personal links with both the restive province and the Army appear to be the reason he has been chosen to play a role in the negotiations process. It should be evident to the Baloch Republican Party leader that the two interlocutors have the mandate to negotiate terms of peace with him as well as other insurgent groups. The federation has compelling reasons - success of the NAP and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project - to do all that is necessary for a negotiated settlement of the protracted insurgency. 

The doubts and suspicions Brahamdagh expressed should be expected of him. He needs to have certain demands accepted to placate the 'angry Baloch youth' who have been fighting against the State for nearly nine years now. Not surprising, therefore, while announcing he is ready to drop his separatist plan, Brahamdagh averred that no peaceful solution to the enduring conflict is possible without 'conditions.' CM Malik, as a respected Baloch nationalist is the best person to deal with the 'conditions'. Contrary to the rebel leader's claim, Dr Malik's role as a peacemaker is also valued by the military establishment. If media reports are any indication to go by, the Army wants him to stay on as chief minister beyond the December 2015 time limit after which, as per an agreement between his National Party and the PML-N, it would be the latter's turn to name its own CM. Whether he stays or goes, what matters is that he should succeed, with the backing of the Prime Minister and the Army, to restore peace to Balochistan.

Contacts established with disgruntled Baloch: Gen Aamer

Says positive results expected within two months

Friday, November 06, 2015

QUETTA: Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Aamer Riaz has said contacts have been established with disgruntled people in Balochistan which will produce good results within two months.

General Aamer said currently there was no insurgency in Balochistan. He was addressing media persons at the Southern Command Headquarters here on Thursday. He said: “There is no insurgency in Balochistan but a pit of misguided militancy. I would extend efforts of former commander Southern Command, Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua to maintain peace and order and to contribute development process in the province.”

He said violence damages the state and the development process. “We will have to make an investment-friendly environment to attract huge private investment in Balochistan in connection with the Pak-China Economic Corridor,” he said. He added that the federal and the Balochistan governments would have to make joint efforts to remove hindrances in the development process and to maintain peace and order.

The commander Southern Command said that all stakeholders would have to make collective efforts to get benefits from the present peace and good environment of Balochistan for the sustainable development and empowerment of the people.

“There is need to carry out record development works in Balochistan including construction of water dams, roads, schools and health centres,” he said.In reply to a question, he said that due to Chinese influence in the region, there would be a rebalance of international powers in the world. “Pakistan will be a great beneficiary of this rebalance of international powers,” he said. He added that China was the second largest economy in the world. He said the mega projects launched under the CPEC and Gwadar Deep Sea Port would not only benefit Balochistan but also the whole country.

“No one can exploit the interests of Pakistan as it is a powerful country,” he said. He appreciated the role of the media in highlighting the positive aspects of the Balochistan situation. He said that credit for the restoration of peace in Balochistan went to all stakeholders including the media, civil society, government, army, law enforcement agencies and common people.

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