Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan with a very small spread of population. The region is known to be situated in an important strategic location and sharing extensive coastline with Arabian Sea. It is evident that there are inferior socio economic conditions in Baluchistan.
Baluchistan’s Problem Revived
Gen. Pervaiz Kiani before going to Moscow gave a statement through ISPR. He stated that any suggested solution to the Baluchistan issue that lies within the domains of Pakistan’s constitution would have full support of defense institutions. This is the first reaction from Chief of Army Staff in this regard.
Akhtar Mehngal, who is settled in Dubbai came back recently and has suggested his six point solution to Baluchistan problem. He had detailed meetings with known political leaders like Nawaz Sharid, Imran Khan and Munawwar Hassan. All the three leaders have supported his six points presented as solution.
Questions directed to Humayun Akhtar Khan:
Do you think Army has the “only” important role to play in the reformation of Baluchistan?
It is a very encouraging that Akhtar Mehngal has come out of exile. His meeting with notable leaders of major political parties is a very positive sign. It just shows his commitment towards finding a solution for Baluchistan that involves the country as whole.
Another very important aspect that I have noticed so far is that there seems to be no objection from the other leaders of Baluchistan on this particular stance. I am not denying the fact that there have been not many statements in the favor as well but the paucity of criticism is an indicator that Akhtar Mehngal has support from his territory.
Nobility of Baluch People
To my understanding the mindset that we have for Baluchistan in which we give them a certain quota in NFC and offer employments is the solution needs to change. If this region is being offered something it isn’t an undue favor, rather their right as nationals of Pakistan. There should be an understanding that this is their basic right and it has to be given.
Baluch are very dignified people and they would not settle for anything less than worthy. Aside from the NFC and employments we need to focus on a political solution as well. It would not be an exaggeration to call the people of Baluchistan as very valuable asset of Pakistan.
In Retrospect of Akhtar Mehngal’s Effort
I would call it a very encouraging move by Akhtar Mehngal. Today an equally inspiring reply came from the army. I just wish that our government join hands in this effort to rectify Pakistan’s major issues.
Is Army The Only Responsible Entity for Baluchistan Issue?
There is a basic trend that people and institutions blame army for the situation in Baluchistan . I feel that armed forces are just instruments of a government. Various institutions are accused but the important thing is to hold those responsible, that are proven guilty.
In Baluchistan there is speculation of infiltration. We have witnessed episodes of target killings and secterial violence as well. These incidents cannot be ignored but my plea is to bring everything out in the open. If any institution or force is making it happen, there should be a just system of accountability for it so that the guilty can be charged, but until that happens we have no right to pass judgments.
What is Your Analysis of the logic that might be behind the involvement of army?
It would be inapt to be presumptive at this stage but there are ground realities that cannot be ignored. Foremost is the case of missing people in Baluchistan. This singular issue causes remorse and enmity in the hearts of Baluch. This issue alone is being debated in the Supreme Court, not just that but it has caught the attention of United Nations as well.
Another harsh reality is that of target killings where all limits have been crossed. Entering passenger buses and killing brutally is completely inhuman and unacceptable. This type of dogmatic violence will only bring further segregation of sects and nothing else. Another shortcoming of our system that has taken up the form of a culture now is denial of responsibility. To reach a solution the government needs to make important forces, leaders and institutional heads, sit together and hold discussions.
The purpose should be for the government to lead a constructive dialogue. There is more to running a country than availing official protocol and acting like audience. I would rather have government take charge of the situation rather than blame institutions or external forces for causes and then surrendering to them.
We see two extreme arguments; one is of blaming the army of keeping the Baluch underprivileged while the other is of the Sardars causing people to remain inferior so that their supremacy is preserved. How much truth is there in these?
If you consider Baluchistan’s history, there have always been allegations of infiltration. Not just that but there have been various presumptive charges against external and internal forces. Several leaders including Khan Abdul haq, Ayub Khan, Zulfiqar Bhutto, Zia ul Haq and then Pervaiz Musharraf have been witnessed to bring drastic changes to the socio economic and military fronts of the region.
I would suggest that if the people and government intend to find a solution to Baluchistan’s problem they will have to forget the bitterness of the past. Every sector and person will have to step forward to extend help for reconstruction of the region.
I have not been presumptive regarding the armed forces because I understand the sensitivities but they need to take political forces on board when faced with such issues. If in any case they feel that politicians lack awareness it is their duty to inform and enlighten them about the situation.
The only path to proceed on is by coming forward with clear and positive intention.
In your opinion, should Army be evacuated form Baluchistan?
Army is an institution of our government that is run by the taxpayer’s money. It is not about keeping or putting them away. When a country faces difficulty, task is up to army to control the situation. The actual issue is about wrongdoings by various political forces, institutions and forces backed by external forces. These should be investigated. The question here, I repeat would not be a choice of whether to keep or discard the forces but rather investigate the wrongdoings of all.
Chief of army staff stated that anything within the constitution of Pakistan will be supported by the Army. I believe it to be a very positive sign. This affirmation should have come from the government as I stated before. In the civilized world when governments are faced with difficulties, be it te United States or Great Britain they look for solutions.
The best solutions can be reached by replicating “Best Practice`’ that has been instituted in the past in the world . If we feel that the laws of Pakistan are inadequate to deal with current situation , we should consider changes to laws while remaining within constitution. All the loopholes in our system should be terminated .
Source: “Tonight with Fahad – Waqt News – 03 October 2012”.