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Tackling Baloch concerns

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made a good gesture, rather renewed
his earlier pledge, of holding talks with the “angry” Baloch leaders who
were disturbing the peace in Balochistan. “We are ready to go to their
doorstep to resolve issues through dialogue,” he told the media at
Quetta on Tuesday after attending a passing-out parade of 5,000 army
recruits from the province. Mr Gilani admitted that the neglect of
Balochistan in the past had resulted in the present situation. However,
he believed that his government was working to remove the sense of
deprivation through a number of projects that had either been completed,
were in the process of execution, or had been approved and were due to
be taken up in course of time. Out of the Rs 305 billion allocated for
these 133 projects, Rs 126 billion had already been spent and for the
current fiscal year another Rs 28 billion had been set aside.
The
resource-rich province of Balochistan, with all the injustices it has
had to bear at the hands of successive governments over the past 60
years, was crying out for special attention when the PPP-led set-up
assumed power. President Zardari, no doubt, did offer an apology for the
denials of legitimate rights of its people, but that was hardly enough
to assuage the frayed tempers of the deprived elements. Building on the
sentiments that apology might have created, the government ought to have
moved fast to execute the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan it launched.
That would have spoken for its sincerity and commitment to remove the
feeling of alienation among the people.
Unfortunately,
the upshot of a relaxed approach appeared in the form of a dangerous
meddling by hostile foreign forces, which have never been in short
supply. Currently, joining hands with India, which is always on the
look-out for an opportunity to create problems for Pakistan, and
unfriendly Afghanistan, the superpower helped aggravate the situation
and today the country finds itself at a crossroads: one of the main
Baloch leaders running armed struggle against the government had for
long had a safe house in Afghanistan to direct his campaign, but now has
moved to Switzerland – all this neither without the permission of
Kabul, nor without the complicity of Washington. The US, being the
occupying power, carries the main responsibility for stabbing an ally in
the war on terror in the back. That is also evident from an array of
consulates, officially listed or not, along the Pak-Afghan border, which
are training recruits to the anti-Pakistan movement in Balochistan,
give them funds and supply arms. Thus, there exists an indisputable
evidence of the foreign hand.
The task for
Pakistan might appear formidable, but sincerity of purpose in
redressing the grievances of the people of Balochistan would elicit a
spontaneous positive response that would surprise these hostile forces;
for the Baloch are no less patriotic than any other Pakistanis. Once
their only grouse – the denial of due share in the development of the
country – is taken care of, feelings of optimism would take root, the
foreign hand automatically weaken and shrivel, losing its effectiveness,
and peace will return.

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