Policy matters: HRCP addresses post-election strategies in Balochistan
KARACHI: The solution to Balochistan’s problems lies in the provision of basic human rights to its native people, which can only be achieved by pulling out the armed forces and ending the role of secret agencies in the province.
These views were expressed by the National Party vice president, Hameed Baloch and Awami Workers Party central committee member, Yousuf Masti Khan at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) seminar on the ‘state of general elections in Balochistan’ on Friday. Missing persons along with the occasional surfacing of tortured victims’ bodies have created a strong resentment against the establishment among the Baloch populace, the speakers felt.
They said, however, that these problems can’t be solved unless the parties elected in the general elections show strong political will to bring about change instead of engaging in a fight to occupy important positions in the cabinet.
“Democracy is not the best revenge – it’s just the best system,” asserted Baloch. “I don’t believe in revenge.” He added that two schools were battling against each other in the mineral-rich province – one wanted to bring about change through guns while the other favoured a more democratic path.
Baloch cautioned that the roles being played by the armed forces and the secret agencies could worsen the situation. “The establishment should seriously consider its options otherwise we will see another Bangladesh.”
Highlighting the issues of missing persons, Baloch said that the victims were not just ordinary people – rather, they were the ‘cream of the Baloch’. “When the news of a missing person or a dead body reaches a village, it does not just affect one family. Reaction comes from the entire village.”
He added that the deep-set reservations of the Baloch people could not be addressed unless they were given rights of self-determination and consulted on all issues affecting them. Citing an agreement between the government of Pakistan and Singapore on a project, Baloch said that 91 per cent of the shares were given to the Singaporean company while the remaining nine per cent were allocated to the government. “Balochistan was not considered as a stake-holder and that’s where you create a rift among the people.”
Unexploited riches of an exploited populace
Yousuf Masti Khan was of the view that many of Balochistan’s problems can be attributed to the international situation and stake-holders’ interests. He referred to the Refo Diq project which estimated that resources worth Rs7 trillion were presently accounted for in the province along with the vast potential of untapped sources which were yet unaccounted for. “How can you explore and use these resources when not a single person has graduated in the province in the last seven to eight years,” he said.
Khan urged the newly elected parliamentarians to develop strategies for the betterment of the people rather than becoming a part of the race for the powerful seats. He added that the elections had been sabotaged by the establishment and the results had been exactly as predicted. The turnout in the elections had been less than 15 per cent and there was a complete ban over electronic media and a partial censorship of print media.
“The situation is the same even after Bugti’s murder, missing persons, tortured bodies and several army operations. How many more sacrifices are required from the Baloch to give them their due rights?”
Source: The Express Tribune