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Old Monday, September 21, 2009
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Default The Balochistan Package ~ex-Senator Sana Ullah Baloch


The Balochistan ‘Package’



By Sanaullah Baloch


the baloch people had hoped that over the past few years the cen- tral government would have come to the reali- sation that the conflict in their province was not merely about finan- cial packages. in fact, the struggle in the resource-rich but poverty- stricken region is political: it aims at ending islamabad’s ex- ploitation, oppression and col- onial control over balochistan. the centre’s endless desire to control the province’s natu- ral wealth and its continued suppression of the people through ethnically-structured military and paramilitary forces are the prime reasons behind the uneasy baloch- islamabad relations. since the time pervez musharraf took over in 1999 and after, the term ‘balochistan package’ has been used repetitively to confuse and distract debate and attention away from the province’s genuine political, social and economic issues. if the current regime in islamabad is sincere, willing and authorised by the estab- lishment to indisputably re- solve the prolonged baloch- islamabad conflict, then they have to agree to address the crux of the matter: the rulers should come up with a more political and long-lasting solu- tion, rather than packages. however, their silence on the aggravating situation in the province is proof of their aloofness.

in the last six decades the baloch people have been gov- erned like a subsidiary. islam- abad is ruling balochistan thr- ough a system known as ‘con- trol’. control is a suppressive and outdated system based on a set of mechanisms used in multi-ethnic states by the dominant ethnic group to con- tain and keep its control over dissident ethnic minorities. it is based on the idea that one ethnic group takes over the state and its institutions, imposes its culture on society, allocates to itself the lion’s share of resources and takes various measures like military operations, suppression, etc to prevent the non-dominant groups from organising politi- cally for their due rights.

control works through three interrelated mecha- nisms:

a) divide and rule: creating internal social and tribal rifts and divisions among the non- dominant groups.

b) economic dependence: controlling and exploiting re- sources and making the non- dominant group permanently dependent for its social, cul- tural and basic livelihood on the central government (dom- inant group).

c) co-optation: involving the non-dominant elite like greedy tribal chiefs, feudals, drug tycoons and corrupt poli- ticians through partial dispen- sation of benefits and favours. first, the central govern- ment has to end its colonial control over the destiny of the people of balochistan.

the province’s politics, economy and security set-up must be balochistan-oriented rather than imposed from elsewhere. islamabad has to ensure an end to political suppression, ‘disappearances’ and the in- timidation of the baloch. perhaps it is too early to say so, but it appears that the ppp’s package may not be dif- ferent from the packages an- nounced by previous regimes. i am also uncertain whether the package is going to be at- tractive enough to end grow- ing baloch anger. the pack- age will aggravate baloch dis- satisfaction if it does not ad- dress the root causes of the tension and genuine demands of the baloch people. the cen- tral government needs to be very fair when dealing with baloch demands. the package will only be appreciated as a confidence- building measure if it includes stopping the daylight robbery of balochistan’s natural weal- th, and includes the termina- tion of all mous signed by the musharraf regime with regard to saindak and reko dik cop- per-gold projects and an end to the half-century old exploi- tation of pakistan petroleum limited, known as balochis- tan’s east india company. the package should include provincial control over the civ- il armed forces (caf) and re- placement of more than 50,000 aliens of the caf by unemployed local youth and should include the termina- tion of countless military and paramilitary facilities and their transformation into edu- cation and health centres.

also, the intelligence agencies’ meddling in balochistan’s social, tribal and political affairs, includ- ing killings and disappearan- ces of baloch nationalists, should stop. there must be reliable assurances to the victims of the military opera- tion that musharraf and his close associates involved in gross human rights viola- tions will be tried for their official and unofficial crimes, including the killing of veteran baloch leaders. last but not least the pack- age must offer a clear political roadmap to end islamabad’s colonial control over the prov- ince and accept the baloch people’s demand for the right to self-rule. any bureaucrati- cally drafted announcement would be useless to appease the politically conscious baloch. rather than being promise-oriented, the balochistan package should be action-based. the baloch people have wit- nessed enough pain, promises and packages.

their demands are crystal clear: a peaceful balochistan, ruled, governed and controlled by them. the baloch have given 60 years to islamabad to change the fate of the region but have, in- stead, been showered with bombs and bullets. political, economic, social, educational and cultural values have been all but destroyed in the prov- ince. an end to the balochistan conflict is not a simple task. the mistrust be- tween the baloch and the es- tablishment has intensified af- ter repeated killings and in- timidation. fair and unbiased policies towards balochistan will grad- ually pave the way for sustain- able peace and security in the region. this can only be done by allowing experienced and neutral international media- tors and experts to devise a strategy for conflict-resolution and management. the estab- lishment must come forward and wholeheartedly demon- strate its willingness to grant self-rule and political autono- my to the province. ¦ the writer is a former senator.

THE Baloch people had hoped that over the past few years the central government would have come to the realisation that the conflict in their province was not merely about financial packages.

In fact, the struggle in the resource-rich but povertystricken region is political: it aims at ending Islamabad’s exploitation, oppression and colonial control over Balochistan.

The centre’s endless desire to control the province’s natural wealth and its continued suppression of the people through ethnically-structured military and paramilitary forces are the prime reasons behind the uneasy BalochIslamabad relations. Since the time Pervez Musharraf took over in 1999 and after, the term ‘Balochistan package’ has been used repetitively to confuse and distract debate and attention away from the province’s genuine political, social and economic issues.

If the current regime in Islamabad is sincere, willing and authorised by the establishment to indisputably resolve the prolonged BalochIslamabad conflict, then they have to agree to address the crux of the matter: the rulers should come up with a more political and long-lasting solution, rather than packages. However, their silence on the aggravating situation in the province is proof of their aloofness.

In the last six decades the Baloch people have been governed like a subsidiary. Islamabad is ruling Balochistan through a system known as ‘con trol’. Control is a suppressive and outdated system based on a set of mechanisms used in multi-ethnic states by the dominant ethnic group to contain and keep its control over dissident ethnic minorities.

It is based on the idea that one ethnic group takes over the state and its institutions, imposes its culture on society, allocates to itself the lion’s share of resources and takes various measures like military operations, suppression, etc to prevent the non-dominant groups from organising politically for their due rights.

Control works through three interrelated mechanisms:

a) Divide and rule: creating internal social and tribal rifts and divisions among the nondominant groups.

b) Economic dependence: controlling and exploiting resources and making the nondominant group permanently dependent for its social, cultural and basic livelihood on the central government (dominant group).

c) Co-optation: involving the non-dominant elite like greedy tribal chiefs, feudals, drug tycoons and corrupt politicians through partial dispensation of benefits and favours.

First, the central government has to end its colonial control over the destiny of the people of Balochistan. The province’s politics, economy and security set-up must be Balochistan-oriented rather than imposed from elsewhere. Islamabad has to ensure an end to political suppression, ‘disappearances’ and the intimidation of the Baloch.

Perhaps it is too early to say so, but it appears that the PPP’s package may not be dif ferent from the packages announced by previous regimes. I am also uncertain whether the package is going to be attractive enough to end growing Baloch anger. The package will aggravate Baloch dissatisfaction if it does not address the root causes of the tension and genuine demands of the Baloch people. The central government needs to be very fair when dealing with Baloch demands.

The package will only be appreciated as a confidencebuilding measure if it includes stopping the daylight robbery of Balochistan’s natural wealth, and includes the termination of all MoUs signed by the Musharraf regime with regard to Saindak and Reko Dik copper-gold projects and an end to the half-century old exploitation of Pakistan Petroleum Limited, known as Balochistan’s East India Company.

The package should include provincial control over the civil armed forces (CAF) and replacement of more than 50,000 aliens of the CAF by unemployed local youth and should include the termination of countless military and paramilitary facilities and their transformation into education and health centres.

Also, the intelligence agencies’ meddling in Balochistan’s social, tribal and political affairs, including killings and disappearances of Baloch nationalists, should stop. There must be reliable assurances to the victims of the military operation that Musharraf and his close associates involved in gross human rights violations will be tried for their official and unofficial crimes, including the killing of veteran Baloch leaders.

Last but not least the package must offer a clear political roadmap to end Islamabad’s colonial control over the province and accept the Baloch people’s demand for the right to self-rule. Any bureaucratically drafted announcement would be useless to appease the politically conscious Baloch. Rather than being promise-oriented, the Balochistan package should be action-based.

The Baloch people have witnessed enough pain, promises and packages. Their demands are crystal clear: a peaceful Balochistan, ruled, governed and controlled by them. The Baloch have given 60 years to Islamabad to change the fate of the region but have, instead, been showered with bombs and bullets. Political, economic, social, educational and cultural values have been all but destroyed in the province. An end to the Balochistan conflict is not a simple task. The mistrust between the Baloch and the establishment has intensified after repeated killings and intimidation.

Fair and unbiased policies towards Balochistan will gradually pave the way for sustainable peace and security in the region. This can only be done by allowing experienced and neutral international mediators and experts to devise a strategy for conflict-resolution and management. The establishment must come forward and wholeheartedly demonstrate its willingness to grant self-rule and political autonomy to the province. ¦ The writer is a former senator.

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