Two pieces of news highlighted just how lawless Balochistan has now become, and how both sides of the fight in the province are responsible for inflaming the situation. On January 16, the Supreme Court directed three agencies, the Intelligence Bureau, the Criminal Investigation Department and the Daily Secret Reports of the Special Branch, to hand over the last three months of intelligence reports on the province. The court accused the agencies of downplaying the violence that is plaguing the province and said that it would not hesitate to ask the ISI for its reports, should the need arise. That very same day, Shahzain Bugti, a grandson of Akbar Bugti, offered a reward of “one million rupees in cash, a bungalow worth Rs100 million and full security” to anyone who would kill Pervez Musharraf for allegedly ordering the killing of his grandfather.
So ingrained is the cycle of violence in Balochistan that 1) a popular political figure in the province can call for the assassination of a former president and not even face the possibility of arrest for incitement to violence and 2) the intelligence agencies can hide their role in the violence by simply prevaricating before the Supreme Court. While the government and the military has been blamed, justifiably, for being initially responsible for sparking the violence, there is now no doubt that both sides have a lot to answer for. Separatist sentiments in the province prevail and Punjabi settlers, living in the province for many generations, fear for their lives. Even those in noble professions like education aren’t safe anymore.
So ingrained is violence in the mindset of both sides that a solution seems close to impossible. Should Musharraf follow through on his promise to return to the country by the end of the month, arresting him for the murder of Akbar Bugti would be a start. The government should as soon as possible implement the Balochistan package, announced with much fanfare two years ago. There is probably no single thing that can be done to defuse tensions that would have as much effect as withdrawing the army. But this does not mean that separatists who tend towards violence should be given a free hand. Reintroducing the rule of law in Balochistan will require compromises from both sides.
Origional Post: Express Tribune Editorial