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EDITORIAL: The restive Balochistan province remains in the cross hairs of terrorists. In the wee hours of last Saturday morning, armed men barged into an under-construction house in Turbat and opened indiscriminate fire on labourers as they slept.

Six of them, including three of the same family, died on the spot while two others sustained injuries. All of the victims belonged to southern Punjab.

The Additional Inspector General of Police who reached the site of the massacre told journalists that a joint team comprising officials of Counter-Terrorism Department, special branch of the police, and other agencies was to investigate the incident.

The attack, though, bore hallmarks of Baloch insurgents. It did not take long for the so-called Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) to claim responsibility for the atrocity.

The BLA and other insurgent groups have frequently been attacking workers and settlers from the other provinces as well as Chinese nationals associated with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and other Chinese interests in Karachi and northern areas.

A while ago, several insurgent groups, such as the self-styled Balochistan Liberation Front and the United Baloch Liberation Army, also started operating under the umbrella of BLA. Islamabad blamed Indian intelligence agencies for bringing about the merger as a measure of strength to create instability in this country.

As a matter of fact, there is enough evidence of India providing material support to Baloch insurgents. Its national security adviser Ajit Doval is on record to have publicly declared a desire to undermine Pakistan’s security through an offensive-defence strategy. Coming from a traditional rival, that was hardly surprising.

It does not help, however, to point the finger at outsiders. Islamabad and Rawalpindi need to acknowledge that the root cause of the trouble is the Baloch people’s long-standing genuine grievances and address them.

Among injustices, they are right to grumble that the benefits of provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment have by-passed them, and that the province’s affairs continue to be micromanaged by the Centre. Further fuelling insurgency is the grave issue of enforced disappearances.

Use of force will not, has not, resolved anything. It is a political problem and needs to be sorted out through political means. But even elected leaders in that province have been complaining of being powerless to do anything about it.

Back in 2014, the then chief minister of the province, Abdul Malik Baloch, had approached, with the endorsement of the federal government and Balochistan Assembly, insurgency leaders to start a dialogue for reconciliation. Unfortunately, it proved to be false start due to lack of support from the powers that be.

To date, there is no cohesive civil-military plan to deal with the situation. Consequently, countless lives of soldiers and civilians, like the poor workers in Turbat, have been lost. It is not too late to do what is necessary to find a workable solution of the issues feeding insurgency. The vicious cycle of violence must come to an end.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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KU Oct 22, 2023 11:55am
We must accept the fact that the building blocks of society were never built nor encouraged by the tribal heads and government. The 100 year plus traditions and tribal laws have ensured an arrested development, while unemployment is leading to militancy because it pays. In any case, a sane leadership would weed out the culprits from a society, that is if they are interested.
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