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The War Within Islam ( 14 Jul 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Balochistan killings: Pakistani state needs real introspection

 A Dawn Editorial

15 Jul, 2010

THE cycle of violence in Balochistan continued with the killing of the secretary-general of the BNP-M, Habib Jalib Baloch, in Quetta yesterday. Mr Baloch was not one of the radical, fringe nationalist figures demanding independence for Balochistan but a respected politician from a humble background who fit more properly in the self-determination camp in Balochistan’s political spectrum. In short, he favoured a type of politics whereby the people of Balochistan controlled their own affairs but within the federal framework of Pakistan. His killing will re-energise the hatred felt in some parts of Balochistan for Pakistan and all that it has come to represent for a people who see themselves as oppressed, friendless and left to fend for themselves. It does not bode well for peace in the province.

Deplorable and ugly as the violence has been from certain Baloch quarters, the real introspection required is on the part of the Pakistani state — introspection that is hinted at occasionally but never actually delivered on. While the terrible days of violent suppression by the security forces in the Musharraf era may be over, there is a sense that the Pakistan Army continues to view the Baloch problem with uncompromising eyes. Proof of that is the continuing problem of ‘missing persons’. While Baloch leaders claim many thousand people are missing, independent observers suggest a figure between one and two thousand. For its part, the state claims only a few hundred people are missing. But that begs the question: why, given the deep resentment it causes, are even those few hundred people still ‘missing’? Beyond that is the problem of the federal government’s failure to deliver on promises, especially jobs for unemployed Baloch youth. From internships to jobs in the federal government to even recruitment in the provincial services, jobs that could keep young men employed and serve as a political balm have not been made available as quickly as promised. Neither has the federal government taken up the challenge of starting a meaningful and regular political dialogue with the leaders of the people of Balochistan. In the absence of such measures, no amount of wishful thinking will bring an end to the crisis in Balochistan.

Source: Dawn, Karachi