Thursday, December 30, 2004

Attacks in Balochistan (Editorial)

Source :

This weekend's attack on Frontier Corps personnel in Balochistan in which four FC men were killed reflects the troubling situation prevailing in the province. The province has had many incidents of violence that have left 94 dead and 303 injured in this year alone.

Most prominent of those was the attack in March on a religious gathering in Quetta that left 33 dead and the killing of three Chinese engineers working on the Gwadar port project in May.

In between, there has been an attempt on the CM's motorcade as well as several attacks on pipelines and other government installations. While a number of high-profile projects are currently under construction in Balochistan, concerns expressed by the local population over their fate once they have been completed remains a matter that the government has not addressed so far.

Such a situation can lead to a heightened sense of alienation among the people of the area, which in turn would affect the prospects of these projects. To further complicate matters, apart from the nationalist lobby, Balochistan also hosts a number of former Taliban cadres. These people pursue their own agenda against Islamabad.

An earlier attempt at engaging Balochistan's leaders politically seems to have fizzled out. The government's knee-jerk reaction has been to try and solve the issue by force.

This tactic has not worked in the past and is unlikely to do so in the future. Instead, issues raised by various quarters in Balochistan need to be addressed on an urgent basis.

The representation of locals in Gwadar, for example, should be enhanced immediately so that the people of the area, and not outsiders alone, have a say in the affairs of the town.

Similarly, the question of royalties that have to be paid to the Balochistan government for use of Sui gas must be settled. More attention needs to be paid to developing local human skills and resources while neglected sectors like education, health, water and transportation should receive better attention.

It is important for the government to give priority to Balochistan since recent events and incidents provide an indication that the people there are getting restless over their poor share in employment and fruits of development.


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