Editorial - Gas pipeline attacks - Thursday, February 10, 2011

Source : www.dawn.com

AS this paper reported yesterday, another set of gas pipelines was blown up by separatists in Balochistan on Tuesday. Although this was only the latest in a series of such attacks that have flared up since the first week of January, it was a particularly serious incident. Unlike all but one earlier incident, it has significantly disrupted supply. Gas has been cut off to nine districts at a time of severe cold, affecting not just homes but also industrial units and CNG stations. Supply was also cut off to a 120MW power plant, which has worsened the already dismal electri-city shortage that hit the province over the weekend due to an attack on transmission pylons. Electricity transmitted to 15 districts is now down from 1,150MW to a mere 60 to 70MW. Over large swathes of Balochistan, even in Quetta, people are being forced to survive in extreme weather conditions with no gas and no power to speak of.

Baloch separatist groups have claimed responsibility for the ongoing attacks on pipelines as well as Saturday’s attack on electricity pylons. It remains true that the people of the province have long made legitimate demands about development, revenue-sharing reforms and control over their own secur-ity, and that these have hardly been addressed. Yesterday’s story reminded us, for example, that gas was cut off to only nine districts because the other 21 had never had it to begin with. That the residents of a gas-rich province live without it even under ordinary circumstances is an irony not lost on anyone. But by disrupting what little development exists, separatists are compounding the miseries of the very people whose rights they claim to be struggling for. More than anyone else, it is the Baloch themselves who are suffering from these violent disruptions in access to basic services.

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