EDITORIAL: Balochistan cannot suffer anymore - Friday, March 25, 2011

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\25\story_25-3-2011_pg3_1

Trouble has hit a new high in Balochistan. On Wednesday, the capital city of Quetta received three rockets in different parts of the city from a nearby mountain range resulting in the death of some four people and injuries to another 18. The first target was a traffic-heavy area where a roundabout, Saryab Pathakh, is located. Two other rockets were fired and hit two houses but, thankfully, no injuries were reported. In addition to these attacks, the bodies of two missing Baloch men were found in the Lasbela district. These men had gone missing some five months ago from Gwadar and Vindar respectively; they have now been found in much the same way many missing Baloch are recovered: mutilated and decomposed bodies. On the same day, the Quetta Express was bombed. Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi said that he did not see any progress in talks with the “angry Baloch” who were engaged in a struggle to attain their human, social, economic and political rights. He also said that some headway could only be made after the next general elections with a new leadership making the effort necessary to resolve the abysmal situation.

Meanwhile, as Balochistan keeps discovering and burying its sons and daughters, Prime Minister Gilani does not deviate from his usual rhetoric. Addressing a delegation led by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani on Tuesday, he once again assured that all efforts would be taken to improve the security situation in the province with closer coordination between the federal and provincial governments — words we have heard all too many times before. Citing the Balochistan Package, he ‘reassured’ that all possible directives for the start of different development projects would be issued. This gives rise to the question: it has been over a year since the package was introduced as a solution to all Baloch woes; why on earth is it still on the planning room floor?

Balochistan is not a playground for “foreign elements”, as much as the PM would like to have us believe. Governance in the province has been hijacked by a reportedly brutal Frontier Corps that has claimed the area as its exclusive preserve. Innocent Baloch who may be able to contribute to the betterment of their society, political workers, educationists, doctors, engineers, etc, are being picked up and whisked away, reportedly by paramilitary forces and the government seems unable — and unwilling — to stop them. Resources located in Balochistan are hungrily swooped up by the centre without allocating a sufficient share for the Baloch people. They have no faith in the government and the army and hence separatist sentiment runs deep. Economic, industrial and resource development has not taken place, resulting in an increasingly poor population without access to rights and fair play. Is it the fault of the people or those who rule them for the mass frustration that is now taking a violent turn?

Every dead body that ‘mysteriously’ turns up in Balochistan after ‘mysteriously’ going missing — the last count was 13,000 dead — is another nail in the coffin of any peace and stability in the province. It will not be long before we will be burying the soul of the largest province in this country. Short-sighted hated policies, cruel treatment, what comes close to an illegal occupying force in uniform and the consequent hate-fuelled sentiments of the Baloch people have turned one more part of Pakistan against the centre. Enough with the rhetoric and the cosmetic promises; Balochistan needs a determined political solution, otherwise we can, literally, kiss it goodbye. *


Pakistan is the first team to have reached the semi-final in the ongoing Cricket World Cup 2011. On Wednesday, the men in green beat West Indies by 10 wickets after bowling them out for 112 runs. Pakistan seems to be peaking at just the right time. Our initial performances were not confidence inspiring but later on we have improved and are playing like a real team. The team spirit under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi is soaring. Afridi’s innovative captaincy inspired him to give the new ball to Hafeez against West Indies and it worked wonders. The West Indies’ side is known to struggle against spin and that is what we saw on Wednesday. South Asian wickets are generally good for spin bowling. Pakistan has plenty of spinners in its side and Afridi himself has been the highest wicket-taker so far in the World Cup. He is bowling a lot of top-spinners and googlies, which is bamboozling the batsmen. But there is no room for complacency now that we have beaten Australia to be the top team in our group matches and then West Indies in the quarterfinal. Our batting so far has been average. Our top order has not fired and the middle order is struggling. Usually reliable batsmen like Misbah and Younis Khan have not performed as well as they could have. Afridi’s own batting has declined but his leadership from the front as captain has proved to be good so far.

Now that India has won the quarterfinal against the Australians, Pakistan will face India at Mohali in the semi-final. There will be tremendous pressure on both teams to win the match. When India and Pakistan play against each other, it is not just your regular cricket game; it is a battle of hearts and minds. The Pakistan team must keep its nerve even though India will have the advantage of playing on home ground. So far, Pakistan has never beaten India in a World Cup match but that should not deter us because there is always a first time for everything. The Indians have a strong batting line-up and we have a good bowling attack. Pakistan’s top and middle order batsmen must now get down to the task. Kamran Akmal is still a very useful member of the team, especially when used as an opener. We need to be confident but not over-confident.

On another note, Shahid Afridi failed to thank the Sri Lankan crowd and the Bangladeshi crowd in their respective countries despite the fact that they were the ones cheering us in our matches against Australia and West Indies. It would have been a great gesture if he had thanked the local crowds. Our team management should teach our captain and the team to be thankful to local hosts and crowd who have been supportive of Pakistan throughout the World Cup. *

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