Editorial : Balochistan killings - Thursday 31st March 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/31/balochistan-killings.html

IN another tragic loss that forms part of a disturbing trend, the bulletriddled body of a student believed to be a Baloch activist was found in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district on Sunday. He had reportedly been missing for some time. The news came a day after the discovery of eight bodies in Balochistan. These recent examples represent only a handful of extrajudicial killings out of the scores that have been reported over the last few months. While people have been going missing in Balochistan for years, their dead bodies are now being found, opening up a new chapter in the long running, low-intensity conflict between Baloch activists and security agencies. Separatists do contribute to violence in the province as well; they have attacked
security forces, government officials, non-Baloch residents of the province and public infrastructure. But the party affiliations of those whose bodies have been found indicate that the killings are unlikely to have been carried out by insurgents. This, and the fact that many of those found dead were among the province’s missing persons, has created the suspicion that security agencies are involved. As a result, the insurgency has intensified, leading to incidents such as the gunning down of at least 10 men at a Frontier Works Organisation camp in Gwadar last week.

The government’s Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i-Balochistan package is meant to address some of the grievances of the Baloch, although nationalists argue its implementation has been slow. Pakistan’s military has also made conciliatory gestures by hiring Baloch youth and establishing educational institutions. The 18th Amendment promises more provincial autonomy, and the seventh National Finance Commission Award has increased the province’s share of federal revenue and acknowledges Balochistan’s right to profit from its natural resources. But these efforts will not be enough as long as security agencies and law-enforcement personnel continue to exert as much influence in Balochistan as they do; the chief minister has himself admitted that he has limited control over the province. Until the issue of the missing persons is resolved and the civilian administration allowed to truly govern the province, no concessions will be enough to bring these retaliatory attacks and killings to an end.

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