Editorial : Sui withdrawal - Wednesday 20th April 2011

THE planned withdrawal of the army from the Sui area has finally been announced, with security responsibilities to be transferred to the Frontier Corps over the next couple of months. Does the move offer an opportunity to begin to turn around the disastrous security situation in the insurgency-hit province of Balochistan? It remains to be seen. While the army’s move has been publicly positioned as a nod to the wishes of the Baloch people, there is a sense that perhaps the catalyst may be a section of opinion within the army that has been opposed to using the military as a lethal instrument inside Balochistan. Moreover, the Baloch insurgents, and a considerable section of the public, believe that the main instruments of terror are the paramilitary forces, such as the Frontier Corps, and the ubiquitous intelligence agencies, meaning that the army withdrawal may not have much impact on Baloch perceptions.
Nevertheless, anything which sends conciliatory signals in the restive province ought to be welcomed. Balochistan is still not a lost province, in political terms, but the warning lights have furiously been blinking for some time now. As Baloch grievances spread further and deeper among the province’s population, there is a grave risk of an entire generation of Baloch youth growing up with little to no faith in the idea of Pakistan. Even the old tribal system is increasingly frayed, with a generation of angry youth inching towards hard-line stances and away from the guidance of the tribal sardars and nawabs. Complacency or indifference at the centre could yet push the Baloch beyond the tipping point.
Central as the role of the security establishment and the political government in Islamabad may be in recovering the situation in Balochistan, the abysmal role played by the provincial government cannot be overlooked. Gen Kayani was right in exhorting the provincial law-enforcement agencies and administration to improve their performance. In a sea of under-performing administrations, perhaps the performance of the Balochistan government has been the worst. Routinely accusations of monumental incompetence and corruption are laid against the provincial authorities. In that environment, the hard work of recovering a grim security situation becomes doubly difficult. Missing persons may be a critical issue and the provincial authorities do face serious security threats, but there is a sense that were the presence of the provincial government more visible and purposeful, at least the everyday terror that has invaded the lives of ordinary citizens could be pushed back. What’s really needed is a concerted plan of action bringing together all the instruments of the state, central and provincial. But is there the will?

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/20/sui-withdrawal.html

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