While Pakistan’s economic crises is far from being resolved any time soon, the country’s internal security situation has also worsened. In addition to the incessant and violent attacks by the Pakistani Taliban in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad, Balochistan too experienced a bloody weekend.
TTP took responsibility for an attack in Chaman in which five security men belonging to the Levies were killed. This was in addition to attacks in Kohlu, Zhob and Turbat by Baloch separatists.
The growing presence of the TTP in Balochistan is worrying even more so after the victory of the Taliban next-door in Afghanistan. The Pakistani state ignored and at times even supported different groups of the TTP under the notion that India was the bigger threat. But with the Afghan Taliban refusing to help and the TTP now on the rampage in not one but two provinces of the country – and in the federal capital – it is time the Pakistani state actually rethought its security calculus.
Decades of an iron fist in Balochistan has failed to resolve the issue. It is time therefore that the state finds a way to reach out to and speak to its Baloch citizens and find a way to pacify this province and figure out why it has been unable to bring socioeconomic uplift to this resource-rich, but appallingly poor province.
As former Editor of Dawn, Abbas Nasir wrote “Balochistan is on the boil again and precious lives continue to be lost in the province, with little or no acknowledgement that the so-called iron-hand policy being pursued there since the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 has delivered nothing but spiralling death and destruction.”
As Nasir notes, “The policy pursued so far has inflicted considerable pain and agony on the law-enforcement personnel and the Baloch population alike. While the paramilitary forces are armed with the ‘writ of the law’ in taking on the ‘terrorists’, the general Baloch public is furious at being treated like a hostile, alien presence on their own soil.”
The way forward Nasir states would require drawing “up even a list of reconcilable Baloch leaders/groups and tell them apart from the irreconcilables. If this is done, some movement towards talks with the former can be made as also an attempt to isolate the latter.”