Prime Minister Imran Khan trekked the remote district of Nushki in Balochistan province. His visit comes after recent assaults on security forces in Nuskhi and Panjgur sectors.
Nushki is strategically and militarily very significant, located on the frontier of Iran and Afghanistan. The Rek Diq natural copper and gold stocks are present near this district.
Prime Minister made the right decision to meet with soldiers and assured armed forces personnel that the government will undertake all the measures to facilitate soldiers.
Recent attacks were meant to weaken the strong security points, but those attempts appear to have been foiled by security forces.
Now, using the huge capacity of armed forces against insurgents will weaken the insurgents, but for the short-term. The actual and central problem is that youth from an educated background are being involved as part of the insurgent factions.
Balochistan has been excluded from policies in enhancing the capacity of the public education, health, and basic facilities of life. Baloch people have some profound reservations about the state.
My own friends from Balochistan are highly educated from Pakistan’s top universities and colleges – even a few from cadet college backgrounds. When we discuss the problems of Balochistan, they consistently assert that the region has no real representation, either in the centre or in the province. They demand fundamental rights, liberties and democracy. There appears to be a pervasive sentiment that the real public representatives are not in high offices – and so, the youth feel insecure, jobless and unemployed. A significant part of the young population was trapped by the insurgency and used against the state. Those who want constitutional rights are alienated and left dismayed.
Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly said that in the past Balochistan’s remote regions were being ignored, which caused distress among the people. He further reiterated that his government would chalk out plans to uplift Pakistan’s backward districts. Moreover, he promised that the government would provide job opportunities to the people of Balochistan, bringing about prosperity and thus foiling the insurgents’ nefarious goals.
The Baloch people have several tangible resentments which can be exploited as spoilers for the peace process. Extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and illegal imprisonment of citizens make the situation worse.
To be sure, the use of force against insurgents is crucial for the maintenance of law-and-order situations. No country can permit a few armed individuals to jeopardise the precious lives of citizens. But the important point is that without addressing the underlying issues of Balochistan that provide space for insurgents, no worthwhile outcomes are possible.
Our military establishment insists on highlighting the threats of fifth-generation and hybrid warfare. Those methods, they say, have hijacked the minds of the youth and manipulated them against the interests of the state.
But uunderprivileged and impoverished youth can easily be consumed by propaganda when living under such miserable constraints. And so, the separatists and other anti-state organisations are trapping youth in the net of their shady agenda.
The real issues of Balochistan are unemployment, poor infrastructure and injustice. Nawabs and chieftains are also equally accountable for the underdevelopment of the province. Above all, the elected provincial governments remained oblivious to people and thought only of personal enrichment.
For long-lasting peace and stability in Balochistan, it is essential to win the confidence of the Baloch community. Only a fair share of assets and liabilities can restore the belief of people in the state. Forced kidnapping of students and civilians will merely fuel the fire. Justice is the essence of any tranquil and peaceful society – and it is unfortunately rare in our country.
The civilian and military establishment know how to address the agonies of the Baloch community. Now, actions are required.
PM Imran khan’s visit to Balochistan was at a critical juncture. Now is a time for taking concrete measures to ensure the uplift of the largest and richest – but so far most unfortunate – province. Only a strong, developed, and formidable Balochistan can make a prosperous Pakistan.