Raisani’s intrepid stance on Frontier Corps
By Malik Siraj Akbar
What a dismayed Chief Minister Balochistan, Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, said while talking to media on Tuesday about the Frontier Corps (FC) having established a parallel government in Balochistan was already known to everyone. Nobody was startled to hear that but surely they were waiting for an official confirmation from the chief minister to admit that the federal paramilitary force was not in the control of the provincial government and its provocative actions were undermining the credibility of the democratically elected provincial government.
In his media talk, the chief minister complained that the FC was running a parallel government in the province and was not under the control of the provincial government. Thus, it was causing problems for the provincial government to push forward its agenda of reconciliation in Balochistan with the Baloch leaders. .
The statement of the chief minister came days after the killing of two political activists of Baloch Students’ Organization (BSO-Azad) in Khuzdar district during a political rally. The local chapter of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) confirmed that the firing was carried out on a peaceful rally of the BSO which was intended to protest the recent killing of Balochs in Karachi. The recent killings sparked a wave of criticism and condemnation across the province. Finding it hard to defend this sad development, two ministers of the provincial government, Sardar Aslam Bizenjo and Abdul Rehman Mengal staged a walked out from the provincial assembly session. They complained that the government was offering a Balochistan package on the one hand and killing the Baloch political activists on the other hand.
Chief Minister Raisani had previously said in an interview with Karachi-based respected monthly Herald in July 2009 that if it were his will, he would drive all the security forces outside the province. On its part, the Frontier Corps (FC) said it was called by the provincial government in Quetta to contain the cases of target killings. In an informal chat with the journalists of Quetta at FC headquarters in Quetta, Major General Saleem Nawaz, the Inspector General of the FC, had said that his forces would withdraw immediately once they were ordered by the provincial government to do so.
For Raisani, it is a catch-22 situation. He cannot immediately order the withdrawal of FC from Quetta as the latter has proved very helpful to contain target killings in Quetta city. If the FC is pulled out of the city, the provincial capital is likely to face an upsurge in the cases of target killings. On the other hand, if the FC continues to serve in place of the regular police force, it is likely to alienate the masses due to its very unprofessional public dealing with the civilians. FC is known as a force that arrogantly treats the citizens and humiliates them publicly.
Defining the role of FC is in fact the need of the hour for the provincial government. While establishing the writ of the government is understandably the primary responsibility of the provincial government, no security force can be given an absolutely free hand under any pretext. Currently, the FC poses a major threat to the stability of the provincial government. Therefore, the Chief Minister must not only object over its defiant role in the media but should immediately discuss the matter with President Asif Ali Zardari.
If the FC officials were responsible for the killing of young students in Khuzdar then the perpetrators of that ugly episode must be punished. There is a growing demand from different quarters that a judicial inquiry must be conducted into Khuzdar killings. This proposal has also been welcomed by the spokesman of the Frontier Corps, who insists that the FC was not deployed at all at the rally in which two political workers were killed. Perhaps, the FC derives its confidence from the fact that never before were its officials punished for their extra-constitutional actions.
The chief minister has also complained about lack of cooperation by the bureaucracy in Islamabad with the provincial government. In addition, he flabbergasted everyone by stating for the first time that the Balochistan Package announced by Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani had nothing new to offer to the province.
CM Raisani must be applauded for his fearless stance against the FC and federal bureaucracy. The Chief Minister has taken side with the interest of the people of Balochistan. This is what the people wanted to hear from the provincial chief executive. Raisani’s bold stance should alarm the rulers in Islamabad as it indicates that alienation in Balochistan is not only confined to Baloch nationalists but even the chief minister of the province feels dissatisfied and powerless. If timely attention is not paid to the recent complaint of Nawab Raisani, the situation in Balochistan may take a very dramatic turn which would make it more difficult for Islamabad to govern Balochistan in near future.