Yes FC, No FC
The Baloch Hal Editorial:
On Mar 24th, 2010
By Malik Siraj Akbar
Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Mohammad Aslam Riasani has once again thundered against the Frontier Corps (FC), a federal paramilitary force, for not abiding by the instructions of the provincial government. A disobedient FC, he whined, was finally transforming the prime ministerial Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan (beginning of Balochistan’s rights) Package into Aghaz-e-Isthesal-e-Balochistan (beginning of exploitation of Balochistan’s rights). Raisani has been consistently holding the FC responsible for alienating the people of Balochistan by its aggressive operations in different parts of the province. A “parallel government” is what Raisani believes the FC has established in a province where the democratic government is currently endeavoring to reconcile with the disillusioned Baloch nationalists.
Raisani’s criticism of the FC has raised many eyebrows. After all, it was the chief minister himself who formally and officially requested the FC to take control of Quetta and different parts of Balochistan in order to establish the writ of the government. What is it then that entices the CM to conclude that the FC should abide by his orders. It was not long ago when the FC took charge of all parts of Quetta in less than 20 hours when its services were sought to assist the local police to curb target killings in Quetta?
Major General Saleem Nawaz, the inspector General of the FC, has time and again refuted the allegations concerning FC running a parallel government in Balochistan. Instead, it only works on the instructions given from the top. Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, who is the representative of the president of Pakistan, also came up with a similar response saying that if the provincial government was dissatisfied with the role of the FC then it should formally request the federal government for the withdrawal of the FC. For unknown reasons, the Balochistan government is reluctant to issues such orders.
Since the FC is under the control of the federal government, the complaint by the chief minister is ungrounded that the former does not comply with the latter’s instructions. The proper channel for Balochistan government to seek the services of the FC is to contact the ministry of interior affairs in Islamabad. It is orders from Islamabad that activate the FC in Balochistan. Currently, there is no constitutional arrangement that the FC should be accountable to the chief minister or accept his instructions. If the FC in Balochistan is going to comply with the instructions issued by the chief minister then what is going to be the status of the other federal paramilitary forces in the remaining three provinces? Hence, it is an invalid complaint that the FC does not abide by the orders of Balochistan government.
The biggest mistake made by successive governments in Balochistan was the silent acceptance of the FC to work as a community police in the province rather than guarding the frontiers we share with Iran and Afghanistan. It is currently a catch 22 situation for the government in Quetta. One must confess that the FC proved highly successful in the first few months of its deployment in Quetta for the purpose of containing target killings. It was a task that should have ideally been performed by the police, not the FC. With the FC becoming an indispensable need for the government, the former grew overconfident and more arrogant. It grossly violated its mandate. Soon, there was a hue and cry from different parts of Balochistan about maltreatment of civilians, particularly the activists of rival political parties, by the FC which was accused of insulting local people at different check points. This culminated in hatred against the FC and complaints by the masses about lack of action by the provincial government to check the growing powers of the FC.
Now, even the FC has failed to grapple with targeted killings in Quetta. After the killing of Abdul Majeed Langove, an accomplished commander of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the armed groups threatened to avenge the killing of their leader by the FC in an operation in Quetta. Since then, around 22 people have been killed in various districts in a host of cases of target killings. What is the next option left for the provincial government once even the FC fails to deliver the assigned tasks?
While the blame game between the CM and the FC may continue, this does not provide a roadmap to the solution of the Baloch issue and return of peace in Balochistan, mainly its capital Quetta. On their part, the armed groups might be viewing the CM-FC vendetta as a remarkable achievement as the ultimate goal in a guerilla war is to exhaust, not necessarily defeat, your opponent.