Who Needs Another Closed-Door Session on Balochistan?
By Malik Siraj Akbar
The Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, is scheduled to address a closed-door session of the Balochistan Assembly today (December 3) in Quetta. The session will focus on the state of unrest and lawlessness in the province. The upper and lower houses of the parliament, the provincial and federal cabinets and top military officers and the judges have already held so many futile closed-door sessions on Balochistan in the past that Monday’s session in Quetta hardly holds any significance.
Arranging another covert meeting about Balochistan is a mere ploy of the governments to buy more time and avoid coming to the actual point of conflict resolution. Mr. Malik’s arrival in Quetta also implicitly indicates confusion and chaos that surrounds the government on this important issue.
Confusion and ambiguity among the government officials was visible recently when the Balochistan cabinet convened an unprecedented meeting in Islamabad whereas it was technically supposed to stay in Quetta and make important decisions about the problems facing Balochistan. The provincial cabinet met in Islamabad because either it felt too insecure or too dis-empowered in Quetta. The cabinet seemed to have thought that a meeting in Islamabad would the government away from crude criticism from local political stakeholders and the media and also make it easier to communicate with the authoritative power brokers. The cabinet meeting in Islamabad did not lead to any positive results. In a similar fashion, interior minister Rehman Malik, who is not only deeply unpopular among the Baloch people but also disliked among several members of the Balochistan cabinet, is on his way to educate the elected public representatives of Balochistan about the ground situation. This is an utterly ironic and unhelpful initiative. At the end of the day, the federal government would not have anything new to add but to reiterate its oft-repeated, yet unsubstantiated, rhetoric of ‘foreign involvement’ in Balochistan.
We consider today’s assembly session as totally pointless. Instead of taking us back to square one, the government should at least start from the recent Supreme Court ruling on Balochistan. The apex court had acknowledged the involvement of the security forces in human rights abuses in Balochistan and also thundered over the Balochistan government over its poor performance. It is the time, the government stopped organizing mere sessions after sessions on the same topic. It is the time to act and take concrete measures to build confidence in Balochistan and restore peace by finding a political solution to the conflict.
Originally published in The Baloch Hal on December 3, 2012