Campaigns Silenced

editorialThe election campaigns in Balochistan have been deeply silenced after at least five organized attacks on different political parties in various cities. On April 16, the Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.) attacked the convey of Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the Balochistan president of the Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L-Nawaz), which led to the killing of his young son, brother and the nephew. On April 21, a meeting of the National Party (N.P.), which was taking place at the residence of Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, the N.P. president, was assaulted in Kech district. The attack did not cause any loss to human life or damage to the property but it disrupted the political event which had been convened to woo voters to cast their vote on May 11.

On the same day, April 21, unidentified people opened fire on a rally of the Awami National Party (A.N.P.), a secular Pashtun nationalist group, in Pishin district. As a result, two A.N.P. activists were killed in the attack. A day later, on April, 22, former Balochistan agriculture minister Asadullah Baloch of the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P-Awami) narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when his election convey was attacked with a remote-controlled bomb in Panjgur, Mr. Baloch’s birthplace and electoral constituency. A man was killed in another attack on the election office of former Member of the National Assembly, Sardar Umar Gorgage, in Noshki district on April 25.

Elections have never taken place in Balochistan amid such harsh circumstances. While the security threats faced by the election candidates in Balochistan remain similar to what we are witnessing elsewhere in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, the fundamental difference in Balochistan is that it is a war between moderate, pro-Pakistan Balochs versus the hardliner anti-Pakistan Balochs.

Among the victims of the five attacked mentioned above, only two, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and N.P.’s Dr. Abdul Malik, have asserted their anguish. Mr. Zehri has registered a First Investigation Report (F.I.R.) against those who killed his family members. Surprisingly, he has also mentioned the names of Sardar Akhtar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.) and the London-based separatist leader  Hairbayar Marri. This F.I.R. can have serious implications on the outcome of the election and the formation of the future government in Balochistan. Days before the attack on Mr. Zehri’s convey, the P.M.L-N and the B.N.P-Mengal had agreed on electoral seat adjustment. With Mr. Mengal’s name mentioned in the F.I.R., it is very unlikely that the P.M.L-N. would continue its understanding with the B.N.P. In the worst case, the P.M.L-N. may divorce Mr. Zehri and continue its cooperation with Mr. Mengal in its attempt to ‘save Balochistan’.

In the meanwhile, the attack on Mr. Zehri’s convey has also significantly restricted Mr. Mengal’s movement within Balochistan as he, understandably, fears attacks on his campaign as well. Now, Mr. Mengal faces threats both from the state intelligence agencies and the tribal rivals. With Mr. Mengal keeping a low-profile, he has become Balochistan’s Pervez Musharraf. As the fanfare surrounding the former military dictator’s arrival has gradually faded away, the excitement about the return of Mr. Mengal also seems to be losing its importance.

On the other hand, Dr. Malik has deeply deplored the attack on his residence and termed it contrary to Baloch traditions. At a press conference in Quetta, N.P.’s senior leader Hasil Khan Bizenjo also strongly condemned the incident and argued that the Baloch armed groups were instigating a civil war in Balochistan by carrying out attacks on fellow Balochs. While the attacks on all political parties are regrettable, it is very important to understand the changing ground realities.

The National Party and the two factions of the Balochistan National Party are trying to sell the ‘greatness’ of the Pakistani state and institution among the disillusioned Baloch people. For the past many years, the armed groups have gained strength in these areas and they have done everything, both fair or unfair, to alienate the Baloch population from Pakistan. In such a situation, the Pakistani government, has to take measures to protect these moderate leaders and parties that are still trying to sell the “Pakistani brand” among the disgruntled Baloch  voters in the midst of extraordinary risks involved to their personal safety.

It is true that the attacks on fellow Balochs are wrong and a violation of the Baloch code of conduct. But why is there limited or almost no protest among the general public against the attacks on the election campaigns? Because the people either support the armed groups or are too scared to assert their opposition to the policies of these clandestine organizations. Public opinion can go in support of the elections only if the Pakistani state provides ample protection to its supporters in Balochistan who are attempting to end their isolation and come back to the parliament. The government’s failure to do so will embolden the radical groups and compel the masses to believe that  the Pakistani government is no longer capable of delivering in Balochistan.



The Baloch Hal 

Published in The Baloch Hal on April 26, 2013

One Response to “Campaigns Silenced”
  1. If you can call 480-406-2212 in the next 90 minute sMalik hope your well

    From: Malik Siraj Akbar <> Reply-To: Malik Siraj Akbar <> Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:47 PM To: Bill Silcock <> Subject: [New post] Campaigns Silenced

    Malik Siraj Akbar posted: “The election campaigns in Balochistan have been deeply silenced after at least four organized attacks on different political parties in various cities. On April 16, the Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.) attacked the convey of Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the Bal”

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