‘Balochistan at point of no return’
December 30, 2011
AttaullahMengal the first chief minister of Balochistan,has suggested a last serious effort should be made to restore the confidence of the youth of his province in Pakistan. Dialogue, he said after meeting PML-N chief last week, is the way out to end insurgency and restore peace in the restive southwestern province.
The veteran Balochleader and the head of Balochistan National Party (BNP made it clear that he could not play any role in the dialogue for he had lost contacts with the youth, which he said have fled to the mountains due to the inhuman acts committed against them by, what he termed, a Punjabi army.
“Baloch youth don’t want a country in which they receive mutilated bodies of their compatriots. It is they who have to decide [their future] because they are being systematically eliminated and forced to seek refuge in the mountains,” he told media in the presence of Nawaz Sharif, who visited him at his Karachi residence to revive old links (his son was the chief minister of Balochistan during his last tenure as prime minister).
While Mr. Mengal demanded justice vis-à-vis missing persons and mutilated corpses of the Baluch youth, Mr. Sharif recognized his concerns as genuine; he said that the PML-N would take up the case of Balochistan at every relevant forum.
The grievances of Baloch nationalists date backs to 1948 when Balochistan States Union, comprising Kalat, Kharan and Lasbela, was forcefully merged into Pakistan despite the fact that Khan of Qalat, heading the union, wanted to remain independent.
Balochistan underwent military operation in 1973, which continued till the fall of Bhutto government, after dismissing the government of NAP headed by AttaullahMengal on the charge of hatching conspiracy with Iraqi government to secure the independence of Baluchistan.
During his brief stay in power, SardarMengal ordered establishing of a university, medical college and Board of Education other than an industrial zone at Hub. One of the important steps which the NAP government under SardarMengal took to the very much resentment of the centre was that of sending back of the officials from Punjab, especially in Police department, who had been posted there during One Unit era (1955 – 1969).
Hyderabad Tribunal was constituted to try the leadership of Balochistan, which was rescued by General Zia on his imposing the martial law. Though Mengal was released, he could not agree with the dictator’s policy of supporting Afghan jihad and preferred self-exile in London, wherefrom he supported Soviet Union and the communist regime it had installed in Afghanistan.
SardarMengal returned to Pakistan in 1995 and formed BNP-M which emerged as the largest political party of the southwestern province afterwards. His youngest son, AkhtarMengal, became the chief minister in 1997 when the PML-N controlled centre.
SardarMengal is chief of the three prominent tribes — others being Marri and Bugti. He has stood for democracy and autonomous status of Balochistan. He terms the present democratic setup and what it has delivered on these accounts as meaningless.
SardarMengal strongly believes that it the army that really matters in the case of Balochistan and the present government has failed to exercise control over it — something which is being confirmed during memogate controversy in which army is not on the same page with the government.
The current phase of insurgency which took start during Musharraf era and intensified after the murder of Akbar Bugti in a military operation involves attacks on gas supplies which are crucial to the industrial sector of the country.
An insurgent group called Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) surged meanwhile for the independence of not only the Balochistan under control of Pakistan, but also the one under Iran. Pakistan and Iran are cooperating to suppress this militant group which recruits youth from the tribal regions dominated by the Baloch and is involved in the killings of the people from Punjab.
The PPP-led government denies any military operation and has vowed to address the grievances of the province through granting autonomy to the province and enhancing its share in the federal divisible pool (through 18th amendment), but the rising number of persons going missing and the mutilated bodies of the young Baloch leadership has become a great cause of concern for the Baloch nationalist leadership including Sardar Mengal.