Security situation in Balochistan: Future options for Pakistan
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March 09, 2012
Security situation in Balochistan is getting worse day by day. Terrorism, Sectarian violence, target killing, kidnapping for ransom, attacks on security forces, missing people etc are characteristics of today’s Balochistan. Apart from security crisis, socio-economic life is also in dismal condition.

Recent surge of violence in Balochistan and tribal areas hints that year 2012 will be tougher than the previous year. There is immense pressure on our security forces. They are being killed ruthlessly by paid militants in Balochistan and tribal areas. More than 4,000 soldiers have lost their lives and more than 7,000 have been injured so far in last ten years. Causality rate of security forces in Balochistan is also mounting day by day. Without any doubt there is involvement of foreign powers in both these areas. They are using Afghanistan as a launching pad against Pakistan.

The level of training, tactics, weapon and equipment with militants in tribal areas and Balochistan illustrates that they are getting support from anti Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. The involvement of United States, UK, India, Afghanistan and Israel cannot be just ruled out. There is also failure from our own side, we have been failed to settle this issue politically and relied heavily on security forces. Army, FC or intelligence agencies can never resolve this issue, these are law enforcement agencies, they can only try to ensure stable security situation but responsibility of political stability in Balochistan lies with political elites. But unfortunately they are busy in political wrangling, blame game and corruption. They are least bother about the security and stability of Balochistan. They can just issue conciliatory statements in TV talk shows and press releases but practically they have been failed to reconcile aggrieved Baloch leaders.

Our government and other political elite should seriously consider this matter, because this issue is getting international importance day by day. Discussion on Balochistan in the United States is not a good sign for Pakistan. In future America can exploit our weakness in Balochistan. Other important issue is changing strategic dynamics of the region. America is winding up its war in Afghanistan and it is clear that America and its western allies would never want and allow Iran to be a “Police man in the Persian Gulf”.

In the Persian Gulf it is only Iran that can challenge hegemony of the US, and Israel in Middle East. It is expected that America with its allies may wage a war against Iran in near future. In such a situation it would have wide range of implications for Pakistan. In that context importance of Balochistan will increase. Pakistani air bases in Balochistan would be most suitable launch pad for the US in case of war with Iran. The US would try to establish it foothold in Balochistan through its proxies. So it is vitally important for Pakistan to take some concrete steps keeping mind the changing dynamics of the region.

Pakistan government must demonstrate its political will and seriousness to resolve Balochistan issue. It must take some concrete steps on emergency basis to bring aggravated Baloch leaders to the negotiating table. Negotiation is the best option for us to resolve this issue. To achieve this goal first step is political stability. All parties must resolve their personal difference and do some national politics for the integration of Pakistan.

As far as Pakistan’s foreign policy is concerned, Pakistan must enhance its strategic and economic cooperation with China, Russia and Iran. Pakistan can also play a vital role in bridging the gap between Iran and GCC states. For internal security, we must improve coordination among intelligence agencies, police, FC and Army, not only in Balochistan but also in other parts of the country. Corrupt and crooked police and intelligence officers should be sacked and honest and devoted people must be recruited to improve the efficiency of the security forces. Army, FC, Police and other intelligence agencies must redouble their efforts and curb the malevolent elements in Balochistan.

Media can play a vital role in the stability of Balochistan. Media should play a positive role without any bias, personal grudge or material gains. Media must show both sides of the coin. If they can highlight the suspected missing person’s issue, they must also bring in light those parents who lost their young sons in tribal areas, Balochistan and elsewhere for the integrity, stability and security of Pakistan. What we need today is unity in our ranks. Our media must play a positive role and it must counter the propaganda of the western media.

To put it briefly, our country is serious mess. Overall security situation is volatile. It is important for the security forces, political elites, media, civil society and judiciary to work in coordination and bring Pakistan out of this turmoil, only then we can stabilise situation in Balochistan and save Pakistan from disintegration.

Author is Research Fellow at South Asian Strategic Stability Institute Islamabad/London and can be reached at masood.khatak@gmail.com.

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