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Is Balochistan a tool for opportunist politicians?

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Is Balochistan a tool for opportunist politicians?

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PDM, an alliance of 11-political parties, hosted its third power show in Quetta. According to experts this movement is becoming more of a threat for the governmental institutions now. Interestingly the location selected for this third power show has a long history with opposition forces to do some catharsis and political banter. Balochistan as a province has long been used by opposition or sometime government to mobilize people by talking about controversial issues like “forced disappearance” and “unequal distribution of resources” 

Background: Today, the land of the Baloch is divided among the countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The division of the region among three different countries goes back to the era of empires in southern and western Asia. This region has always been a golden spot for foreign intervention but if we look at our record then, Balochistan has been severely (ab)used by Pakistani politicians during the long course of history. 

It is disappointing to see this level of bigotry by politicians who use the Baloch narrative to mobilize the people but when they end up in parliament and senate; they purposely ignore the Baloch community.

What’s wrong there:  EVERYTHING. Theorists, journalists and researchers have written extensive thesis and reports on Balochistan’s issues but most of them don’t end up in our mainstream discourse. In reality it is not rocket science to understand what went wrong in Balochistan. We summarized these issues in few points 

  • exploitation of Balochistan’s natural resources without giving the province its due share;
     
  • construction of further military garrisons to strengthen an already extensive network of military bases; and
     
  • centrally driven and controlled economic projects, such as the Gwadar deep sea port, that do not benefit locals but raise fears that the resulting influx of economic migrants could make the Baloch a minority in their homeland.

This is just a taste of the deep-rooted crisis faced by the Baloch community. 

Hollow Promises and Exaggerated Rhetoric: PDM is not the only movement which is using Baloch issues to sound more appealing.

  • Imran Khan

 Back in 2012, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf held its rally in Quetta at Ayub Stadium.  

Guess what Imran Khan( an aspiring Prime Minister, back then) talked about at the rally? Yes, the usual. He condemned force disappearance and extrajudicial killing. In Imran Khan’s own words

The people have been subjected to enforced disappearances for the past ten years in Pakistan and are whisked away by our own people, my party sympathies are with the relatives of missing persons and we are working on the issue.” 

  • Nawaz Sharif

Then in 2017 December, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) along with Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) hosted rally against the JIT commission. Nawaz promised to make Quetta a model city; spoiler alert it is still not one. 

  • Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari hosted a rally against the PML-N government for hijacking the CPEC. Bilawal promised that PPP stands against forced disappearance and Punjabization of governmental institutions. 

What’s next: PDM’s future is very uncertain; keeping in mind that this is not the first time opposition tried to challenge the government. We are not sure if this rhetoric and slogans speak truth to power. Because according to records,

Quetta is   

  • still the unsafe city in Pakistan  
  • still lack autonomy over its resources 
  • still lack representation in federal government
  • still faces major sectarian violence  

To say that Balochistan is under-developed is an understatement because it is not under-developed, it’s just overly exploited. 

Sources:

  • https://tribune.com.pk/story/367826/large-rally-rain-does-not-stop-play-for-pti-in-quetta
  • https://khybernews.tv/bilawal-promises-to-give-better-future-to-balochistan-residents/
  • https://www.dawn.com/news/1374099
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