Human Rights Situation in Balochistan: Issues and Challenges

The situation in Pakistan’s largest and resource-rich province, Balochistan, is extremely precarious today. Several national and international human rights organizations have reported the worsening law and order conditions in the
province and gross human rights violations due to continuous security operation and resistance movement. Nearly every day innocent citizens get disappeared and subsequently their mutilated bodies are found dumped in desolate places. Ethnic and sectarian violence
has also emerged in the province which has resulted into many causalities of innocent citizens including school children.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan and the federation’s representative, the Governor, have been publicly stating that the Frontier Corp (FC) runs a parallel government in the province and civilian government has no control over
security forces. The exclusion of the Baloch from country’s policy and decision-making institutions and governance over the last 64 years points to a deliberate and conscious process to keep the Baloch away from the corridors of power, economically poorest
of the poor by the powers that be.

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, had first apologized to the people of Balochistan for the continued unjustified treatment by the federation of the province and later the present civilian federal government announced
“Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan” package which was seen as a confession and realization by the federation of its constant denial of rights, exploitation and highhandedness against the people of Balochistan. Other two historic developments by the democratic forces,
the 18th constitutional amendment and 7th National Finance Commission Award (NFC) were also perceived as ‘welcome developments’ for Pakistan’s transition from being a centralist state to a genuine federalist state.

However, there have been serious bottle-necks by the pro-centralist forces on genuine implementation on these historic developments. The unrest and violence in Balochistan is a direct result of victimization, exploitation and high-handedness
of people by pro-centralist forces and military dictators in particular. Today’s Balochistan-federation crisis has not grown overnight rather it has a long history which has eventually disillusioned Baloch students, youth, politicians and leaders from the
federation. Just recently, Former Primer Minister of Pakistan, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif met with Former CM Balochistan and one of the prominent nationalist leaders, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, in an effort to mend the widening gap between the federation
and the province. But what has transpired from the interaction was a disturbing reality for all Pakistanis, ‘the role of Pakistan army in Balochistan is as if it is not Pakistan’s military but military of Punjab.
 However, a serious addressal of such
feelings; genuine implementation on Balochistan package, 18th amendment and NFC Award; and sincere dialogue with Baloch resistance movement leaders can help the federation to win the hearts and minds of disillusioned people of Balochistan to bring
them back to the political mainstream of the country for prosperity and peaceful future of all Pakistani.