The Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik paid a two-day visit to the Provincial Capital to meet with security officials and provincial Ministers and finally talked to media on the Balochistan situation which he thought would be improved by using greater force against the political opponents of the government demanding national rights.
On his arrival, the minister announced aSwat-like military action would be taken in Balochistan to crush the Baloch national movement with use of brute force. It was his first statement on arrival, particularly after having a briefing on security matters on Balochistan. However, the next day, he backed out from his first harsh statement and claimed that merely Frontier Corps, a centrally controlled civil armed force, had been given police powers to combat militancy, particularly the target killing and other acts of violence.
He claimed that the Balochistan Government had approved this decision. For the proof, the Provincial Home Minister, Mir Zafarullah Zehri, was also present at the news briefing and he did not contradict the statement of Rehman Malik. In a way, it was approved by the Provincial Government. The Interior Minister claimed that the FC would be under the command of the Chief Minister of Balochistan who will direct the targeted actions against his own constituents in unspecified number of districts of the Province.
However, he clarified that there would be no military action on the pattern of Swat and Malakand as he had earlier claimed on arrival of Quetta. The Federal Government had already taken five military actions against the Baloch nationalists in the past demanding national rights within the framework of one Pakistan. President of Pakistan and other leaders have admitted that excesses were committed on the Baloch people for which they apologized to the Balochs in general. Former President General Pervez Musharraf publicly apologized and later ordered assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti along with his 70 comrades.
The decision of the Government to hand over police power to the FC will remain unpopular and unwelcome by the people in general. On the contrary, the people are demanding withdrawal of FC from all the major population centres. A day earlier, all the organizations of the lawyers, from Supreme Court Bar to the Baloch Bar, unanimously demanded withdrawal of FC from Quetta and other major cities sending them back to the international frontier with Iran and Afghanistan to beef up security there leaving the police to deal with the civilian affairs. Some of the lawyers hurled serious allegations against the FC.
Yet another decision announced by the Interior Minister was banning the Baloch armed outfits of Baloch Libeation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF), Baloch Musla Defai Tanzeem (BMDT), Baloch Liberation Front (BL) and Lashkar-i-Balochistan freezing their all bank accounts and assets.
The BMDF is openly sponsored by the government functionaries and used to kill Baloch nationalists at the behest of the functionaries. It had also threatened the newspapers not to publish the statements of Baloch nationalists engaged in struggle for national rights. It indicated that the Interior Minister had very sketchy and infirm information about Balochistan.
Malik is mixing up or distorting the facts for lack of proper and specific information. It seems he is not in the picture at all. At one stage, the Provincial Home Minister came to the help of the Federal Interior Minister clarifying that no action against the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) was planned as it was a political front organization of the students and not a militant outfit. A day earlier, the Interior Minister launched a tirade against the BSO along with other militant outfits.
It is definite that the Interior Minister will use his Interior Ministry troops in launch an operation in Kohlu, Bugti Agencies, Turbat, Khuzdar, Quetta and a few other districts where Baloch nationalists have a significant presence in political sense. It will definitely not bring good result for the political Government at the Centre and Province. It will erode the political base of the Party ruling the Centre and in the Province making all the past efforts going down to the drain.
The government should review its policy and should not grant police power to the FC for political reasons. Instead, it should improve the political climate and create conducive conditions for holding talks with the Baloch nationalists by releasing all the arrested persons, including all those missing people for years and all in illegal custody of the government functionaries. The present political and security climate around Pakistan do not permit to the Government to initiate yet another adventure to undermine security of Pakistan. People like Rehman Malik had no stake in politics or such people had any political standing among the broad masses. They should be kept on sideline while dealing delicate political and constitutional issues.