News / Asia

New Appeal for Peace in War-Weary Baluchistan

Abdul Malik, new chief minister of Baluchistan, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 6, 2013.
Abdul Malik, new chief minister of Baluchistan, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 6, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s largest province Baluchistan has been gripped by a low-level insurgency that dates back to the country’s founding. But the new Baluch nationalist leader is urging armed groups to give up their decades-long fight and accept dialogue with the government.

Ethnic Baluch militants have long fought for greater control over Baluchistan’s natural resources or its outright secession from Pakistan.  The uprising dates back to Pakistan’s founding, when some Baluch tribes refused to become part of the country and launched several unsuccessful rebellions starting in 1948.

The unrest has meant federal authorities maintain a large military presence in the impoverished province. But the security forces have long been criticized by independent observers as heavy handed, fueling separatist feelings. 

The election of a Baluch nationalist, Abdul Malik, as the provincial chief minister this past May, however, has raised new hopes for stability. A medical doctor by profession, Malik is the first civilian administrator from the province’s educated middle class who is neither a tribal chieftain nor a member of the former ruling families.

He said that although his ruling National Party did not represent all the Baluch groups, he was calling on Baluch insurgents to join him in a mission to bring peace to the province.

“They should come to table and talk. The basic subject should be the people of Baluchistan, and if they [insurgents] agree we can develop the Baluchistan [province] and make the supremacy of the people and empower the people. This is the 21st century, so I think we can succeed and we can take our rights by democracy not by gun,” said Malik.

Malik faces daunting challenges.

A Pakistani boy, who was injured by gunmen, is carried to a vehicle outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, June 15, 2013.A Pakistani boy, who was injured by gunmen, is carried to a vehicle outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, June 15, 2013.
x
A Pakistani boy, who was injured by gunmen, is carried to a vehicle outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, June 15, 2013.
A Pakistani boy, who was injured by gunmen, is carried to a vehicle outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, June 15, 2013.
In recent months, sectarian violence has escalated as suspected Sunni Muslim extremists attack minority Hazara Shiite Muslims in and around Quetta, killing hundreds.

Baluch politicians accuse state security agencies and paramilitary forces of illegally detaining and killing activists demanding autonomy. Hundreds of bodies of Baluch activists and leaders bearing gunshot wounds have been found across the province in recent years. Authorities deny they are responsible.

Chief Minister Malik said he was in contact with the federal government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seek a resolution to the problem of “missing people.” He also has plans to gain oversight of the controversial federal paramilitary troops known as Frontier Corps or FC.

“If you want to solve problems of Baluchistan the federal government and provincial government should be on one page. The federal government should bind the FC that they should work under the provincial government otherwise it is useless,” he said.

Although Prime Minister Sharif has vowed to improve the situation in Baluchistan, many analysts are skeptical whether he will convince the military to allow the civilian leadership greater power over policies for the province.

Some Baluch separatists are also not likely to support a peace agenda. While security forces are blamed for many of the abuses in the region, some separatist groups are also accused of kidnapping and killing moderate nationalists. Chief Minister Malik himself survived at least one assassination attempt while campaigning for the May elections.

Baluchistan’s patchwork of 18 major tribes has long made it difficult to govern. Each tribe is headed by a Sardar or chieftain who commands his own armed militia.

Professor Kaleemullah Barech at Quetta's University of Baluchistan said these chieftains and successive corrupt provincial governments were equally responsible for the lowest health, education and living standards in Baluchistan .

“It is a big challenge, especially in Baluch area the Sardars still have authority and they also damn care about the education, about the health. So this is a big challenge for the present government also a big challenge for the people and for those who are teaching,” said the professor.

Despite Chief Minister Abdul Malik’s appeal for unity among the separatist groups, analysts believe that power-struggles among chieftains and their occasional self-interested alliances with Pakistan’s powerful military have left the Baluch community politically fragmented.

But their infighting has also undermined public support for the separatist cause, perhaps providing a window for Malik’s plan for peace to gain broad backing.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid