|Intense media scrutiny and concern over the fate of "missing persons" in Balochistan at the hands of the Frontier Corps in an environment of | |fear and loathing amidst a separatist insurgency that is taking a toll of civilians and soldiers has finally pressurized the government and | |military to take a fresh look at the "problem of Balochistan" and think of ways to "solve" it. The PM has set up a six-pronged framework - | |administrative, operational, developmental, administrative, legal and political -- for finding the right solution via a six member steering | |committee comprising three members each from the federal and provincial governments. General Ashfaq Kayani has chipped in by saying that there | |can be no military solutions to political problems. Is this a genuinely new initiative capable of delivering solutions? | | | |We are not sanguine. Four years ago, President Asif Zardari pledged to solve the problem "inherited from the Musharraf regime". There was some | |to-ing and fro-ing. Later, a constitutional package of devolution and additional funds to go with it was unveiled for Balochistan. Rehman Malik| |tried to pacify the leaders of the nationalist movement in exile. But then the government lost sight of the ball in Balochistan as it became | |increasingly embroiled in bitter battles with the judges, generals, oppositionists, criminals, sectarianists and terrorists. Today, in the | |run-up to the elections, when the PPP government is besieged on all fronts more than ever before, it is unrealistic to expect any concrete or | |positive initiatives from them. | | | |There are other reasons for disquiet. The meeting chaired by the PM was attended by the Army Chief, DG-ISI, CM and Governor of Balochistan. But| |the DG-Military Intelligence and Inspector General-Frontier Corps were conspicuous by their absence, despite the fact that the FC and MI are | |veritably in the eye of the storm. They are charged with developing and operating an anti-insurgent policy in Balochistan that has become part | |of the problem rather than the solution. FC Balochistan is 40,000 strong; it is an amalgam of Border Scouts and Militias along the Durand Line | |with Afghanistan and is led by a serving major general of the Pakistan army who is answerable to GHQ rather than the Interior Ministry; it has | |been a front line recipient of billions of dollars in training and equipment from the Americans for counter-insurgency operations in FATA since| |2007 where it remains a core military strike force. Indeed, the Supreme Court has seen evidence that shows the FC is targeting and arresting | |suspected Baloch troublemakers and making them "disappear". Qamar Zaman Kaira, the Information Minister, has said that the FC would henceforth | |report to the CM of Balochistan and confine itself to maintaining law and order only. This is an admission that the FC was until now not | |reporting to the provincial government and was in fact conducting anti-insurgent operations. | | | |Another dimension of the military solution has not even been mentioned. This is the role of military agencies in creating and propping up | |several armed non-state actors or Tribal Lashkars of "patriotic" Pakistanis to combat the "treasonable" separatists in Balochistan. These | |groups are used to identify,...
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