On Balochistan, Elections, and Mengal

Oct 2012

http://www.tanqeed.org/onbalochistanelectionsandmengal/The government has denied any military operation in Balochistan. Its opponents – from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s Imran Khan keep talking about ‘free and fair elections’. As the first and most important step, they say, to ‘fixing’ Balochistan.

There has been a lot of theories on why the nationalist leader, Akhtar Mengal, came to Pakistan. Rumors have circulated and theories have been spun on whether he talked to the army before coming. Did he broker a deal? Did he come so he could contest elections? Mehreen Zahra-Malik wrote a great piece on the talk about town.

But whether you applaud his visit, or downright condemn it, it’s hard to look away from his Six Points – all of which call for an immediate cessation to state-led violence.

Why, then, does everyone keep on saying that elections are the solution to Balochistan’s woes? Yes they condemn the missing persons and the FC, but no one is calling for an immediate withdrawal of the Frontier Corps. And no one is doing the very important work of thinking through a transition away from the heavily fortified checkposts that make Balochistan feel occupied.

Is that laziness? Or deliberate? Probably a mix of both.

(For those who have forgotten. Here are Mengal’s Six Points:

1. All overt and covert military operations against the Baloch should end.
2. All missing persons should be produced.
3. All proxy death squads created by the ISI and MI should be disbanded.
4. Baloch nationalist parties should be allowed free political play without interference from ISI and MI.
5. Those responsible for the killings and disappearances should be brought to book.
6. Thousands of Baloch displaced by the conflict should be rehabilitated.)

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