An intellectual from West Pakistan once came up with an analogy when the East Pakistan crisis was at its peak. He indicated that, ‘Pakistan is like a beautiful flask with different flowers in it, Sheikh Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman is like a bee sitting on that flask. Pakistan’s establishment is using a hammer to kill the bee but that will cause the bee to fly away while the flask will break’. This did happen and the catastrophic fall of Dhaka was triggered. After this setback, Balochistan fell into a transitional phase equipped with a low literacy rate, insurgency, underdevelopment and many other outrageous issues. Some analysts proclaimed that Balochistan could be the next Bangladesh and some non-state actors began injecting this discourse in Pakistan via different means.

Is Balochistan in the same state in which Bangladesh was? It is never the size of a country which is important but its status in the international arena.  Nevertheless, the size matters if it is controlled and managed. Balochistan eventually suffered from the same factors which affected East Pakistan; unjust allocation of resources, ethnic division, underdevelopment, low literacy rate. It is pertinent to mention that there is not a single cardiology hospital in Balochistan. Around 12 million people in Pakistan are suffering from Hepatitis B and C, and Balochistan tops of the list. Healthcare facilities in the region are in shambles. What could get worse than that? Will a region be able to develop when its human resources are not sufficient? The government of Pakistan should take active measures to provide to Balochistan the same standards which the capital enjoys.

The government did tackle some very serious issues of Balochistan, for example the problem of insurgents through rehabilitation programs like ‘Pur-Amn Balochistan’ which saw commendable success when most terrorists and insurgents surrendered. The latest milestone in this progress can be traced to August 2017 when 22 Ferraris including Baloch Liberation Army’s Commander Ainuddin surrendered to Pakistan forces. This tactic was more appreciated because military operations had not worked for a long time. Repetition of the same strategies and hardcore responses to militants just provoked more insurgency and helped the nationalistic cause. Such armed resistance had already been crushed five times with military might. Hence, five different epochs of militancy proved that hardcore state military patterns would not work in Balochistan just like they have not since 1947.

What Balochistan now requires is development, building of infrastructure, provision of basic utilities and services, and the generation of a sense of ownership and citizenship. A policy of integration, calmness, and harmony is needed to avoid the next disastrous episode of losing territory. The situation necessitates a genuine narrative rather than a counter-narrative which can show the people of Balochistan that it is not only Balochistan which is facing these issues but Punjab as well. The only difference is that in Balochistan, it is some of their own ‘bad sardars’ who do not want development and exploit the given resources and in Punjab, no such tribal fabrication exists.


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