Mar 25, 2008

Balochistan: Pakistan as a State is Failing

Active ImageAlthough a federal republic, Senator Baloch shows that Pakistan is negating the rights of its minorities to the cost of the country and its people.

Below is an article written by Senator Sanaullah Baloch and published by The News :

Pakistan has turned into a land of protests. Disagreements with state policies are visible in all sphere of society. For one reason or another people are holding protest rallies, hunger strikes, sit-ins and roadblocks. Non-violence is the most powerful form of protest, but in Pakistan […a]ccording to the constitution people have the right of free speech and assembly, but the government is unwilling to heed the voice of society. Security and law-enforcement agencies use violent means to suppress opposition


In countries where, unlike in Pakistan, the State acts as an arbitrator, not a party to the crisis, unrest is managed more successfully. Management of social unrest is part of social science. Protest cannot be dealt with solely through use of force. In multi-ethnic Pakistan this management needs greater understanding of all geographic, political, cultural and historic realities.

There are many reasons behind the discordant […] in the country:

1. Inflexible social structure and continued manipulation of political and economic affairs by the dominant institution (the military) and ethnic group.

2. Biased and unfair disbursement of resources and unchecked discrimination against marginalised ethnic groups.

3. Lack of proper and equal development and lack of participation of marginalised people in the process, the unrest is targeted at higher levels against government institutions. Political empowerment (real provincial autonomy) and economic development diminishes social and economic problems. Already, poverty breeds detestation against the rich and powerful.

4. Indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against protesters, which creates hatred […]. Detestation […] increase when government uses resources to modernise its security apparatus to suppress marginalised communities, instead of redressing their economic and social grievances.

There is need for greater understanding […] Pakistan is composed of culturally different nationalities and regions. Historically the mode of protest against alien rulers, and particularly against British imperialism, was relatively different in each region.


The deprived ethnic nationalities in Pakistan have been trying hard since the creation of the country to peacefully influence public opinion and government policies to get equal social and political treatment, but failed to get proper attention.

The highly centralised state and its institutions are incapable of dealing with people’s growing expectations. The constant attempt by the state apparatus to suppress the legitimate aspiration of marginalised people has further complicated the situation.


But in Pakistan these agencies [security forces and law enforcement agencies] are considered by marginalised people as a threat to their rights, identity and resources. The growing disappearances of moderate Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, the disproportionate use of force by the state against civilians and the biased approach of law enforcement personnel has raised questions about these agencies’ integrity and impartiality.

Free media could play the vital role of forecasting social and political unrest in the different parts of the country. However, although the media appears independent and free in Pakistan, there are areas where the media is advised and regulated by the Inter Service Public Relation and the Press Information Department.

The Baloch movement for autonomy had been integrated and non-violent after 1977, but was totally ignored by policymakers and by the media. Therefore, the mood of confrontation intensified, reflecting the growing frustration of the people of the province.

In the early stages of the Balochistan crisis the media played an influential and positive role promoting dialogue between representative of the province and the centre. But the media’s proactive role soon came to an end when they were forced to limit their role with regard to Balochistan and FATA. The majority of peaceful protests remain unreported in influential newspapers and on TV channels.

Part of the media is less enthusiastic about initiating a debate and reporting on peaceful protests by marginalised communities.


If social unrest and the wave of protests is not dealt with wisely and politically, it can further deteriorate the volatile social situation in the country. These are conflicts that can be solved through discussion, negotiation, and compromise. But if ignored, as usual, they could inflict unending damages to the very existence of the state.

There is greater need for the establishment to rethink its strategy of social stability. It needs to correctly analyse the situation and encourage the development of politically flexible methods of dealing with conflicts within the system.