Balochistan wants a divorce

Published: October 4, 2012
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While the proposals put forward by Mengal need not be seen as a threat, there is no denying that the ultimatum, if not taken seriously, might trigger another bloody civil war. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

It is difficult not to admire Sardar Akhtar Mengal for his frankness. With all other avenues exhausted, the concerned quarters have little else left to do, but start working to salvage the situation in Balochistan before it is too late.

From the lessons this state should have learnt in the past, one of them is not to make exceptions when negotiating.

It is important to not just appease certain groups, but all separatist hardliners. If the government continues to choose who to talk to and who to disregard, it will achieve the same degree of success it has achieved while dealing with the Taliban.

Enforced disappearances are a tricky issue to deal with and the courts cannot expect to tackle the same by drawing moral lines in the sand. While foreign delegations should not have to pore over the country’s internal plights, local courts need to chalk out a clear strategy to deal with the matter.

Only once the intelligence agencies start producing these ‘missing’ persons will the dissident elements be able to trust the establishment.

When Mengal spoke of opting for an amicable divorce instead of a ‘bloody one’ his words reverberated an ominous warning. Under the current circumstances, mere rhetoric will not only fail to address the law and order situation in the restive province, it might well add fuel to the fire.

The six points put forward by Mengal need to serve as a roadmap for negotiations. Failing to do so will send the authorities back to the drawing board with little to show in the way of reasoning.

While the proposals put forward by Mengal need not be seen as a threat, there is no denying that the ultimatum, if not taken seriously, might trigger another bloody civil war.

This time, however, hundreds of miles of another country does not separate the two factions. And despite the comparisons, Mengal’s points are not separatist like Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s.

Hence, there is little reason why the Constitution cannot be used to ensure that we don’t disintegrate.

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Ali Haider Habib

Ali Haider Habib

A senior sub-editor on the National desk at The Express Tribune who tweets @haiderhabib (twitter.com/haiderhabib)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.