Balochistan’s electoral politics

Published: March 13, 2013
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The success of elections in Balochistan may ultimately depend on Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the chief of the Balochistan National Party. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The decision of Baloch nationalist parties, including the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), the National Party (NP) and the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) to take part in the upcoming elections is a good omen not only for Pakistan but also for Balochistan, which is fraught with every kind of danger — enforced disappearances, kidnappings and sectarian killings. Baloch separatists and government forces point fingers at each other for all this mayhem.

At this juncture of uncertainty and scepticism, where Baloch nationalist parties are treading cautiously, fearing the backlash they might face from separatist elements for their decision to go to the polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker set-up are under tremendous pressure to provide foolproof security to politicians to enable the holding of elections in the province.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview, the Balochistan Republican Party Chairman Brahamdagh Bugti said that the Baloch people will boycott the polls.

In the face of this statement, one should keep in mind that separatist elements in Balochistan may want to sabotage the elections and target those Baloch nationalists who have decided to go to the polls.

The repeated allegations of Sardar Akhtar Mengal that the Baloch people continue to receive mutilated bodies should not go unheeded. Mengal is mindful of the psyche of the majority of the Baloch people. He knows very well that his participation in elections will have repercussions for his party and that he may be a target of separatist elements, as well as other forces.

He needs to be provided with foolproof security during campaigning. Any attempt to interfere in the electoral process and rig the elections will have disastrous consequences for the province and the country. All forces contemplating such a move must refrain from it.

Meanwhile, the caretaker government should approach the estranged Baloch leaders, including Khair Bakhsh Marri, Mir Suleman Daud, Shazain Bugti and Brahamdagh Bugti to make the elections more credible.

And as a goodwill gesture, all politically-motivated cases against them must be withdrawn unconditionally.

zafar.ali

Zafar Ali

An Islamabad-based sub-editor at The Express Tribune

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