Plagued by dint of complexities . .

               The current fierce skirmish in Wadh, Khuzdar district of Balochistan province, exemplifies the intense challenges faced by its people. While a crumbly ceasefire currently holds, the underlying issues demand urgent attention and a comprehensive resolution. From the outside and at a glance, the clashes may appear to revolve around a land dispute between Shafiq Mengal’s notorious gang and tribal chief Akhtar Mengal, also the president of BNP-M. With both sides heavily armed, the potential for further escalation is alarming. In a bid to restore peace, former chief minister Aslam Raisani has taken on the role of a mediator. Balochistan, a region of gigantic natural resources and unexploited potential, has been plagued by a host of complexities arising from historical neglect and misguided security focused policies.

               It is essential to recognize that this confrontation is symptomatic of a much larger delinquent, one that outdoes territorial boundaries and tribal affiliations. Akhtar Mengal candidly expressed this reality in a tweet, highlighting the shocking impunity enjoyed by ‘death squads’ operating in Balochistan. To find a lasting solution to the conflict, we must address the root causes, starting with the dismantling of such armed groups. Shafiq Mengal’s association with the state’s response to the Baloch insurgency is symbolic of the government’s flawed approach. Extremist organizations and tribal militias, including his Baloch Musalla Difa Tanzeem, were permitted to operate with unchecked power, often targeting separatists. In the absence of rule of law, these elements committed heinous crimes, such as murder, robbery, and kidnapping for ransom, with impunity.

               The reign of terror in Khuzdar district, during which common men including journalists, teachers, and doctors fell victim to targeted killings, highlights the magnitude of the issue. Only when public uproar exploded over the detection of mass graves of missing individuals in Tootak, with evidence implicating Shafiq Mengal’s group, was he reportedly asked to step back. Nonetheless, the fact that he remained free and even ran as a candidate in the 2018 elections for the legislative assembly seat from Khuzdar underlines the flaws in the political system.

               Underneath the surface of these political machinations lies the tragic dilemma endured by the people of Balochistan. Khuzdar, among the most underdeveloped and conservative regions of the province; grapples with deeply entrenched tribal norms. Neocolonial policies of division and control have further exacerbated the existing challenges, undermining the region’s progress and prosperity.

               For the state to truly address the issues plaguing Balochistan, it must prioritize the welfare of its people over narrow interests. Ensuring provincial autonomy and rightful ownership of natural resources is a crucial step towards empowering the region and fostering an environment of justice and opportunity.

               Balochistan’s potential as a cornerstone of prosperity and stability in Pakistan remains untapped. It is time for the government to shift its approach, transcending security-centric policies, and instead, embracing a more inclusive and equitable strategy. Empowering the people of Balochistan and investing in their well-being will not only serve their interests but also contribute to the greater prosperity of the nation as a whole. Only by prioritizing justice, autonomy, and the welfare of the Baloch people can we pave the way for a brighter and more harmonious future for all.

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