Death squads


Tyres set on fire during a protest by Balochistan National Party (BNP) activists against the killing of political leader Habib Jalib in Quetta. PHOTO: AFP

Death seems never to leave Balochistan; and with it comes the kind of seething anger that is in many ways even more destructive than death itself. Mir Nooruddin Mengal, shot dead by motorbike riders in Kalat, has become the latest nationalist leader to join the ranks of the dead. In recent weeks, the bodies of others have been found scattered through the province. The death of Mr Mengal is also significant given his status as the man directing the affairs of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, since the death of Habib Jalib Baloch a few months ago.

We need to ask ourselves some basic questions. If the leaders of parties who represent people are murdered in this fashion who will the central commanders of our country talk to? How will solutions be found? Who will take decisions for the province, or stop the sea of red, of blood and rage, that washes rapidly across it?

The BNP-Mengal has lost key leaders. The head of the party — who has in the past faced prison, alleged attempts to kidnap his children and persecution — now lives in Dubai. The situation means that there is less likelihood that the party can offer a way forward in Balochistan or play a useful role in solving the problems of the province. And it is not the only party to be targeted in this manner. Others too have suffered — and the growing vacuum left behind creates a great many dangers.

No country can sustain the systematic decimation of its political leadership. The events in Balochistan over the last many years make it quite obvious that violence is not a solution to the problems that exist. The military operation, the ‘abduction’ of people and the latest bid to apparently target nationalists has only worsened the situation. We do not know who is behind what is happening — but they need to be persuaded that the strategy is a disastrous one and will only lead to more complications in a territory where negotiations and discussion are urgently needed to arrive at solutions. It is tragic that these have not yet begun.

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