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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A broken Land


A broken Land

The dismissal of the provincial government last month has made no difference at all, and we need to think about what can be done to end the unrelenting violence. PHOTO: FILE
Things have gone so badly wrong in Balochistan it is hard to know if they can ever be fixed. The degree of violence sweeping across the province is overwhelming and it is now clear that there is no evidence it is dying out. The Governor’s Rule imposed by the centre a month ago has had no impact on killings in the province. In the latest gory incident to stain the province with still deeper marks of crimson, six labourers working on the Makran Coastal Highway, about 25 kilometres from the town of Pasni, were ordered out of their camp by unknown gunmen, lined up along the roadside and shot-dead in cold blood. All the victims were from Zhob district.
The motive behind this atrocity is unclear. The Makran Coastal Highway links Gwadar with Karachi. The port has recently been handed over to a Chinese firm. But it is impossible to say if this factor was in any way linked to the death of the labourers, who could naturally have played no role in the decision. They had been brought in from Zhob, a few days before, to make repairs to the road. Their bodies have now been sent home. A 12-year-old boy present at the site was spared.
Local authorities hint there had been some warning of an attack. Some fingers point towards Baloch nationalists engaged in an insurgency in the province. Other voices speak of a possible anti China hand, given that country’s opposition to any involvement by China in Gwadar. The truth is impossible to know. Things in Balochistan are too complex to reach conclusions quickly. The key issue is whether our state has the capacity and will to calm the sectarian, nationalist and ethnic tensions that have crushed Balochistan. So far, there is no indication that this capacity exists. The dismissal of the provincial government last month has made no difference at all, and we need to think about what can be done to end the unrelenting violence which continues across a province where there are still no signs that the rule of law can be made to prevail.

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