The political leadership would do well not to take its eye off the ball. So entirely consumed has it been dancing the unaccountability dance that it has failed to notice that not everyone is content to just stand around in the wings being a wallflower. One man certainly appears to be filling up his dance card, poised to do some courting.
The COAS was in Balochistan ahead of the Quetta by-polls for NA-260. This happens to be one of the most ethnically diverse constituencies in the area, with local journalists putting the number of distinct tribes at a staggering 72. Given the province’s fragile security situation it is only right that the Army chief made the trip there personally to oversee proceedings, as it were. The beginning of last week saw yet another ISIS-claimed attack on local police — the seventh such strike against the province this year.
Gen Bajwa has said that his priority remains the economic future of the people of Balochistan. Meaning that he wants to see them enjoying the same prosperity as those in other provinces. While many would be naturally inclined to say #thankyougenbajwa — we, for our part, choose to demonstrate both caution and reserve on this front.
That a sitting COAS has no second thoughts about saying the above — shows the extent to which the political leadership is absolutely absent. We urge the latter to get its show back on the road. And lickety-split. Or it will only have itself to blame for what may or may not happen next.
Where the Army chief had all the right to comment is on the level of sectarian killing in the province, which he believes has dropped ‘phenomenally’. If true, the provincial leadership can take not one iota of credit for this. Indeed, in terms of suspect alliances borne of unashamed opportunism — it appears to be working against the very people whom it is supposed to represent.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the NA-260 by-poll.
What do we mean by this?
Different political parties in Balochistan are doing some courting of their own — cosying up to leaders of banned sectarian outfits. We have had to witness the spectacle of Senate Deputy Chairman and JUI-F leader Abdul Ghaffur Haideri meeting ASWJ Balochistan head Ramzan Mengal, seeking the latter’s support. Let it not be forgotten that Mengal is viewed by locals as having an active hand in a targeted attacks on the Shia-Hazara community, beginning back in 2013. These multiple strikes left more than 200 dead. Mass graves had to be dug. Victims staged sit-ins refusing to move from the bodies of their nearest and dearest, regardless of the sub-zero temperatures, to protest what they rightly termed genocide. The ASWJ went on to organise a large rally the following year, enjoying the freedom to sing poems dedicated to ‘a century of Shia killings’.
It is unacceptable that those responsible for the above and more are now blatant stakeholders in the NA-260 by-poll. We therefore urge the Election Commission of Pakistan to do the needful. Before it’s too late. *
Published in Daily Times, July 16th , 2017.