All political parties are gearing up vigorously for the upcoming elections. Good news emanates from Balochistan as it is anticipated that the upcoming polls will provide a very interesting picture with a prospect of change in the political landscape in the province. Unlike the last elections, it will be much more competitive and more participation is expected. In previous elections, throughout the years, political parties showed lethargy by boycotting the elections.This boycott proved to be a massive blunder — Baloch political parties have boycotted the polls three times. The first time, leaders that had been thrown in jail told their followers to ignore the 1977 polls till they were released. In 1985, the non-partisan elections were also boycotted. Lastly, even though the 2008 polls, under the banner of Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONAM), were being spearheaded by Mehmood Khan Achakzai, but Baloch people had other reasons to keep themselves away from the elections, as the situation was edgy after the killing of prominent leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.Consequently, the absence of actual representatives benefited those who were at the helm of affairs. They picked apolitical persons who they preferred over real politicians. However, this time around, things are different. Politics in Balochistan is turning over a new leaf with the annexation of many new faces and the emergence of some old ones. There is a new agenda, and leaders want to inscribe their names in Balochistan’s political history.The newly emerged Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is eminently noticeable in its enterprising spirit, but a little bit presumptuous in its claims. In the same vein, partaking of some nationalists in the electoral fray is being welcomed. Prominent among them is Gazzain Marri, who is the son of veteran pro-freedom Baloch leader Khair Baksh Marri, and will be contesting the election from Kohlu. Another literary notable personality is Jan Mohammad Dashti who is attracting a lot of attention for being a prolific writer on the Baloch cause and a big name among the intelligentsia. He also served the provincial bureaucracy wholeheartedly. Their participation may help parliamentarian politics, and allay resentment that the Baloch people feel. Their entry into the political arena also affects the situation in a variety of ways. At first, it confirms that the parliament is the only way to fight for this cause, and it is helping reduce ill will between the Baloch people and the centre.It is clear that distancing true leaders from electoral polls has benefited only non-political individuals, who cannot carry the provincial issue in the best manner. Moreover, the people of the province are seeing Baloch leaders’ engagement in the electoral process as a good omen because they are sick of war and violence, and are yearning for peace to prevail at large. Already there are some political parties down casting the parliamentary politics espousing the views that it cannot redress the Baloch grievances properly.The absence of Baloch leadership from the electoral process only severed the link between the province and the central government. The struggle for rights is only possible through peaceful means, i.e. electionsJan Mohammad Dashti contended that it was because of apathy of Balochistan’s real leadership towards elections participation that gave control to non-political persons. He is of the view that matters took a turn for the worse when many members of Majlis-e-Shora under general Ziaul Haq made their way into parliamentary politics. The last governmental setup is one example; it failed to plead the issues of the Baloch to the central government in a proper manner, particularly the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) scheme distribution, where the province is totally deprived of its deserved share.Moreover, people were kept in the dark with certain hollow slogans of development under CPEC to not put their ministries in jeopardy. People of the province are resentful that the centre in the allocation of schemes under CPEC neglects them. In last coalition government, surrendering back a grant of Rs 40 billion to the centre is another example of the remarkable ineptitude of the political leadership of the province.If we go for a comparison of the situation peeping into the recent Turkish election wherein Salahattin Demirtas contested the polls from the prison under an atmosphere of emergency that has been posed since an abortive coup in the country. Demirtas made his voice heard concerning Kurdish Rights by bagging 12 percent of the 600 seats in parliament. The parliament is the best platform to raise an issue to get the attention of the nation. Democracy shall live long only because of a strong parliament.The absence of Baloch leadership from the electoral process only severed the link between the province and the central government. The struggle for rights is only possible through peaceful means, ie by elections. Finally, the shift in attitude towards pragmatism may offer an opening to a political solution for the province. The people of the province, undoubtedly, enamoured of a democratic process. The successive boycotts of mass parties of the province will pave the way for only the corrupt and power hungry political leaders to play havoc with electoral business.The triumph of parties, having clarity and conviction, is pretty much in the bag and may supersede the inward-looking leadership in taking back political space from them. If the status quo remains unchanged with the influence of a third party disregarding people’s mandate then people may sink into desolation and develop aggression concerning the system.People in Balochistan want support from the central government; they want to live a dignified life, with opportunities and employment. And it is high time that this was delivered to them.The writer can be reached at email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, July 9th 2018.