A hint given by the “separatist” leader of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Brahamdagh Bugti, to end militancy and return to Pakistan if offered an acceptable deal is a positive development. Reportedly, the BRP leader has agreed to return provided civil and military establishment are responsive to his certain conditions. He also assured the interlocutors that he would use his influence to convince other Baloch nationalists including Harbiyar Marri. The disgruntled Baloch leader has been in exile since the killing of his grandfather, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, by security forces in 2006. The situation in Balochistan has been restive due to the policies of the state. Under these circumstances, when a military campaign is going on in Balochistan, there is a lack of trust between nationalist insurgents and the government functionaries. In this situation, who will give the guarantee of striking an acceptable deal? There is a need to determine who is running the country’s affairs. Who is responsible for taking key decisions at the national level? The gulf of mistrust is so grave that the exiled Baloch leader is reluctant to return without a proper guarantee. The provincial government lacks the authority to negotiate any such deal. It is in the interests of the government to engage the disgruntled and angry Baloch leaders in talks and pave the way to reconciliation. And that brings into focus the need to empower the civilian government; only then can the dialogue succeed by creating a responsive and positive environment for holding peace talks. Bugti has not rejected the option of dialogue. However, he insists that those who are “authoritative” enough to change the situation should come forward and negotiate. He demands an end to all cases against him as a pre-condition for his return. The return of the Baloch leader is a political issue and should be resolved politically. The history of Balochistan, since the independence of Pakistan, is marked with resistance and repression. The Baloch people have been facing victimisation, and the abuse of their basic rights for decades. The government should welcome the shift in the position of Brahamdagh Bugti and engage him in talks to move towards bringing an end to the years-long insurgency and make the Baloch people partners in the development of the largest province of the country. In the wake of the ongoing development initiatives regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the development of Gwadar Port, Balochistan has already acquired greater importance. The government should engage all stakeholders, exiled leaders and the “insurgents” in talks and give them a fair treatment. The government needs to look into Baloch grievances and redress them at the earliest. Like all other citizens and federating units, the Baloch people must be given their rights according to the constitution. Despite having rich mineral resources, the province has faced nothing but neglect, and have been deprived by successive governments of appropriate royalties for the natural gas that is used by the rest of the country. Violations of human rights and other abuses are rampant in Balochistan, and it is about time the government accepted all legitimate demands of the Baloch. The royalties from minerals, gas, etc, should be spent on the uplift of Balochistan and its poor people. Military operations are not the solution to every problem, especially long standing political ones. The present operation should be called off and a political solution should be applied to the Balochistan issue. This may take time to clear the mess inherited from the past but the first steps need to be taken now. Pakistan owes it to its Baloch people that their decades-long isolation and discrimination came to an end, and their grievances are heeded to with patience, tolerance, acceptance and warmth, instead of silencing them with bullets and disappearances. Too much bloodshed on both sides mark the troubled history of Balochistan, and it is about time, in the backdrop of turmoil within and on borders of Pakistan, that a new roadmap for Balochistan is formulated. And without forgetting that in any plan for Balochistan, the primary stakeholder is the Baloch people.