Need for realism


Words backed by action?

One can understand that the address delivered by a government leader on the Independence Day is meant to inspire optimism in the general public. However, unless the claims made in the address are supported by ground realities, they are likely to give birth to cynicism instead of creating hope. PM Gilani’s Independence Day speech underlined the measures his government had taken to bring peace to Balochistan and Sindh. The question is if these measures were adequate enough to achieve the aim?

While the 18th amendment has expanded provincial autonomy, Balochistan continues to be governed by non-political forces. The CM and Governor have on numerous occasions maintained that they are powerless. The much trumpeted Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan package too has failed to satisfy the Baloch. The province, therefore, remains as restive as ever. On the Independence Day, 14 people were killed in a bomb attack inside a hotel in Dera Allahyar. The premises was targeted because it was decorated with national flags to celebrate the Independence Day. The same day a journalist was gunned down in Khuzdar while in Lasbela two labourers were shot dead and two children wounded in a bomb explosion in Mastung. In Karachi, five persons were killed on the Independence Day. A day earlier, a complete shutter down-cum-wheel jam strike was observed in the entire Sindh. That the strike was equally successful in Karachi and Hyderabad and the interior of the province exposed the claim that rural Sindh was in PPP’s pocket while no political force other than the MQM could mobilise the people in the urban centres of the province.

Restoration of law and order is one of the key requirements for the improvement of the economy. In Balochistan reliance on force has failed to bring peace. What is needed is a political solution, beginning with the empowerment of the provincial government and the release of the political prisoners. This has to, of course, be accompanied by a proportionate and measured use of state force to tackle the terrorists who target innocent people with impunity. In Sindh, there is a need to initiate talks with the nationalists – and the disaffected members of the PPP itself – before bringing the proposed Local Government Bill to the Provincial Assembly. The strike has proved that the nationalists and their allies cannot be ignored in any political settlement in Sindh.