Playing politics?

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A late awakening

Mian Nawaz Sharif, who visited Quetta on Friday in connection with his party’s reorganisation in the province, spared some time to meet Baloch leaders and assured them that he would soon convene an all parties conference in Islamabad to discuss the Balochistan situation and to find ways to resolve the crisis created by the Musharraf government.

Addressing a press conference at the Bugti House after his interaction with JWP Chief Talal Bugti, he touched upon various issues including forced disappearances, continuing military operations in the province and the lack of initiative by the federation to bring the estranged Baloch nationalist leaders back into the mainstream politics. He was right to make a point that peace would remain elusive until a serious effort was made to address the genuine grievances of the people of Balochistan who had been subjected to repression in the past.

The PML(N) leader criticised the government for not having punished the culprits of Kharotabad incident and also questioned its reluctance to take action against those responsible for Akbar Bugti’s killing but without making any reference to Musharraf. It coincided with President Zardari’s recent observation that his government had decided not to proceed against the former dictator because it could have demoralised the army. The statement is bound to further annoy the Baloch who are already disappointed by the current democratic dispensation and may start responding to the calls of separatist elements.

There is no denying that during his second term in power, Mian Nawaz took the entire political leadership of Balochistan on board and introduced measures to ensure the respect for the rights of the people of the province and provide them security of life. But during the last three-and-half years, he was hardly seen making any effort to mitigate the suffering of the Baloch population. At this stage, when elections are round the corner his visits to the long-neglected province would be seen as an attempt at drawing political mileage.