Games of rule

Friday, February 8th, 2013 9:00:21 by

It has now been nearly a month since governor’s rule was imposed in Balochistan, following a protest by the Hazara community over the massacre of over 100 of its members in twin bomb attacks. A campaign by the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazal to have a new chief minister put in place continues, with uncertainty over whether this move will succeed or not. The question though is, what has governor’s rule achieved in Balochistan, and has anything been done under Nawab Zulfikar Magsi’s period in power to improve the situation for people in the province? Is the threatened Hazara community any better off than before? The answers probably lie almost entirely in the negative column. Incidents of lawlessness have continued and the Hazaras have effectively barricaded themselves in the areas lying around Alamdaar Road — where the majority of Hazaras live. No one is allowed in, for fear that the person may be a spy and fewer Hazaras dare venture out. The fear they have faced for years, continues.

The same is true for many other residents of Quetta. Tensions remain high, streets are deserted as the sun sets and from various parts of the province, news of more bodies found in streets come in. Certainly, there has been no sea-change as far as law and order goes, and no evidence that any kind of strategy has been put in place to bring one about.

The reality also is that, in the present circumstances, change seems unlikely to come. Control of Balochistan is, after all, not in civilian hands. The FC patrols the province, calls the shots and is not accountable to the government. The hatred for this force among the people only adds to the problems and it seems obvious that unless genuine civilian rule can be established, the problems of Balochistan will not go away. In that province, the issue is not one of competent governance alone — with Magsi’s track record on this count being a somewhat dubious one — but also of bringing all forces together and persuading them to help save a province already in chaos from falling into a still greater state of disarray as violence continues to rip it apart.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2013.

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