Raisani should resign. And that’s a start. He goes by the title of the Chief Minister of Balochistan. But in reality, there is no Chief Minister in Balochistan. In fact, there is no one really incharge in Balochistan. It’s a free-for-all there.
Ask the Shia Hazaras. Yes, the same Shia Hazaras who, along with other Shias, are being killed like flies on an almost daily basis. Dare I say they are being ethnically-cleansed? This revolting term conjures up images of genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda where entire communities of people were wiped out, shot and hacked into oblivion.
Something similar is happening in Balochistan, and a few other places. Terrorists on motorbikes intercept buses, pull out passengers, check their ID cards, line up Shia Hazaras and non-Hazara Shias, and mow them down in a hail of gunfire. After the execution, the executors disappear, only to be heard of again when another bus is stopped and another group of people lined up on the road and cut down mercilessly.
Then the predictable happens. Wailing and furious family members and friends of the victims hold a protest, block roads, burn tyres and make demands. The government “vows” to arrest the killers and punish them. Cameramen shoot footage which runs in the headlines for a few hours, and then things return to “normal”.
No one keeps his promise, except the killers.
In many ways, Balochistan today is what many fear Pakistan could become in a worst case scenario – a wild and lawless place where the state no longer has monopoly over violence. A place where armed marauders of all shapes, sizes and colours roam freely and kill at will.
Believe it or not, there is a government in Balochistan. In fact, the government is so big that every member of the Assembly is either a minister or advisor or a special assistant. The opposition comprises one lone gentleman and most people cannot recall when they last saw him in the Assembly. The ministers and advisors drive around dusty and potholed roads of Quetta in huge cavalcades and armed escorts. Each of them has access to tens of millions of rupees for “development” without any real oversight on how and where these funds are spent. The magnitude of corruption is staggering.
Aslam Raisani, as the Chief Minister, is responsible for maintaining law and order. He has a huge police force reporting to him. Added to the police strength is the FC, commanded by a general. In the opposite corner, facing these government forces is a conglomerate of disparate elements ranging from BLA to LeJ to TTP and Taliban and perhaps many many more. In fact, many of these groups have blended their operations and result is one messy cauldron of vicious hatred-laden orgy of violence.
So the killings continue with ease. Innocent men, women and children are gunned down in broad daylight. The murderers appear from nowhere and disappear into nowhere. Hardly any one is ever caught, dead or alive. The security and intelligence apparatus of the government appears completely helpless.
If ever there was a genuine state of emergency, it is in Balochistan. But looking at the provincial government and its activities, can any one say the Chief Minister and his men are behaving like they are dealing with a state of emergency? Can any one genuinely say that Raisani and his Cabinet is working day and night to bring the law and order situation under control and put a stop to this unending spate of orchestrated violence?
What we see instead is a government which has just thrown up its hands in exasperation and given up. While it is true that the army and FC are calling the real shots in Balochistan, the Chief Minister still has the final responsibility to the electorate which put him in office. If he realises this, he is doing a fantastic job of disguising it. Why else would he be spending an inordinate amount of time in the federal capital, instead of burning midnight oil in the provincial capital which is the seat of his power.
Make no mistake, Balochistan is bleeding. But no one seems to be taking pains to bandage the wound. No one is mustering the courage to say that the writ of the state has collapsed; that the law enforcers have been outsmarted and outgunned; that the intelligence agencies have been outwitted and out-manoeuvred by the killers, and the people are now at the mercy of those who have blood in their eyes – and on their hands.
Yes, the army high command has much to answer for. But so does the Chief Minister. In a few months time, he will be returning to the electorate – the same electorate which he has failed miserably to protect. What will he say? I had no power and authority to protect you? I had an incompetent and corrupt police force? I had a domineering FC that did not listen to me?
Or will he admit that he himself was a failure as a Chief Minister? That he himself let down those people, who enabled him to hold the highest office in the province? How will Raisani looks the Hazaras in the eye and ask for their mandate? How will he face the families of those whose loved ones were executed on the roadside?
Or will he rather just ride his motorbike into the sunset?
Balochistan reminds us daily of what happens when governance collapses like a pack of cards and people are left to fend for their own. It reminds us of what happens when the state fails its people; when the only language that is heard is the language of the gun and when mighty organs of the state crumble like houses of sand.
Balochistan today is what Pakistan could be tomorrow, if we don’t stem the rot.
The writer is the host of “Tonight with Fahd” on Waqt News. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @fahdhusain