Pakistan is a country that has faced many challenges and hardships in its history. It has endured wars, terrorism, natural disasters and political turmoil. But it has also shown remarkable resilience and courage in overcoming these difficulties and pursuing its national interests and aspirations.
One of the most daunting challenges that Pakistan has faced is the conflict in Balochistan, its largest and most restive province. Balochistan has been the scene of a separatist insurgency since the 1970s, fuelled by grievances over political and economic marginalization, human rights violations and resource exploitation. The insurgency has claimed thousands of lives and disrupted the development and security of the province.
But Pakistan has not given up on Balochistan or its people. It has made significant strides in addressing the root causes of the conflict and promoting peace and reconciliation in Balochistan. The most striking example of this is the arrest and public apology of Gulzar Imam Shambay, the founder and head of the outlawed Baloch National Army (BNA), one of the most prominent militant groups in Balochistan.
Shambay was captured in a complex intelligence operation that involved various geographical locations. He was also the ideologue and operational commander of the Baloch Raj Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), an umbrella group of four militant outfits that claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks on security forces and civilians.
However, what is even more remarkable than his arrest is his public appearance and plea for clemency. In a press conference organized by the Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs in Balochistan, Ziaullah Langu, Shambay humbly requested forgiveness and called upon his followers to surrender to the authorities². He also urged the disillusioned Baloch people to abandon their armed struggle and join the national mainstream, working together to achieve the development and prosperity of Balochistan and Pakistan.
This unprecedented gesture of reconciliation by Shambay is a testament to Pakistan’s magnanimity and willingness to listen to and understand those who oppose it. It also shows that Pakistan is ready to acknowledge its past mistakes and take accountability for its actions. Pakistan is committed to making things right for the people of Balochistan, who have suffered from decades of neglect, marginalisation and exploitation.
Pakistan has taken several steps to provide opportunities for success to the people of Balochistan. It has initiated various development projects in Balochistan, such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will bring unprecedented economic opportunities and social benefits to the province. It has also increased access to education, employment and exploration of mineral resources, which will bring prosperity to the region.
Pakistan is also encouraging dialogue and engagement with all stakeholders in Balochistan, including political parties, civil society groups, tribal elders and religious leaders. Pakistan is willing to address the genuine grievances and aspirations of the Baloch people within the constitutional framework. Pakistan believes that dialogue is the only way to build trust and understanding among different segments of society.
Pakistan’s quest for peace in Balochistan is not only motivated by its own national interest but also by its sense of responsibility towards its fellow citizens. Pakistan understands that by listening to Shambay’s perspective, it has acquired a better understanding of the problems of misguided youth. Pakistan wants to use this knowledge to work towards a better future for all of them.
Pakistan also recognizes that peace in Balochistan is not only beneficial for its own security but also for regional stability. Pakistan knows that owing to the success of law enforcement actions in the province and Pakistan-Iran border fence in preventing movement of militants/miscreants across border; the security situation in the province has improved. Pakistan wants to maintain this positive momentum and prevent any external interference or sabotage.
Pakistan’s quest for peace in the region is a brave and noble one. It deserves praise and support from the international community. It also offers a lesson for other countries facing similar challenges to pursue dialogue over violence, reconciliation over revenge, and integration over separation.
Pakistan’s quest for peace in Balochistan is also a realistic and pragmatic one. It understands that with the arrest of Shambay and the state’s offer for reconciliation, the time has come for the dissidents/anarchists to come back to the mainstream, surrender before the state so that army goes back to barracks/peace time location.
Pakistan’s quest for peace in Balochistan is ultimately a hopeful one. It believes that peace is the real game changer. Integration/reconciliation is the ultimate objective for a better and prosperous Pakistan. Peace is a prerequisite for development and prosperity. Without peace, there can be no progress or growth.
Peace in Balochistan will not only benefit its people but also Pakistan as a whole. It is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa. It has immense natural resources like gas, coal, minerals etc., which can be utilized for economic development. It also hosts CPEC projects like Gwadar port, which can transform Pakistan into a regional trade hub. Besides enabling Pakistan to fully harness its potential as a geo-economic power.
Moreover, It will also foster a sense of belongingness among all segments of society towards Pakistan as their common homeland. It will ensure equal rights, opportunities and representation for all citizens regardless of their ethnicity, religion or region. It will create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.
Pakistan’s quest for peace in Balochistan is a quest for a better future for itself and its people. It is a quest that deserves our admiration and applause.