In the case of Balochistan the rule of law has never been introduced to resolve the basic issues of the province but the maintenance of law and order was given priority since the creation of the country.
The founder of Pakistan, Jinnah, though he was a veteran lawyer, could not differentiate between the rule of law and rule by force. Within months of the creation of Pakistan he sent the armed forces to annex Balochistan, thereby making it part of Pakistan without realising the fundamental question of rule of law.
The successive governments also thought that if the father of the nation could not differentiate between the rule of law based on justice and the use of force for usurping the rights of the people as the basic ideology of Pakistan then they could do the same.
Since the creation of Pakistan five military operations have been conducted, and hundreds of Baloch were killed and thousands disappeared and extrajudicially killed — but the issue of Balochistan has remained as it was since the time of the creation of the country.
The irony of the political parties is that they come through the peoples’ votes and present themselves as the elected people of Pakistan but it is incomprehensible for them to understand the fundamental concept of the rule of the law and maintenance of the law and order.
It is not a thin veil between the rule of law and the maintenance of law and order but rather a vast difference between the two.
This is the reason why, on the one side the government is dealing with the poor and neglected people of Balochistan harshly and with all the facilities of the army and air force and at the same time, bowing down before the Muslim militant groups and the Taliban who have huge amounts of funding from both local sources and international Muslim countries and organisations and at the same time enjoy the very latest in modern military weaponry.
The struggle in Balochistan is for greater autonomy of their resources based on secular ideals; whereas, the Taliban movement is based on converting the country into a purely fundamentalist Shariah-based Islamic society and to destroy all forms of democracy. Being an Islamic country by means of its constitution it is easier for the state to deal with the Taliban rather than negotiate with secular and independent forces. Therefore, in the eyes of the state Islamic terrorism is the lesser of the evils because it will never insist on the rule of law and always be happy to maintain law and order by force.
The actions of the FC in the various districts of Balochistan were exactly what the state concept of law and order demands according to the wishes of the father of the nation. The Minister of the Interior of Balochistan was happy to say that in the Kalat operations the forces killed 30 to 40 persons while using helicopters for logistic purposes only because the nation would be pleased at the news of so many insurgents being killed. He cannot comprehend that these actions will wield a bloody response from the militant groups that never differentiate between the civilians and law enforcement personnel as they consider everyone to be their enemies.
Minister Bugti is famous in dealing with the province harshly with his illegal detention centers and torture cells in his home town of Dera Bugti and detaining young persons, in particular, who are generally unhappy with the provincial and Pakistan governments. When a man with such a mentality is appointed as the Interior Minister he will always think that the rule of law is a foolish thing and all issues can be dealt with by force.
Therefore, it is the FC and provincial government that are equally responsible for the attack on a passenger train in which 18 persons were killed and one family of eight persons were burned alive. The government must pay compensation to the families of the deceased and those affected by the attack because the deaths were caused by its actions.
This is the time for the government and the political parties to follow the rule of law rather than expending all their resources on maintaining law and order. The institutions of the rule of law must be strengthened and investments in law and order by force must be stopped. The law and order, which the government wants to maintain although it has not been benefiting the people-has been apparently a failed exercise when once looks into the Taliban and other militant groups who are taking their roots to the country. Without comprehending the essence and unavoidable necessity of immediately establishing the rule of law the entire nation or any it’s provincial governments are not approaching any form of solution of the existing problems that the people are plunge into.
Baseer Naweed is the Pakistan Desk Office of the Asian Human Rights Commission and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org