NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: Former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has warned that Balochistan is on the brink of a rupture and will be uncontrollable if another Baloch leader is assassinated.
Zardari’s warning, according to media reports in Pakistan, is unprecedented and exceptional, indicating a grim situation in Balochistan where a popular uprising against the Pakistani military has been going on since 1948 and is now in its fifth phase since Pakistan’s creation.
Zardari, leader of the Opposition party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), cautioned in a conversation with former minister Qamar Zaman Kaira that the state must remain restraint itself in Balochistan, Pakistani journalist Aijaz Mahar said on his YouTube news channel.
Zardari said if another incident like the killing of Nawab Akbar Shahbaz Khan Bugti occurs, the situation in Balochistan will get out of control.
Nawab Bugti was the head of the Bugti tribe in Balochistan, who served as a minister and governor of the Balochistan province. He led an armed struggle against the Pakistani military, demanding greater autonomy for Balochistan, but was killed in 2006.
Media reports said that Zardari also appealed to Baloch nationalists and insurgents to abandon violence and join the dialogue process.
Thousands of Baloch nationalists have disappeared from Balochistan. The families of the victims allege that Baloch nationalists are kidnapped, tortured and then massacred by Pakistani security agencies. Mainstream media in Pakistan is rarely allowed to visit or write on Balochistan.
Last week, Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) Chief Akhtar Mengal in Pakistan’s national assembly announced his party’s withdrawal from the federal government coalition led by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Mengal said that Khan’s PTI “is the latest among a long list of culprits to have backtracked on its promises” about Balochistan since 1948. In grave despair, he asked the federal government to declare the province as “occupied Balochistan”, given the blatant use of death squads and human rights violations committed by the state.