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May 27, 2013

Balochistan set for new era of national integration

Islamabad

May 27, 2013

LAHORE: With greater chances of Dr Maalik Baloch as the next chief minister of Balochistan, a turning point in the history of Pakistan as a new era of national integration is set to commence with the true representatives of people assuming power. Turning of the nationalists to mainstream politics is likely to encourage the remaining nationalists to join national politics.
There is no doubt that mainstreaming of the nationalists in national politics has been encouraged by a conducive atmosphere for which credit must be given to the judiciary and the provincial administration. The incumbent Chief Secretary Balochistan, Babar Yaqub, has played a significant role in providing a level playing field to Baloch nationalists who had boycotted the electoral process in 2008 in protest.
Though Babar Yaqoob was appointed Chief Secretary during the PPP regime, yet having been posted in Balochistan for the maximum tenure of his career, he knew from day one that the adverse situation in the province could not be improved unless Baloch nationalists were brought back to mainstream politics.
Babar Yaqub had been posted as Deputy Secretary and staff officer to Nawab Akbar Bugti as Chief Minister Balochistan. Likewise, he had served as Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner in different districts of Balochistan.
He served in Balochistan voluntarily as Chief Secretary at a time in 2011 when no officer, senior or junior, was prepared to serve in the terrorism-hit province and the link of Balochistan with the federation was weakening with every passing day.
Babar Yaqub took stern initiatives including wooing all officers from federal services particularly from the DMG and PSP to Balochistan. Following the decision, most DCOs and DPOs in Balochistan were replaced with DMG and PSP officers.
Drawing strength from decisions of the Supreme Court in the Balochistan law & order case, Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob played a pivotal role in restoring the confidence of

Balochs and attracting them to national politics. The security establishment also saw reason in the strategy and provided support to it. The nationalists were assured of a level playing field. Unlike the administration of the Jam Yusuf regime, it no longer worked as handmaiden of political bosses. Nevertheless, Babar Yaqub’s administration remained neutral during the electoral process and provided equal opportunities to all political parties to contest polls in a transparent manner.
There was no Abdul Samad Lasi-like DC at the helm of affairs in any district to persecute opponents and advance a political agenda.The initiative of Chief Secretary Babar Yaqub to bring back Baloch nationalists and providing them with a level play field was not acceptable to the previous provincial government. They had been averse to the idea of the administration striking an independent course.
Quite surprisingly during December 2012, the PPP-led Raisani cabinet boycotted Chief Secretary Balochistan Babar Yaqoob for his perceived soft corner for nationalists. However, he stood his ground and stuck to his belief that unless the nationalists were brought to the mainstream of national politics, the Balochistan issue could not be resolved and it would undermine national integrity.
It was due to confidence building measures and the level playing field provided by the provincial administration that BNP of Akhtar Mengal, National Party of Dr.Maalik and other nationalists, who had boycotted the 2008 elections, participated in the electoral process and won considerable seats. After the elections, PKMAP, PML-(N), NP of Dr. Malik and BNP of Sardar Akhtar Mengal have emerged as crucial players.
The Nawaz League on its part is treading the political course very cautiously. It knows Baloch sensibilities. It is also aware of the intra-Baloch rivalries. The maturity in the PML (N) leadership is likely to throw up provincial leadership acceptable to Balochs and Pakhtuns alike.