One of the stakeholders in the Balochistan imbroglio has questioned the powers of the civilian authorities in Quetta to hold talks with Baloch insurgents demanding independence.
Mehran Baluch, the youngest son of Balochistan nationalist leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, told this correspondent Saturday on phone from Dubai, “Everyone wants to negotiate. This is the way of the civilized world. But the moot point is whether the civilian administration of Balochistan has any powers to hold negotiations.”
The All Parties Conference, with direct blessings from the Pakistan army GHQ -- the main power in Balochistan --, gave a mandate to Balochistan chief minister Dr. Malik Baloch to open talks with the Baloch militants. This is the first time in 12 years the army has conceded to civilian handling of the Balochistan insurgency.
Mehran Baluch said even former president Asif Ali Zardari “whose party commanded a huge majority in parliament” and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were powerless before the omnipotent army, let alone Balochistan chief minister Dr. Malik Baloch.
Mehran Baluch, who has been speaking on the human rights situation in Balochistan on behalf of the United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, is generally known to have a more pragmatic approach towards politics than his hardline elder brother Hyrbyair Marri.
Mr. Marri, who lives in exile in the U.K. is the head of the militant Baloch Liberation Army, proscribed by the U.K. government, while Mehran Baluch, a Briton, is based in Dubai. The two brothers have not spoken to each other for more than three years now over political differences and their supporters have openly clashed in articles in the family newspaper Tawar.
According to Senator Hasil Bizenjo, vice president of the National Party, Islamabad is willing to give major concessions to the exiled Baloch leaders, including Mehran Baluch.
However, Mehran Baluch said, “I am not in a position to decide anything as my father (Nawab Marri) is the deciding authority.”
Many Balochistan observers say Mehran Baluch and his brother-in-law, Brahumdagh Bugti, despite their feudal background, have de-classed themselves in Switzerland and routinely hold protest demonstrations on the streets in front of the Broken Chair in Geneva.