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Turmoil in Balochistan and the debacle of East Pakistan

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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It is said that history repeats itself. Perhaps it is true in the ongoing strife in Pakistan's largest province, Balochistan.

The current wave of socio-economic and political turmoil in Balochistan resembles with the social and political unrest that had led to the separation of East Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh in December 1971.

The then East Pakistan Awami League leader Sheikh Mujib announced the following 6-points demands on February 5, 1966 that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan:

1. A Federation of Pakistan based on the Lahore Resolution, with a parliamentary form of government based on the supremacy of a directly elected legislature and representation on the basis of population. [The 1940 resolution said that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.]

2. The federal government to be responsible only for defense and foreign affairs.

3. A federal reserve system designed to prevent the flight of capital from one region to the other.

4. Taxation to be the responsibility of each federating unit, with necessary provisions for funding the federal government.

5. Each unit to retain its own foreign exchange earnings as well as the power to negotiate foreign trade and aid.

6. Each unit to maintain its own paramilitary forces.

The six-point program was the manifesto of Sheikh Mujib's Awami League Party in the December 1970 election and his party won 160 out of 162 seats allocated for East Pakistan. The ruling elite in West Pakistan refused to hand over power to the majority party and the consequences led to the dismemberment of Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh.

Note, the six point program did not call for the separation of East Pakistan.

However, the tides of political instability, national disintegration and socio-economic grievances that had resulted in the separation of East Pakistan are again assuming horrific proportions in view of the prevailing Balochistan crises.

On February 23, 2012, the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti (who was assassinated by General Parvez Musharraf's regime in August 2006) and President of the Jamhoori Watan Party , Shahzian Bugti, announced eight point demands for negotiations with the Pakistan government:

1. Retired General Pervez Musharraf should be arrested in the Akbar Bugti murder case.

2. Military operation should be stopped and all forces should be withdrawn from Balochistan.

3. Controversial security posts should be abolished from Balochistan.

4. The killing of innocent people should end.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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