July 12, 2018
ISLAMABAD - The Election Day is fast approaching but Balochistan’s stop still seems missing from the campaign trail of major political parties.
Neither the “wind of change” is blowing through the Baloch lands nor the proponents of “Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan” are concerned about the plight of Baloch masses.
Clock is ticking fast as the general polls are now less than two weeks away and the country’s major political players like Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari are still not focusing on Balochistan. What to talk of remote corners of the province Makran or Awaran, neither of the three leaders or any other bigwig from their factions cared to visit even the provincial capital (Quetta).
Sincere efforts to remove the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan is often echoed in the parliament and at other important political forums but this province is still missing the concentration of these major parties even during the election days.
The apathy of these major political parties for Balochistan is mainly considered due to less number of seats (16 and 3 for reserved members) in the parliament, an impression left by political observers and Baloch leaders.
In the last less than two weeks before general polls, now these major political parties are showing its interest in terms of paying one visit to Balochistan in the coming days. “Balochistan is in our (PPP-P) priority list. The party will definitely focus on this province,” said PPP’s Senator / opposition leader Sherry Rehman while talking to The Nation. The political activities of PPP-P due to the sad incident in Peshawar have been slowed down.
Spokesman of PTI Fawad Chaudhary, when contacted, said that party chief Imran Khan would soon visit Balochistan. “Balochistan campaign will further get boost up after the visit of Imran Khan,” he said, mentioning that PTI has also mentioned Balochistan issue in its manifesto.
Likewise, the former ruling party’s main members have also discussed about the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochsitan but not paid a single visit so far even in Quetta during the election campaign.
The schedule of PML-N’s bigwigs is also unlikely in upcoming days before the polls in Balochistan, sources in the former ruling party (PML-N) shared.
On the other hands, the renowned Baloch nationalist leaders termed the apathy of national leaders towards Balochistan criminal.
The electoral campaign of major national parties is ‘Punjab-centric’ in general and ‘GT road-centric’ in specific. For politicians, it is seat count that matters and not the deprivations of downtrodden masses of Balochistan.
Renowned Baloch nationalist leader/ former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal, when contacted, said that these major national parties always focus on number game only. Balochistan has never become much helpful ‘stair’ for major parties to grab power in the parliament due to less number of seats (around 17), said Mengal, mentioning that these parties leaders only appear in the case of calamities for ‘photo session’.
“It is really hard to see these parties leaders to discuss Balochistan issue in Islamabad,” said senior Baloch nationalist leader contesting from NA-269, mentioning that whenever they (major parties) want support of Balochistan members for any legislation in the Senate or National Assembly they approach them in any part of country.
Talking to The Nation, another senior leader from Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik said that the major national parties of the country talked about the sense of deprivation of Balochistan but never take practical steps. “Unfortunately, leaders of these parties are not much serious to resolve the problems of this province because of less number of seats,” said Malik.