The country mourns yet again because of three terrorist attacks in one day; two in Parachinar (FATA), while one in Quetta (Balochistan). At least 15 people have been killed in Parachinar, while 50 have been injured. 13 people have lost their lives in Quetta, while 19 are injured.
These two regions are highly sensitive because of lack of inclusion in the federal system since post partition, and the growing influx of terrorism in the region. The living conditions are almost similar; these are some of the most impoverished areas of Pakistan. While the attacks are focused on either the security agencies present, and probably due to one of the many militant groups present here, there is also an underlying layer of poverty and alienation of the local population which provides fertile ground for terrorists and criminals.
Lack of cooperation between the federal government and the rural leaders has alienated the population. In Balochistan, even when they tried following the democratic process, their governments were dissolved to ensure that their struggles do not reach the masses.
Whereas, in FATA, the tribal areas refuse to accept the modern nation-state system. The government now has to deal with citizen militants fighting against the government. FATA already is influenced by the Taliban, whereas, there is growing influence of Islamic State (IS) in the Balochistan. The decreasing writ of the state in the areas has also increased external influences. Afghanistan, despite border demarcation, believes that it has a right over several areas. India, on the other hand, funds and provides weapons to the separatists to pressurise the government.
Pakistan cannot afford to lose either Balochistan or FATA, but at the same time is failing to take charge of the situation. The problem is that the government and its organs often seen in denial, and flippantly blame India or RAW, just like official spokesperson Anwar-ul-haq Kakar did in Quetta, minutes after the attack. Work on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is underway and Balochistan and FATA are a huge part of that plan. If the areas remains plagued with terrorist threats, it is very likely that we will face a hardening approach from China. 69 years is a long enough time to realise that marginalising a community while capitalising on its resources is not the best solution to their grievances.
It is time to come up with inclusive policies.
The census is one way of doing that. It would have pushed the delimitation process to completion and a new National Finance Commission (NFC) award would have been worked upon. All of that has been delayed, along with the Riwaj Act which focuses of FATA’s merger with KP. Security lapses, internal dissent and conflict are bound to increase.