Dr Abdul Malik Baloch is widely credited with bringing a semblance of stability to the volatile region
By all accounts, the security environment in Balochistan, although still precarious, has improved a great deal over the past two years, due in part to a tactful handling of the long-running, subdued insurgency in the south-western province. The man at the helm, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, is widely credited with bringing a semblance of stability to the volatile region through his quiet but doggedly determined way of leadership. He presides over a coalition government of disparate groups, each jockeying for influence and power. It is, therefore, a measure of his acceptability as the chief executive of the province that he has not had to contend with much opposition from his allies during his two and a half years of incumbency. He is deemed to have had a major say when the Balochistan Apex Committee, a forum made up of civil and military leaders, announced in June this year, an amnesty for Baloch militants choosing to renounce violence and bidding farewell to arms.
Not that the initiative worked wonders or went as far as to quell the insurgency altogether, but the hand of reconciliation extended to the Baloch rebels at least had the effect of creating fissures in their ranks. That was no small achievement. But the major challenge of putting the impoverished province to the road of full recovery and development still remains. That requires continuity in leadership. And therein lies the rub: Dr Baloch’s term as chief minister is about to end under the terms of an agreement reached among the coalition partners at the hill station of Murree soon after the May 2013 elections. If that accord is followed in letter and in spirit, PML-N’s Sardar Sanaullah Zehri should be the new man in charge of the province soon. But there are indications that Nawaz Sharif’s party may have made up its mind to let Dr Baloch continue in the office for the full term, given his ability to keep the coalition together and other stakeholders happy. If that turns out to be the case, nothing like it. A change of captain at this juncture could quite possibly reverse the gains achieved so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2015.
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