What did BNP-Mengal get by calling the deal off? – TBP Editorial

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The seventy years of ‘forced marriage’ between Balochistan and Pakistan has a long history of betrayal and fake promises. It begins with the betrayal of Khan Kalat’s brother Prince Abdul Karim and continues with the imprisonment of Nawab Noroz Khan Zehri and finally results in the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. In its recent episode of broken promises, the federal government seemingly has rubbished the 6-point-accord made with Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), signed in 2018.

Initially, the agreement was a win-win situation for BNP, as by assisting the PTI with its four votes to form government in the centre had put Akhtar Mengal in good books of establishment and fighting for the cause of Baloch missing person returned him some of his lost reputation among the nationalists. The most important point of the accord is still considered to be the recovery of Baloch Missing Persons and apparently, the unfulfillment of this promise resulted in the withdrawal of BNP-M from PTI lead coalition government.

Many analysts say the deal was meant to be failed but somehow credit for the recovery of 417 missing persons went to Akhtar Mengal and his party. However, he himself mentioned in the national assembly on 17 June that 1500 more persons have been abducted after the deal was signed in 2018. Currently, no one looks ready to take the blame for failing to stop the practice of enforced disappearances in Balochistan.

Nevertheless, breaking from the coalition was very timely in order to gain the support of masses in Balochistan and the so-called opposition parties in Pakistan. There is a wave of growing anger among the people of Balochistan against the oppressive policies of the Pakistani establishment. Protests against the formation of death squads have entered into the fourth week. Last week, the death of another woman, Kulsoom Baloch, in Mand area of Kech district has further fuelled the anger. A new wave of political awakening is being witnessed.

During his address in the national assembly, AkhtarMengal raised his concern about the re-activation of death squads, the alleged armed groups sponsored by the military establishment, in Balochistan. The death squads not only wreak havoc on common people but they concern Akhtar Mengal personally as well. His local rival and the infamous death squad head Shafeeq Mengal has been reactivated and he has been openly opposing Akhtar in his home district Khuzdar by involving himself in public matters through his political face called Jhalawan Awami Party (JAP).

Some say the most important take away for Akhter Mengal has been the political mileage that he and his party has received by calling the deal off.

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