There is going to be NFC announcement by end of march.may be that balochistan will get special status as kashmir through pakistani version of article 370 in their constitution.
VIEW: An Article 370 for Balochistan —Riaz Shahid
VIEW: An Article 370 for Balochistan —Riaz Shahid
I propose an Article 370 type provision in the constitution of Pakistan to satisfy the Baloch. There should be a bar on people from other provinces on voting or buying property in Balochistan for a period of at least 25 years
There are many aspects of the Indian rule in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that are morally indefensible. India treats Kashmir as if it were an occupied territory. It frequently holds rigged elections. Disappearances of anti-Indian individuals are common as well as extra-judicial killings and detentions without trial. Thousands of people have disappeared in the last 20 years. There are frequent restrictions on movement and body checks of innocent civilians. People can be detained on mere suspicion by the Indian security forces. But, despite all this, there is one thing that goes to India’s credit. I am referring to Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which is almost as old as the Indian constitution itself. Under this Article, the Kashmiris have been given the following protections:
* Non-Kashmiri Indian citizens cannot permanently settle in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
* Non-Kashmiri Indian citizens cannot purchase immoveable property in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
* Non-Kashmiri Indian citizens cannot vote in the state assembly and/or municipal councils and panchayats.
* Non-Kashmiri Indian citizens cannot get jobs in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. All the jobs in the state are reserved for the citizens of the state.
* The Indian government cannot alter the geographical boundaries of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
These protections are a great source of moral legitimacy for the Indians. The total population of the Indian Kashmir is less than 11 million according to the census of 2001, out of which just 67 percent is Muslim. It was, theoretically, possible for the Indians to ‘solve’ the Kashmir problem once and for all by just flooding in just 3-4 million Indians from the rest of India, which would effectively make Muslims a minority in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. India could have easily taken a leaf from its strategic ally Israel, which has been able to successfully decimate the Palestinian cause by building settlements on the Palestinian territories and then enlarging them in the name of ‘natural growth’. But, despite all the cost it has had to suffer at the hands of insurgency in Kashmir and the pressure by the Hindu rightwing, India did not touch Article 370 or amend it in a way to extend the Indian citizenship laws into the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
We Pakistanis can take a great cue from the Indians. Demographically, Balochistan is the smallest province of Pakistan with a population of less than seven million according to the 1998 census. Of these, only a little more than 50 percent are Baloch. For the last several years, there has been severe unrest and violent activities in Balochistan that has done a lot to damage the good name of Pakistan and its citizens. The Baloch always had grievances against the government of Pakistan but what, finally, made many Baloch youth cast their lot with the separatists is the fear that their province will be swamped by people from other provinces after the Gwadar port is completed and they will become a minority in their own province. The population of Gwadar is no more than 300,000 and it is almost entirely Baloch. A mere movement of a few hundred thousand can make our Baloch brethren Red Indians in their ancestral lands! This has happened before. Before partition in 1947, the ethnic Baloch were a significant group with considerable numbers in Karachi. In just 10 years, they became a minority and were confined forever to their ‘ghettos’ in Lyari.
I propose an Article 370 type provision in the constitution of Pakistan to satisfy the Baloch. There should be a bar on people from other provinces on voting or buying property in Balochistan for a period of at least 25 years. If the Hindu-majority India can provide such a safeguard for a hostile Muslim population in Kashmir for the past 63 years, why can we not do the same for our brothers-in-faith in Balochistan for a few decades at least? It will be a great propaganda coup for the Pakistani state and will provide decisive help in weaning away the Baloch youth from the separatists. The Baloch have been living in Gwadar, Pasni, Turbat and in Balochistan for millennia; they have every right to retain their demographic majority in their ancestral areas.
I request Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and Mian Nawaz Sharif to seriously consider the above proposal. It will be a concession greater than the abolition of the concurrent list and increase in share in the NFC Award. In fact, it would be a great antidote to the anti-Punjab sentiment in Balochistan if this proposal was moved by the Sharif brothers, who hail from the bigger province.
The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]