While on the one hand, Pakistan Army is fighting a full-fledged war against the emboldened militants in the tribal areas which they had almost overrun due to the government's lazy response, the Balochistan province, on the other hand is boiling over to the point of eruption due to the neglect and indifference of the successive governments to the genuine demands of Balochi's for autonomy in their internal affairs. We meted out the same treatment to East Pakistan and lost it 25 years. Balochistan will be next in line, if we did not learn any lesson from history. Here I would like to remind the readers of an episode in the history of Balochistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Quetta for the first time as the head of the state in 1972. Since I covered this visit for PTV I am an eyewitness to the widespread agitation and violent disturbances against the federal government as Mr Bhutto landed at the Quetta Airport amid tight military security. The people were raising slogans against the government in the streets of the city. Quetta was in turmoil because the coalition government of NAP-JUI was in constant confrontation with the federal government for what it considered the anti-Balochistan policies of the prime minister who wanted to abolish the sardari system in the province. NAP leader, Khan Abdul Wali Khan had also arrived in Quetta and was given a rousing welcome by the people in contrast to the cold and rather hostile reception accorded to Prime Minister Bhutto under the army bayonets. Director Public Relations of the Balochistan government requested me that Khan Abdul Wali Khan's arrival should also be covered for TV news. When I expressed my inability to do so, he said, in that case the Balochistan government would not be responsible for the safety of the lives of the PTV team. Fearing the worst, I sent a camera team to the airport to film the arrival of the NAP leader just to register PTV's presence on the scene. The story, however, was not aired in the news. In the midst of such alarming conditions, Mr Bhutto arranged a very elaborate banquet at the Governor House in Quetta in honour of Princess Ashraf Pahlavi of Iran who was invited as chief guest. A group of prominent singers and dancers including Farida Khanum and Mehdi Hasan were flown to Quetta to entertain the guests after the banquet. The prime minister and his cronies which included several federal ministers were enjoying the show, while Governor Bizenjo and Chief Minister Mengal were visibly extremely tense and furious. In his welcome speech at the banquet, Bizenjo made certain remarks which probably offended Mr Bhutto. At around midnight, Secretary Information Nasim Ahmed called the members of the press corps and advised that Bizenjo's offensive remarks should be censored from the story. Bizenjo, on the contrary, insisted that his views should be printed in all the papers published from Quetta. Consequently, the next morning all Balochistan papers carried Bizenjo's remarks, while they were blacked out completely in all the national newspapers. The following day as Mr Bhutto was flying to the village of Wadh in an army helicopter, in which the TV crew including myself was also travelling; two rockets were fired at the chopper by the Baloch insurgents. They luckily missed and we barely escaped with our lives. PM Bhutto tried his best to abolish the sardari system, which he thought, was the root cause of Balochistan's problems. But he failed. Therefore the sardari system, which is the main cause of abject poverty and illiteracy of the people of Balochistan, continues unabated. Although all major sardars have been given an opportunity to rule over the province, but they have failed in alleviating poverty and promoting literacy and human rights of the people. At the same time the federal government is also responsible for going back on its promises to provide adequate financial resources to the province for its development. Recently a delegation of the Balochistan government met the president and prime minister with a long list of demands including the recovery of the missing people and removing the checkposts of the security forces. As usual they were assured that their demands would be met, and the government would take the necessary action to "remove their sense of deprivation" - the standard bureaucratic jargon which means nothing. Moreover the immediate reason for the upsurge in insurgency in Balochistan is the killing of the most powerful and influential Sardar Nawab Akbar Bugti in an attack on a mountain cave where he had taken refuge. This attack was ordered by former President General Musharraf at the fag end of his rule, which he was desperately trying to save. Recently, the Balochistan Governor, Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi, has urged the federal government to take immediate corrective measures to deal with the fast deteriorating law and order situation in the province. He commented on the federal government's inefficiency saying: "Although I am a representative of the centre I was never taken into confidence by Islamabad on the Balochistan issue and my suggestions for resolving the issues were always ignored." US President Barack Obama recently has described the Pakistan government as "extremely fragile" that is unable to fulfil the basic needs of the people, and that is why it was unable to "gain their support and loyalty." How true The writer is former director news, PTV E-mail: burhanhasan@hotmail.com