Friday, January 14, 2005

Bugti sees army operation in Sui, other areas

Bugti sees army operation in Sui, other areas

Veteran Baloch leader and Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti has expressed fears that a military operation in Sui and the Bugti areas may soon be launched for which preparations appear to have begun.

Talking to newsmen in Dera Bugti on Wednesday, he said according to his information, a convoy of 3,000 army troops had left Quetta, Pannu Aqil and Kashmor for Sui and Dera Bugti along with artillery, while six gunship helicopters had already landed at the Sibi helipad.

Nawab Bugti said that the closure of a gas purification plant in the Sui area could be a prelude to the impending operation. "In the next couple of days an operation would be launched in the area," he said and added that the area was already under siege as 6,500-10,000 FC men and 750 DSG personnel were already present in the Bugti area, while 3,000 to 4,000 Rangers had set up their camp just outside the Bugti area at the Sindh-Punjab border.

Nawab Bugti said how negotiations on political issues could continue with the government in this situation. "Military operation and negotiations could not continue side by side," the Jamhoori Watan Party chief said.

"If the authorities launch an operation then with whom they would hold negotiations," Nawab Bugti said and pointed out that Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri had already made it clear that he had nothing to do with these dialogues and Sardar Attaullah Mengal had also disassociated himself from the process in protest against the arrest of party workers and other reasons.

When asked to comment on the statement of President Gen Pervez Musharraf warning tribesmen of tough action, the veteran Baloch leader said that Gen Musharraf had power and was enjoying the support of the United States.

He said it was not for the first time that President Musharraf had criticized nationalists as he issued such warnings also during his visit to Quetta, Gwadar and other areas in the recent past and was again warning of military action.

Replying to a question about clashes in Sui, Nawab Bugti said they were in reaction to the incident of criminal assault on a lady doctor in which security guards were involved but instead of arresting the accused and taking action against them, the PPL management and high-ups of Defence Services Group tried to hide this heinous crime.

He said the incident of criminal assault was a stigma on Baloch society and people reacted to it when no action was taken against the accused. He lamented that the accused could not be arrested even after 10 days because they were uniformed personnel. Local administration and police were not allowed to take action against them, he added.

Nawab Bugti said as far as the Sui situation was concerned, the Balochistan Liberation Army had claimed responsibility for it and also given reasons for its action. The organization claimed that it was struggling for the rights of Baloch people, their honour and dignity, he added.

He said in retaliation to the BLA attacks, the Frontier Corps and personnel of DSG targeted civilian population and fired hundreds of rockets and mortar shells at residential areas in Sui, killing and injuring innocent people including women and children, besides damaging property.

He denied reports that gas installations were a target during Tuesday's clashes. "This is all wrong," he said and added that hitting the 40-50 feet high important towers and purification and compressor plants was easier than targeting small pipelines laid on the ground. He said nobody targeted gas installations and the plant which were visible from miles. Dawn.com 13.1.05

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