Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Strike observed in most Sindh towns - Balochistan situation

Strike observed in most Sindh towns - Balochistan situation

By Dawn Report

HYDERABAD, Jan 24: A complete strike was observed throughout the interior of Sindh, except Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sanghar, on Monday in protest against a military operation in Balochistan and a criminal assault on a lady doctor in the Sui area.

The strike call was given by the nationalist parties of Sindh, including the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party, Sindh National Front, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, Sindh National Party and Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz, and endorsed by the Pakistan Oppressed Nations' Movement.

Protest processions were taken out in different cities and towns. Reports said that a large number of activists were arrested at different places. The STPP has claimed that police have arrested its 200 workers.

In Hyderabad, shops and main business centres remained open in the City and Latifabad talukas and closed in Qasimabad taluka. Similarly, vehicular traffic remained normal in the City and Latifabad talukas and thin in Qasimabad taluka.

Inter-city public transport remained off the road and the Indus and National highways witnessed thin vehicular traffic. Some crackers were exploded in different towns of Dadu district while an NLC trailer and other vehicles were pelted with stones in Thatta district.

SUKKUR: More than 70 activists of different political parties, including the JSQM, JSM and STPP, were arrested here on Monday when they tried to take out a protest procession and force shopkeepers to close their shops.

Shops in the areas where the activists were arrested remained closed till 11am. A complete shutter-down strike was observed in Ghotki, Buxapur, Guddu and Kandhkot while a partial strike was observed in Sukkur against the army operation in Balochistan. In Ghotki, clashes took place between protesters and police. The protesters pelted stones at police and shops.

LARKANA: A complete strike was observed throughout the district to express solidarity with the people of Balochistan, with activists of various groups setting off firecrackers early in the morning to force tradesmen in the city to close down.

Traffic in the city remained almost negligible, while on various entry/exit points it was quite thin as Shahdadkot, Qambar, Badah, Warah, Ratodero, and other towns remained closed.

Chairman of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Bashir Qureshi, led a procession in Ratodero. Speaking to the protesters, Mr Qureshi said that it was time for the leaders of the peoples of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP to unite under one flag to fight against what he called 'injustice' of the rulers, who, he asserted, should stop thinking of launching a military operation in Balochistan.

In Shahdadkot, a procession was taken out under the banner of the STPP. A procession was taken out in Badah town, where protesters also staged a sit-in at the Hyder Chowk.

DADU: A complete strike was observed in Dadu, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Mehar, Johi, Sehwan, Bhan Saeedabad, Sann, Manjhand, Phulji Station, Khudabad, Jamshoro and Kotri towns. Vehicular traffic remained suspended in the district.

NAUSHAHRO FEROZE: A shutter down strike was observed in Naushahro Feroze, Moro, New Jatoi, Mithiani, Tharu Shah, Bhirya, Kandiaro, Khan Wahan, Halani, Kotri Kabir, Mehrabpur, Padidan and Darya Khan Mari till 1pm. In Bhirya and Halani towns, activists of the JSQM and SNF burnt tyres and blocked the National Highway for one hour.

JACOBABAD: To express solidarity with the people of Balochistan, a strike was observed in Jacobabad, Kandhkot, Thul, Kashmore and Garhi Khero. Business activities came to a standstill as all the sops, garages and business houses remained closed.

In Jacobabad, a procession was taken out by women led by social worker and councillor Qamar Bano Javed to protest against the assault on the lady doctor. Carrying banners and placards inscribed with different slogans, the participants marched from Dastagir Colony to the press club. They also staged a sit-in at the DCO Chowk.

KHAIRPUR: A strike was observed in Khairpur, Ranipur, Gambat, Faiz Ganj, Thari Mirwah, Priyaloi, Pir-jo-Goth, Thehri and Sobhodero. Flow of traffic was very thin on the National Highway. Attendance of students in the Shah Abdul Latif University, colleges and schools remained thin.

SHIKARPUR: A shutter down strike was observed here and all the bazaars and trade centres remained closed. A procession was taken out by activists of the nationalist parties to protest against any operation in Balochistan.

BADIN: A complete strike was observed in Badin, Matli, Tando Bago, Talhar, Nindo Shehar, Shaheed Fazil Rahu, Kadhan and Kario Ghanwar against the government's action in Sui and Dera Bugti and the failure of the authorities to arrest those involved in the assault on the lady doctor.

People came from rural areas in processions and gathered at Mehran Chowk. Later, they marched on the Quaid-i-Azam Road to reach Kazia Canal Chowk where their leaders delivered speeches.

NAWABSHAH: A partial strike was observed here and a complete strike in Sakrand and Daur towns. Protesters blocked Sakrand-Majeed Keerio road by burning tyres.

SANGHAR: No heed was paid to the strike call here, however, a procession was taken out in Shahdadpur by the SNF.

THATTA: A partial strike was observed in all towns of the district including Thatta, Sujawal, Mirpur Bathoro, Mirpur Sakro, Chohar Jamali, Gharo, Daro and Bannu town.

In Mirpur Bathoro, police arrested taluka president of the PPP, Wahid Parhiar, and JSQM activists Ashraf Sheedi, Qadir Zaunr, Shahnawaz Memon and two others whose names could not be ascertained.

In Chohar Jamali, the police arrested three JSM activists. In Jhok Sharif, a rally was held which was led by Sufi Hazoor Bux, Ali Hassan Jalalani and Ibrahim Saand.

MIRPURKHAS: Two activists of the JSQM were arrested here for forcing shopkeepers to close shops and burning tyres outside the Municipal Shopping Centre.

Provincial autonomy

The recommendations made by the parliamentary sub-committee on Balochistan led by the Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain call for careful examination.

The 15-20 per cent increase proposed in Balochistan's gas royalty and 20-30 per cent in resource allocation for development purposes in the province should be welcomed. But the suggestion that the Constitution may also be amended to give greater autonomy to Balochistan is a puzzling one.

Instead, there is a need to ensure that provincial autonomy, as enshrined in the Constitution with regard to relevant areas, is implemented in all the four provinces.

This government, like the ones before it that came to power under direct tutelage of the military, has already done more than its bit of tampering with the Constitution to suit its political exigencies.

Any more tampering with an explicit aim to appease one province while leaving the rest aside will not have much stabilizing effect on the country as a whole. Making such an exception for Balochistan, ostensibly to appease the nationalist opinion there, at a time when the ruling PML heads a coalition government in the province will be seen by many for what it really is: the establishment's lack of confidence in its own hand-picked government.

Balochistan's needs for development have long been ignored by successive governments. The political/nationalist storm brewing there, as seen earlier in Gwadar and now in Sui, has taken a long time in cooking.

The government cannot pretend to have been caught unawares of the developing crisis there. If indeed lack of provincial autonomy is now being seen as a contributing factor to the situation in Balochistan, what will stop Sindh and the Frontier from following suit? This may be an uncharitable thought, but the provinces do feel the stranglehold of the federation when it comes to development planning and making their own decisions.

The excessively long concurrent list of powers must be pruned, with the four provinces given the maximum administrative and financial autonomy as promised by the Constitution. Only this, and an equitable sharing of financial and water resources among the provinces can ensure a more stable Pakistan.



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