Saturday, January 15, 2005

Troops begin searching houses in Sui area

Balochistan govt rejects military action: Troops begin searching houses in Sui area

* Provincial cabinet tells Centre to take ‘direct control’ of Sui
* 12 WAPDA employees released
* Gas load-shedding likely to start today

SUI: Paramilitary troops on Friday launched a house-to-house search for weapons in Sui, as the Balochistan cabinet meeting in Quetta asked the federal government not to send in the military against the tribesmen, a majority of whom are Bugtis, AFP reported.

Hundreds of troops were involved in the operation focussed on villages in the vicinity of the Sui gas fields to flush out weapons and secure the facility, official Abdul Samad said. “So far there has been no arrest, but the search is progressing well,” Mr Samad said.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Home Minister Shoaib Nausherwani said on Friday that the provincial cabinet was of the view that there was no need for a military operation and the dispute with the Bugti tribe should be solved through political dialogue.

The cabinet had asked the federal government to take “direct control” of the entire Sui town and assume responsibility for its security, Mr Nausherwani added.

The Interior Ministry has marked five cities in Balochistan including Quetta as dangerous zones with reference to law and order, Online reported. This was stated in a report presented by the Interior Ministry to the Standing Committee on Interior on Friday. The marked cities include Dera Bugti, Sui, Khuzdar, Sibi, Gwadar and Quetta, with the Interior Ministry calling them “difficult areas”.

The report also stated that Sui was close to the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan borders and several installations of national importance including two major gas compression plants and wells of the Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) were in the area and a 367-kilometre-long Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) pipeline originated from Sui. The OGDC and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) installations were under threat due to the volatile security situation in the area, it added.

Gwadar was peaceful at the moment, but when the Gwadar Port project began, three Chinese engineers working on the project were killed in three terrorist attacks, the report said. Such incidents had to be averted, as they threatened major projects in the country, the report added. Quetta had seen its fair share of sectarian violence involving several sectarian groups being ‘helped’ by foreigners, the report said, adding that Quetta could also come under rocket attack.

Abdul Sattar from Multan adds: Law enforcement agencies on Friday secured the release of the 12 Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) employees kidnapped in Shah Wali, Rajanpur district on Wednesday (January 12).

Khwaja Naseer from Lahore adds: Countrywide load-shedding of gas for domestic consumers is likely to start today (Saturday) because of the closure of the Sui gas plant in Balochistan, Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) Managing Director Abdul Rashid Lone told Daily Times on Friday. Rashid Lone said the closure of the Sui gas plant had accounted for the shortage of gas and gas to domestic consumers would be cut from 6:00am to 10:00am and from 4:00pm to10:00pm daily. He said that gas to commercial consumers had already been cut for over a week now. SNGPL is at present using four major gas pipelines to supply gas across NWFP. “Due to the lack of gas pressure in these pipelines, the company has no alternative but to start load-shedding for domestic consumers,” Rashid Lone said. Sources said the Sui gas plant was unlikely to open soon.

Coercive tactics will not work, says Mengal

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of two Baloch nationalist parties on Friday said any military action in Sui would aggravate the problem.

President General Pervez Musharraf should not use force because his coercive tactics will not work in Balochistan, said Adbul Rauf Mengal, Balochistan National Party-Mengal parliamentary leader, while addressing a press conference on Friday.

Mengal said the government could not stop people from demanding their fundamental rights by threatening them with bullets. The Baloch have been deprived of their own natural resources and anyone protesting the issue was labelled an anti-state element, he added. “Why have the people of Sui not been provided with the gas, which benefits most of the country,” he asked.

He said that he had submitted an adjournment motion to call a National Assembly session to discuss the Balochistan situation. “Political disputes should be tackled politically and through dialogue. But dialogue should not be held at gunpoint,” he added.

He accused intelligence agencies of being involved in terrorist activities in Khuzdar, Noshki and Qillat districts to justify government’s actions in Balochistan.

No operation in Balochistan, says Rashid

KARACHI: The government does not intend to start a military operation in Balochistan nor is any operation underway in the province, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Friday.

He told reporters at the launch of the Press Freedom Monitoring Desk by the Council for Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) that the presence of security personnel to protect sensitive national installations could not be called “an operation”. The government wanted peace in the province and wanted to resolve problems by negotiation, he said, adding that the parliamentary committee on Balochistan was doing its job well.

He also said the situation in Wana was calm and local tribesmen were cooperation with the authorities. He said President Gen Pervez Musharraf wanted to tell the nation about the facts regarding Kalabagh Dam. He was optimistic over the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, saying the matter would also be settled.

He said the next four months were important, as elections were to be held in Iraq, a verdict was to be reached on Benazir Bhutto’s Swiss case, local bodies elections were to be held in Pakistan and President Musharraf was to start campaigning for the construction of Kalabagh Dam. app


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