Monday, February 07, 2005

BLA threatens to blow up Dhodak oil field

BLA threatens to blow up Dhodak oil field

By our correspondent

DG KHAN: Claiming the responsibility of Saturday’s bomb blast across the natural gas pipe line, the Baloch Liberation Army has threatened to blow up Dhodak oil field, plant and Sanghar Bridge connecting Peshawar with Karachi over Indus Highway.

Though Taunsa Sharif police have registered a case yet the gas supply to Taunsa could not be restored. The officials said that DG Khan, Kot Addu and other cities were being provided gas through alternate route of Sui.

Through a phone call to a local newsman, the caller claimed to be a member of the BLA and also claimed the responsibility of Saturday’s blast. He also threatened to blow up Sanghar bridge over Indus Highway and Dhodak plant as well as Dhodak field if the non locals did not leave the plant and what he said the military operation was not cancelled in Balochistan.

Meanwhile, repair and the restoration work was in progress till Sunday evening. The commander of bomb disposal squad Mohammad Asghar disclosed that it was the smoke bomb planted at pipeline and there would have been much more losses had it caught fire.

Manager Dhodak plant told the News by telephone that after receiving information about the blast, they immediately suspended the supply and the load on the plant for processing was reduced. The technical team of the transmission wing SNGPL Multan region reached the blast site after five hours and started the repair work. In-charge emergency wing SNGPL Taunsa Sharif Murtaza Khan told that the repair work was in progress.

Armed struggle only way out: Marri

ISLAMABAD: Baloch nationalists have rejected the government’s talks’ offer and have resolved to achieve their rights at all costs, Nawab Khair Bux Marri, Baloch nationalist leader, told BBC on Sunday.

He said the Baloch leaders had linked the dialogue process to the withdrawal of troops from the province. He described the armed struggle as the only means to achieve the rights of the people of Balochistan. The Baloch leader said the talks would not yield any results because the government was not sincere in its offer and wanted to gain time.

Baloch nationalists Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal have already made clear that that they would not hold talks with the government unless the government pulled out troops from Sui.

Balochistan is in the throes of an intensifying rebellion by tribesmen demanding a bigger share of the region’s natural resources. On Saturday, bomb blasts caused major damage to a train track and a gas pipe. The main railway line between Quetta and the Iranian city of Zahidan was severed for the second time in a week. The Balochistan Liberation Army has said it carried out a number of the previous attacks, including rocket strikes on the Sui gas field. sana/afp

Fewer cantts in Balochistan proposed

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee has recommended that the government cut the number of military garrisons in Balochistan to ease the tension in the province.

A draft of the committee’s report, finalised by six senators, has 31 recommendations for the government and will be sent to the prime minister for approval.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, a member of the drafting committee, presented the report to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League, on Sunday.

The committee wants 10,000 new posts in the Frontier Constabulary exclusively for locals and eligibility rules for Baloch applicants to the FC and Coast Guards to be eased. It also recommends an increase in the 3.5 percent Balochistan job quota in ministries and divisions. The committee suggested the government set up a Gwadar Port Authority and speed up work on ongoing development projects.

The report suggests Islamabad sign a formal agreement with Baloch tribal chiefs whereby it would implement the committee’s recommendations if tribal chiefs guarantee they will protect infrastructure and installations in their areas. More of the committee’s recommendations were that areas containing natural gas fields should be given free power and gas and oil and gas companies spend 15 to 20 percent of their income on local development.

The committee suggested special aid to drought-hit areas and that the roads of the NA-15 and NA-17 constituencies be revamped. It called for alternative housing arrangements for fishermen. The committee proposed an additional grant for Balochistan until the new National Finance Commission Award is decided, and the abolition of the concurrent list of provincial and federal subjects. Though there have been no direct talks between the government and Baloch tribal chiefs, back channels are being employed to arrive at an amicable settlement, sources added. online/nni

5 men detained over Sui rape

SUI GAS FIELD: The Naseerabad Police detained a Hawaldar of the Defence Security Guards (DSG) and five personnel of the Pakistan Petroleum Ltd (PPL) at Sui on Sunday for the rape of a lady doctor.

Those who have been detained are Mohammed Rafiq, Hawaldar of the DSG, Mohammed Khushhal, Umar Farooq, Usman Ali, Asif and Malik Khan. Sources said the detained men had been taken to an undisclosed location and nobody was being allowed to meet them. The police is questioning the previously arrested PPL officials; Manager Sui Gas Field Pervez Jamula, Dr Usman, Dr Mohammed Ali and Afzal Khan, at Saddar Police Station in Dera Murad Jamali. staff report

Centre to ensure law and order in Balochistan, says PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has assured Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani that the central government will help the provincial government in any way it can to maintain law and order. Aziz said no one would be allowed to damage vital national installations, according to an official statement. “The government will consider implementation of the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan when received,” he said. Ghani briefed Aziz on the law and order situation in Balochistan. They also reviewed progress on development projects, particularly the Sabakzai and Mirani dams and Gwadar Port. Later, speaking to PTV, Ghani said talks with various groups in Balochistan would continue to help resolve troubles peacefully. app

Federal govt proposes increase in purchase price of Sui gas

By Shahzad Raza

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has drawn up a formula to benefit Balochistan by purchasing gas from Sui at an inflated price.

A government official told Daily Times on Thursday that the formula was devised by an expert in oil and gas, Senator Dilawar Abbas, who is also a close aide to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the president of Pakistan Muslim League.

The official said that under the proposed formula, gas from Sui would be bought at Rs 70 per Million British Thermal Unit (mmbtu) instead of Rs 47. He said the contract to purchase gas would expire in 2007 but the formula suggested revising it as soon as possible. The formula binds the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and other oil and gas exploring companies to spend money from their profits on developing gas-producing areas, the official said.

He said the formula was likely to be announced soon and would serve as a confidence-building measure in the wake of talks between the federal government and Baloch nationalists.

A few months ago Senator Sanaullah Baloch, a Baloch nationalist leader, said the government was buying gas from Sui at Rs 27 mmbtu only, while Punjab was selling it at a rate of Rs 198 per mmbtu and Sindh from Rs 120 to Rs 190 per mmbtu.

He had demanded that the federal government buy gas at a uniform rate throughout the country.

He claimed that the federal government owed Rs 600 billion to Balochistan under the heads of gas royalty, the gas development surcharge and gas subsidies given to fertiliser and other industries

Tehran not meddling in Balochistan, says diplomat

* Says Tehran not against Gwadar
* Iran’s nuclear programme indigenous

By Zakir Hassnain

PESHAWAR: The consul general of Iran in Peshawar has denied that Tehran is meddling in Balochistan or is unhappy at the building of Gwadar Port.

“If there is peace in Pakistani Balochistan, there will be peace in Iranian Balochistan,” Muhammad Hassan Emani said. “And as for Gwadar Port, we are not against it. Our government is prepared to assist Pakistan and will soon provide electricity to the port.”

He rejected reports that Pakistan was helping the US find weapons sites in Iran for possible air strikes. “We have no threat from Pakistan or its people. Iran has good relations with the government of Pakistan and its people,” he said.

Emani said Iran had acquired atomic technology but not atomic weapons. “The acquisition of atomic weapons in our fiqh is un-Islamic as it is against humanity. We will never manufacture or acquire them,” he said.

Emani said Iran’s atomic technology was indigenous and neither Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan nor any Pakistani organisation had anything to do with it. He denied Iran sent mercenaries or its citizens to Iraq for terrorist activities.

Pakistani-Americans outraged by Dr Shazia Khalid’s rape

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: A group of Pakistani-Americans has urged the Pakistani government to arrest the men alleged to have violated Dr Shazia Khalid’s honour and to undertake a speedy, full and impartial inquiry into “this outrage”.

Ms Nuzhat Iqbal of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women (ANAA) and Syed Asif Alm of the Association of Pakistani Professionals (AOPP) have called the rape of Dr Khalid a crime that has struck at the heart of humanity.

ANAA, a network of Pakistani Americans committed to defending the rights of women against cultural and social abuse in Pakistan, has started a letter campaign through which it is urging community members to communicate with the Pakistani government to provide justice to Dr Shazia Khalid.

Ms Iqbal said in a letter sent to Ambassador Jehangir Karamat of Pakistan, “We are outraged at the recent rape of a physician at the PPL-run Sui Gas Complex in Balochistan. A month has passed since this heinous act and not a single suspect has been taken into custody. Instead, there have been pathetic and feeble attempts at a cover-up by both PPL and the government.”

Dr Amna Buttar, who is heading a taskforce set up by the American-Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) to take up the cause of Dr Khalid, has said, “To add insult to injury, the physician has been labeled a ‘kari’ by an illegal jirga in Sindh. As expected, not a single government official has condemned this newest affront. Sadly, this apathy is indicative of the lack of regard the Government of Pakistan has for its citizens and their welfare.”

The Association of Pakistani Professionals said, “The Sui incident has left us vulnerable in many ways; first is the human rights issue which should be addressed by the government immediately to make sure that such an incident does not take place in future and that justice is done at the earliest. The second issue is that the extremist elements within the area took advantage of the situation and successfully attacked the Sui Purification Plant, resulting in load-shedding of gas around the country. This should not have been allowed to happen in the first place and it is hoped that the government will ensure that its writ runs in areas like Sui.”

Last week, ANAA arranged a teleconference which was attended by concerned Pakistani Americans along with representatives of various Pakistani organisations in the United States. Dr Sher Shah, general secretary of the Pakistan Medical Association, Karachi also dialled in and provided first hand information about Dr Shazia Khalid.

ANAA is spearheading a campaign in which Pakistani Americans are being asked to sign a letter on that will be sent to Ambassador Karamat.

Nationalists rally against ‘undeclared operation’

Staff Report

KARACHI: Sindhi, Baloch and Saraiki nationalist parties and groups protested here on Sunday, demanding that the government halt the “undeclared army operation” in Balochistan.

Some 200 workers attended a rally outside the Karachi Press Club, shouting slogans and brandishing banners denouncing the government of President Pervez Musharraf. They also accused security personnel of committing human rights violations in Balochistan.

Speaking at the rally, Saleem Baloch, the vice president of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), claimed the government had launched an army operation against the people of Balochistan. Dera Bugti was under “army siege”. He accused the government of stirring up trouble in the province so it could tighten control over Balochistan’s natural resources.

Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, the president of the Baloch National Movement, claimed that law enforcement agencies had arrested over 350 political workers in the province.

Military operation in Balochistan to harm national solidarity

HASILPUR: The use of force in Balochistan will harm national solidarity, said Tehmina Daultana¸ Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) vice president. The military action is useless because only political negotiations with nationalist leaders can resolve the Balochistan crises, said Ms Daultana at Pakistan Muslim League House Vehari. She condemned the woman doctor’s rape in Balochistan and urged that the government should bring the culprits to book at the earliest. The ARD and the MMA have agreed on some issues and they will take a final decision in this regard soon, she added. She said the Baglihar Dam issue is the planned conspiracy of the US and India to turn the Punjab into barren land. Online

Six die in Quetta road crash

By our correspondent

QUETTA: Six people were killed, when a yellow cab collided head-on with a Karachi-bound coach near Killi Simli on the Quetta-Chaman Road in the limits of Kuchlak police station, 25 km off here on Sunday, police said. All the fatalities were people riding in the taxi, and none of the bus passengers was injured, police official Ali Nawaz said. The police have impounded both the vehicles and started investigations. The taxi was on its way to Chaman from Quetta, while the coach was coming from Pishin. Four of the taxi passengers, including driver, died on the spot, while the others died on their way to hospital. Those killed included Rehmatullah, Abdul Razzaq, Faiz Muhammad, Said Muhammad and Agha Jan. Two passers-by Shah Muhammad and Asmatullah were among the wounded. They were removed to a hospital for treatment.

Centre to assist Balochistan in maintaining law and order: PM

Ghani says dialogue process with Baloch leaders to be expedited

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said Balochistan will be provided all assistance to maintain law and order in the province.

Talking to Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani, who met him here on Sunday, the prime minister said no one would be allowed to damage vital national installations, said an official statement.

"The government would seriously consider implementation of report of Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan when received," he said.

Owais Ahmad Ghani briefed the prime minister on the law and order situation in Balochistan. The progress on development projects, Sabakzai and Mirani dams and Gwadar port was also reviewed.

The governor requested for accelerating the construction work of Quetta-Zhob-DI Khan Road.

"Shaukat Aziz assured that more resources would be provided for early completion of this vital road," the statement added.

Meanwhile, talking to the PTV, Ghani said dialogue with different groups would continue to resolve the issues in the province.

"The ongoing dialogue process is going to be expedited," he added. Ghani said the progress of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan was also discussed, which was looking after all the issues concerning the province.

"The prime minister assured that the dialogue process would be accelerated and all the political issues would be settled politically," the governor said. "However, there is determination that the valuable assets of the country will be protected at all cost," he added.

Balochistan mayhem unsettling govt

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan province is gripped by the worst terrorism, unsettling the federal and provincial governments, which are in a fix to match security measures with extraordinary mayhem.

"We have no doubt that terrorists and saboteurs are at work in Balochistan," a federal official told The News, and expressed his deep shock and dismay over the state of affairs in the province. Blowing up of power towers, rail tracks and telephone installations is frequently happening in Balochistan with security agencies remaining clueless about the perpetrators.

Since the construction work on Gwadar deep seaport started and talk of constructing three cantonments in Balochistan and laying of the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline gained momentum at different levels, terrorism and sabotage has increased manifold in province. This is also apparently meant to give a telling though unfortunate message to foreigners that Balochistan is not safe for such gigantic projects. Indeed, this is very devastating reaction to the construction of three proposed garrisons.

The official said to expect that the government would budge from its plans relating to new cantonments and other projects would be foolish. "It will remain undeterred," he added.

However, the government has failed politically and administratively to bring peace to the Balochistan province. Its efforts at various levels have not so far borne fruit. Its talks with influential Baloch leaders have taken the situation nowhere. The Balochistan government is totally helpless in the situation. Recently, a majority of members of the provincial cabinet was unwilling to give a call for summoning troops to Sui after the purification plant was hit three weeks back. The Balochistan cabinet finally issued the call after the intervention of some powerful federal officials.

The sabotage acts show that the saboteurs are having a field day and the security forces are incapacitated to deal with the alarming situation. Although the Centre is absolutely reluctant to impose the governor’s rule in Balochistan, yet the situation is heading fast towards that eventuality.


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