Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bugti says BLA, BLF getting popular support

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, Feb 8: Veteran Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti has said that the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) exist in Balochistan and were popular among the Baloch people who consider that these organizations are fighting for the legitimate rights of the Baloch nation.

Speaking to newsmen in his native Dera Bugti town on Tuesday, he said that activities of these organizations might have been limited in the past but now the Baloch people were reposing confidence in them and supporting their activists.

"The people of Jam Yousuf's Jamoot tribe might also be there in these organizations," Nawab Bugti said, adding that people of all Baloch tribes had started joining the BLA and the BLF.

He said that Sardar Jamal Khan Leghari, son of Sardar Farooq Khan Leghari, had also accepted the fact that the Baloch of his area had started joining these organizations.

Referring to the lady doctor assault case, the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief said that the man involved in the case was brother of a District Coordination Officer of Punjab and was on good terms with a senior military officer.

These were the reasons, he said, for which he had not been arrested. The threat to launch a military operation against tribes in Sui and Dera Bugti, he added, were aimed at forcing them to change their stand on the issue.

Nawab Bugti said that the lady doctor could not be termed "kari" under any law because force had been used to assault her. The tribes, he added, considered her innocent. However, he said the person involved in the criminal assault was a 'Siahkar' and should get double punishment because he committed a heinous crime while his duty was to protect the people. Besides, he broke the law.

Nawab Bugti said that since the days of Ayub Khan the army had been ruling the country and no government in the country could be called a good government.

Replying to a question, the veteran leader said that the employment in the PPL Sui plant should have been 100 per cent local but it could reach only 51 per cent in the past 52 years, while in the officers' category it was even less.

He said that keeping in view the situation in Sui one could imagine what would happen to the local people in Gwadar.

Rail service restored in Balochistan

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, Feb 8: The train service between Quetta and the rest of the country was restored after eight hours' disruption on Tuesday morning after the damaged portion of the main track near Damboli was repaired by Pakistan Railways engineers.

However, a fresh rocket attack on Tuesday morning destroyed the microwave communication installations in the Glangoor area of Chagai district, disrupting the communication system in a vast area of three districts.

"Around 7,000 telephones went out of order in three districts of Balochistan," said a spokesman for the PTCL, Quetta.

He told this correspondent that unknown people had fired three rockets at the microwave installations in the early hours. One rocket landed in the microwave station building. It did not explode, but caused damaged to the communication system.

The bomb disposal squad despatched from Quetta later defused the rocket. Meanwhile, railway traffic was once again suspended for at least three hours in the afternoon on Tuesday and all passenger trains coming from Quetta were stopped at the Sibi station after receiving information about more explosions in the same area.

However, the Pakistan Railways staff concerned and law enforcement agencies checked the railway track from Sibi to Bakhtairabad and later allowed the detained trains to continue their journey.

Balochistan logjam

There is no sign yet of a political breakthrough in Balochistan. We have heard from everyone - from the president and prime minister to the parliamentarians involved in negotiations - that their aim was a political solution. But nothing has materialized yet to make one believe that things are proceeding in the right direction. On the one hand, all sides go so far as to suggest amendments to the Constitution; on the other - in stark contrast - what we find is a logjam that persists. Precisely what the two parliamentary committees have achieved is not clear.

If they are sorting the issue out quietly and the negotiations are at a delicate stage, then perhaps we should wait. But the ground reality is that there is a lot of tough talk, while terrorist activity goes on. On Monday, a railway track was again blown up, this time the main line. So was a microwave repeater station.

Last week, electric installations were bombed in Sibi. By any standards, these are grave provocations and do not at all serve to generate sympathy for those fighting for Balochistan's grievances. Gas is used by millions of people throughout the country, and the railway lines and the power grids serve all citizens, including those of Balochistan. Destroying them only retards the province's progress.

The government has repeatedly pledged to safeguard vital installations. This duty and the resolve to do so need not be flaunted. Understandably, any government caught in such a situation has to exercise restraint. As examples from history show, over-reaction hurts even the innocent and helps recruit more people to the saboteurs' cause - whosoever they are.

The government must, therefore, exercise restraint while doing its duty. Some Baloch nationalists hold "the agencies" responsible for these acts of terrorism. Given the agencies' track record, one can understand if this charge finds acceptance in some quarters. But sabotage on such a scale cannot go unpunished for reasons of political expediency.

The government must order a comprehensive inquiry, unmask the faces behind this criminal activity, and bring the terrorists to justice. Some elements are also carrying out sabotage activity in two Punjab districts bordering Balochistan. Their aim is to incorporate these districts into Balochistan. This is absurd. Under no circumstances can anyone be allowed to redraw provincial boundaries by force.

Coming back to the political question again, basically, all this trouble stems from a lack of justice to the people of Balochistan, the country's biggest province territorially. The search for a formula that should satisfy the just demands of the Baloch must continue unceasingly. Leaders and parties from outside Balochistan have supported Baloch leaders on their stand and expressed solidarity with them. This should not only help lower tensions but find mediators acceptable to the two sides.

Mega development projects must be set up in Balochistan. They are not going to transform the lives of ordinary Baloch overnight, but will help generate employment, bring more land under cultivation, and open inaccessible areas of the Makran coast to traffic and tourism.

The Gwadar port, of course, has the potential to turn into a major source of trade for Pakistan and Central Asia. But all this development activity must primarily benefit the local people. Baloch leaders must be listened to. The two mainstream parties, the PPP and the PML-N, besides the MMA, must play a helpful role in defusing the situation and finding a political solution.

The Balochistan situation

A question to be asked concerning the Balochistan situation is: why in general is the common Baloch aligned with the Bugti, Mengal and the Marri chiefs rather than with the federal government? Is he getting more from them than the government? And if so, what can the government do to promote the layman's allegiance to it rather than to the tribal lords?

The Balochistan 'package' and other initiatives which must follow are a step in the right direction.


Indianapolis, IN., USA


This refers to Mr S.M. Kazmi Naqvi's letter (Jan 30) on the Balochistan issue. It is essential that the full might of the state should be utilized for safeguarding our national assets and installations in the province.

I advocate the use of a stick and the carrot policy in dealing with the tribesmen in the NWFP as well as Balochistan and the tribalistic pockets in Sindh. This was the policy the British rulers used for administering and pacifying recalcitrant tribesmen in the difficult terrain of the NWFP and Balochistan.

Our young military commanders whose privilege it is to decide Pakistan's fate should carefully read accounts of British military campaigns available in the achieves of the Army's Command and Staff College in Quetta and similar army records in the old British India Office Library in London to learn a few lessons from British expertise in empire-building and ruling that empire from a locus of power thousands of miles away.

The accounts of how comparatively small British army contingents wiped out thousands of dreaded Pindaris from Central India (1806-1815) and the accursed thugs may furnish a lesson or two to our young army officers deployed in difficult terrain. Establishing firmly the rule of law in the tribal areas is the first and foremost duty of any government claiming to be in command of the North West region.




The current situation in Balochistan proves that our police have failed to catch the culprits who have been attacking gas and power supply installations in the province, thus making the common people suffer great hardship. Will someone come to the rescue of the people?




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