Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Constitution to be amended: Shujaat

Constitution to be amended: Shujaat

President approves parliamentary body’s recommendations

By our correspondent

KARACHI. President of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has said that President Pervez Musharraf has approved in principle the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan issue.

Addressing a hurriedly called press conference here on Monday, Shujaat said certains amendments would be brought about in the Constitution for the implementation of these recommendations. He said it was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that amendments would be made to the Constitution on the recommendations of a parliamentary committee.

"Any attempt to sabotage the reconciliation process in Balochistan would be foiled," the PML chief said, adding that the people would be given much more than their expectations, which would benefit not only Balochistan but also the other provinces.

Shujaat said a comprehensive package would be announced for Balochistan to do away with the sense of deprivation among its people. "Amendments would be made to the Constitution for the package," he added. The package would cover all problems, including the issue of gas royalty.

The PML chief, who came to Karachi on Monday, met former caretaker prime minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and former speaker National Assembly Illahi Bux Soomro to seek their help for defusing tension in Balochistan.

Chaudhry Shujaat, who held talks with Baloch leaders, including Jaffar Mandokhel, Tariq Magsi and Haji Abdus Sattar, who are considered close associated of JWP chief Nawab Muhammad Akber Khan Bugti, said he would apprise Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of the outcome of his meetings on Tuesday.

The PML chief dispelled the impression that the Parliamentary Committee, which has representation of almost all political parties, was powerless and said certain elements were spreading such rumours with a view to aggravating the situation. Shujaat said he was trying to ensure the involvement of Baloch leaders otherwise the president could make an announcement on the implementation of the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendations.

Shujaat said he came to Karachi to offer condolence to Illahi Bux Soomro and Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi. He added that his visit was also aimed at seeking help from the veteran politicians in bringing the JWP chief to the negotiation table. "I told Jatoi and Soomro to inform the Baloch leaders that the Parliamentary Committee is powerful," he added.

Shujaat termed the gang rape of a lady doctor at Sui "a bad incident". He said case had been registered against some PPL employees for covering up the incident. "Culprits involved in the incident would be awarded exemplary punishment," he assured. The PML chief admitted that a stalemate occurred following the statement of ISPR chief Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan and Nawab Akber Bugti’s reaction to it.

Bugti agrees to hold talks with govt

By Tahir Hasan Khan

KARACHI: Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Monday established a formal contact to defuse tension in Sui and Dera Bugti areas of Balochistan, sources said.

The sources told The News that PML chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and former speaker National Assembly Illahi Bux Soomro played an important role in establishing formal contact between the government and the Baloch leader.

Chaudhry Shujaat arrived in the metropolis to seek help from Soomro, a close friend of Bugti, in bringing the Baloch nationalist leader to the negotiation table in the larger national interest. This was the second visit of Shujaat to Karachi, who earlier visited the city to hold talks with Sherbaz Mazari, a close relative of Bugti, and nationalist leader Sardar Ataullah Mengal.

Officials claimed that the purpose of Shujaat’s visit was to offer condolence to Soomro on the death of his uncle Rahim Bux Soomro. But insiders said the visit was aimed at persuading Soomro to play his important role in breaking the stalemate.

The sources said Soomro first contacted Bugti by telephone and conveyed the government’s message. Later, he conveyed the outcome of his telephonic conversation with Bugti to the PML chief in a one-on-one meeting held at the residence of Maqbool Shaikh.

The sources said Shujaat later conveyed the message of Bugti to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz by telephone from Karachi. Both Shujaat and Soomro refused to disclose the outcome of the telephonic conversation with Bugti, but claimed that the efforts were going in the "right direction" and the problem would be resolved with mutual understanding.


JUI-F opposes military operation in Balochistan

By our correspondent

QUETTA: Provincial Amir JUI-F MNA Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani has categorically said that they would oppose the military operation like that of 1974 if it repeated in Balochistan.

"We had opposed the 1974 military in Balochistan and we will always oppose such operation," said Sherani, while addressing a news conference here on Monday. However, it is prime responsibility of the government to ensure protection of the national installations in the province, he added.

"There is no doubt that the people of Balochistan have been facing the injustices of Islamabad during last 57 years," he regretted. He said that President Gen Pervez Musharraf had also admitted this while presiding the provincial cabinet meeting here last year. The formation of the federal parliamentary committee on the Balochistan issues also proved that the province had been neglected in the past, he added.

Regarding Sui, the JUI-F leader said that the government should establish model villages in Sui area. The government should also ensure provision of all basic amenities of life to the people there, he added.

The government should issue licences of light-bore arms that the residents of the area keep with themselves for their protection, while recovering the heavy-bore weapons, including rocket launchers, by paying amount to them, he said.

About the Balochistan issue, he said that the federal government should compensate the grievances that were met out to the people of Balochistan. This would help a lot in restoring peace, he observed. He, however, appreciated the federal government about the formation of the federal parliamentary committee on the Balochistan issue and said that this would help a lot in ascertaining the problems of the province.


No plan to launch military operation in Balochistan: Sherpao

Says political process to continue; troops deployment
in Sui to protect gas installations

By Muhammad Ejaz Khan

QUETTA: Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao on Monday dispelled the impression that the government had any plan to launch military operation in Balochistan, saying that the security forces had been deployed in Sui for the protection of the sensitive installations.

"No military operation will be launched in Balochistan", he reiterated. The security forces will remain in Sui for the protection of gas installations and the installations’ protection would be ensured at all cost, said the federal minister, flanked by Balochistan Home Minister Mir Shoaib Nausherwani, at a news conference at Quetta. "The political process shall continue," he added. The federal government would ensure protection of the sensitive installations in Balochistan at all cost and is ready to provide all possible help to the provincial government whatever it requires, he assured. However, he made it clear that the government would not allow anybody to take the law into hands.

He said there are political governments in Islamabad and Balochistan and they are endeavouring to maintain law and order and all issues must be resolved by holding dialogue. He added that the federal parliamentary committee was holding dialogues to resolve the Balochistan issue. As far as the national installations are concerned, they would be protected at all cost, he maintained.

Since the security forces had been deployed in Sui Tehsil of Dera Bugti district, no rocket firing incident was reported, he said and added: "It seemed that those involved in the terrorist activities have changed their tactics because railway tracks and power supply towers are being targeted now."

He said that those elements, who were opposing the developmental process in Balochistan were involved in the activities and they do not want developmental in the province. He claimed that the federal government had introduced development projects in Balochistan in order to put the province on the track of development. He said that majority of the people in the province were welcoming the development project, while few people were opposing and sabotaging them.

Giving details about the bomb blasts and rocket firing incidents during last four years, the interior minister said that over 117 bombs had been exploded in Quetta, 21 in Sui, 11 in Kohlu and 17 in Gwadar, while a total of 1,529 rockets had been fired in these areas.

He warned that the government would not tolerate the terrorist activities and the law-enforcement agencies should be reactivated so as to provide security to the life of citizens and to protect the national installations.

Regarding the Sui incident from January 7 to 11, he said that the losses of the PPL were Rs434 million. Consequently, the Balochistan government had to face a loss of Rs150 million on account of gas royalty.

Replying to a question about Dr Shazia case, the minister said that a complete investigation of was in progress and the culprits involved in it would be awarded punishment as per the law. Earlier the interior minister, while speaking at a high level meeting in Quetta assured, that the federal government would keep on extending every possible cooperation to the Balochistan government for safety of the national assets and installations and improving the law and order situation in the province.

He also assured that a Crisis Control Management Cell would soon be established in the province and the police department would be equipped with modern equipment and other necessary facilities in order to make the intelligence network more effective and efficient.

The meeting reviewed law and order situation in Balochistan with particular reference to Sui. Governor Balochistan Owais Ahmed Ghani, Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousuf and Home Minister Mir Shoaib Nausherwani also attended the meeting.

Earlier, the meeting expressed its satisfaction over the security measures adopted by the federal and provincial agencies for the safety of the national installations and protection of the life and property of the masses in the province.

The meeting also observed that all the political parties of the province should respond to the government’s reconciliatory efforts positively not considering its weakness. The meeting regretted that certain national and regional political parties wanted to exploit the Sui situation without realising its sensitivity that was termed against the national interests.

The safety measures adopted for the power transmission line, Quetta-Sibi railway line and the bridges and tunnels were also reviewed in Sibi, Bolan and Naseerabad districts. Chief Secretary Balochistan Major (rtd) Muhammad Naeem Khan, Federal Secretary Railways, Shakeel Durrani, Inspector General FC Balochistan, Provincial Police Officer, head of the National Crisis Control Management Cell, Home Secretary, Director-General Levies Force and other concerned officials were also present on the occasion.


Rail track blown up near DG Khan

By our correspondent

DERA GHAZI KHAN: A railway track near the Basti Darvesh Lashari Raiwaly Station, 25km north from here, was completely damaged when a powerful bomb exploded on Monday. The rail traffic was suspended while the high-ups of Pakistan Railway and police reached the spot immediately, including Pakistan Railway divisional superintendent, SP vigilance and engineers. The bomb created a 15-foot crater. However, no casualties were reported. A railway engine carrying oil had crossed the section some 20 minutes before the explosion.


Rulers taking Balochistan situation lightly: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: Prominent leader of Pakistan People’s Party and Benazir Bhutto’s spouse Asif Ali Zardari said on Monday the situation in Balochistan was very grave but the rulers were taking it lightly.

Asif Zardari said this while participating in a discussion on Balochistan situation on the VOA. He said only an elected government can tackle such situation, but there is every possibility that some other forces may take advantage of the prevailing conditions.

"Why are the Army activities going on in Balochistan if the rulers do not believe in Army action?" Zardari asked and wondered as to how it was possible that no one knew the source of the rockets and missiles. "I think the rockets and weapons were present in the province for the last 40 years. The weapons are found and used where insecurity prevails and the law and order situation is not under control in Balochistan."

Zardari said: "We have to resolve the existing problem and we should resolve it politically without delay, as there is no other solution to the issue. The notion that the problem could be resolved through aggression would only intensify the fire. The situation is tense in Balochistan and the enemy will make benefit, as there are several forces, which do not want to see Pakistan existing."

The PPP leader continued, "It is my humble request to friends in Islamabad to care for the future of Balochistan. The Balochs are angry at this time. Let us help them to go to their home. They should be given the share they are demanding."

Taking part in the discussion Balochi leader Sanaullah Baloch agreed with Asif Zardari that the government was taking the Balochistan issue lightly and had mixed up several issues in this respect. Sanaullah Baloch pointed out to the discriminatory treatment with Balochistan. He said, "The price of our gas is fixed at Rs 47 per thousand cubic feet while the rate of gas in Punjab is Rs 223 per thousand cubic feet." He said, "No Sardars are receiving royalty. Nawab Akbar Bugti and his tribe get the rent for the big area of their land they have given to the PPL, which pays Rs 10 million to them annually."

Baloch said, "We have given natural gas to Pakistan. The country carried out all the nuclear tests in Balochistan. There are presently 49 cantonments, including Naval bases and mini cantonments of the FC established in our province, while the total number of cantonments in other parts of the country is 43." The Baloch leader said, "We have been demanding that we had the right to use the natural resources of our province."


Shujaat tells Musharraf to be soft on Balochistan

PML chief delays visit to Dera Bugti

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: Ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has given a new proposals to President Gen Pervez Musharraf during a telephonic conversation with him to ease the Balochistan situation.

One of the proposals relates to avoidance of inflammatory statements that can further generate confrontation between the government and some angry Baloch leaders, an official told The News.

According to the original programme, Chaudhry Shujaat and PML Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain Sayed were scheduled to go to Dera Bugti to meet Jamhoori Watan Party Nawab Akbar Bugti from Karachi on Monday in order to discuss the Sui situation and the overall Balochistan scenario.

However, they have to put off their visit in view of the heightened confrontation, the official said. There are indications that Chaudhry Shujaat and Mushahid would now meet Bugti some time next week.

Despite the postponement of their meeting with Bugti, the federal government continues to maintain contacts with the Baloch leader.

The official said that Chaudhry Shujaat also discussed with the president the recommendations of the parliamentary subcommittee on Balochistan headed by the PML secretary-general, who has finalised them but is ready to incorporate any new proposals emerging from Bugti or other Baloch leaders to make them all embracing.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to allow a full-scale debate in the Senate and the National Assembly on the Balochistan situation. The Senate starts its new session on February 2 to continue till February 16.

The National Assembly meets on February 21. On the first day of the Senate session, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao will make a statement to pave the way for the debate.

The government expects fiery reaction from the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and other opposition parties senators on the Balochistan situation in the Upper House.



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