Sunday, February 06, 2005

Govt planning operation: Bugti

Govt planning operation: Bugti

Aziz, Owais to discuss crisis

By Ismail Khan

PESHAWAR, Feb 5: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani are meeting in Islamabad on Monday to discuss the situation in the province and help expedite constitutional reforms aimed at greater provincial autonomy.

Mr Ghani, who was in Peshawar for the weekend, told Dawn that he would seek the prime minister's help to speed up the introduction of constitutional package that would increase the quantum of provincial autonomy to redress the sense of deprivation among smaller provinces.

He declined to go into the specifics of the proposed reforms but said there were indications that the parliamentary committee that had been entrusted with the job would recommend the scrapping of the concurrent list in the Constitution.

"The committee is looking at the whole issue of the provincial autonomy with a broad spectrum. There are indications that the concurrent list might be abolished. They may also be looking into the National Finance Commission.

There will be horizontal as well as vertical review and I hope that the package the committee will come up with will be more than people may expect," he said.

The governor felt confident that the committee would submit its report in the next two to three weeks and the government would be able to muster the required two-thirds majority in parliament to push through the constitutional amendments.

"I am confident we will be able to achieve the support of the opposition parties as well. The parliamentary committee is fairly broad-based and all-encompassing to represent the views of all the political parties. What we need is a consensus document and I am sure the committee will be able to achieve that."

He said that one of the objectives of his meeting with the prime minister would be to help expedite the introduction of reforms. "Let's tell the people what we have to offer and put it on the table," he remarked.

Mr Ghani said that President Pervez Musharraf fully supported the idea of granting maximum autonomy to the federating units.

He did not agree with the view that the alleged gang-rape of a leady doctor in Sui had actually triggered the attacks on gas installations and said there had been reports of possible attacks for quite some time.

The governor said security forces had interdicted a massive amount of arms and ammunition from Afghanistan into Balochistan. "The nature of the arms and ammunition was such that they could not have been used in any intra-tribal warfare. It meant that those seeking those kinds of weapons were aiming to launch a bigger attack," he said.

He declined to name any foreign country for the situation in Balochistan but said that the amount of money spent on those weapons in the past 10 months or so and the logistic support given to certain elements came to roughly about half a billion rupees.

He said that while the government was alive to its security requirements, it had no plans of launching any military operation in Balochistan.

"Absolutely not. The government has had no plan of launching any military operation. There is one battalion of our forces there to protect installations. But let me be very clear also, any attack again will be met with an overwhelming response. We are not going to take things lightly."

Foreign hand seen in Balochistan trouble

By Ahmed Hassan

ISLAMABAD, Feb 5: The government is likely to announce shortly a comprehensive package for Balochistan in line with the parliamentary committee's recommendations and keeping in view both the political reforms and resource-sharing demands of Baloch leaders, sources told Dawn on Saturday.

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao on Saturday held a meeting with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to brief him about his findings after his visit to Balochistan and proposals to meet the challenge of insurgency there.

The sources said that the interior minister stressed upon accelerating the process of political reconciliation in Balochistan as things were deteriorating with each passing day. The intelligence reports confirmed involvement of Indian agencies in the escalation of hostilities there.

Mr Sherpao said he had held meetings with all the heads of security agencies, including the corps commander of Balochistan and put questions to them as to what was the source of heavy weapons and rockets supply that were fired by miscreants.

The premier was informed about the foreign forces' role in creating distrust and fuelling insurgency, the sources said.

The two discussed various aspects of the package that the government was in process of preparing before a political reconciliation was achieved.

Former prime minister and president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has expressed the confidence that he will be able to resume contacts with the Baloch leaders. He is particularly optimistic about an early meeting with Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Mr Bugti had refused an early meeting with the parliamentary committee on the grounds that it was powerless to offer anything in the bargain.

The prime minister reiterated the government's resolve to tackle the Balochistan crisis in a spirit of understanding, adding that the government was also determined to protect national installations at all costs.

The minister also discussed with the prime minister the security arrangements which the government had taken for the holy month of Moharram.

Mr Aziz directed Mr Sherpao to take all precautionary measures to ensure security of the people as well as sanctity of the holy month. The latter informed the former about steps the ministry of interior was initiating in cooperation with the provincial governments.

The prime minister expressed satisfaction at the adoption of a new visa policy which, he said, will help promote trade and investment in the country.

Gas pipeline, rail track blown up

By Tariq Birmani & Saleem Shahid

DERA GHAZI KHAN/QUETTA, Feb 5: Unidentified saboteurs blew up a gas pipeline in Punjab and a railway track in Balochistan on Saturday.

Gas supply to several cities in southern Punjab and a power generation plant was suspended following an explosion in the main pipeline originating from Dhodak gas and oil fields in Taunsa, 90km from D. G. Khan, on Saturday night.

The blast occurred at 8.30pm at Mangrotha East. It suspended gas supply to Dera Ghazi Khan, Kot Addu, Taunsa Sharif and KAPCO power plant.

The Dhodak plant manager confirmed the blast but said it was not clear whether it was a terrorist activity or an accident. He said that gas supply from the plant had been suspended.

It is the third blast in DG Khan during the last week. In the earlier two blasts, railway track was damaged in Shadan Lund and Kot Chhutta.

DG Khan and Rajanpur districts, it may added, are situated along the troubled Kohlu and Dera Bugti areas of Balochistan.

The Baloch nationalists want the two Suleman range districts of Punjab annexed with their province.

According to our reporter in Quetta, the railway track linking Quetta with Zahidan was blown up near Zangiabad area of the Chaghai district on Saturday night.

Unknown miscreants had planted a bomb at the railway track which exploded at around 8.50pm, official sources said from Nushki.

"Around two and half feet long railway track was blown up by the powerful blast," the sources said. No causality was reported.

The railway authorities said that a Quetta-bound passenger train coming from Zahidan reached Quetta safely at 6.10pm. The train service on the Quetta-Zahidan section remained undisturbed as Pakistan Railway runs a weekly train service on this route.

Sources said that unknown persons used a local-made powerful device for the explosion.

Officials rushed to the scene of blast on being informed and supervised repair work.

This was the second blast on this section during the last 48 hours.

On Thursday, unidentified people had blown up the same track near Wali Khan Village in Mastung district.

Govt planning operation: Bugti

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, Feb 5: Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti said on Saturday that the government was making preparations to launch a military operation in Sui and Dera Bugti.

Talking to journalists in Dera Bugti, he said the rulers were waging propaganda about resolving all the issues through negotiation while paving the way for a military operation in the province.

He alleged that negotiations were being used to keep the people in dark until the operation was launched.

He said the president's threats would be implemented as the rulers were planning to "hit Baloch nationalists" and take control of natural resources and coast of the province.

He expressed scepticism about a constitutional package for the province and said the rulers were amending unimportant clauses of the constitution while sidetracking the issues of fundamental nature.

He said that if the government was sincere then it should accept the JWP's constitutional bill pending in the Senate, which suggested about 50 amendments to the constitution.

He said the government was giving the impression that tribal chiefs had made demands for their personal benefit but autonomy and constitutional amendments were being sought for all the federating units.

In reply to a question, Nawab Bugti said he had termed the 1973 constitution incomplete when it was passed and a majority of Balochistan's had did not vote in its favour.

Implementation of senate body's: Balochistan crisis proposals sought

Bureau Report

PESHAWAR, Feb 5: The NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani said here on Friday that the centre should implement recommendations of the Senate committee to defuse tension in Balochistan.

Talking to reporters after attending the NWFP Assembly session Mr Durrani said that the federal government should hold meaningful negotiations with Baloch leaders, and accept their constitutional demands.

"Lawlessness in any part of the federating unit will be harmful for the integrity and security of Pakistan," he remarked. He maintained that the people of Balochistan should be given all their genuine and constitutional rights.

He said constant denial of rights to the people of NWFP had created unrest and disappointment among the people.

Regarding the construction of Kalabagh Dam, Mr Durrani said that small provinces had serious reservations on the project, while three provincial assemblies had already rejected the construction of the dam.

"We have been requesting the federal government to construct Bhasha Dam instead of insisting on the construction of the most controversial project," he said. Answering to a question, the chief minister expressed ignorance about any details of the bill seeking ban on music and dance in the province saying he had just read the news in the newspapers.

Earlier, the NWFP government dispelled the impression of unjust execution of development schemes in the province and stated that development programmes were launched keeping in view the backwardness of an area.

Responding to the objections raised by various members from the opposition as well as treasury in the NWFP Assembly, the provincial senior minister Sirajul Haq said that the backward areas were always ignored by the successive governments.

The minister will wind up debate on the Annual Development Programme (ADP) and present the district and constituency-wise details of the funds to developmental schemes on Monday.

"We have taken just decisions regarding various areas," he said and reminded that during the previous governments, schools were approved only for the benefits of individuals instead of the welfare of the people of an area.

He claimed: "I will give district and constituency-wise details of the developmental funds on Monday."

The minister said that the MMA government did not want to conceal any thing from the people and MPAs.

The opposition members contested his claims and stated that the development schemes were launched on basis of favouritism. They said that while schemes were launched in some selected districts the rest were completely ignored.

The parliamentary leaders of PPPP and ANP, Abdul Akbar Khan and Bashir Ahmad Bilour, respectively, stated that no practical steps were taken by the government for development of the province.

Attiqur Rehman and Qari Abdullah Bangash complained that Hangu was upgraded to district level some 10 years back but no facilities were provided. The minister assured that all facilities would be provided.

Minister calls for political solution: Balochistan deadlock

By Our Correspondent

HYDERABAD, Feb 5: Sindh Communication and Works Minister Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashidi has called for a political solution to the Balochistan issue and said the provincial leadership must be taken into confidence before any decision.

Talking to journalists at the residence of Chaudhry Saifullah here on Saturday, he said in absence of a strong leadership such incidents do occur.

He said correct decisions should be taken in the larger interest of the country while resolving the issue.

Mr Rashidi said activists of the Pakistan Muslim League were not against the government but their complaints were in fact against the present system which needed to be improved.

He further said in a coalition government such situations were normally witnessed as coalition partners usually had different opinions.

He said lawlessness in Sindh had increased during the Gen Zia-ul-Haq regime and added that unemployment was the main reason for lawlessness.

The minister said his party would contest the local bodies' elections under its own banner but alliance with any party could not be ruled out.

About the Kalabagh dam, he said people should wait for findings of parliament's technical committee on the issue. He, however, said a carryover dam could be built for storage of water because water needs would increase with the passage of time.

Earlier, speaking at a gathering of people, he said some opportunists had managed to grab important posts of the PML although they had not been workers of the party. He observed that his father, Pir Sahab Pagara, was not interested in any post of the party. He said workers would be given due respect in the PML-F.

Chaudhry Saifullah, Nawab Rashid, Saira Naseer and others also spoke on the occasion.

Govt wants showdown: Kachkol

By Our Staff Reporter

KARACHI, Feb 5: Opposition leader in the Balochistan Assembly Kachkol Ali Baloch has described the current situation in Balochistan as 'alarming', claiming that the government had now started arresting political activists.

Talking to journalists at Karachi Press Club on Saturday, he said it had now become obvious that the government was not serious in finding a negotiated settlement of the issue, rather, it was bent upon resolving it by using force.

Expressing his concern over the alleged crackdown on political activists and the house-to-house search in this regard in Quetta, Turbat and other parts of the province on the pretext of 'a hunt for suspects', Mr Baloch said: "It is now clear that the government is heading for a big showdown and creating anarchic conditions in the province."

Gravity of the situation, he pointed out, could be gauged from the fact that the report of the parliamentary committee, sorting out the problems, had not been submitted to the government as yet, and the Balochistan opposition was also not aware of its contents.

Mr Baloch, representing the National Party, accused the rulers of pursuing 'a policy of loot and plunder' in that province, and held the federal government responsible for the backwardness of Balochistan.

He accused the Centre of having usurped the natural and sea resources of Balochistan under the federal legislative list. Not only that, he added, the federal government had also deprived provinces of their residual powers, thereby weakening the provincial governments.

He alleged that the rulers were planning to uproot Baloch population from their native lands, and in this context he cited the example of Lyari, Gwadar and Sui.

He vowed to resist any attempt to shift Baloch people from their ancestral lands in the name of development work.

Tracing the country's history, he said that all successive rulers had trampled over the constitution and never accepted its supremacy, thereby killing the basic spirit of federation and undermining the country's integrity.

"Regretfully, the judiciary could not play its due role and had to support the usurpers in their unconstitutional acts which ultimately tarnished its image," he observed.

Kachkol Baloch stressed that no federation could survive without a legal system which alone could settle disputes between federation and federating units. In Pakistan, he deplored, this role had been adopted by the Establishment which stripped provincial governments of all their powers, including financial powers which were vital for a federating unit to manage its internal economy.

The over-centralization of powers had made the provincial governments 'stooges of the federation' supposed only to pursue its agenda.

Kachkol Ali Baloch gave a detailed view of violation of constitution, and asserted that the federation could not remain intact unless financial autonomy was granted to provinces.

He demanded that the provincial governments be given control of their natural resources and the interference by federation in the internal affairs of the federating units be stopped.

Making an impassioned appeal to nationalist and democratic forces, particularly those of smaller provinces, for their support to the national struggle by Balochistan people, he said that the struggle was aimed at attaining legitimate rights of the entire population of Pakistan.

In reply to journalists' questions, he said the crisis in Balochistan could be resolved by recognizing Pakistan as 'a multi-nations' state, ensuring internal autonomy, including financial, to provinces, and handing over control of natural resources of each province to its respective government.

When asked why a requisition session of the provincial assembly was requested to be summoned to discuss the Sui gang-rape incident and the ensuing development, the opposition leader pointed out that a number of opposition legislators had not yet returned from Haj. However, he added, the speaker had been approached in this regard and the assembly might meet sometime during the current month.

Commenting on the role Sardars in Balochistan politics, he said that majority of them was supporting the Establishment and was, therefore, ignoring the interests of local population.

He contended that Nawab Bugti, Nawab Marri, Sardar Mengal and Mazari had emerged as leaders of the Baloch people because of their contribution to the Baloch national movement.

In reply to another question, he dispelled the impression that Baloch Sardars were wealthy, saying that except for few, all were mediocre if compared to middle-class citizen of a city.

He also corrected a journalist, who had suggested that b Nawab Bugti was receiving royalty from the federal government, by saying that royalty was a constitutional provision and could only be paid to the provincial government. In the same breath, he clarified that what the Nawab had been getting from the Centre was lease money pertaining to the land being utilized by the government.

He alleged that the false impression had been disseminated by the federal government to discredit Baloch nationalist leaders. He further stated that it was the duty of the government to withdraw any illegal privileges if granted to the Nawab.

RAJANPUR: UC Nazim kidnapped from
Indus Highway
: Driven to Balochistan

By Our Correspondent

RAJANPUR, Feb 5: Rakh Fazilpur Union Nazim was kidnapped reportedly by highway robbers from the
Indus Highway
on Friday night.

Rana Farhat Shabbir was on way to DG Khan by his car when half a dozen gunmen riding a double cabin jeep intercepted his vehicle. They made Farhat board their vehicle while one of the outlaws took control of his car's steering wheel.

They drove towards the hilly area bordering Balochistan via Dajal.

The highwaymen dropped the Nazim's driver on the way at a deserted place and then abandoned the car in Dajal before crossing over to Balochistan via BMP's Khumbi check-post.

The local police learnt about the kidnapping when the driver reached Fazilpur.

Kidnap for ransom continues unabated in Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh districts and to some extent in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rahim Yar Khan.

Gangs operating from the kutcha area of the Indus river and Suleman Range hills on the Balochistan border have so far succeeded in eluding all operations by police.

Saturday's kidnapping follows the killing of notorious Bosan gang's mastermind Mithal alias Mithly in an 'encounter' with police on Thursday near Fazilpur.

Each time the police claim the killing of a notorious gangster, more kidnap for ransom cases are reported. Locals suspect that tribal Sardars do patronize these gangs.

QUETTA: 3 Balochistan secretaries transferred

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, Feb 5: The Balochistan government has a number of senior officials, including there secretaries. According to a notification, Information and Information Technology Secretary Mohammad Ali Chengazi and Industries Secretary Muzaffar Ali Afradi have been transferred and asked to report to the services and general administration department.

Provincial inspection team member Israr Hussain has been transferred and posted as information and IT secretary while Tahir Nadeem, director-general protocol, the chief minister's secretariat, has been asked to take over as fisheries secretary. He will hold the additional charge of DG, protocol.

Fisheries Secretary Ghulam Sarwar Mengal has been transferred and posted as industries secretary.

Meanwhile, Ghulam Mohammad Gola, who was appointed managing director of the Water and Sewerage Authority, Balochistan, has refused to take charge of his new assignment.

Chaudhry Sardar Mohammad has replaced Mr Gola as communications and works secretary.

QUETTA: People urged to help curb honour killings

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, Feb 5: Cases of honour killing and torture on women have increased significantly in the country over the last years and a comprehensive campaign is needed against such acts, the participants of a meeting observed here on Friday.

Representatives of various civil society, and journalists, lawyers, trade union and political organizations attended the meeting organized by Oxfam GB, Pakistan.

They urged people to fulfil their responsibilities for stopping honour killing and torture on women.

Oxfam Country Chief Farhana Farooqi said her organization had decided to launch a campaign to stop honour killing and torture on women in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. She said the campaign would continue till 2011 and it aimed at reducing cases of honour killing in the country by up to 40 per cent.

"Every year, 1,500 people are murdered in the name of honour in Pakistan," said Dr Mohammad Arif, the country coordinator of the organization.

National Party MPA Dr Shama Ishaq Baloch underlined the need for adoption of resolutions in the national and provincial assemblies for legislation so that people involved in honour killing could be punished.

In Balochistan, the campaign will be launched in Bolan, Dhadar, Sibi, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Khuzdar districts.

Crisis in Balochistan

This is with reference to Zubeida Mustafa's article "Addressing Baloch grievances" (Feb 2). The writer gives an impression that West Pakistan exploited Bengalis which resulted in the country's dismemberment and that now Punjab exploits Balochistan.

If West Pakistan was responsible for the backwardness of East Pakistan, why is Bangladesh still underdeveloped even when the entire population of the country is homogeneous? Bangladesh remains one of the poorest countries of the world.

As far as the backwardness, poverty and illiteracy in Balochistan are concerned, the leaders of the province are mainly responsible. They don't like development in general. They want to keep the people illiterate so they can maintain their dominant position in society.

The situation in Balochistan is critical. There are attacks on national assets like gas plants in Sui, the Gwadar deep seaport and Wapda installations. This is the first time after the crisis in Balochistan during the government of Z. A. Bhutto that large-scale and planned terrorist activities have been witnessed. The nationalists who claim to be representatives of the Baloch have done nothing for the common man except putting the blame on Punjab for their own weaknesses. History shows they have made no effort for the development of their areas. They have made people their slaves who have everything except a voice.

They maintain private jails and parallel judicial systems. There is no respect for human rights. People have been jailed for their defiance to accept the dictatorship of their feudal lords.

The government of Pervez Musharraf is taking all possible efforts to take development to Balochistan. I would like to advise the nationalists to think in the national interest and enter into a purposeful dialogue with the government for the development and welfare of the province. There can be no denying the fact that Pakistan is our identity and living together peacefully is the only solution to the crisis.




Mr Irfan Hussain's article "The softening of the state" (Jan 29) reflects the mindset of the Pakistan establishment. To suggest that the economic grievances of the Baloch can be sorted out at the NFC forum is to deny that the NFC is a farce. In fact, Mr Karim Lodhi, the private member from Sindh on the NFC, has had the integrity to resign from the commission on the grounds that the NFC was deviating from the parameters outlined in the Constitution.

Mr Hussain's suggestion that some federal ministers could argue the Baloch case in Islamabad shows how far he is devoid of reality. We in Sindh have been trying to draw Islamabad's attention to the destruction of lower Sindh by sea water. Instead of solving this problem a bigger environmental disaster called the LBDO has been gifted to Sindh. We are being promised even more disasters in the name of the new political mantra, "mega projects".

The core issue however at the PPL Sui gas fields is that the rapist is still free and the state appears to be involved in a cover-up. Our American friends could easily have assisted in conducting an impartial DNA test and the matter would be resolved in a day.

The softening of the state is due to the fact that every criminal in Pakistan with connections is above the law. The strength of the state does not depend on Cobra gunships but through deriving a legitimacy which will be attained only when justice is accorded to all citizens, including Dr Shazia.




At 7:33 AM, Blogger Subha Sanjeev said...

A four-month-long secret exercise called ‘Operation Zubeida’ has led the Rajasthan Police anti-terror squad (ATS) to an inter-state racket engaged in making arms licences from Jammu and Kashmir for customers across the country.


Post a Comment

<< Home