Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Main rail link to Quetta blown up , situation tense

Main rail link to Quetta blown up

By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, Feb 7: Saboteurs blew up a portion of the railway track linking Quetta with the rest of the country late on Monday night.

Railway sources said criminals had planted a bomb under the main railway line between Sibi and Jacobabad. All Quetta-bound trains coming from Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi were stopped at the Jacobabad railway station after the blast.

The sources said the miscreants had planted the bomb in the Allahabad area of Damboli. It went off at 11:30pm and damaged the track.

"Around three-foot-long railway line was blown up, suspending all railway traffic on the main line," officials said and added that the railways had sent engineers and other staff from Sukkur to repair the damaged railway line.

Pilot engine and staff also left for the spot from Sibi while the Rawalpindi-bound Zarghoon Express was stopped at Sibi station till the resumption of railway traffic.

"Repair work would be completed by morning and the railway traffic would be restored," sources said.

Levies officials informed the Railways authorities that three more explosions had been heard in the area. However, it could not be confirmed till filing of this report.

According to another report, four rockets were fired in the Nushki area of Chagai district late on Monday night.

Sources said rockets, fired from mountains, landed in the open and exploded with a big bang. However, no loss of life and property was reported. Two blasts were also reported from the Kalat township late night, causing great panic in the small town.

Earlier, the city was rocked late on Monday night when miscreants exploded a powerful bomb to blow up Quetta-Chaman railway track near Killi Alamo.

According to police sources, some unknown people planted a bomb at the railway track linking Quetta with border town Chaman, resulting in damage to railway slippers.

"The railway line remained safe of destruction," railway police officials said.

The miscreants used local made device with timer for explosion, said Haji Mukhtar, head of bomb disposal squad.


Repeater station tower blown up

By Our Staff Reporter

QUETTA, Feb 7: Saboteurs blew up a microwave repeater station tower in Barkhan district, some 300km northeast of here, on Monday, disrupting telecommunication contact of the area with rest of the country.

"It was a microwave repeater station tower that was destroyed through blasting explosive material," a senior officer of levies told Dawn by telephone. The station was situated at a mountain, some 25km from Barkhan township.

Sources said the saboteurs had planted explosive material around the target and blew it up at about 10am. The microwave repeater station tower was completely destroyed.

Telephonic link of the Barkhan district and adjoing areas has been completely cut off with the rest of the country. "Several thousand telephones have been affected in the area due to blowing up of the microwave repeater station tower," officials of the telecommunication department said.

A spokesman of the Baloch Liberation Army has accepted the responsibility of the blast. "We have blown up the microwave repeater station," a man claiming to be Azad Khan said while calling through cellphone from an unknown place.

Meanwhile, a powerful explosion was heard in Quetta city around 2.15pm, causing panic in Killi Sabzal area. An explosive device was planted in the premises of a private school that exploded with a big bang.

No casualty was reported as the school was closed in connection with winter vacations. The windowpanes of the school and nearby buildings were, however, smashed.


Kalat prince warns govt against operation: Balochistan issue

By Latif Baloch

KARACHI, Feb 7: The prince of the defunct Kalat state in Balochistan has urged rulers to desist from carrying out any armed action in the province, as he feared that external forces might interfere in the matter.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating conditions in Sui Town and Dera Bugti, Prince Mohyuddin Baloch, a communication minister in the Zia-Junejo regime, said there was more chance of danger of conflict than reconciliation in the province.

Talking to journalists at his residence on Monday, the former minister warned that if reconciliation was not reached on the Balochistan issue, and if an armed conflict took place, then outside forces would get a chance to interfere in the affair, who he claimed were waiting to capture the natural resources including the seacoast.

When pressed to specify external forces, the prince pointed that it could be any country having economic interest in the province, because, Balochistan, he said, would play a key role in the regional economic development in future.

Historically, the Mekran seacoast had remained the economic gateway for central Asian states and Middle Eastern countries, he informed.

He was of the view that in case efforts for a negotiated settlement could not be reached, the conflict would not remain a domestic issue, and would be internationalised.

In a situation of armed conflict, the prince observed that the United Nations would directly intervene or make arbitration through a neutral Muslim country, or hold a referendum to seek people's views as was done in other countries.

However, the prince who is also chief of the Baloch Rabita-Ittefaq Tehrik (BRIT) made it clear that any attempts to carry attacks on Dera Bugti would be considered as an attack on the people of Balochistan as a whole.

Commenting on parliamentary committee reports and the government's proposed Balochistan package, he termed them as nonsense, saying that not a single Baloch was appointed, not even as a peon, in Islamabad in the past 60 years. He questioned why there was no important civil post for the Baloch people.

Not only that, he said the provincial governor was also not from the province, and was imposed on the Baloch people from the NWFP.

Mr Baloch pointed out that whatever was happening in Sui and other parts of Balochistan was due to the feeling of deprivation among the people of Balochistan.

He urged the government to keep national interest supreme, as ground realities had changed, and to take the Baloch leadership into confidence on the Balochistan issue.

According to him, foreign interests were keeping their eyes on Gawadar and the province's natural resources. He said the province had been deliberately kept backward in the past because of which the Baloch people had lost faith in Islamabad rulers.

He recalled the events that led to what he called annexation of the Kalat state into Pakistan by the armed forces, which ultimately resulted in a revolt.

The prince said Kalat state (previously called Balochistan) enjoyed free status like Nepal and Afghanistan till April 1948. As a result of the revolt, the prince said his father, the Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, was arrested on alleged charges of conspiring against Pakistan. However, he was released in 1962 and all his privileges were restored, he said. Thereafter, the crisis in Balochistan continued and no serious attempt was made to resolve it, he maintained.


Balochs' viewpoint heard: Soomro

Staff Reporter

LAHORE, Feb 7: Senate chairman Muhammadmian Soomro has said Baloch leader Akbar Bugti's representatives have been given due opportunity to give their point of view before the parliamentary committee constituted to resolve the Balochistan issue.

He was talking to reporters after the inaugural session of the three-day International Urological Surgeons Conference at a local hotel on Monday.

Mr Soomro claimed that the representatives had participated in the committee proceedings. He denied that they (representatives) had boycotted the meeting.

"They were allowed to participate in the debate during committee meeting held late night."

Mr Soomro said the drafting of report by the committee was in final stages. The government would seriously consider the committee recommendations to resolve the Balochistan crisis.

Replying to a question, he said the tenure of the parliament should remain five years.


Statements recorded in lady doctor case


QUETTA, Feb 7: A judicial tribunal probing into the criminal assault on a lady doctor of the Sui hospital resumed hearing on Monday.

Dr Saima and staff nurse Sakina, both of the Sui PPL hospital, appeared before the tribunal and recorded their statements on the incident which occurred on the night of Jan 3.

The tribunal headed by Justice Ahmed Khan Lashari issued notices to security incharge of the Sui plant Major Abdul Marjan, Dr Irshad, Dr Yaseen Anwar and head constable of the Sui Police Station Mohammad Younas to appear before it on Tuesday.


QUETTA: Compensation urged for drought victims

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, Feb 7: Hundreds of workers of the Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) took out a procession here on Monday in protest against the government's indifference to sufferings of the victims of drought, especially in Pukhtun areas.

They were carrying placards and banners inscribed with their demands. The party's deputy chairman Abdul Rahim Mandokhel and other leaders led the protest.

The protesters later gathered in the Manan Chowk.

Speaking on the occasion, Rahim Mandokhel said Balochistan had been facing drought for 80 years that had destroyed agriculture in the Pukhtun areas, but the government had done nothing to compensate the losses suffered by the people.

He criticized the government for not taking steps to solve the problems of growers and landowners in the province. The government, he said, had not paid attention to construction of dams and water reservoirs to help end drought.

The PAMP leader said Balochistan had demanded Rs5 billion for drought victims, but Islamabad never responded.

He vowed that the PMAP would not allow anyone to usurp the rights of the province. The government should recognize the political, constitutional and national rights of small nationalities, he added.

He said that it was a great injustice to the people of Balochistan that despite producing gas since 1952, many areas were without gas while the whole country was benefiting from it.

The PMAP leader urged the government to set the price of Balochistan gas equal to that from other areas of the country. They would not allow the use of gas reserves recently discovered in Zhob, Zarghoon and Musakhel area without getting constitutional guarantees.

Lala Abdul Rauf, Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal, sman Kakar, Naseer Ahmed Shahwani and Abdul Rehman Barozai also spoke on the occasion.


Tigers of Balochistan & elsewhere - II

By Ardeshir Cowasjee

A woman, Doctor Shazia Khalid, was allegedly raped at Sui at night on January 2 and 3. The rapist(s) has(have) not yet been found. 'Investigations' continue and as inevitably happens in cases such as this they will linger on until they finally peter out.

On January 3, the Zila Nazim of Dera Bugti Agency, Mohammed Kazim Bugti, a brother of one of Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti's daughters-in-law, addressed a memorandum to the District Administrative Offcer, Dera Bugti at Sui. The subject : "Rape case at PPL fenced area, Sui."

It reads : "It has been reported to the undersigned this morning that a Lady Doctor has been raped in the .... premises of fenced area of PPL at Sui last night. Reportedly, three/four DSG personnel were seen coming out of the house of the said lady doctor who was later shifted to hospital in critical condition. Please investigate this matter and take stern action against the culprits involved in the incident and submit a detailed report of the incident to the undersigned as the matter is very serious."

Copies were sent to the governor of Balochistan, the chief minister and the chief secretary of Balochistan, the home and tribal affairs secretary, the Commander 12 Corps at Quetta, the Registrar of the High Court at Quetta, the DCO, Dera Bugti and a couple of others of lower rank.

In the meantime, Dr Khalid's family has alleged that she has dishonoured the family, that she is a 'kari', and that tribal and feudal justice demands that she be killed. She has been and remains in protective custody as her life is in danger. Now, the question that must concern us all is : where can she live in safety for the rest of her life?

Dr Sher Shah Syed, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, Mrs Anis Haroon, resident director of the Aurat Foundation of Pakistan, and Uzma Noorani of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, are all very concerned and fear for the life of Dr Khalid. Their complaint is that they have been unable to get a response from Pakistan Petroleum Limited whenever they made contact to enquire what the company is doing to safeguard Dr Khalid's life. Her husband, engineer Khalid Aman, who is employed in Libya, has also complained in the press that PPL is "putting pressure on his wife to keep silent...".

Syed Munsif Raza, managing director of PPL, and Nusrat Nasrullah, his manager of public relations, both old friends, maintain this is not correct and that they have made attempts to contact the family and offer help, but have been unsuccessful.

When we all met (excluding Uzma Noorani to whom we spoke on the telephone) and sat down together to discuss the issue, each side gave its own point of view. Dr Syed and Mrs Haroon penned their statement which reads :

"The Pakistan Medical Association, the Aurat Foundation, and the Human Rights Commission strongly believe that the victim of the Sui incident should be protected at all costs. Her life is in danger and her entire family is frightened. We believe that PPL and the government should protect the family and help them to rehabilitate. The culprits should be punished no matter who they may be and to which place they may belong."

Munsif and Nusrat responded :

"PPL wishes to reiterate that it fully supports the on-going process of investigation/enquiry in the case of Dr Shazia Khalid and seeks justice promptly, whereby the culprits will be exposed and subsequently punished.

"Right from the beginning, PPL has pursued a policy of standing by its employee, Dr Shazia Khalid, whose welfare has been and will remain our premier concern, and wishes to reassure everyone that it will continue to do so to ensure that justice is done. We also wish to assure her husband and her family that the company empathises with them in their predicament. She has been criminally wronged and the culprit(s) must be punished under the law of the land.

"The incident is being investigated by a high court judge in Quetta, as well as the police (separately), and all assistance is being provided to the authorities by PPL employees.

"We are aware of the societal interest being expressed by individuals and organizations and share their feeling of concern, and seek an early resolution of the case."

Both sides have now agreed to have further meetings to try and resolve the problem of Shazia Khalid's future and her safety.

Since the incident, the Tigers of Balochistan have talked to the press. Time magazine (Feb 7) has come out with a full-page article, "Code of the Frontier", the subtitle of which reads "An alleged rape by four soldiers rallies the tribes of Baluchistan province against the Pakistan army." The Tiger himself, the Tumandar of all the Bugtis, is quoted as having said that he is taking the violation of the woman "personally" and that he can muster 4,000 armed men to back him up. And, quaintly, "Our elders say that the accused must walk through fire. If he is innocent, the flames won't harm him." Another Tiger, Sardar Ataullah Mengal is also quoted : "This could be our last battle. At the end of it either their soldiers will be standing alive, or we will."

The only arrests so far made by the police, for the obstruction of justice (FIR 1/2005 PS Sui, Offence u/s 10, 18 Zina Hudood Ordinance 1979 plus various sections of the PPC), are of Pervez Jamula, acting manager of PPL at Sui, Dr Muhammad Usman Vawada, the chief medical officer of PPL at Sui, and Dr Muhammad Ali, a medical officer at Sui hospital. They have been confined at Dera Murad Jamali. Bail applications have been made by PPL, the three men have been brought to court in handcuffs and so far bail has been refused. The administration of justice being what it is in this country, perhaps it is only God who knows when the unfortunate men will be freed.

Investments are flowing in, so says our president and prime minister, Pakistan is investor-friendly, even an investor's paradise. Question : who are the investors wishing to invest in Balochistan, and where are they?



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