Monday, February 14, 2005

Rulers playing double game in Balochistan

Rulers playing double game in Balochistan

By Raja Riaz
LAHORE - Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman has warned the rulers against becoming part of US designs in the region otherwise the country would lose its present geographical shape.
Speaking at a special sitting Sunday, he told ‘The Nation’ that US wanted to divide Afghanistan on ethnic basis; it was not possible in Taliban government.
The USA used 9/11 incident to topple that regime. America and the United Kingdom are interested in establishing Pashtoon government there.
The installation of Karzai is also a part of that scheme. The West and USA used all resources and their influence to induct him into the office.
Think for a movement; if Pashtoon take control of the one part of Afghanistan, could we stop the Pashtoon in Pakistan to go close to them when ‘Durand Line’ is already a controversial issue, he posed a question?
Maulana Fazlur Rhman said most of the time rulers ‘faked incident’ to launch some operation. See the situation of Balochistan! The government strengthened the hold of tribal chiefs.
There was no force, as the will of the Sardar is the rule and his word is the law. It is a province where two governments run simultaneously-the Chief Minister runs the affairs in some areas and the governor, representative of the Centre, runs affairs in several areas. The only force that counters the tribal chiefs, waderas and fuedals is the Jamiat Ulemae Islam (JUI)-we have created dents in their strength with our people-friendly policies; the government has launched operations in Waziristan, Northern borders and Balochistan; they tried to make ulema, mulla, people with turban their rivals; they wanted to give message to the remaining parts of the country that mulla is responsible for the disintegration of the country. According to him, the al-Qaeda does not exist in tribal areas and the arrested people in those areas are Pakistanis. The resistance in those areas was offered only by the ulema. He said the religious leadership conveyed messages to its followers, advising them not to involve themselves in Afghanistan: Solve the dispute through Jirgas and give importance to the tribal leaders of the area. The people understood the message and the government and America could not get the desired results.
The Maulana asserted that government was playing double game there: The Corps Commander says that he paid several million rupees to different people to stop war. What message he is spreading-fight with the government and get money? Fazlur Rehman said the religious alliance had always opposed operation in any part of the country since 1974: We never supported military action and advised the government again to solve the Balochistan issue through dialogue; do not become part of the American game - if US succeeds in dividing Afghanistan Pakistan would not exist in its present geographical form. He said: I am using this forum to invite the attention of my countrymen towards this burning issue and ask them to play their role.
He said the issue of Balochistan and NWFP should be seen in the perspective of international developments - see the situation in Iran, Iraq and Kashmir and judge what do the West and America want to do in the region?
Talking about the current political scenario in the country and anti-Musharraf drive, Secretary General of the MMA said the religious alliance did not take the matters to the point of no return. The MMA played the role of Opposition and opposed the wrong policies of the government but also kept the door of dialogue open: We never tried to destabilise the system. That is the reason we provided safe exist to General Pervez Musharraf. But the government betrayed the MMA and did not act upon the agreement. Chaudhary Shujat and the PML-Q should think over it, as they are the signatory of the accord.
To a question about launching joint struggle against the government alongwith the ARD he said the MMA had always responded positively and the withdrawal of its candidates in two bye-elections was the proof of it. But both the component parties of the ARD fielded their candidates in Malakand bye polls. The MMA offered unconditional support for anti-government drive and was still waiting for the meeting with Amin Fahim and Raja Zafrul Haq - members of the committee constituted by the ARD to hold dialogue with the MMA.
He said the MMA had always indicated positive attitude but the ARD did not support its candidate for the office of the Prime Minister. Had the ARD supported MMA candidate for the office the government could be defeated at the day one, he said.
‘Yeh Tumhari Talkhnawaian Koi Aur She Key Dekhaye Tu-Yeh Jo Mujh main Tum Main Nibah Hay Meray Hoslay Ka Kamal Hay’, Fazlur Rehman said.
Talking about the future of the MMA he said the religious forces would contest next election jointly under the same banner.

Balochistan CM may go

LAHORE - In view of the current situation in Balochistan, the government has decided to remove the Chief Minister of the province from office in a few days.
Sources say that President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have come up with two options that would be available after removal of the CM and had called Balochistan Governor Awais Ghani to Islamabad and given him necessary directions. The Governor has been active carrying out the directions for the past few days.
Sources said that the Balochistan CM is being sacked because of the rising violence in the province and that the provincial assembly would probably be suspended with imposition of the Governor’s rule, in the first phase.
The provincial assembly would be reinstated in the second phase and a chief minister would be elected from among Mir Jan Jamali, Sardar Zulfiqar Magsi and Sanaullah Zahri, sources said.
Sources further said all preparations had been made to cater to change in government in the province and an official announcement was expected any time.
The first phase of implementation of the Federal Government’s new decision would be completed during the President’s tour of Quetta, The Nation learnt.
Sources said that steps previously taken to restore peace in the province had some major flaws and now the Governor would run the province assisted by the Corps Commander and other officials. The Chief Secretary, Inspector General of Police and other top officials are also in line for transfer, according to the second phase, sources added.
The Federal Government’s decision not to give in to traditional pressure of local Sardars to keep control of the situation in Sui and the whole province in general would definitely have far-reaching consequences, sources said.
The Federal Government has, meanwhile, begun taking steps for provision of its Rs. 10-billion special relief package for affectees of rain floods in Balochistan, The Nation learned.

Dam collapse raises many questions: Bugti

QUETTA (NNI) - Baloch nationalist leader and JWP chief Nawab Akbar Bugti has said torrential rains, floods and snowstorms have killed hundreds of people, left thousands homeless and thousands of cattle have swept away in the flood water in the country including Balochistan in general and Pasni and Makran Division in particular.
He said this natural calamity has also caused huge loss of property. He said thousands in Makran Coastal and adjoining areas are spending nights in open sky in miserable conditions.
These areas have been cut off with rest of the country and aid can only be airlifted there, he said.
The Baloch nationalist leader alleged that collapse of Shadi Kur Dam, which caused irreparable loss to the local population, speaks ‘criminal negligence’ on part of the government.
He added that the collapse of the Dam, only two days ahead of February 12 when the nationalist observed strike in Balochistan, has raised doubts and suspicions, particularly when the provincial chief minister, chief secretary and concerned elected members could not reach the site on time due to communication links’ cut-off.
But the Corps Commander and Governor of Balochistan reached the spot on time, which raises numerous questions that they may have prior knowledge about the incident, he maintained.
Accusing President Gen Pervez Musharraf of using the natural calamity for political purposes, he said: “The General should have prayed to Almighty Allah and sought His mercy and help to deal with this natural calamity instead of scoring points and criticising his opponents.”
Nawab Akbar Bugti said the successful province-wide shutter down protest on February 12 proved a referendum against the construction of army garrisons.

Grab the opportunity

General Musharraf’s dash to Balochistan to inspect relief operation in Pasni villages washed away by the Shadikaur dam burst following torrential rains, killing around 200 persons, shows his concern for the loss of human lives. Credit goes to the army and navy personnel for rescuing 1500 people and shifting the local population to safer places anticipating damage to other small dams in the area. There is no denying that our brave soldiers have always been at the forefront to assist the civil administrations at the time of such calamities. But as Ms Benazir Bhutto has rightly asserted the government should immediately order a thorough investigation into the bursting of the aforesaid dam constructed only two years ago. And those found guilty must be punished sooner rather than later to avoid such disasters caused by negligence and corruption of the concerned departments. This is important in the wake of expected damage to other reservoirs in the area: the death toll further rose on Saturday after two more dams burst in Pasni and Turbat following persistent rains.
The rescue operation must have mitigated the sense of alienation among the people of Balochistan. It might also have cleared doubts in the minds of the local population genuinely concerned about deployment of troops in Sui as well as the federal government’s plan to establish new cantonments in the province. There is no reason to disbelieve the President when he says that no military operation has been launched in Balochistan. But now that his visit to the flood-hit area has created some goodwill the government could take it as an opportunity to allay the fears of the local population by engaging the nationalist forces in constructive talks rather than resorting to the use of force to overcome the quasi-insurgency there. Ch Shujaat, who sounded optimistic that he would able to resolve the Balochistan crisis soon, has got to put his foot down and stop the powers that be from taking any military action in that province on one pretext or the other. And he needs to keep reminding the establishment the old axiom that political crises can only be resolved through political means. The belated arrest of Captain Hammad, the main accused of Dr Shazia gangrape, along with five other accomplices provides him an opportunity to meet Nawab Akbar Bugti and other agitated Baloch Sardars and listen to their grievances. But what is more important than finalising its recommendations is that the Parliamentary Committee must dispel this impression that it had no mandate to make any commitment for resolving the prevalent crisis.
At the same time the Baloch Sardars are also expected to show flexibility and offer help to the government in finding a political solution to the prevalent unrest in their province. After having seen the troops carrying out relief operations in the flood-hit areas of Balochistan they should realise that not everyone in the army is like the accused captain who feel no qualms in disgracing civilians. Time to prevent the situation from further deterioration is now. Both the government and Baluch Sardars must give up their maximalist positions and start a dialogue.


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