Thursday, February 03, 2005

‘We part ways if govt continues to think Pakistan only for rulers’

Mengal criticises govt for denying Baloch autonomy

* ‘We part ways if govt continues to think Pakistan only for rulers’

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: The government will have to give Balochis their rights if it wants to prosper and maintain Pakistan successfully, Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal, the chief of the Baluchistan Nationalist Party (BNP), told news channel ARY on Wednesday.

“We are equal shareholders of this country, but we are not treated like Pakistanis and the current situation in Balochistan is because of discrimination to the Baloch nation,” said Mengal. “Each province has similar rights. Pakistan wasn’t merely made for the rulers. If the government thinks so, then we part ways with it and then see where we cross,” he told the TV channel.

Mengal said that the Baloch wanted the provincial autonomy that was due under the “true definition of federation”. “The present governing system in Pakistan is unitary, not federal. The province with the highest population is overshadowing all other units. Each province should have autonomy to exploit its resources and no province should have the right to use the resources of another,” said Mengal.

“The provinces make up the federation, the federation does not make the provinces. The centre should maintain the defence, currency and foreign affairs, and all other departments should be given in the hands of the provinces,” he told the news channel. “We want to resolve the conflict, but the behaviour on the other side is not proper,” said Mengal, adding that the rape of the lady doctor and the government’s attempt to tamper with the evidence had worsened the situation. “The government has added fuel to the fire by its moves,” he said.

He warned that the issue couldn’t be resolved until the men involved in the rape case were not brought to justice. “Bugti said that he had been reassured by the government that it had postponed the decision to set up cantonments in Balochistan, but since the rape it has suddenly changed gone back on its word,” said Mengal.

“We (Balochis) are the owners of our resources, and don’t need the charity given by the government from our own wealth,” he said.

Senate Opp grills govt on Balochistan

By Mohammad Imran

ISLAMABAD: The Senate opposition on Wednesday grilled the government on the troubles in Balochistan and refused to hold talks or attend meetings of a parliamentary committee on Balochistan.

The opposition senators criticised the government and armed forces for establishing cantonments in Balochistan. They also condemned the alleged gangrape of a female doctor in Sui and demanded that the accused, an army captain, be tried. “The government should stop establishing the cantonments and punish the army captain. Besides, it must remove tanks (from the area) and withdraw troops. Then we will hold dialogue with the government,” said Amanullah Kunrani, parliamentary leader of the Jamhoori Watan Party.

The upper house of parliament started the debate on Balochistan on a motion moved by Senator Raza Rabbani, leader of the opposition. Rabbani said Chaudhry Shujaat and Senator Mushahid Hussain, leaders of the PML, were trying to resolve the Balochistan issue peacefully, “but other forces are sabotaging their efforts”. He claimed that an ISI agent had killed 14 army soldiers in Turbat, and the ISI had later killed that agent.

PML Senator Kamil Ali Agha said the opposition senators should not talk about separation. He exchanged angry words with opposition senators and one treasury senator, Muhim Khan Baloch, on the issue. Agha said Baloch nationalists had forgotten when Jalal Bugti raped a girl in a hotel in Lahore. Senator Reza Muhammad Reza, parliamentary leader of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, said Balochistan is in a state of war and the people of the province are fighting for their rights. He said a parliamentary committee decided that the government should stop building cantonments in the province, but General Musharraf was unwilling to accept that. Pakistan will no longer remain united if the government builds a dam at Kalabagh, he added.

PML Senator Dr Khalid Ranjah said the rape in Sui should not be made a national issue. “We should resolve the issue through dialogue. We should promote nationalism, not provincialism,” he said. Neelofar Bakhtiyar, advisor to the prime minister for women’s development, said a judicial inquiry of the crime was continuing and the government would punish the guilty. She said if an army captain accused of the rape had been guilty, he wouldn’t have asked to take a DNA test. Dr Sher Afghan, federal minister for parliamentary affairs, asked Baloch senators why tribesmen had fired rockets at Sui gas installation and why they had not helped the rape victim.

Jatoi asks Balochistan government to protect power installations

ISLAMABAD: Referring to the explosions of the power transmission lines in Balochistan, Liaquat Ali Jatoi, federal minister for water and power, has requested the government of Balochistan to provide tight security for the installations.

In discussions with the governor and the chief minister of Balochistan, Mr Jatoi said power installation lines were national assets and must be protected. He said that such incidents created problems for the masses because commercial and industrial activities got suspended for hours due to the power breakdown.

The transmission line explosions have resulted in millions of rupees in damages to the national economy. The minister requested that action be taken against those responsible for the explosions and security be provided to the power installations to ensure an uninterrupted electricity supply.

The governor and the chief minister assured Mr Jatoi that security would be provided immediately and stated that the installation lines would be protected at any cost.

Mr Jatoi ordered the chairman of WAPDA, the chief executive of QUESCO and the member power, to immediately repair the damaged transmission lines and to personally supervise the rehabilitation activities of the destroyed transmission lines.

The minister’s appeal comes after two electricity towers were blown up in Sibi on Tuesday night plunging a large area of Balochistan into darkness. staff report

Musharraf hasn’t decided Balochistan operation: Shujaat

* Aziz says Balochistan crisis will be resolved politically
* PM vows Sui rapists will be punished, denies meeting with Israeli minister

ISLAMABAD: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has not decided on military action in Balochistan and the troubles in the province will be solved politically, said Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League, on Wednesday.

Talking to NNI after meeting with the leader of the house in the Senate, Wasim Sajjad, Shujaat said the government will consult Baloch leaders before announcing the recommendations of a parliamentary committee on Balochsitan.

Tribesmen demanding more gas royalties and provincial rights attacked Sui gas installations last month, leaving at least eight people dead. The attacks were sparked by the alleged gangrape of a woman doctor by security personnel. Paramilitary and regular army troops were sent in to secure the gas field, but there have been a series of small bombs in recent weeks targeting rail and electricity infrastructure in the province. Shujaat said the government would protect vital installations in Sui. He said Gen Musharraf had told him resolve the Balochsitan issue through talks.

He said he is in touch with Nawab Akbar Bugti and would soon meet him. He said FC personnel were not allowed to search the purses of women and at their checkpoints in Balochistan. He rejected reports that he has differences with the prime minister. “There is no issue. Some devious rumourmongers are trying to disrupt the democratic system,” he said.

Staff Report adds: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said at a press conference that the government wants to resolve the problems in Balochistan politically.

“No Pakistani wants to sabotage national installations... We are sure the reconciliatory efforts will bear fruit,” Aziz said. The development of Gwadar Port and other projects would improve the situation in Balochistan, he added. Aziz said anyone found guilt in the gangrape case would be punished. “No one is above the law,” he said. He would not say whether an army captain accused in the case had been arrested.

He said new dates for the next SAARC summit would soon be finalised. He said Pakistan was disappointed by India’s refusal to attend the summit, but insisted that this and the dispute over Baglihar dam would not have a negative effect on talks between the two neighbours. Aziz denied he had a meeting with the Israeli foreign minister at Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. “A man shook hands with me on the stairs. Later, I was told that he was an Israeli minister,” he said.

Power supply partly restored in Quetta

QUETTA: Electricity has been partially restored in Quetta after a major power line was blown up by suspected nationalist tribesmen, officials said on Wednesday.

Two major cities, Quetta and Sibi, were receiving power from a neighbouring region while repair work was underway on a transmission tower blasted by rockets on late Tuesday, they said.

However people in a vast area of Balochistan were still without electricity, Interior Ministry officials in Islamabad said, adding that it would take another two weeks to fully restore supplies.

A shadowy group called the Balochistan Liberation Army said late Tuesday it had carried out the attack in Sibi.

“It could take two weeks to fully restore the damaged transmission lines,” said a ministry official.

Last month, two other power transmission lines were blown up by insurgents and officials said the Sibi transmission tower was linked to the last major power line in the province. “This was the last power supply line after two power transmission lines were blown up earlier and now we have no means to supply power,” said a WAPDA official. Saboteurs fired several rockets which blasted four electricity pylons before a bomb explosion ripped apart the main transformer, the official said. The government has moved security forces into the area while negotiating with aggrieved groups.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies have arrested six people who were allegedly involved in firing on Turbat Frontier Constabulary (FC) in Quetta on Wednesday, sources said. Six people have been caught for shooting at Turbat FC when it was on routine patrol in the area.

Four of the arrested are named as Hameed Nasim, Akram Ali, Amir Ali and Ahmad and they are being interrogated. The nationalists of Balochistan have made railway tracks and personnel of law enforcement agencies their targets because of an expected army operation in the area. agencies

PONM meets on Friday

KARACHI: The PONM leadership is likely to meet on Friday to discuss a strategy on Balochistan’s situation. Sources in the PONM told the Daily Times on Wednesday that the leaders of the component parties would meet at Hyder Manzil, residence of the late G M Syed in Karachi. Jalal Mehmood Shah, grandson of the late Syed is secretary general of the PONM. The PONM president Sardar Attaullah Mengal will preside over the meeting. staff report


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