Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Use of force in Balochistan may split country: Altaf

Use of force in Balochistan may split country: Altaf

By Our Reporter

KARACHI, March 28: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief, Altaf Hussain, has warned that use of force in Balochistan and elsewhere could split the country into many independent units and vehemently opposed the alleged conspiracy to separate Karachi from rest of Sindh.

Addressing party activists, who had gathered in London in connection with 21st founding day of the party, Mr Hussain stressed that Pakistan's salvation lay in complete provincial autonomy and resolution of contentious issues among provinces through dialogue.

Altaf Hussain said that the Muttahida was the first political party to raise voice against the use of force in dealing with the present crisis and resolving the issue through dialogue. He reiterated his party's stand on the issue and said that the Muttahida was with the people of Balochistan who were demanding equal rights.

While demanding peaceful resolution of the crisis, Mr Hussain said that federating units should be given complete provincial autonomy including the right to maintain their own paramilitary force.

Recognizing that Pakistan is passing through the most critical phase of its history, Mr Hussain said that all the federating units must be treated as equals and the federation should retain foreign affairs, defence and currency while other subjects must be left to the federating units who should be free to run their affairs.

Addressing military generals and civil and military bureaucrats, he emphasized the need for learning lessons from the East Pakistan debacle and called for desisting from the use of forces in any part of the country. If force was used, he feared that not one but many independent states would come into existence.

Mr Hussain dealt at length with the Balochistan situation and the evolving political developments in the country. He said that as a concerned Pakistani he had talked to Gen Pervez Musharraf and had stressed the need for a negotiated settlement of the crisis.

With reference to Shujaat-Bugti talks and claims of its success on media, Mr Hussain expressed doubts about such claims. He claimed that at this critical juncture, the establishment had been divided in two schools of thought.

One stood for peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue while the other favoured pacification through use of brute force. The first group he claimed was less powerful than the one that favoured use of force, he claimed.

Altaf Hussain also declared that Gwadar had become controversial and warned that if the rulers adopted confrontationist policy in this regard it would not be in the interest of the country. He warned that use of force against the countrymen was not in the national interest, whether they were Muslims or not.

He said that China was a nuclear power since long but during the past 58 years it had not resolved the Taiwan question. It considered Taiwan its integral part while Taiwan claimed otherwise.

He asked why after so many years Chinese parliament felt it necessary to adopt a resolution claiming sovereignty over Taiwan and why the US and the European Union criticized the resolution?

With regard to the Gwadar port being built by China, he raised questions about the attitude of Iran, India and the US. "Would they tolerate China's control over this project?" he asked.

Mr Hussain said that the US tilt was towards India despite Pakistan's frontline role in war on international terrorism. He said that even those who had considered the US as Pakistan's most dependable friend, were criticizing that country for supplying weapons to India.

Referring to a report by an American institution in which it was stated that in future central government's authority would be confined to northern Punjab and Karachi, Mr Hussain warned against any conspiracy of separating Karachi from rest of Sindh.

He stressed the need for treating everyone as equal and criticized the policy of not giving due share to the provinces in the revenue generated from the natural resources extracted from their territory.

He said that people of Sindh, Balochistan, the NWFP, Punjab and Seraiki belt should have freedom to manage their affairs within the ambit of Pakistan otherwise the provinces would be compelled to chart their own course.

JI's advice to resolve Balochistan crisis

By Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE, March 28: Jamaat-i-Islami deputy secretary-general MNA Farid Piracha proposes certain measures to resolve the Balochistan crisis. Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, he feared a 1971 like tragedy if a military solution to the Balochistan crisis was sought.

The JI leader, who toured the troubled areas as a member of the parliamentary committee on March 22, said any provisional measures or patchwork would only worsen the situation. He said a commission comprising high court judges should be appointed to hold a probe into the March 17 Dera Bugti incident.

He demanded payment of substantial compensation to the heirs of the deceased through the tribal jirga. Land reforms, he said, should be enforced in letter and spirit in Balochistan besides provision of interest-free agricultural loans and installation of tube wells on a large scale by the government.

'Issues to be resolved through talks'

By Our Correspondent

QUETTA, March 28: Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani said on Monday that all issues in the province would be resolved through negotiations and the government would continue to follow a policy of patience and tolerance.

Speaking to Nazims and tribal elders of Jafarabad district in Dera Allahyar, he said the government was making efforts for the continuation of the political and democratic process to strengthen the elected institutions at district, provincial and national levels.

He emphasized that political issues should be settled politically and said provincial issues would be resolved in the province. He urged people to maintain unity and solidarity to overcome their problems through mutual understanding and cooperation.

The governor said the government was determined not only to ensure continuation of the uplift programme but also to accelerate the completion of development schemes. He asked people to take part in the local bodies' election enthusiastically to take forward the district government system.

The governor visited the flood-affected areas in Nasirabad with former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali and provincial ministers. He was told that 5,676 houses and crops over 56,000 acres were damaged in Dera Murad Jamali, Tambu and Chatter tehsils and food packets were distributed among 1,000 affected families during the flood.

EDITORIAL: A good beginning on Balochistan

The parleys between the federal government and the Baloch sardar Akbar Bugti to defuse the tension in the Sui-Dera Bugti area of Balochistan seem to have gone well. The federal government was represented by Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q, and Mushahid Hussain, the party’s general-secretary.

As the situation stands, the two sides have agreed to set up a committee comprising three members, one of whom will represent Mr Bugti and the government respectively, while the third will be a neutral member agreeable to both sides. This committee will recommend measures to bring the situation back to normalcy in light of the two meetings between Mr Bugti and Mr Hussain in the space of 72 hours.

So far so good. Indeed, this is an urgent requirement in view of the tense standoff between the paramilitary forces and Bugti tribesmen. It will enable the situation on the ground to be diffused in order to avoid a potential conflict which could have led to further trouble and complications. However, the committee has its task cut out for it. While life will not return to normal in Dera Bugti in a hurry, at least further bloodshed will be avoided.

The important thing to note is that the present modus vivendi does not address certain critical aspects of the Centre-Balochistan confrontation. Mr Bugti might have tried to expand a local problem and enlarge it as a symbol of the Centre-Balochistan contradiction but the fact is that there are other forces in Balochistan that go beyond Mr Bugti — just as there are problems that lie outside the situation in Dera Bugti.

The bigger question is whether Islamabad has agreed to the current dialogue arrangement as a holding operation or whether it intends to broaden the dialogue to discuss the problem in its entirety. The answer to that question will determine the real success or failure of the current process.

In fact, in some ways Mr Bugti may be the easiest among the three contending sardars with whom to cut a deal. He has always been closer to Islamabad than the Marri and Mengal actors. Meanwhile, it is clear that the current deal does not appear to extend to issues like the development of Gwadar port and establishing cantonments in that province that are a bugbear for the Baloch nationalists. While the dialogue mode itself is important and shows that the federal government is more amenable to talking itself out of its troubles than using force, the success of the process depends on two sets of responses: the short-term and the long-term. The short-term strategy is expected to deal with the situation on the ground and institute confidence-building measures. The long-term deals with the entire problem of Centre-Province relations, the 1973 constitution, consensus on the nature of development and equitable distribution of resources and, finally, civil-military relations themselves. Whether this committee or those dialoguing from Islamabad’s side have the mandate to cover this large ground is still not clear.

Balochistan definitely needs a serious effort at resolving issues. That is why a holding operation may not last long; indeed, it could result in a more troublesome second phase. This is something that Islamabad has to remember when it goes about tackling the short-term problem in the long-term context. *

Government will implement my decisions: Bugti

DERA BUGTI: Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief Nawab Akbar Bugti said on Monday that he would decide about the matters discussed in a recent meeting with Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the government would implement his decisions.

He told BBC that situation in Dera Bugti was discussed in the meeting with PML leaders, but he refused to give details, saying that Chaudhry Shujaat did not want him to do so.

He added that Bugti tribesmen trusted him and they would be informed about the deliberations of the meeting on an appropriate time.

Bugti said he and Sardar Ataullah Mengal had presented an amendment bill including 15 proposals on the Balochistan issue which was shelved.

The JWP chief said that he still had reservations about the establishment of garrisons and the construction of Gwadar Port in Balochistan. online

Bombs damage Zahedan-Quetta train track

QUETTA: Two bombs exploded on a railway line linking Pakistan with Iran, but no injuries were reported, an official said on Monday.

The blasts happened late on Sunday, damaging a section of the track linking Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, with the Iranian border town of Zahedan, said Shoaib Ahmed, the controller of traffic for Pakistan Railways.

He said no one had claimed responsibility for the blasts at Ahmadwal, a village about 150 kilometres southwest of Quetta, and that engineers had gone to the area to repair the track. Ahmed said no train had been due to travel on the line at the time of the explosions.

Meanwhile, police arrested a man in connection with the bomb blast in Noshki a couple of days ago. Sources said that Muhammad Noor Sumalani was being investigated. ap/app

Only tangible steps can resolve Balochistan issue: Altaf

Staff Report

KARACHI: Leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Altaf Hussain has said the federal government should take such tangible measures to resolve the Balochistan as can satisfy the Baloch people, otherwise talks between Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain and Akbar Bugti are unlikely to give any positive result.

He was addressing MQM workers and leaders on the 21st founding day of the party at London on Saturday night.

The founding day was also attended by party activists from Pakistan, the US, Belgium, and other European countries. Acting convener of the MQM coordination committee Tariq Jawed, members of the coordination committee Mohammed Anwar, Tariq Mir, in charge of the coordination committee Pakistan Anwar Alam and joint in charge Abdul Haseeb also spoke on the occasion. “The establishment of Pakistan is divided as to how to sort out the issue of Balochistan, as one group favours peaceful resolution of the issue through dialogue with nationalist parties of the province and the other group, which commands more influence in the corridors of power, believes in crushing the voice of dissent by force,” he claimed.

Hussain warned the rulers to refrain from using force to resolve the Balochistan issue and continue the dialogue process with representatives and leaders of nationalist parties. He said the use of forces could pose grave dangers to the integrity of the country. He said Pakistan as a country could survive as a country only if complete autonomy was granted to the provinces.

Describing the construction of Gwadar port as a controversial issue, he said since the port was being built with the help of China, “it is objectionable to the Iran, India and US governments as they are averse to the control of China over the port.” “Punjab being the big brother should display generosity and open heartedness to three smaller provinces of Pakistan and refrain from snatching their rights,” he emphasised. He urged the government to ensure due rights of provinces in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award and not to make population the only criterion for the NFC award as it would be gross injustice.

“Most natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals are in Sindh and Balochistan and they benefit the entire country, but for distribution of financial resources only population is taken into account. This should not be done,” he said.

Referring to a report of a US-based organisation that in future control of the federal government would be restricted to only upper Punjab and Karachi, Hussain claimed in 1995 he had raised the lid from the conspiracy of greater Punjab that was aimed at separation of Karachi from Sindh. “The people of Sindh regard Karachi not only as capital of the province, but also an integral part of their motherland, so they would never allow separation of Karachi from Sindh,” he said.

Balochistan crisis will soon be resolved

ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan crises will soon be resolved because the deadlock on the conflict in Dera Bugti has ended, said PML secretary general Mushahid Hussain. “The end of the deadlock is a good omen for Dera Bugti, Balochistan and the country,” Mr Hussain told a private television channel. He said that at his meeting with Baloch chief Nawab Akbar Bugti he discussed ways to normalise the situation in Dera Bugti and Sui through negotiations and mutual consultation. He said a three-member monitoring team would be set up to implement decisions in the province. Online

Talks only on Sui, Dera: Bugti

JAMHOORI Watan Party (JWP) chief and tribal chieftain Nawab Muhammad Akbar Khan Bugti has said his talks with PML (Q) President Ch Shujaat Hussain are purely focusing on the situation in Dera Bugti and Sui and have nothing to do with entire Balochistan issue.
“We have so far not reached any conclusion. We are still discussing ways and means to seek a solution of problems as well as de-escalate the situation in Dera Bugti and Sui,” Nawab Akbar Bugti told the VoA while responding to a question about his talks with the government representatives - Ch Shujaat Hussain and Senator Mushahid Hussain.
To another question, he said a three-member committee has been formed to monitor the implementation of the decisions taken by the two sides to solve the problems, adding “I have recommended Senator Mushahid’s name as a neutral third member of the body. “I have full confidence in him until otherwise proven.”
The JWP chief said he is confident that Mushahid will come up to his expectations and that’s why he has showed his confidence in him (Mushahid).
He explained that the three-member committee is not a decision-making body, adding “it will only monitor the implementation of decisions taken by us to settle the matters.”
Asked as to why the proposals being discussed to settle the disputes and defusing the tension in Dera Bugti are being kept so secret, he replied: “I am doing so on the request of Ch Shujaat.
He is of the view that when details are disclosed, some members will try to sabotage the ongoing process of negotiations and it is better to remain silent in this regard,” he added.
“I have told him that I have no objection over this and will not reveal the proposals being taken up in the negotiations,” he stated.
Nawab Akbar Bugti clarified that his talks with the government representatives are purely concentrating on the situation in Dera Bugti and Sui and not on the whole Balochistan issue.
“It is purely a Bugti-related matter as only the Bugti’s suffered loss of life and property in the FC firing on them. The dialogue is being held in this context and not in the background of entire Balochistan,” he stated.
He made it clear that when the dialogue is held on the entire Balochistan issue, other Baloch leaders will also be taken into confidence and will take part in that process as well.
Asked whether he has taken other Baloch leaders into confidence or is in contact with them, he replied: “I have no particular links with them because it is a purely Bugti matter, as the Bugtis, and not the Baloch, have suffered loss of life and property.
Meanwhile, talking to the BBC, Nawab Akbar Bugti said when Ch Shujaat and Senator Mushahid again come to Dera Bugti in the next few days, they will make public their decisions to resolve the Dear Bugti and Sui problems.
“It is purely a Bugti matter and if any Baloch leader or Sardar comes to assist us, he will be most welcome,” he sad. “I can’t ever dare represent whole Balochistan because I do not have anyone’s mandate to do this.”
To a query, he said he turned down a request by PML (Q) President Ch Shujaat Hussain for also taking up the entire Balochistan issue in their talks, adding “he asked to discuss the entire Balochistan issue but my response was ‘absolutely not’.”
To another query, he said as far as the entire Balochistan issue is concerned, his party has already presented 15 proposals, including amendment to the Constitution, to the government. Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal has also submitted 10 points on this issue but these have so far not been implement by the government.
The JWP chief strongly dispelled the impression that he has given up his opposition to the construction of Gwadar port and army garrison in Sui.
Asked this question is still under discussion, he replied: “Yes.”
Asked whether he has put any conditions in this regard, he replied: “Time for this has so far not come.”

Bugti-Musharraf meeting on the cards

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief Nawab Akbar Bugti’s meeting with President Pervez Musharraf is on the cards in the wake of a breakthrough in talks between the tribal chieftain and government.

"I think Bugti will come to Islamabad for a meeting with the president after another couple of meetings of PML chief Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain and Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain Syed in Dera Bugti," a senior official told The News.

However, he said both the parties were yet to take a number of measures as agreed between the two sides through Shujaat and Mushahid. The PML is trying hard to sustain the congenial atmosphere created by talks with Bugti lest it is marred by any untoward incident in or around Dera Bugti or Sui.

The official said that if Bugti is largely satisfied with the steps taken by the government accepting his demands, he would not be averse to meeting Musharraf.

However, such a meeting would take place only after significant harmony between Bugti and the government on most contentious issues, the official said. Musharraf recently declared that Bugti would have to come to Islamabad for a meeting with him. In any case, the president is unlikely to go all the way to Dera Bugti to have a session with him.

Well before the situation deteriorated in his native town in January this year, Bugti had confined himself to Dera Bugti. He has not even been travelling to Quetta. However, age does not seem to be an impediment as he is mentally and physically as alert and sharp as ever.

The main worry of the government is the purported private army - numbering 5,000 according to Musharraf - that Bugti has, which it wants to disarmed and disbanded because "we can’t allow a state within a state" - in the words of the official.

According to the president, two other defiant tribal leaders, Nawab Khair Bukhsh Marri and Ataullah Mengal, also have their own private armies, with nearly 11,000 men. Musharraf also alleged that the tribal chiefs arrange arms for their armies.

The official said Shujaat and Mushahid had conveyed to Bugti paramount concerns of the president and asked him to redress them if he wanted his demands to be accepted. He said these concerns would gradually be removed when significant progress is made in improvement of relations between Bugti and the government and after both sides have taken measures to build confidence.

JI for probe into on Dera Bugti killings

By our correspondent

LAHORE: Jamaat-e-Islami Deputy Secretary-General Farid Ahmad Piracha on Monday called upon the government to set up an commission, comprising high court judges to investigate into the March 17 incident in Dera Bugti. Addressing a press conference, he also demanded compensations to the bereaved families through tribal Jirga.

Slaughtered girls buried amid protest

By our correspondent

QUETTA: Two teenaged girls, who were slaughtered on Sunday last in Dalbandin, were buried on Monday in a graveyard, amidst strong protest of the town’s citizens against the killings. Businesses remained closed there as a mark of protest. The decomposed bodies of 15 and 13 years’ old girls were found from the main roundabout of Dalbandin on Sunday morning with their heads and eyebrows shaved. Meanwhile, a vehicle believed to have been used in the killings was recovered by the police from Dawoodabad area here. Tension prevailed in the city, as the police launched a massive manhunt.

Farid demands commission on Dera Bugti killings

By Our Correspondent

JAMAAT-e-Islami Deputy Secretary-General MNA Farid Ahmad Piracha said the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal was the first to draw the public attention towards the Dera Bugti clash in the National Assembly.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, he said that a parliamentary delegation had visited Sui on March 22 which was briefed by General Shujaat Dar and Brigadier Salim of the Frontier Constabulary. "The delegation observed the March 17 incident was not the result of any planning but an accident occurred due to anxiety on both sides," he added.

Farid charged that General Shujaat Dar had briefed the delegation in an authoritative manner and did not express his concern over the deaths of 62 innocents civilians.

He said that the 62 people killed at Dera Bugti were innocent and they were not a party to the clash. "The unnecessary operation by some FC officers was behind the killings," he said and feared that there was a possibility of a bigger incident due to the prevailing tension in Dera Bugti.

He called upon the government to set up an investigation commission comprising high court judges to investigate the March 17 incident. He also demanded compensations to the bereaved families through tribal Jirga.

Hope over Balochistan

Even though it has a dominant official colour to it, the news from Balochistan raises hope of peace. According to the two-member team of the Pakistan Muslim League, Nawab Akbar Bugti has agreed to a dialogue to resolve the biggest issue the country is faced with today. Mushahid Hussain, PML secretary-general who called on Nawab Bugti in Dera Bugti on Sunday along with party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, says that an agreement was discussed, but details cannot yet be divulged.

Even the generally frank Information Minister Sheikh Rashid will only say that the problem is nearing a 'logical solution' and is reluctant to share details of the package offered to Nawab Bugti. What we know is that a committee headed by Mushahid Hussain, including a nominee each of the government and Nawab Bugti, is to be formed. The government has already named its representative, a brigadier.

It is not difficult to guess what agitates Bugti: royalty on gas; jobs for locals; the setting up of cantonments in the province. Everyone will be hoping that the solution is long lasting and addresses the real causes behind the current unrest; that it will contain no element of blackmail, and what is most difficult for a region as diverse as Balochistan, that it will not generate acrimony among other players who have their own demands to make of the government.

It is significant that two men from Punjab, and from the oft maligned clan of the politicians at that, successfully initiated talks with the angry Baloch sardar. It is too early to say whether the Mushahid-Shujaat thrust for normality in Balochistan can rid our politicians' or Punjab of the unenviable reputation of being selfish. This will be determined by how fairly the committee works and what conclusions it reaches, and how many measures based on these conclusions are acceptable to the military establishment. Let's keep our fingers crossed.


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