Friday, April 15, 2005

Agreement with Akbar Bugti being implemented: Shujaat

Agreement with Akbar Bugti being implemented: Shujaat

* PML president says government will raise gas royalty to Balochistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain told a news conference on Thursday that implementation of the agreement with Nawab Akbar Bugt had started.

Shujaat said the government had agreed to increase the annual gas royalty for Balochistan. He praised President General Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti for helping the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan to settle the area’s problems after the events of March 17.

Committee members visited Dera Bugti three times and settled the issue, Shujaat said but did not disclose other details of the agreement with Bugti.

He said that all the check posts and pickets set up against the backdrop of March 17 events were closed and “only a few check posts remain for the protection of Nawab Akbar Bugti and national installations.” The PML president also spoke about the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) welcome preparations, saying that Asif Ali Zardari’s return would not make a difference to the political scenario.

He warned the PPP to stop spreading misconceptions about a “so-called deal” with the government otherwise the concessions given to Zardari would be withdrawn.Talking about PML Sindh’s political situa tion, Shujaat said the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission had submitted its report and a decision in this regard would be taken after the return of Arbab Ghulam Rahim from his foreign tour. “According to the commission’s report, corruption allegations against Imtiaz Sheikh were unsubstantiated,” he said. Rahim ousted Imtiaz from the Sindh cabinet on corruption charges.

In Quetta, militant tribesmen and paramilitary troops ended a month-long standoff over a key road near a town where a gun battle had killed 60 people. Frontier Corps soldiers removed bunkers from the 48-kilometre road and hilltops between the main gas fields of Sui and Dera Bugti in Balochistan, said local administration official Raziq Bugti, adding that the tribesmen had also left most of their posts along the desert highway. “The road is now open and people have started returning to their homes,” said Nawab Akbar Bugti. He said that his men had vacated a number of their posts along the road.

The Baloch nationalist leader also demanded an independent commission to investigate the killings in Dera Bugti last month. Sher Ali Mazari has left for Islamabad to present a report to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Sayyed. agencies

Opp boycotts Balochistan committee meeting

* Government members not informed about Bugti’s demands

ISLAMABAD: Not even a single member from the opposition parties were at the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan’s meeting that discussed Senator Dilawar Abbas’ formula of increasing gas royalty and share of the small provinces in next National Finance Commission (NFC) award.

The Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) boycotted the meeting because of a recent spate of arrests of its members in Lahore. The committee meeting lasted for two hours.

Senator Raza Muhammad Raza, the Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) leader, was the only representative of the opposition, but he too boycotted the proceedings when his request to adjourn the meeting was not accepted by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the chairman of the committee.

Because the meeting was hurriedly called, representatives of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) could not reach Islamabad.

In the absence of the opposition parties, Chaudhry Shujaat and Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed briefed the MPs about their recent visits to Dera Bugti and dialogue with Nawab Akbar Bugti. They claimed the situation in Dera Bugti and Sui improved because of timely intervention of the government. They said the situation would come to normal in that part of Balochistan, in near future.

Sources privy to the meeting said the two leaders did not divulge any information about what Akbar Bugti had demanded or what the government had offered him to normalise the situation in the area.

Senator Raza told Daily Times that he had suggested to the committee’s chairman to postpone the meeting owing to the opposition’s absence. It was a very important meeting and required full participation by the members.

Senator Mohim Khan Baloch, a treasury member, also demanded the meeting should be postponed because of the opposition’s absence. shahzad raza

SECOND OPINION: Are our politicians wiser now? —Khaled Ahmed Urdu Press Review

An optimistic gloss on self-criticism would say that our politicians are moving towards maturity. In parliament, Khwaja Asif has also confessed to cooking up cases against Zardari. But tragically the rhetoric among political rivals is still very sharp and scary

There is some evidence that our politicians have become wiser after being in the wilderness since 1999. Some of them have expressed their sorrow over the way they behaved with each other when they were alternating in power in the 1990s.

Leader of PMLN, Javed Hashmi was quoted by Khabrain (February 10, 2005) as saying that Nawaz Sharif was a man of great patience and observation but did not believe in consulting people before taking decisions. That was why so many of his PML colleagues made the principled decision to leave him and join Musharraf. Mr Hashmi said he had supported the appointment of General Musharraf as COAS but he was sure that had General Ziauddin of the ISI taken over he too would have deposed Nawaz Sharif.

Makhdoom Javed Hashmi has always been a firebrand in the PMLN and least likely to make self-damaging confessions. This is a commentary on his leadership that can’t easily be ignored. An optimistic gloss on it would say that our politicians are moving towards maturity. In parliament, Khwaja Asif has repeated the gesture of mea culpa vis à vis Asif Zardari. Tragically the rhetoric among the political rivals is still very sharp and scary.

According to Khabrain (February 10, 2005) General Zia had told the Muslim League politicians that if they accepted his 8th Amendment powers, he would announce the taking off of his uniform during his address to the joint session of parliament. After the politicians allowed him to take the powers, he addressed the parliament but would not announce his retirement from the army. On this, Haji Saifullah and others passed him a chit saying he should fulfil his pledge but the general ignored the chit and put it in his pocket.

Zia had imposed martial law and Islam. That was his base of power, supplemented no doubt by the international support he was getting for his Afghan jihad. Generals coming after him will not have his kind of leverage inside or outside Pakistan; they won’t even be able to impose martial law.

Daily Nawa-e-Waqt (February 11, 2005) editorialised that the people of Pakistan were greatly incensed at the project of Iranian gas pipeline transiting through Pakistan to India. The paper said it was folly on the part of the petroleum minister Jadoon to welcome the Indian request to discuss the pipeline for increasing its diameter from 20 inches to 40 inches. The editorial said that Pakistan should not betray its Kashmir policy for the fee of $500 million that it expected to get from the transit pipeline. Pakistan should think of Kashmir which the Indians were unwilling to discuss and the dams they were building to make Pakistan go dry. The pipeline would allow India to become prosperous while Pakistan would get only $500 million.

It is amazing how the attitudes have changed in Pakistan. When the pipeline was first mooted, everybody and his uncle said no to it, giving the excuses given above. Today, Pakistan is itself in an energy crunch like India. Finally the warriors will be persuaded to favour the economy.

According to Nawa-e-Waqt (February 12, 2005) the Quetta DIG held a press conference saying that the police had arrested one Hassan Marri and caught him with 120 kg of explosive powder. He also had a bank account with Rs 35 million in it. His bag contained letters written to and for Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The man was one of the bodyguards of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and had many photographs snapped with the Nawab. The DIG said that the BLA was no bigger than a couple of dozen men who were being organised internally and helped by a power outside which could not yet be named. Hassan Marri was caught inside Marri territory living in a castle-like house.

The BLA is small and funded no doubt by a couple of sardars, but the real trouble in Balochistan is that the Baloch youth and the Baloch in general include the Sardars, and what they do, in their sub-nationalism. Such nationalisms fall apart after succeeding, if they do succeed.

Reported by Jang, (February 13, 2005) Pakistan’s foremost film star actress Mira was receiving death threats from various quarters for acting in a ‘shameless’ manner in an Indian film. She was acting in Mahesh Bhatt’s film titled Nazar and had to dance around with a Hindu actor named Patel. While dancing she was also shown becoming quite intimate with the Hindu actor. The threats to her were based on Islamic objections. Mira requested Bhatt to cut out the intimate scenes but he refused. Mira does routine intimate scenes with Muslim actors. According to Khabrain, dancer Nargis failed to appear in a court in Gujranwala to hear charges of fahashi (obscenity) and was issued warrants for arrest by the magistrate. Nawa-e-Waqt wrote that Mira doing compromising scenes with Patel had married twice while her mother was about to announce her fifth marriage. Mira had divorced twice but pretended to be a virgin.

Pakistan is inclined to attacking culture as fahashi unless the rulers realise what they are allowing the people to do. There is no criterion in this madness. Take a look at the Pakistani movies and you will see the fahashi there as well. Why go after Mira? After you are done with her, there will of course be others.

Columnist Irshad Haqqani quoted a former Sibi commissioner in Jang (February 13, 2005) as saying that Balochistan received Rs 5 billion as royalty for gas which went straight into the Provincial Consolidated Fund and did not go to any tribe or sardar. On the other hand, the gas company PPL was paying for the use of the land where it had its machines and pipes spread around in hundreds of kilometres. Dera Bugti had the following areas covered by the PPL assets: Uchch, Pirkoh and Loi. The Bugti tribes who received this rental annually were: Raeja, Pirozani, Chandarani, Notani, etc. (Nawab Akbar Bugti belongs to the Raeja sub-tribe.) The money reaching the ordinary tribal was not much.

The royalty of course has to be increased. The matter of Sui can be resolved by ensuring that the rental is reasonable and that the affected tribes get the welfare funding that is theirs by right.

Writing in Jang, (February 14, 2005) Javed Qureshi stated that Gwadar was being built in Pakistan by the Chinese. For their own reasons, India and America did not want the port to be built. Both feared that China’s influence in Balochistan would increase as a result. America had also started another campaign in tandem with this: it had accused AQ Khan of more illegal contacts among the Arab states.

American firms (and Scandinavian) looking for contracts on the free market principle might have protested with official help, but there is no official ‘strategic’ objection from Washington. As for India, military officers of rank have ‘opined’ about Gwadar as being dangerous, just as they have objected to the KKH in the past. Now that China is about to become India’s strategic partner, Gwadar may become less ‘dangerous’. AQ Khan has done what AQ Khan has done. The non-proliferationists will do what they can do. *

Increase in Balochistan gas royalty suggested

By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, April 14: The Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan has recommended an increase of around Rs1.48 billion in the gas royalty being paid to the province by the centre, a source told Dawn here on Thursday.

The source said the committee, which met here on Thursday with the president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, in chair, discussed the formula of increase in gas royalty presented by Senator Syed Dilawar Abbas.

The source said Senator Abbas had suggested that the federal government should increase the well-head price of the gas from the existing Rs26 per unit to Rs70 per unit. After this increase, the gas royalty of Balochistan would be increased from Rs6.32 billion to Rs7.80 billion, he said.

The source said the opposition members had boycotted the parliamentary committee meeting owing to various reasons. Some of the opposition members complained that they had not been informed about the time of the meeting while the People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP) members Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Raza Rabbani informed the committee chairman that they were boycotting the meeting to protest the arrest of a large number of party activists by the government to stop them from receiving Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday.

Later, briefing reporters, PML chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said as a result of his "successful meetings" with Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief Nawab Akbar Bugti, roads and markets in Dera Bugti and Sui had been opened and people were busy in normal activities in the areas.

He said it had been decided that all unnecessary checkpoints would be removed from Dera Bugti. Chaudhry Shujaat praised President Gen Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Nawab Akbar Bugti and FC men for extending cooperation to him during his visits to Balochistan, and said all of them gave importance to the national cause.

The PML chief said the committee had been successful in resolving the issues of Sui and Dera Bugti and the issue of gas royalty would also be resolved soon. He said Senator Dilawar Abbas had presented a formula on gas royalty which would be taken to parliament.

About the opposition's boycott, the PML chief said some of the members had objections over the committee's composition. As far as the PPP was concerned, he said, they were busy in preparations of a "Dhamal" (dance) in Lahore.

Mr Hussain said the arrival of Asif Zardari had no link with the ongoing reconciliation process in the country. He said the PPP wanted to give an impression that Mr Zardari was arriving in the country as a result of any understanding with the government, which was wrong. He said the government would not allow Mr Zardari to use the shoulders of others to fulfil his dreams of becoming a leader.

The PML chief, however, said that he did not have any hard feelings for the PPP. He said it was because of his soft corner for the PPP that he had offered Makhdoom Amin Fahim a share in the Sindh government.

He again invited all the opposition parties to hold negotiations on different issues with the government. He said that he had recently contacted opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman and asked him to attend the National Security Council meeting.

Replying to a question, the PML president said that according to initial report of the inquiry commission, corruption charges had not been proved against former Sindh revenue minister Imtiaz Sheikh. He said the ongoing political crisis in Sindh would be resolved once Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim returned from the UK.

Owais stresses talks to resolve all issues

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, April 14: Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani said on Thursday that the Dera Bugti issue had been resolved as a result of the government's desire to solve all problems through negotiation and conciliation.

Talking to newsmen after the oath-taking ceremony of Balochistan Ombudsman Fazalur Rehman at Governor's House, he said: "It is the government's policy to give preference to conciliation and political dialogue to find solution of all political issues instead of using force."

He said the resolution of the Dera Bugti issue through negotiation had negated the propaganda about a military operation in Balochistan. "It was a wrong impression that the government wanted to launch a military operation in the province," he said.

He said the issue had been resolved without use of force and Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti was also responding positively. He said it depended on both the parties to jointly move ahead.

He said the government was making all possible efforts to address the longstanding issues and demands of Balochistan and a lot of work had been done in this connection. He said the parliamentary committee set up by the government would also come up with important results and recommendations.

"Negotiation is in progress on all longstanding problems of the province and it is now incumbent on each of us to create a conducive atmosphere so that the parliamentary committee can work smoothly," the governor said.

He said the parliamentary committee would resume its work in a day or two. Replying to a question, he said those involved in the kidnapping and manhandling of National Party leaders had been identified that they belonged to a three-member gang of car lifters. "Two of them belong to the Ghaibzai tribe while the third is a local Baloch," he said, adding that they would be arrested soon.

Responding to a question, the governor said strict measures were being taken to check smuggling of weapons into the province. Referring to the agitation launched by students against the arrest of some of their leaders from the Balochistan University, he said there should not be any political activity on the premises of educational institutions. "The government has decided not to allow any politics in the educational institutions," he said.

The governor said he had talked to leaders, including Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Dr Abdul Hayee, in this regard and they had assured him of their support regarding the ban. Earlier, the governor administered oath to the new ombudsman.

QUETTA: Monument planned in Dera Bugti

By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, April 14: Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti has announced that a monument will be built in Dera Bugti in memory of people who lost their lives in the March 17 incident.

In a statement issued on re-opening of the Sui-Dera Bugti road, he said a memorial tower would be built and names of the 'martyrs' of Dera Bugti would be inscribed, so that the coming generations would remember them as heroes of national rights.

He said the closure or the re-opening of a road was not important; "it is mere reorganization of the front keeping in view the objective conditions. It should not be of any help to the enemy but to tighten the cordon around him.

It will widen the area of struggle; it is a change of tactics, making every house and area of the Baloch, instead of a particular place or tribe, dangerous for the enemy. No-one should consider the Baloch an easy prey." He said 70 Bugtis were killed in the incident.

Conflict in Dera Bugti

This has reference to Prof Anwar Syed's article "Conflict in Dera Bugti" (April 10). I appreciate his effort for initiating a healthy debate on this issue. He has discussed the overall scenario prevailing around Dera Bugti, proving the demands by Nawab Akbar Bugti as illegal and illegitimate in the light of Articles 24 and 172.

He has also held Nawab Akbar Bugti responsible for lawlessness, supported the establishment and criticized those who support a dialogue process. His views seem to be based on published government material.

Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan through an instrument of accession signed by the then Khan of Kalat, Ahmed Yar Khan, dated March 27, 1948 (under debatable circumstances) and accepted by Quadi-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, dated March 31, 1948.

Since Mr Syed has questioned the Baloch people's claims on the their resources in the light of Articles 24 and 172 of the Constitution, it will not be out of place to bring to light Article 6 of the Instrument of Accession which says: "Nothing in this Instrument shall empower the Dominion Legislature (Pakistan) to make any law for this state (Kalat or Balochistan), authorizing the compulsory acquisition of land for any purpose, but I hereby undertake that should the Dominion for the purpose of a Dominion law which applies to this state deem it necessary to acquire any land, I will at their request acquire the land at their expense or if the land belongs to me transfer it to them on such terms as may be agreed, or, in default of agreement, determined by arbitrator to be appointed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

"The terms of this my Instrument of Accession should not be varied by any amendment unless such amendment is accepted by me by instrument supplementary to this Instrument."

Baloch nationalists claim that after exploration of the natural gas at Sui in 1952, the Constitution was amended overnight without their consent, wherein natural resources were taken as federal government property.

Balochistan demanded the due share from the natural gas for the development of local area according to the provisions of the Indian Mining Act 1935 in vogue at that time, but no one listened to them.

In addition, it is not an issue limited to Dera Bugti. It is a sense of deprivation all over Balochistan that has caused the furore. It is probably arrogance on our part that researchers, political scientists, sociologists and strategists have adapted a sort of a rock mentality and are not ready to see the other side of the picture.

Balochistan deserves serious attention of scholars like Prof Syed and others to diagnose the situation through in-depth research. One-sided contention will only add insult to the injury.


Via email

A welcome development

CH Shujaat Hussain's mediation mission has finally borne fruit. The road between Dera Bugti and Sui, closed since March 17, has been opened for traffic. This would allow food, medicines and other essentials to reach Dera Bugti after more than three weeks, and encourage those who had been forced to leave the city, both common people and government employees, to return. A number of posts set up by the FC and armed Bugtis have also been removed. The lifting of the siege of the FC fort by tribesmen would enable the government to dispatch provisions, which were being airlifted, by road. The peaceful resolution of the issue proves that negotiation is the most efficient and least costly way of sorting out disputes. Both the federal government and Nawab Akbar Bugti deserve credit for displaying statesmanship, as do the two committee members who shuttled between Islamabad and Dera Bugti for their perseverance.
However, what must not be lost sight of is that the opening of the road is only the first step towards a distant goal and that the path leading to it is full of pitfalls. There is a perception that if those negotiating with Nawab Bugti were allowed to take decisions on their own, the tragic encounter between the Bugtis and the FC, for which both sides are still swapping blame, could have been avoided. The JWP has now demanded an independent enquiry into the incident, and even presented a list of 15 persons from all over the country for the government to choose any three to constitute the commission. As the number of casualties from both sides has been significant, 70 allegedly dead on the Bugti side and eight FC personnel, the demand is by no means unreasonable. Unless an independent commission finds out the truth and makes recommendations aimed at stopping the recurrence of such incidents, accusations and counter-accusations will go on vitiating the atmosphere. This could even introduce another complication in the volatile situation in Balochistan.
The dismantling of checkposts and trenches should restore trust among the two sides and encourage them to resolve the remaining disputes pertaining to Sui and Dera Bugti. The government understandably gives priority to the security of the gas installations for which it has decided to build a cantonment. The Bugtis on the other hand oppose this, suspecting it is meant to control them. The issue can be resolved by ensuring a fair share to the province from gas income, which would be responsible for ensuring that the people of the area are duly benefited. If the Bugti tribe is then willing to guarantee the security of the installations, there should be no need for a cantonment in an area far off from the border. It is time the parliamentary committee headed by Ch Shujaat Hussain is re-activated. The Mushahid sub-committee should recommend measures to allay fears about mega-projects and new cantonments, redress widespread grievances related to the FC and Coast Guards and suggest concrete steps to bring Balochistan at par with other provinces. The Sajjad sub-committee should urgently give final shape to constitutional amendments aimed at enhancing provincial autonomy.


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