PM invites Baloch leadership for talks -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PM invites Baloch leadership for talks

ISLAMABAD: It is old wine in new bottle. Presiding over a special meeting on Balochistan on Monday, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said: “I have invited Baloch leadership for dialogue to address all their grievances within the framework of the federation.”

In his opening remarks at the meeting, he said: “Let me categorically declare that Balochistan issue is on my priority list and I have invited disgruntled Baloch leaders to start dialogue with the government to resolve the crisis at the earliest.”

Mr Ashraf said: “I will soon visit Balochistan with a view to finding out an acceptable solution of the Balochistan problem after holding detailed discussion with all stakeholders.”

The prime minister also directed Law Minister Farooq H. Naik to hold a meeting on Tuesday, exclusively on missing persons, with defence, interior and law secretaries, Balochistan chief secretary, IG FC, IB chief, head of ISI in Balochistan and IG police.

The issue of missing persons in Balochistan has witnessed progress in preceding months primarily because of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry whose intervention has reportedly led to the recovery of many missing persons.

The prime minister said that with the withdrawal of army and deployment of FC tangible results had been achieved. Now FC sought guidance and instructions from Chief Minister Aslam Raisani on the issue of internal security, he was quoted as saying in an official handout issued after the meeting.

The Balochistan chief minister once again pressed for more money under the head of development grants and complete control of FC as far as its deployment in the province was concerned, a participant of the meeting told Dawn.

He said Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad warned the prime minister of impending dangers if a timely political solution wasn’t found by the government.

“I am afraid things could get out of hands in Balochistan if the government doesn’t reach out to estranged Baloch leaders,” the chief secretary is reported to have said at the meeting.

When the prime minister asked about missing persons, heads of law-enforcement agencies complained one by one against unnamed elements for bringing them into disrepute as if they were directly involved in the crime, a source said.

“We have repeatedly shown evidence to the chief justice of the Supreme Court on the situation in the province and the role of law-enforcement agencies, but failed to prove our point,” the prime minister was told when he inquired about the ongoing hearing in the apex court on the issue of missing persons.

The meeting decided to put up a strong legal team to defend the agencies’ role in the province. However, Raja Ashraf cautioned the agencies and said they were being checked to ensure that they should not act independently in connection with law and order and only provide assistance to the provincial government when required.

Another official source told Dawn that Law Minister Farooq Naek has been given a prominent role to fix the law and order situation in Balochistan.

Senator Raza Rabbani had earlier headed a cabinet committee constituted to assess the needs of the province and “to very minutely review the situation and firm up its recommendations for reduction in the sense of alienation and deprivation”.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani, Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar, Petroleum Secretary Ejaz Chaudhry, Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad, IB chief Aftab Sultan, IG FC Maj Gen Obaidullah Khan and IG (Police) Balochistan Tariq Umar Khitab.

APP adds: The prime minister said despite its financial constraints the government would ensure provision of funds for public welfare programmes in Balochistan.

He mentioned the financing of mega projects, particularly Gwadar Ratu Dero Road (M-8), Kachhi Canal, Gwadar Deep seaport on a priority basis.

He said the federal government had committed an amount of Rs1 billion for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons of Dera Bugti district.

He said the federal government was fully aware of the excesses committed against the people and the province which caused a serious sense of deprivation.

He said besides moving towards a solution of the issues and meeting the demands of Balochs, the government had tendered an unconditional apology to them.

The prime minister said that although the politically motivated activities in Balochistan were quite serious, the graph of conventional crimes was also on the rise.

He said the federal government had sanctioned 3,000 posts of Federal Levies for law and order duties and highway security in Balochistan.

Raja Pervez said the government was committed to providing Rs2 billion for the purchase of arms ammunition, communication equipment and required transport for police and levies in the province.

He directed the Balochistan government to speed up its efforts for protecting the highways, key installations, particularly gas and electricity, so that the pace of development was properly maintained.

The menace of kidnapping for ransom also needed to be curbed with an iron hand, he added.