QUETTA: Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, the provincial chief of Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), wanted to the police in an arms smuggling case, surrendered to the authorities on Saturday after a meeting at his residence with Balochistan Home Minister Mir Zafarullah Zehri. The 26 body guards of Mr Bugti, who also face the same charge, were also arrested.
In 2010, Mr Bugti and his men were coming to Quetta from Chaman when FC personnel stopped them at the Bileli checkpost and took them into custody on the charge of carrying illegal arms in their vehicles. A sessions court released them on bail. The provincial government challenged the decision in the Supreme Court and earlier this month a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry cancelled the bail.
On Saturday, the home minister went to the residence of Mr Shahzain, the grandson of the slain nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, and informed him that warrants for his arrest had been issued and he should surrender to the police. “I court arrest along with my 26 guards who have been nominated with me in a fake case of arms and ammunition smuggling,” Mr Bugti told reporters outside his house.
The minister took Mr Bugti to the Quetta district jail in his official vehicle under heavy security. The JWP leader’s guards were detained and driven away by the police.
Mr Zehri said he had himself brought Mr Bugti from the Machh central jail after the sessions court had granted him bail and now he was taking him to the Quetta district jail because his bail had been cancelled by the Supreme Court.
Police and law-enforcement agencies personnel cordoned off Mr Bugti’s residence on the New Al Gilani road.
When DIG (operation) Qazi Wahid informed him that they had come to arrest him, Mr Bugti said a fake case had been instituted against him and his guards because he had announced his plan to launch a long march on Dera Bugti. “The government prepared a fake case against me and my guards just to sabotage the JWP’s long march programme.” The JWP leader said that there was contradiction in Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statements, adding that on one side Mr Malik offered to hold talks with the exiled Baloch leaders and withdraw cases against them, on the other fake cases were being registered against him which would only deepen distrust between Balochistan and the centre.
He alleged that rulers had always deceived the Baloch people. They hanged the Baloch leaders after requesting them to come down from mountains and hold talks, adding that in similar way they had eliminated Akbar Bugti.
He said his case had been disposed of within no time, but nobody had taken notice of the case in which former home minister Mir Shoaib Nausherwani had been nominated in the Akbar Bugti murder case. He said despite the fact that arrest warrants had been issued against Mr Nausherwani he was accorded VIP treatment by police when he was brought to cast his vote in the recent Senate election.
Mr Bugti said the case against him was baseless and had been registered to put pressure on him. “The case was registered after 10 hours and the number of recovered weapons was not mentioned in the FIR,” he said, adding the sessions court had granted him bail because there was nothing against him in the case.
He said he and his party had struggled for the rights of Baloch people while remaining within the framework of Pakistan. “We honour law and will face cases in courts,” the JWP’s provincial leader said, adding he would again file a bail plea.
Mr Bugti alleged that agencies had kidnapped his counsel Mukesh Kohli so that no lawyer could represent him in the court.
The JWP leaders and workers present on the occasion raised slogans in favour of Mr Bugti and against the government.
Amanullah Kasi adds: The women’s wing of the JWP condemned Mr Bugti’s arrest and said he was implicated in a false case to pressure his family to give up its struggle.
The protesters assembled outside the press club and raised slogans and demanded he be freed immediately.
They held the government and intelligence agencies responsible for the crisis in Balochistan.