ISLAMABAD: The PML-N has assured Baloch nationalist parties of its complete support if they decide to contest the next general election.
According to sources in the PML-N, the support was extended by Nawaz Sharif during his meetings with Balochistan National Party (BNP) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) leader Talal Bugti.
A senior PML-N leader told Dawn on Tuesday that the offer was not only for the BNP and JWP, but for all the nationalist parties in the restive province which had boycotted the elections in 2008. “We want to bring them to the mainstream politics.”
He was of the opinion that current legislators in the province were not real representatives of the Baloch people. “We are looking for like-minded parties to increase our representation since the party secured only one National Assembly seat from Balochistan in 2008 elections,” he said.
Another PML-N leader confirmed the move to persuade the BNP, JWP and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party to take part in the elections and said that if they agreed the PML-N would join hands with them against the ruling coalition.
It would provide the PML-N an opportunity to perform well with the assistance of nationalist parties since the party had presence in some areas of Balochistan, he added.
At a time when President Asif Ali Zardari has been busy in cementing PPP’s alliance with its coalition partners, Nawaz Sharif is reaching out to nationalist and other regional parties in the country.
According to a political analyst, President Zardari is not only expressing his desire to remain with the PML-Q, ANP and MQM but also accepting their demands. He has accepted a long-standing demand of the MQM to revert to the Musharraf-era local government model in Sindh.
Answering a question, the PML-N leader said the party had decided that instead of forging a national level electoral alliance, it would join hands with small regional parties.
PML-N spokesperson Senator Mushahidullah said: “During the meetings we didn’t discuss specific electoral alliance with the leaders of BNP and JWP, but we have asked them to join the mainstream politics so that we can confront political parties currently sitting in the government.”
The PML-N supports Akhtar Mengal’s six points which includes a demand that Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies.
Other demands are: all covert and overt military operations against Baloch people should be ended immediately; all missing persons should be procured before a court of law; all proxy death squads operating in a manner like Al Shams and Al Badar operated (in Bangladesh) allegedly under the supervision of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded; persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of bodies of Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice; and measures should be initiated for rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition.
At a press conference in Lahore after meeting Nawaz Sharif, Talal Bugti warned the people of Punjab that mistakes committed in East Pakistan in 1971 were being repeated.
The two leaders pledged to bring on board all genuine political forces of Balochistan.