QUETTA: Sardar Akhtar Mengal, chief of the Balochistan National Party-M (BNP-M), has called for an end to the military operation, release of all Baloch political prisoners and abolition of alleged death squads before the general elections.
Speaking at a public meeting at the Hockey Ground here on Sunday, he warned that the people of Balochistan could take their “own decision” if the demands were not accepted.
In spite of heavy rain, a large number of people attended Mr Mengal’s first public meeting here in four years. The Baloch nationalist returned to the country recently.
Hundreds of supporters were present at the airport to welcome him on his arrival from Karachi. He was taken to the ground at the head of a big procession.
“The BNP-M has decided to participate in the general elections after consulting all party leaders and activists for the sake of peace and protection of the rights of Balochistan’s oppressed people,” he said.
However, he added, the party would not launch its election campaign until its demands for an end to the military operation, release of Baloch political prisoners and abolition of ‘death squads’ were accepted.
Mr Mengal advised the rulers to take major steps to address the grievances of the Baloch before “it is too late”.
He said the BNP-M’s executive committee had decided to participate in the elections, but the decision could be reviewed if things did not improve.
“People in other provinces are busy filing nomination papers, but in this province we are offering Fateha with relatives of those whose mutilated bodies are found every now and then.”
Mr Mengal said mutilated bodies were being dumped in Wadh, Khuzdar and Turbat. “How can the Baloch people take part in elections in such a situation,” he wondered.
He said improvement of the situation in the province depended on end to interference by the intelligence agencies and dumping of mutilated bodies, recovery of missing persons and disbanding of death squads.
He said he would not oppose trial of people involved in unlawful activities, but they should be brought to courts.
“No power has a right to eliminate people through death squads.”
The BNP-M chief criticised the previous government for not having taken steps to stop military operation and dumping of bodies.
He said the BNP-M was a democratic party that devised its policies freely without any pressure or dictation from outside forces and “we will not accept directives either from the state or non-state actors”.
Every political group had a right to decide its course of action and “we believe in coexistence and tolerating each other’s point of view”, he added.
In a veiled reference to threats by Baloch militants, he said independence could not be achieved through infighting.
“When we do not oppose the struggle of others, why others are opposing our decisions,” he asked, and added that interference in each other’s affairs would affect the “struggle to protect the coast and resources of Balochistan”.
Mr Mengal said it was a matter of satisfaction that over the past six decades usurpers had failed to suppress the Baloch nationalist forces.
He alleged that the Baloch people were being deceived in the name of Islam and the ‘ideology of Pakistan’.