QUETTA, April 10: Former Punjab chief minister and PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif has admitted that removal of the Akhtar Mengal government by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998 was a mistake.
Talking to newsmen on Wednesday at the residence of Akhtar Mengal, chief of the Balochistan National Party-M, Shahbaz Sharif said the decision was “very bad” and PML-N president Nawaz Sharif had already regretted it in public.
“We can block the way of undemocratic forces if we cooperate with each other in the coming elections. Anti-democracy forces are trying to defeat democratic forces and implement their own agenda.
“The Baloch people have a great role to play as Balochistan is a part of Pakistan,” Shahbaz Sharif added.
He deplored military operations in the province and the assassination in 2006 of Akbar Bugti.
Akhtar Mengal said efforts were under way to keep the BNP-M out of the election race.
He called upon the government to ensure recovery of all missing persons and punish all culprits.
He said the government should disarm groups which were trying to prevent party leaders and the candidates from visiting their constituencies.
The BNP-M chief said an equal opportunity should be provided to all parties to take part freely in the elections.
Akhtar Mengal also called for rehabilitation of all people who left their homes after operations in different regions of the province.
The BNP-M chief said Mr Sharif’s visit to Quetta was a goodwill gesture and expressed hopes that such moves would bring the political parties close to each other and make them strong to fight undemocratic forces.
The PML-N leader later visited the residence of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai and sounded him out about prospects for collaboration between their parties for elections.
Shahbaz Sharif said the PML-N would support Mr Achakzai in NA 259, a constituency in Quetta city.
Mr Achakzai had won the 1993 elections from Quetta-Chagai with the support of Pakistan Muslim League.
Mr Achakzai underlined the need for a Baloch-Pakhtun alliance and said his party believed in equal rights for all nationalities.
He said his party wanted a democratic Pakistan in which all provinces enjoyed autonomy.
The PkMAP chief said injustices had bred hatred, but “if we honour rights of each other, there will be no problem. All issues can be resolved through talks and understanding”.
Later Shahbaz Sharif met Senior Vice President of the National Party, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, and President of Jamhoori Watan Party, Talal Akbar Bugti.