QUETTA: Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) president Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal has urged the federal government to postpone the upcoming census, saying that situation in Balochistan is not favourable for conducting the population survey.

Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, he said Balochistan “is in a state of war” and the situation would not allow the census staff to reach areas where Baloch people lived.

Mr Mengal was accompanied by BNP-M’s secretary general Senator Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, secretary information Hasan Agha, Prince Musa Jan, Malik Andul Wali Kakar, Ahmed Nawaz Baloch and other leaders of the party.

He said conducting a census was very important for the country but the federal government had decided to carry out the exercise without consulting political parties. The centre had even ignored point of views of provincial governments, he added.

He said that during the last election people could not turn up at polling stations in Baloch-dominated areas because of bad security situation. When the government could not provide security to voters, how it would ensure security for the census staff in areas where situation was still not normal, he wondered.

The BNP-M chief said that thousands of Afghan and other foreign refugees were living in Balochistan illegally and his party would not accept the census in their presence. These foreign refugees must be repatriated before the start of population survey because if the census was held in their presence the Baloch majority in the province would convert into a minority. “Conducting census in the present situation would be a conspiracy against the Baloch people,” he added.

Mr Mengal said almost all political parties representing Balochistan were opposed to the census in the presence of refugees.

The BNP-M chief called upon all political parties to get united on this issue.

He said Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani was respectable to his party and he would request him to support BNP-M on this issue.

He said his party would use all options to postpone the census and one of the options was to approach the court of law.

Mr Mengal said that security situation was not satisfactory in Balochistan, adding that even in Quetta attacks were made on polio teams and security personnel.

Talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that his party had reservations over the project.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2016

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