Govt offers talks to self-exiled Baloch leaders

Updated August 15, 2016

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ZIARAT: The political and military leaderships in Balochistan have once again invited self-exiled Baloch leaders to come to the negotiating table and hold talks, saying that dialogue is the only way to find a solution to all issues.

Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Commander of Southern Command Lt Gen Aamir Riaz said that they would welcome Baloch leaders’ return to the country.

Nawab Zehri and Lt Gen Aamir Riaz extended this offer of talks while speaking at the national flag-hoisting ceremony at the Quaid-i-Azam Residency in Ziarat on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day celebrations on Sunday.

Provincial Ministers Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal, Dr Hamid Achakzai, Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattah, Inspector General of Frontier Corps Maj Gen Sher Afgun, Balochistan IG Police Ahsan Mehboob, senior civil and military officials, students of various schools and universities and tribal elders attended the ceremony.

Nawab Zehri asked self-exiled Baloch leaders to come back to Pakistan and take part in the political process within the framework of the Constitution.

“It will be their choice to join national politics or do politics on a nationalist basis,” the chief minister said, adding that “we will honour it if the people of Balochistan give you the mandate”.

He, however, made it clear that it would not be possible for the government to accept such leaders’ ideology at gunpoint with no mandate from the people.

“We will not allow anybody to impose his ideology by force,” Nawab Zehri said, adding that “we have been the custodians of Balochistan for the last 500 years and became part of Pakistan at our own will”.

Nawab Zehri claimed that surety of candidates of the self-exiled Baloch leaders, who claimed to be representing the people of the province, would be forfeited if they fielded candidates in elections in Balochistan. He said that one could not blame other people for the backwardness of Balochistan because since the end of One Unit, Baloch leaders from Sardar Attallah to Sanaullah had been ruling the province.

“No-one can break up Balochistan until one patriot nation and tribe is alive,” Nawab Zehri said.

He rejected the statement of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Balochistan situation and said there was a big difference between situation of India-held Kashmir and situation of Balochistan.

“The situation in occupied Kashmir is different as the people of India-held Kashmir want freedom from India and Indian armed forces have been victimising them and subjecting them to brutality and violence, while in Balochistan, the people love Pakistan and they want to live within the jurisdiction and framework of the country.

“You cannot describe it as freedom struggle if a few misguided youths wage militancy and get involved in anti-peace activities in Balochistan,” he said.

The chief minister said: “A handful of miscreants playing into the hands of Indian intelligence agency have been involved in anti-peace activities in Balochistan.”

Speaking on the occasion, Commander of Southern Command Lt-General Aamir Riaz said that enemies could not defeat ideology of Pakistan as the people of Pakistan were united and the entire nation supported its political and military leadership to foil nefarious designs of the enemy.

He said that anti-Pakistan elements were opposing the development of the country and creating hurdles to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“The CPEC is a reality and it will be completed,” Gen Aamir said, adding that every hurdle and conspiracy would be foiled with joint efforts of the people of the country.

Celebrations

Despite experiencing a major incident of terrorism which claimed 74 lives in Quetta, people of Balochistan celebrated the Independence Day with zeal, enthusiasm and fervour.

The day started with a 19-gun salute and special prayers in mosques for stability and prosperity of the country.

Flag-hoisting ceremonies were held in lawns of the Governor House, Balochistan Assembly, Balochistan High Court and almost all district headquarters.

Rallies were taken out in Quetta by different organisations with participants of the rallies carrying national flags and banners inscribed with pro-Pakistan slogans. Several groups of young boys and students of universities and colleges took out car and motorcycle rallies with their vehicles decorated with national flags, buntings and banners.

A large number of people marched on main roads of the provincial capital with national flags to celebrate the Independence Day.

All important public and private buildings were illuminated and were decorated with the national flags.

A big car and motorcycle rally was taken out in Gwadar which was attended by thousands of people.

The Independence Day celebration rally was also taken out in Dera Murad Jamali. Led by PPP central leader Mir Sadiq Umrani, a large number of people participated in the rally. The Independence Day was also celebrated in other parts of the province.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2016