HYDERABAD: Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, who heads the National Party (NP), has said that political forces should sit together and come up with a strategy on how to extricate Pakistan from terrorism, sectarianism and religious extremism.
He was speaking at the ‘Meet the Press’ programme in the local press club on Thursday. His party colleague Ramzan Memon, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice president Shah Mohammad Shah and some other senior political activists also attended the programme.
Sen Bizenjo started off the discussion with condemnation of the May 13 killings of Sindhi labourers in Gwadar. “We stand with the Sindhi nation and slain workers, and not with terrorists,” he said.
He said Balochistan had been facing disturbances and was practically pushed into a civil war since the past decade. Even NP leaders like Maula Bukhsh Dasti and Habib Jalib were assassinated.
They were not killed by the government. Some 50 other party leaders and activists had been gunned down by ‘these people’, he said and described such people as militants.
Answering a question, he dismissed reports that the Sindhi labourers were building a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC) or a road related to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).
“It was a local road and its contractor belongs to my party”, he said.
The culprits had claimed that they were killed for working with the FWO.
“Labourers and contractors didn’t have anything to do with the FWO. Militants have killed 2,000 to 3,000 Baloch people besides those from other communities branding the victims as informers. We are killed for talking about federation,” he said.
Sen Bizenjo referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that Baloch were looking to him, and said that no doubt was left now that ‘these people’ were playing the game of outsiders, especially India. “These elements include Sindhis and we know them personally,” he added.
He claimed that most parts of Balochistan were free of militancy now.
“Militants are now confined to Panjgur, Kech, Dera Bugti and Awaran ... they will be eliminated in the next four-five years,” he said.
Sen Bizenjo warned of threat to CPEC from those “who are getting free in Syria”, referring to militants fleeing the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
He said that such people might move to Pakistan and increase the problems with regard to CPEC. “Many countries/regions may not accept it [the situation arising out of such a scenario],” he said, adding that they [the countries/regions] thought that China was expanding itself.
Senator Bizenjo said that CPEC would benefit Balochistan. “NP doesn’t have any reservation over CPEC. The real challenge for the party is demography. We would not accept any demographic change of Baloch people. And it’s not linked with CPEC but with the federal government,” he said.
He also expressed his concern over Pakistan’s recently strained relations with Iran and urged political forces to pay attention to such matters as well.
“Iran is a brotherly country and Afghanistan is Pakistan’s younger brother,” he said. He told a questioner: “Iran realises that it cannot jeopardise its relations with Pakistan.
“Afghanistan also knows it cannot have peace [without befriending] Pakistan.”
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017