ISLAMABAD: Soon after deciding to hold talks with disgruntled Baloch tribesmen to pave way for permanent peace and progress in Balochistan, Prime Mini­ster Imran Khan on Wed­nesday appointed Jamhoori Watan Party MNA Shahzain Bugti as his special assistant on reconciliation and harmony in the province.

The prime minister tasked Mr Bugti with holding talks with peeved Baloch tribesmen on behalf of the government. Mr Bugti has the status of a federal minister.

A notification issued from the Cabinet Secretariat said: “The prime minister, in terms of rule 4 (6) of the Rules of Business 1973 read with serial No: 1A of schedule V-A of the said rules, has been pleased to appoint Nawabzaba Shahzain Bugti, MNA, as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Reconciliation and Har­mony in Balochistan, with immediate effect. He shall hold the status of federal minister.”

The appointment of Mr Bugti as the SAPM comes a day after he met the premier and discussed the situation prevailing in Balochistan.

During his visit to Gwadar on Monday, the prime minister had said the government was ready to hold talks with annoyed Baloch tribes so that their grievances could be addressed for permanent peace and progress in the province. “But those having links with India and involved in unrest in the province will not be considered for negotiations.”

Prime Minister Khan had said he was considering “talking with insurgents” in Balochistan, adding that the government would never have had to worry about insurgency in the province if attention had been paid to its development.

Mr Khan had said he had always planned that when the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power, his government would pay attention to Balochistan.

“When the province progresses and there is peace, the people of Balochistan will understand that Pakistan is also theirs and say ‘we should also fight for it because it thinks of our basic needs and problems’,” he had said.

“It may be that they had grievances in the past and may have been used by other countries [...] India may have used them to spread chaos but the situation [now] is not the same,” he had said.

He had said the federal government planned to execute 131 development projects worth Rs731 billion in Balochistan while the provincial government’s development programme for this year was worth Rs180bn. minister said.

Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi has said that India is using Afghanistan’s soil for terrorism in Balochistan and other parts of the country and urged world community to take notice on it.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021

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