KARACHI, Feb 8: The situation in Balochistan is worsening with every passing day and this has become a matter of deep concern for every citizen of the country. The action by armed forces against their own people will lead the country to the verge of national disintegration.

These views were expressed by leaders of various political parties reacting to the latest development in Dera Bugti, where paramilitary forces have entered the Bugti Fort, the abandoned residence of Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Calling for a dialogue between the government and Baloch leaders to find a peaceful solution to the problem in Balochistan, the leaders backed the demand of provincial autonomy as envisaged in the constitution, and said that the recommendations put forward by the parliamentary committees on Balochistan should be implemented “before it’s too late”.

Veteran politician Sardar Sherbaz Mazari condemned the army forces’ advance on Nawab Bugti’s residence, and said that “after this action, it is no more the issue of Nawab Bugti alone as it would provoke entire Balochistan… its outcome will not be in the national interest.”

He strongly criticized the language being used by the rulers, particularly Gen Musharraf, to address the people of Balochistan as ‘arrogant’, and said: “they believe as if every citizen was their salve.”

Sardar Mazari said it was maligning propaganda that tribal chieftains were cruel towards their people. “Tribal people do have the courage to revolt against their chieftain if the latter would behave like a cruel master.”

Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has demanded judicial inquiry into the blast at Bugti’s house and the resultant death of five people.

In a statement issued by the MQM international secretariat in London on Wednesday, Mr Hussain observed that conflicting versions of incident were adding to confusion in people’s mind.

He said he would again emphasize the need for a political solution to the Balochistan issue, and urged the government to inform countrymen about the facts after recording statements of both the sides in the row through a judicial inquiry.

National Workers Party leader Yusuf Masti Khan said the government had chosen a dangerous course by resorting to overrunning the Bugti Fort. The action is bound to send a wave of shock and anger across Balochistan, and may prompt a public reaction against the government, he cautioned.

He said that accusing India or Afghanistan of being involved in Balochistan turmoil would only complicate the issue.

Naib Amir of the Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Prof Ghafoor Ahmad, who is also a central leader of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, pointed out “no political problem could have ever been resolved through the use of force.”

The way the Balochistan issue was being tackled would only aggravate the situation, he warned, observing that Balochistan was a sensitive province where use of force would go against the interest of the country.

Referring to the recommendations of the parliamentary committees on Balochistan, he said that a majority of the ruling party legislators in the parliament had favoured evolving an understanding to resolve the issue peacefully.

PPP leader Mian Raza Rabbani condemned the military action in strongest terms, saying that it was for the first time that the residence of a political leader had been razed to earth.

He reiterated his party’s stand that the Balochistan issue was a political one and, as such, required a political solution.

Secretary General of the PML-N, Sindh, and a former Sindh governor Mamnoon Hussain said the strategy adopted by the government in Balochistan had been creating a bad taste and harming the national integrity. He quoted chief of the ruling PML Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who had led a parliamentary committee on Balochistan, as saying: “the developments (in Balochistan) are beyond the control of the committee,” and pointed out that the committee headed by Waseem Sajjad which was supposed to finalize the recommendations on provincial autonomy, had not yet submitted its report.

“All this clearly shows that that the committees did not come in picture as every matter is being handled as per the wishes of Gen Musharraf.”

Prominent politician Mairaj Mohammad Khan said that instead of granting autonomy to the provinces, the government had pushed Nawab Bugti to the wall. He wondered why the report of Waseem Sajjad committee was not being made public.

Terming the army action in Balochistan ‘a mistake’, he said the military solution would result in bitterness, sense of alienation and deprivation among people. The rulers are sadly mistaken if they believe they could gain control over people through the use of force.

He observed that the armed forces were involved in internal battle amid a scenario where Nato forces were already present in the region, Iran was under threat, Iraq was invaded, and the violent protests against blasphemy had engulfed many countries. He also pointed out that people of Pakistan were faced with increasing unemployment, price-hike and other pressing issues.

He advised the rulers to resolve the Balochistan issue through peaceful means before some foreign power resorted to take advantage of the situation.

Zain Ansari, Sindh chief of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), remarked that the East Pakistan episode was being repeated by bombing people and their houses.

“The past rulers had also carried out bombing in Balochistan, but they could gain nothing. Their action had only weakened the bonds of fraternity and caused harm to understanding. The outcome of the present operation will be no different.”

Amin Khattak of the Awami National Party said whatever going on in Balochistan these days was against the interests and integrity of the country. He reminded the government that the outcome of the use of force in the former East Pakistan had resulted in the disintegration of the country. Attempts to resolve any issue at gunpoint would be dangerous, he added.

He contested the government’s stand that certain Baloch sardars were opposed to the execution of development projects in that province, and asked how much development work had been done while Sardar Khair Bux Marri and other sardars were in exile for 15 years. These were no tribal chiefs in Pakhtoon areas, he pointed out, and asked why development projects were not being executed there.

Qari Mohammad Usman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam–F said that his party was against army action in any part of the country. He said there was no wisdom in using our own army against our own people.

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