QUETTA, Dec 20: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairperson Benazir Bhutto has said that the situation in Balochistan has deteriorated because of use of force, instead of efforts to resolve the issue through negotiations, thereby forcing the youth to take up arms.

The former prime minister announced at a public meeting in Dera Allahyar on Thursday that the PPP would stop the military operation in the province after coming into power.

She said the PPP would give equal rights to all the provinces and exploitation would be ended to enable the people of Balochistan to move forward with honour.

She said a new era of development and prosperity would begin in Balochistan with end of the military operation.

“I have come to Balochistan with a message of peace and brotherhood,” she said. She urged people to vote for the PPP and foil attempts to rig the election.

Ms Bhutto said the rulers had always used intelligence agencies for their political designs, undermining their role against terrorism and for national defence. She said the PPP would end the role of the agencies in democratic institutions.

She warned that the integrity of the country would be jeopardised if the use of intelligence agencies in political matters was not stopped.

She alleged that the PML-Q had prepared a poll rigging plan by using the official machinery. The PPP would foil all such attempts with the power of the people, she said.

“The government must fulfil its promise made to the international community to hold free, fair and transparent election,” she said.

She said the PML-Q had no chance of returning to power.

She warned that reactionary forces would benefit from the deteriorating situation if the authorities tried to rig the election in favour of the PML-Q.

Ms Bhutto said people had reservations about fairness and transparency of the coming election and, therefore, officials of intelligence agencies should not be allowed to sit in the offices of the returning officers on the polling day.

About the wave of terrorism in the country, Ms Bhutto said the country would always face uncertainty and instability under dictatorship because military governments focused attention on protecting themselves instead of solving problems of the people.

She said the PPP would continue its struggle for restoration of democracy and supremacy of parliament, adding that her party’s struggle had forced President Pervez Musharraf to retire form the army and allow her and Nawaz Sharif to return home.

Reuters adds: Ms Bhutto alleged that the government had ordered the security forces to close her offices, while intelligence agents were pressuring candidates to drop out of the election.

But Pakistanis were so fed up with inflation and unemployment that it would be difficult for supporters of President Musharraf to rig a victory in the election, she said.

“The government is scared and is sending the Frontier Constabulary to close our party offices. It is sending Military Intelligence officials to ask candidates to withdraw,” she said.

Ms Bhutto alleged that criminals were being recruited as policemen to disrupt the polls.

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