QUETTA, April 18: The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy on Sunday demanded that a resolution passed by the Balochistan Assembly against establishing new cantonments in the province should be respected.

Speaking at a press briefing after a meeting of the ARD, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Vice-President Tehmina Daultana said the alliance discussed the stand of the Jamhoori Watan Party and other parties regarding the Gwadar port project and demanded that the local people should be its main beneficiaries. She had presided over the meeting, which was held at Bugti House.

She said the project was an idea of former prime minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, who wanted to link it with Central Asia for the benefit of the people of Balochistan.

She said the meeting observed that, despite promises, no technical institutions had been established in Gwadar to train local people for running the port. It demanded that such institutes be established without delay. She said investment could come from other areas of the country to Gwadar but the rights of the local people should be ensured.

She said the ARD observed that there was no need for sending troops to Iraq for killing Muslims and demanded that Pakistan should send forces to Palestine for the protection of the Palestinians against Israel.

It termed the National Security Council an illegal and unconstitutional institution. There was no need for the council in the presence of the cabinet's defence committee and it would not stop martial laws, it observed. She said the move would involve the army in politics.

She said the alliance had decided to cancel all changes made to the constitution through the Legal Framework Order and other means, whenever it came in power. "We will abolish the Article 58-2(b) of the constitution, which has been restored by the government through the LFO," she said.

She said the participants were of the view that President Gen Pervez Musharraf wanted to change the parliamentary form of government into presidential rule through his "selected party". The ARD would resist such moves, she said.

The alliance condemned the sentence awarded to PML-N acting president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and decided to hold its next meeting at his residence to express solidarity with him. It decided to hold a public meeting in Abbottabad in the second week of May.

She said the ARD had welcomed the Supreme Court decision allowing PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif to come to the country and arrangements were under way for his return. Ms Daultana said Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People's Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto should come to the country to lead the masses for the restoration of democracy and the constitution.

She said the present rulers had no ability to lead the country. She said the ARD would not accept Gen Musharraf as the army chief or the president and would launch a campaign against him.

PPP leader Nafis Siddiqui said the alliance had constituted a committee on the issue of provincial autonomy. He said maximum provincial autonomy should be given while remaining within the limits of the federal system.

Through a resolution, the ARD deplored the attitude of the newspapers' owners for not implementing the 7th wage board award despite the rejection of their petition by the Supreme Court.

It demanded that the newspapers' owners should accept the decision of the court and give wages to all the journalists and workers of the newspaper industry according to the award.

Through another resolution, it expressed support for the demands of the protesting teachers and workers of the Merck Marker pharmaceutical company and condemned their arrests. It demanded that all the arrested teachers and workers should be released immediately and their just demands should be accepted.

Leaders of the PPP, the PML-N, the JWP, the Istaqlal Party, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, the Jamiat Ulema Ahl-i-Hadis, the Pakistan Shia Party, the Pakistan Democratic Party and the Islamic Democratic Front attended the meeting.

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