President of the Balochistan chapter of Jamhoori Watan Party Shahzain Bugti, who is currently in Islamabad, is holding meetings with leaders of political parties to discuss the Balochistan issue. On Thursday, he met a US embassy official in a hotel.      — Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: The recent government offer for talks with Baloch nationalist leaders appears to be heading nowhere as most of them have rejected it, saying they have no trust in the rulers.

“This is a trap and our leaders, including Brahamdagh Bugti, will not return; the government did the same in the 1960s when they invited the Baloch leaders for talks and later persecuted them. The rulers also tricked Nawab (Akbar Khan) Sahib,” Shahzain Bugti, a leader of the Jamhoori Watan Party, told Dawn.

“Nobody trusts the government anymore, whether it is Interior Minister Rehman Malik or anybody else. Dictatorial policies of the past continue to dominate the current scenario in Balochistan.”

The interior ministry has ordered the chief secretary of Balochistan to withdraw cases against Brahamdagh, Harbyar Marri and Akhtar Mengal, but the nationalists described the move as double standards of the government.

“The point is that who will guarantee the deal; what happens if talks fail or the government doesn’t want to listen to anything,” said Mr Shahzain, a grandson of Akbar Bugti.

“Behaviour is the problem and Islamabad’s mindset is the main culprit; neither are we a colony of the federal government nor slaves.”

Senator Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party said the government’s offer to withdraw cases against nationalist leaders was a “worthless move”. “The main issue is that most of them are not in the country and they don’t even recognise the writ of the state,” he said, adding that as long as the core issue of missing persons and dumping of mutilated bodies was not resolved, things would not move in any direction.

Shahzain Bugti, who is currently in Islamabad, is holding meetings with leaders of political parties to discuss the Balochistan issue. On Thursday, he met a US embassy official in a hotel.

Most Baloch nationalists have welcomed a resolution on Balochistan tabled in the US Congress and those who are abroad have vowed to approach the UN for a complete autonomy for Balochistan.

“We have been cornered and anybody in such a situation will seek help from everywhere even if it leads to the UN,” Mr Shahzain said.

“But we are still with the federation and want to be with it. But a third force is developing which is against everything and will become stronger if the government fails to take measures for building trust.”

He said building trust was not possible as long as “secrete agencies continue to play a dirty role”.

An official of a security agency rebuked the accusations hurled by Shahzain Bugti and other Baloch nationalists.

“Despite strong rhetoric against the federal set-up, Mr Shahzain can be seen roaming freely in the federal capital in SUVs, along with 25 guards, which makes his presence too obvious,” he said, adding that claims about 13,000 missing persons in Balochistan were all unfounded.

“Why is anybody not touching him in Islamabad?” the official wondered.

Mr Shahzain retorted: “This is my country and we have rendered sacrifices more than the agencies for it.”

While he blamed the security agencies and FC for all the ills in Balochistan, he had an unconvincing answer to the question about the rolling back last year of the Police Order of 2002 and allowing the Levies, which are under ‘Sardars’ (chieftains), to play a key role of maintaining law and order in the province.

He said the order replacing the Levies with police was an ill-conceived decision. “We have a system and tradition in Balochistan; Islamabad cannot impose new laws and change on us.”

In reply to a question about the issue of ‘Kalpars’ (people of the Bugti sub-clan expelled from Dera Bugti), he accused the federal government of interfering in the affairs of the Bugti tribe.

“Are Islamabad and petty government servants our uncles to dictate against the decision of Bugti jirga,” Mr Shahzain said, adding that elders of the tribe representing 150,000 individuals had taken a decision to expel 700 Kalpars.

“The will of jirga and the majority has to be respected.”

Shahzain Bugti, who is currently in Islamabad, is holding meetings with leaders of political parties to discuss the Balochistan issue. On Thursday, he met a US embassy official in a hotel.

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