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Kayani sets guidelines on Balochistan issue

October 04, 2012


Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.—AP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Wednesday any solution to Balochistan crisis should be within the confines of the Constitution.

“Army fully supports any political process as long as it is within the Constitution…” the Chief of Army Staff was quoted by the ISPR as having said before leaving for Moscow on a three-day visit.

The general’s one-line statement was issued apparently in response to the six points presented by Balochistan National Party chief Akhtar Mengal before the Supreme Court last week. The apex court is hearing a case on the law and order situation in the restive province.

Gen Kayani’s close aides insist that his one-liner was a rejoinder to Mr Mengal’s six points, and also to statements made by other political leaders who tried to add to the muddle.

“An impression is being created that some political initiative is in the works, but being blocked by the army,” a senior security official said.

Mr Mengal’s surprise four-day visit to Islamabad, which also saw him meeting a number of political leaders, has led to speculations that a reconciliation formula for Balochistan is in the offing.

The army chief’s statement, notwithstanding its brevity, appears to have set ground rules for any compromise formula that can be acceptable to the military.

To many analysts, none of Mr Mengal’s six points — ending military operation in Balochistan, production of missing persons (in courts), disbanding alleged intelligence-run “death squads”, allowing Baloch political parties to freely undertake political activities, trial of those responsible for killings and rehabilitation of displaced people — seems to be unreasonable and unconstitutional.

After his political engagements in Islamabad, Mr Mengal claimed that his charter contained nothing against the country or the Constitution.

But sources privy to the development say Mr Mengal’s statement contains demand for international arbitration and references to dismemberment of Sudan, which are being seen as unacceptable.

“To start with his statement is problematic,” a source said.

A security official speaking on the background said the army would welcome any “genuine” political process.