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KARACHI, March 26: The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) has decided to participate in the general elections.

This was announced by BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal at a press conference here on Tuesday after a 10-hour marathon meeting of his party’s central committee.

A five-member parliamentary board has been set up to award party tickets to aspiring candidates.

Accompanied by members of the central committee, Mr Mengal said the meeting had a one-point agenda — whether or not to take part in the coming elections.

All members of the committee who had come from different parts of Balochistan expressed their views on the situation with specific reference to Balochistan.

Mr Mengal said when the meeting was in session a three-member delegation of the party called on Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim and informed him about the party’s apprehensions relating to elections.

Headed by Dr Jahanzaib Jamaldini, the delegation included Advocate Sajid Tareen and Akhtar Hussain Lango.

They handed over a letter from Mr Mengal to the CEC. It reiterated the apprehensions and threats to the party which had been mentioned in a letter sent to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Copies of the letter were distributed among media personnel.

Answering a question, Mr Mengal said the BNP-M was a democratic party and its members had no enmity with any tribe. But, he added, it faced threats from the establishment.

He said the establishment would be responsible if any member of his party was harmed.

About the possibility of an electoral alliance with other nationalist groups, Mr Mengal said it would be premature to say anything at this stage. However, he did not rule out the possibility of such an arrangement.

He said his party expected opposition from the establishment and those who had filled the vacuum when the party had boycotted previous elections.

The BNP chief said he himself would head the party’s parliamentary board. The party manifesto was being prepared and would be made public soon, he added.

When asked if he would advise Baloch rebels to come down from the mountains and participate in the elections, Mr Mengal said he would not like to impose his will on others.

A delegation of eminent political personalities headed by Haji Mir Mohammad Notezai expressed confidence in the leadership of Sardar Mengal and announced joining the BNP-M.

They said in a brief statement that there was a calculated move and conspiracy to reduce the Baloch people into a minority. They rejected an agreement for handing over Gwadar Port’s operation to China and the recently launched Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.