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Army backs political solution to Balochistan

30 May, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani on Tuesday threw his weight behind the political solution of the troubled province of Balochistan by assuring that the personnel of armed forces and FC would carry out their tasks within the ambit of law.

He extended this assurance to a high-level meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, on missing persons and law and order situation in Balochistan. The meeting decided to form a six-member steering committee with equal representation of federal and provincial governments to look into the growing incidents of forced disappearances in the conflict-ridden province.

In a press briefing after the conference, Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the hallmark of the meeting was Gen Kayani's complete support for resolving the issues in Balochistan through political means, as military solution is not a viable and durable one to tackle the situation in the province. Quoting the army chief, Kaira said that he would personally make sure that personnel of armed forces and FC function within the domain of law, and declared that not a single solider of army is involved in any military operation in the province.

"We would attempt to ensure that no mistake happened," Kaira quoted Kayani. On missing persons' issue, the minister said meeting's participants agreed on forming a six-member steering committee having equal representation from the federal and Balochistan governments to look into the issue and come up with concrete steps to resolve it. The committee would meet every week and submit its findings to the prime minister, he added.

The government would implement all the laws related to arrest and trials in the missing persons' case and would take strict action if anyone were found violating these laws, the information minister told media. On the role of FC, he said the meeting decided that it would act under the directives of Balochistan chief minister and would have no role except to maintain law and order by putting an end to its anti-smuggling functions. The force would ensure safe road travelling in the province on the orders of the chief minister, he said. Kaira said the government would tackle the Balochistan situation through Dialogue, Rule of Law and Autonomy (DRA) policy and under it would hold talks while remaining within the parameters of federation of Pakistan.

In the first phase, the political forces of Balochistan that boycotted the last general elections would be engaged, and in the second phase, those nationalist forces that believe in the federation of Pakistan would be taken on board. Finally, the other segments would be invited for dialogue, an apparent reference to estranged leaders of Balochistan, Kaira said, however, declared all this process would be strictly kept within the federation.

He said writ of the government would be ensured at all costs and political ownership would be given to all the initiatives being taken for Balochistan. Kaira said the meeting focused on issues in six different areas – administrative, economic, political, legal, development and operational, in Balochistan. On the economic side, he said government would bear the financial share for five years from earlier three years on the 5,000 jobs created in Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan (AKB) package and subsidy would be provided on electricity consumed by tube-wells.

The government would immediately release payment to complete the connecting road between Rato Dero, Sindh, and Gwadar to make the seaport fully functional. Replying to a question about the possible involvement of foreign hand in Balochistan, Kaira said the issue surfaced in the meeting, however the more important thing is that all the stakeholders are on the same page to resolve the Balochistan issue. He avoided comment on the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti, saying the matter was sub judice.


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