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The Nation

Published Date: Jul 9, 2013

Mengal for changing biased ‘thought process’ in Punjab

Balochistan National Party (BNP) chief and former chief minister Sardar
Akhtar Mengal has said that only way forward for peace in Balochistan is
the acceptance of six-point demands of Baloch people and only then
Baloch people can trust Federation and come to negotiating table. Mengal
was addressing a book-launching ceremony organised by Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. The book titled "Balochistan: Azadi Sai Subai Bai-Ikhtiari Tak" was written by eminent
writer and senior advisor SDPI, Ahmad Salim who has been conferred with
Presidential Pride of Performance by Government of Pakistan and
Bangladesh Freedom Award for his excellent contributions in the field of
literature and human rights.The book is a complete political history of
Balochistan, with analysis, copies of rare documents and compilation of
events that shaped the Baloch history from independence of Pakistan to
the recent events till February 2013. The event also featured a panel
discussion on "Peace in Balochistan & the Role of
Federation". Speaking on the occasion, Sardar Mengal appreciated the
book which, according to him, has truly documented the history of
Balochistan. He was of the view that Balochistan was repeatedly invaded
not only by military dictators but civilian democratic governments as
well. Mengal urged the need to change biased ‘thought process’ against
Balochistan particularly in Punjab, which is bent over capturing
resources and oppressing the dissenting voices. He also demanded that
Baloch people must be given real power to use their land and
resources.He was of the view that instead of addressing the root causes
of Balochistan problem, the government is suggesting fancy projects for
Balochistan to pacify people. He explained that operation is still in
progress in parts of Balochistan and according to human rights report,
in last 25 days of current government, 65 persons have gone missing
while 13 mutilated bodies have been recovered. Abducting people and
mutilating bodies while calling for negotiation would not work anymore,
he added. He said that Baloch people can only think to sitting at the
negotiating table if their demands, as mentioned in six points, are
accepted. He presented the six point’s demand of Baloch people, which
according to him are under the constitution and essential to bring peace
in Balochistan. He demanded that all military operations against the
Baloch should immediately be suspended. He asked to produce all missing
persons before a court of law. He condemned the killing of Baloch people
and demanded to prosecute the persons responsible for inhuman torture,
killing and dumping of dead bodies of the Baloch political leaders and
activists. Mengal also demanded to disband proxy death squads operating
under the supervision of establishment in the province. He also called
for giving complete freedom to political parties and rehabilitate
thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition.Mengal
criticised the recent election process in Pakistan and said, "It is
unfortunate that even today, democracy in Pakistan is at behest of
establishment. Elections in Balochistan were not transparent and we
experienced widespread interference, threats and rigging where the
results were withheld from 3 to 18 days without any reason," he added.
However, Mengal showed his commitment to remain part of democratic
process despite all injustice. It is now up to Federation to demonstrate
serious attitude otherwise it’s already too late to win over Baloch
people. Speaking at the occasion, Ahmad Salim author of the book and
senior advisor SDPI narrated brief history of federating units in
Pakistan and said that unfortunately federation in Pakistan has a week
grounding when some federating units at the time of independence had
forced annexation including Qalat. Also the democratically elected
provincial government in a smaller federating unit NWFP was toppled only
after 7 days of independence on 22 August 1947. He said that dominance
of Punjab over affairs of the country was established since then and
continued till now which has weakened the federation in Pakistan. He was
of the view that there is no doubt that resources of smaller provinces
were misappropriated and time has come that Punjab play its positive
role in addressing the concerns of Baloch brother and bring peace in the
province.Jan Achakzai, Spokesperson Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) said
that Balochistan has been treated unfairly by the federal government and
now the only way forward is through political realisation of actual
problem especially at Centre. He argued that administrative and tactical
action at provincial level may help a little but the real solution lies
in ending state of denial and resorting to political coherence in
Islamabad.IA Rehman, Secretary General Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan (HRCP), said that ironically Balochistan and KPK have to face
injustice from the very and federation showed a very irresponsible and
insensitive behavior. He said that now a political solution is required
and the new government must be very careful in selecting ministers who
have the trust of Baloch people.Senior Political and Defence Analyst, Lt
Gen (Retd) Talat Masood, said that unfortunately till now, military was
used by the federation to counter insurgency, sectarian differences,
political, social and economic problems in Balochistan instead of a
political discourse. He said that geostrategic location and natural
resources of Balochistan are a blessing and the only way to utilise
these resources would be through bringing peace in Balochistan.