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Balochistan conference demands end to military operation; on May 28, 2012, the bodies of 8 Baloch are recovered from roadsides

Note: On May 28, the bullet riddled bodies of eight Baloch were recovered. Two of the eight recovered victims had been missing since 2005; relatives of three had just appeared before the Supreme Court, three were strangled and packed in gunny bags. See BalochJohd for details.

Below is coverage of the Balochistan conference at Dawn.com and DailyTimes.com, as well as the Baloch Republican Party response.

ISLAMABAD: “Who are these people who have enforced these disappearances? Is there no rule of law or respect for the Constitution in this land?” asked Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the chief of the main opposition party, as he addressed a conference on Balochistan held in Islamabad on Saturday.

“The Baloch have a right to rebel … why shouldn’t they, after all that they have been put through?” remarked the PML-N chief, one of the most vocal leaders at the conference, as he called bringing Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murderers to justice.

“His body was desecrated … while his murderers were presented with a guard of honour,” said Sharif as he referred to former President Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial regime. “Does anybody have the courage to hold him responsible?”

Top leaders of major political parties were in attendance at the National Conference on Balochistan, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), as they called for a dialogue with all stakeholders in order to solve the province’s problems.

A fifteen-point resolution aimed to resolve Balochistan’s problems was passed unanimously at the conference. The resolution calls for an end to the ongoing military operation in the insurgency-hit province, and the withdrawal of military and paramilitary troops from Balochistan.

While some leaders blamed military dictators, others called for addressing the issue of missing persons in Balochistan.

In his opening remarks, SCBA President Yaseen Azad said that the main unrest in Balochistan is the problem of missing persons which could only be addressed through parliament by political forces.

Speaking at the same venue, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan stressed that granting “unconditional amnesty” to Baloch rebels was the only way to resolve the complex problem.

Khan said that the solution lies in the hands of the country’s politicians, and not with military personnel. Moreover, he said that the soldiers were not trained to perform the job of policemen.

On the other hand, PML-Q Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain Syed felt that the ‘Balochistan problem’ was spreading to other parts of the country and stressed: “We have to tackle it with a serious sense of responsibility. No one is taking responsibility for deteriorated law and order situation in the province.”

Asma Jahangir, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, remarked that the solution of Balochistan issue was vested with the political parties and they should take immediate initiatives in that regard.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed, former Amir of Jamaat-i-Islami, was of the opinion that a society could not survive without justice and enforcement of Consttution could ensure all fundamental rights and provincial autonomy.

He said the rights of Baloch people over natural resources should be fully acknowledged.

President National Party Dr. Abdul Malik underlined the imperative need for granting basic rights to the people of Balochistan. “Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan and we have to find out solution by dialogue with all the stakeholders.

Deputy Chairman Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party Abdur Rahim Mandokhel said all problems have been created by the dictatorial regimes and now it is the duty of political leadership to address and resolve them.

President Hazara National Jirga Abdul Qayyum Chengezi said solution of problems was by holding free, fair and impartial elections.

President JUI-F Balochistan Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani was of the view that problems of Balochistan need a united national solution in accordance to the teachings of Islam.

* * *

Response by Baloch Republican Party (BRP) spokesperson to Balochistan conference, courtesy DailyTawar and Balochwarna, May 26, 2012:

The central spokesperson of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Sher Mohammad Bugti, termed the so called "National Conference" organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) a deception. He said Balochistan issue was being discussed on the international level and that is why the Pakistanis organised a “National Conference”.

Talking to a private TV channel Mr. Bugti said that the sole purpose for orchestrating the conference was to deceive and mislead the Baloch masses. He added that Pakistan has always deceived the Baloch nation. "Nawab Akbar Bugti believed in dialogue, but what happened to Shaheed Nawab Bugti is obvious to everyone."

Sher Mohammad Bugti said the Baloch people's struggle is for the liberation of Balochistan and if a dialogue is initiated on the subject of freedom then we are ready for talks. “Baloch have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Balochistan and we cannot be deceived by such conferences."

The BRP spokesperson noted that the Balochistan issue was under discussion in the European Union which is good for the Baloch freedom movement. He said the BRP stance is clear about those who are involved in parliamentary politics. “Our alliance/unity is with pro-freedom forces”.

* * *

From DailyTimes.com.pk | May 26, 2012 Political dialogue panacea to Balochistan ills

* Balochistan Declaration calls for military intervention to end immediately

* All political prisoners, missing persons be released

* Bugti’s killers be brought to justice

* Inter-parliamentary committee should prepare white paper on rights violations

* Inquiry commission be appointed, compensation be paid to those who lost lives

By Hasnaat Malik

ISLAMABAD: Political parties on Saturday came forward with a declaration on Balochistan, unanimously agreeing that a solution to the province’s crisis lies in the political dialogue and the military intervention should, therefore, be ended immediately.

The 15-point Balochistan Declaration was adopted at the National Conference on ‘Balochistan Issue and Its solution’, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

The civilian leadership of the country agreed that there was need for a new contract with the people of Balochistan to take stakeholders onboard with regard to their demands, policies and development projects of the province.

The declaration demanded that the “politics of garrison” be replaced by civilian authorities who genuinely represent the will of the people of Balochistan.

It also said that those responsible for the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti should be arrested immediately and brought to justice through an open trial.

Parallel to political negotiations, all military and paramilitary operations should be stopped and the army and the Frontier Constabulary (FC) be called back, it added.

Participants of the conference praised the Supreme Court (SC) for taking up the case of missing people in Balochistan.

They said that an inter-parliamentary committee should prepare a white paper on human rights violation in Balochistan between former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf’s rule to the present day. The report should be presented and discussed in parliament, they added.

“All political prisoners and missing persons in custody of different state agencies be released forthwith and an independent inquiry commission be appointed and appropriate compensation be paid to all those who have lost their lives or have become disabled on account of conflict situation,” the declaration read.

It said rigorous training should be given to FC and police for respecting human rights of people, adding that FC should be “strictly prohibited” to go beyond its scope of work. The declaration called upon political parties to play a proactive role in promoting a democratic culture in the country. “Towards this end, political parties may consider signing of yet another Charter of Democracy, so that they may gain the confidence of people and play a leadership role rather that remaining resigned to the status quo.”

It also urged political parties to rise above their personal interests and set up a genuinely neutral electoral mechanism. Addressing the conference at Balochitan Convention in Islamabad, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif called for bringing Bugti’s killers to justice.

This, he added, is the starting point towards ensuring relief for the people of war-torn areas. “Unless and until, killers of Nawab Akbar Bugti are brought to justice without any bias, peace cannot be restored in the province,” he said.

“The Baloch have a right to rebel… why shouldn’t they, after all that they have been put through?” Nawaz said.

PPP leader Raza Rabbani proposed a grand alliance between the judiciary and parliament for the resolution of Balochistan issues. He said he believes in DRA [Dialogue, rule of law and autonomy].

The PPP leader said the 18th Amendment could not be beneficial in the province as long as bullet-riddled bodies continued to be recovered.

“Balochistan is the story of severe human rights violation, state neglect, exploitation of resources and deprivation of political rights cultural rights,” he said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, opposing the military operation in Blaochistan, said the situation is worsened by a military offensive.

He said that unconditional amnesty should be announced for all Baloch leaders and a political dialogue should be initiated to resolve province’s issues. Expressing concern over the poor economic condition of Balochistan, he said Rs 110 billion were given to the provincial government in the NFC Award but the amount could not be utilised properly.

Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party welcomed the civil society and lawyers for debating the Balochistan issue. “In the past, whoever demanded for provincial autonomy was declared traitors… but the trend has changed now,” he added. Haider Abbas Rizvi of the MQM said his party was in favour of “full provincial autonomy” in the 18th Amendment. He also urged the media to highlight the Balochistan issue.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Q’s Mushahid Hussain said the province held an important strategic position in the region, which had wider impacts on the neighbouring countries.

“There is a need to change the mindset. Instead of a strong Centre, strong provinces can guarantee a stable Pakistan,” he added.

Mushahid emphasised upon ensuring the right to life which, he added, was the basic fundamental right of all citizens. He said that being the larger federating unit, Punjab should have raised the issue of missing persons.

The PML-Q leader suggested that all political prisoners should be released and a dialogue with disgruntled elements be held for permanent peace in the province.

He also praised Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and lawyers for taking an initiative over the issue.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed, former chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami, said the rights of Baloch on natural resources should be acknowledged.

Muhammad Khan Sherani of the JUI-F urged the military leadership not to interfere in affairs other than those related to defence of the country.

The legislation in parliament over all issues should be done in accordance with democratic norms and not with the thrust of majority, he added.

Abdul Malik Baloch of the National Party said everyone had to accept the status of all people living in the country as laid down in the constitution.

Awnash Bugti of the Jamhori Watan Party said fair elections could be a base for resolving the Balochistan issue.

SCBA President Yasin Azad said that a solution to Balochistan problems was not in taking suo moto actions because the court could only recover missing persons.

“Political parties have the solution to overcome hurdles being faced by the Baloch.”

Asma Jahangir, former SCBA president, said a solution to the Balochistan issue was vested with political parties. Pakistan Bar Council Vice President Akhtar Hussain asked all stakeholders to review the situation and introduce remedial measures for restoring peace in the province.

Haji Abdul Qayyum Changazi, the Hazara Qaumi Jirga president, lamented the massacre of his community.


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