Baloch leaders want end to army, spy operations

Islamabad/Lahore: Baloch nationalist leaders have set stiff conditions, including stopping military operations and and barring secret agencies any role in their turbulent province, to open dialogue with the Pakistan government that has extended an olive branch to them.

Reacting to amnesty offer made by the Interior Minister Rahman Malik to Baloch leaders in exile, Jamhoori Watan Party leader Shahzain Bugti, a grandson of Akbar Khan Bugti, who was killed in a military operation in 2006, set eight conditions for talks with the authorities.

Besides halt to military operations, the Baloch leaders demanded a ban on establishing new cantonments in the province and arrest and trial of former president Parvez Musharraf for his role in the "murder" of Akbar Khan Bugti.

The Baloch leaders spelt out the conditions at a news conference here yesterday, a day after Malik offered amnesty to Baloch nationalist leaders in exile, announcing that cases against them would be closed if they return home.

"All cases against Baloch leaders will be withdrawn if they return back home," Malik said in what appeared to be desperate steps to break a crippling impasse on Balochistan.

The offer was made to Baloch leaders in exile including Brahamdagh Bugti and Harbyar Marri with Malik calling them "to return to Pakistan to take part in the political and development process."

Brahamdagh went underground when his grandfather Akbar Bugti was killed in a military operation during Musharraf`s regime. He is currently in exile in Switzerland.

Several other prominent dissidents, including Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood, Harbyar Marri, son of veteran nationalist leader Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and former leader of the opposition in the Balochistan Assembly Kachkol Ali Baloch, are all living abroad on political asylum.

Senior leaders of Mengal family Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who was imprisoned more than a year during Musharraf regime and Senator Sanaullah Baloch are also settled abroad.

Shahzain Bugti said, "There should be a ban on establishing new cantonments in Balochistan and secret agencies should have no role in the province. We want an end to the dumping of mutilated bodies (of Baloch activists)." He said ongoing army operations must be stopped at once and 13,000 "missing" Baloch youths should be recovered.

Branding Musharraf as the "murderer" of Akbar Khan Bugti, his son demanded that he should be arrested and brought to Balochistan for trial.

The fast-paced developments in Balochistan appear to have gained momentum within days of a resolution introduced in US Congress seeking the right to self-determination for Balochistan, which has triggered widespread outcry in Pakistan with leaders seeing in it moves by America to Balaknise their country.

To counter the fallout of the resolution, the PPP-led government is making efforts to convene an all-political forces` meeting on the issue to frame a political, monetory and security related package for Balochistan, but the move appears to be floundering.

Former premier and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has also set conditions to participate in an all parties` conference. Sharif said he will participate in the meet only if Akbar Bugti`s killers are arrested and the "missing persons" recovered.

Malik has said Interpol will be asked to issue a Red Corner Notice to bring Musharraf back to Pakistan so that he can be tried for Akbar Bugti`s killing.
Musharraf has been living in self-exile in London and Dubai since early 2009.