Kayani backs Balochistan’s solution within Pak constitution

Islamabad: Amidst growing criticism of the role of the military and security agencies in Balochistan, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said his force will “fully back” any solution to the problems of the restive province that are within the country’s Constitution.

“The army will fully back any solution under the Constitution of Pakistan,” Kayani was quoted as saying in a rare public statement on the situation in Balochistan, which has been rocked by militant and sectarian violence for the past few years.

The army will “fully support any political process as long as it is within the Constitution”, the powerful army chief said before leaving for an official visit to Russia yesterday.

Observers said Kayani’s remarks were clearly aimed at dispelling the impression that the security establishment was a hurdle in the resolution of Balochistan’s problems.

Unnamed military official told the media that recent criticism of the army by political leaders had compelled Kayani to issue the policy statement.

Balochistan’s problems – including the issue of hundreds of “missing persons” or those detained without charge by security and intelligence agencies have been in the limelight since the Supreme Court began suo moto proceedings on the law and order situation in the province.

Baloch leaders say hundreds of members of nationalist groups have been detained without charge by security agencies.

The bodies of nearly 300 of these “missing persons” have been found dumped across Balochistan since last year.

Former chief minister Akhtar Mengal recently ended a three-year self-imposed exile and flew to Pakistan to depose in the Supreme Court before a bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that is hearing the suo moto case on Balochistan.

Mengal proposed a six-point charter, including an immediate end to all military operations in Balochistan, a fair trial of all missing persons and an end to “death squads” allegedly operating under the supervision of intelligence agencies.

The military denied Mengal’s allegations about the existence of “death squads”.

An unnamed military official told The Express Tribune that the army supports a political process in Balochistan but has reservations on some issues.

“The demand for international arbitration on Balochistan and portraying the issue as if it is between two states is not acceptable,” the official said.

He claimed no overt or covert military operations were underway in Balochistan.

The influential Dawn newspaper quoted Kayani’s close aides as saying that his statement was a rejoinder to Mengal’s six-point charter and to statements by other political leaders.

“An impression is being created that some political initiative is in the works but being blocked by the army,” a senior unnamed security official said.