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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Balochistan province still volatile

Armed unrest has been simmering in Pakistan's volatile Balochistan province since an assassination attempt last December against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Quetta.

Baloch tribal elders Neyal Khan, Saeed Khan and Bangan Khan, commanders of tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti's armed group, have now laid down their arms and renounced violence.

Dawn newspaper reported on June 30 that the trio spoke to journalists at a press conference at the Quetta Press Club. The men claimed that their armed resistance was carried out on the orders of Brahamdagh Bugti, a grandson of Nawab Bugti. The three Bugti tribal elders said that after realizing that Nawab Bugti involved tribesmen in fighting the government for personal gains rather than for the interest of the Bugti tribe, they decided to cooperate with the government, as destroying power pylons and railway tracks caused hardships for the public.

The tribal elders stated that they wanted to participate in the general amnesty announced by Musharraf, return to a peaceful life and assist in development activities providing basic amenities to Dera Bugti tribesmen.

Pakistan's Home Minister Mir Shoiab Nausherwani assured the tribal leaders that the government would protect them, stating that the government was undertaking military action only against saboteurs who were attacking state installations.

Nausherwani added that all issues could be resolved if tribal chiefs ceased using arms against the state or targeting national assets.

Pakistan's main gas reserves are in Balochistan, Pakistan's largest and poorest province. The Baloch rebels are demanding greater political and economic rights. In their struggle with the government, the tribal separatists have targeted natural gas facilities, electrical transmission lines and railroads.
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