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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pakistan: Musharraf hints at foreign hand in Baluchistan

Islamabad, 5 Sept. (AKI/DAWN) - Pakistan's president Gen Pervez Musharraf has said that the possibility of a foreign hand creating law and order problems in certain parts of the restive province of Baluchistan could not be ruled out. Sources said that the president informed Baluch politicians and leaders on Monday that the government had sealed six points through which arms and money were being sent into the restive province.

According to the sources, the president said that sophisticated weapons were being funnelled to Bugti areas from abroad through Rahimyar Khan, Sanghar, Jacobabad, Waziristan, Zhob and Chagai and sealing the points had stopped arms supplies.

The meeting was attended by the governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, federal and provincial ministers, the president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and 35 members of the national and provincial assemblies.

“The meeting was told that the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, was operating through Indian consulates in Khandahar and Zahidan for sending arms and money into Baluchistan,” a participant said.

He said that the president had asked the authorities concerned to look into the possibility of initiating cases against those Baluch leaders who were fanning hatred and talking about secession of Baluchistan.

At a press conference on the meeting, Pakistan's minister for information Mohammad Ali Durrani and the Pakistan military spokesperson director general Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan said that all participants, had assured the president that they would not compromise on principles and would resist anti-social elements in Baluchistan.

The meeting, Sultan said, was also informed that there were 15,000 Baluchis in Pakistan's army while 7,000 Baluch youths had been inducted in paramilitary Frontier Crops. About 3,000 more Baluchis were being inducted in the Frontier Corps and another 6,000 would be given jobs in the Baluchistan Constabulary.

On the directives of the president, he said, a number of agricultural loans taken by Baluchis would be written off.

The president spoke at length on the situation in the country’s largest province and said the government, over the past seven years, had taken decisions for the political and economic empowerment of Baluchistan, which had been a victim of neglect.

However, the president regretted that certain elements did not want to see Balochistan progressing socio-economically as they stood to lose with the empowerment of the common people there.

The president listed unabated rocket attacks, existence of "ferrari camps" where the militiamen are based, blowing up of power installations and gas pipelines, killing of Chinese engineers and law-enforcement personnel, targeting of settlers and attacks in Sui and some of the activities that were aimed at disrupting development activities in the province. "These terrorists were also taken to Karachi, Lahore and other parts of the country to create law and order problem," Musharraf said.

Baluchistan is the source of Pakistan's main gas reserves and has been the scene of increased violence between Pakistan security forces and tribal rebels demanding greater political and economic rights.

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