Police arrested Jamhoori Watan Party’s provincial chief Shahzain Bugti on Saturday, a day after non-bailable arrest warrants were issued for him and 26 of his security guards for illegal possession of arms.
Balochistan Home Minister Zafar Zehri drove Bugti to the district jail in his luxury vehicle, while Bugti’s guards reached there in private cars flanked by policemen and the Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) personnel.
A heavy contingent of police and the ATF surrounded his residence on Al Gilani Road earlier on Saturday morning. The home minister reached Bugti’s residence a few hours later and held a meeting with him which lasted an hour. Later the minister exited the house accompanied by Bugti and told the media that he had come to implement the court’s orders.
Addressing the media outside his house, Bugti reiterated that he was innocent. He said the cases against him and his guards were fabricated and were an attempt to restrain his struggle for the rights of Baloch people. “I respect the judiciary and am complying with the arrest warrants, but I will approach the court for bail again.”
Flaying the government’s efforts to negotiate with estranged Baloch leaders, Bugti said: “On the one hand, the government is making tall claims of holding negotiations with self-exiled Baloch leaders urging them to return, but on the other hand they are arresting leaders like me who are present in the province and believe in a peaceful struggle.”
He added that his arrest would also deter others from ‘trusting’ the government. “The government will arrest Brahamdagh Bugti and Hyrbyair Marri, if they return to Pakistan,” he said.
Bugti accused the intelligence agencies of ‘whisking’ away his lawyer Mukesh Koli a week ago from Quetta after which he was reported missing.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.