QUETTA: The Balochistan chief minister has said that the federal government should give him a clear mandate to hold talks with opposition parties and Baloch insurgents in order to restore order in the volatile province.
“So far the federal government has not given me a clear mandate to initiate dialogue with the disgruntled Baloch leaders,” Nawab Aslam Raisani told journalists at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on Sunday.
Raisani also complained about lack of interest from the federal government in the explosive situation in Balochistan, saying that his government has been trying on and off to grab their attention. “We have convened a session of the Balochistan Assembly on August 9 to demand revival of subsidy on tube-wells,” he said, adding that he has already taken up the issue with the prime minister.
Asked about the issue of missing persons and recovery of bodies in the province, the chief minister said he would not comment on that because it involved several factors. “Some cases are attributed to kidnapping for ransom, while others relate to rivalries among organisations that claim responsibility for such killings,” he added.
Raisani condemned the ongoing wave of target killings, saying that it has led to an exodus of skilled labour from his province. “A large number of professors, teachers, engineers, barbers and masons are leaving the province for fear of attacks,” he added. “This inhuman act will push the Baloch nation at least one century back. The Baloch nation will never forgive whoever is involved in target killings.”
He said the government has approved three university campuses, three medical colleges and hospitals for Turbat, Mastung, Naseerabad and Loralai districts but there was shortage of teachers in the area.
“These people (settlers) have been living in Balochistan for centuries and targeting them is a crime against humanity,” the chief minister said, adding that he, his son and brother were also on the hit-list but they would not give in to insurgents.
Asked about the flood calamity in the province, Raisani said, “I will ask all MPAs to earmark Rs10 million from their development funds for the rehabilitation of the affected people.”
About Reko Dik copper and gold projects, the chief minister categorically said that a refinery would be established in the province and that the PC-1 for this purpose has been handed over to the Planning and Commission. “We have the technology and requisite expertise to run the project in a better way. For this purpose we have already constituted a governing body under the chairmanship of renowned nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand.
Referring to the abolition of the Concurrent List from the Constitution, Raisani said the provincial government has already taken initiatives in this regard. “We have categorically told the federal government to transfer the departments to be handed over to provinces under the new arrangement. However, the whole process will take one or two years,” he added.
The chief minister declared that he has established a relief fund for the flood victims of Balochistan and appealed to people for generous contribution.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2010.