ISLAMABAD: With the judiciary touted as the last bastion of hope for those seeking justice and appropriation for their due rights, major political parties united under the banner of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to call for a dialogue with all stakeholders to resolve the Balochistan issue without any further delay.
The SCBA national conference on “Balochistan Issues and its solutions”, adopted a 15 point declaration as a possible pathway to resolve the crisis.
Political parties united on Balochistan
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif questioned, “Who is responsible for picking them [missing persons] up? There’s no respect for Pakistan’s Constitution and law [in Balochistan]. Till when will the people tolerate?” he said, suggesting that the military was the root of all evil in the province.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief said that given what they had been put through, it was the right of the people of Balochistan to rebel against the government.
“We should not have any complaints with the rebels, but rather with those who turn them into rebels… The way Akbar Bugti’s dead body was desecrated, why wouldn’t his heirs rebel? The murderers of Akbar Bugti were presented with the Guard of Honour,” Sharif said.
Recalling the time when he was jailed, Sharif said a fake case was initiated against him and the treatment given to him was similar to that given to the people of Balochistan. “I felt like I was a spy of some enemy state… I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a rebel.”
Noting the discrimination faced by Balochistan during former president Pervez Musharraf’s era, Sharif said that even today no one has the courage to hold him responsible, suggesting the former dictator be made to face charges for his role in the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti.
“We ourselves are responsible… But we should accept our mistakes and rectify them… On behalf of my party, I would like to assure you that we are with you.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the convention, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan termed the Balochistan issue one of life and death for the motherland. He added that they did not have time to waste just for political tactics. Noting that there were lots of differences between the Army and the police, Khan presented his own 10-year development plan, along with an amnesty plan for those Baloch who were declared to be terrorists.
Chief of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and a member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani reiterated Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s suggestion on forming a “Grand National Alliance” which would conduct dialogue over rule of law and autonomy (DRA).
Rabbani also emphasised the alliance between judiciary and parliament for the accomplishment of peace in the province. The parliamentarian though confessed that the Balochistan issue may not be solved even after 18th Amendment, but maintained one could not deny the positive implications of the amendment.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Haider Abbas Rizvi said that Balochistan has become a very sensitive issue in the country. If not taken seriously, external forces could gain benefits for their vested interests. He said that Balochistan issue should be resolved on the slogan of ‘now or never’.
In his opening remarks, the President Supreme Court Bar Association Yasin Azad said that the main cause for unrest in Balochistan is missing persons, and that it could only be addressed through the efforts of parliament and political forces.
President of National Party Dr Abdul Malik said that we have to give identity and rights to the people of Balochistan. He said that Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan and a solution can be found by conducting dialogue with all stakeholders.
Leader of Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) Veenash Bugti said they are ready to become a bridge between the government and the estranged Baloch.
Deputy Chairman of Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party Abdur Rahim Mandokhel chose to blame the numerous dictatorial regimes for the problems of the estranged province. He stressed that it was now the duty of the political leadership to address these problems.
President of Hazara National Jirga Abdul Qayyum Chengezi said the solutions of the problems lay in fair and impartial elections.
Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Akhtar Hussain said that the people of Balochistan have shown flexibility with Pakistan and urged for negotiations with all stakeholders.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), the largest coalition partner of the ruling PPP in the assembly, warned of the Balochistan problem slowly spreading to other parts of the country. PML-Q Secretary General Mushahid Hussain Syed said that the country needs to tackle this problem with a serious sense of responsibility.
He lamented that no one has taken responsibility for the fast deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan and that the province has been left in the hands of outlaws and terrorists.
President Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal group (PML-F) in Balochistan, Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani said that the problem needs a united national solution in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
15 point declaration
The declaration said the situation in Balochistan is complex, so too were the solutions. However they must be resolved through multiple pathways including re-negotiation of the question of provincial autonomy with respect to the economic resources of the province. It emphasised that the crisis was one which could only be resolved through political dialogue‚ negotiations and through building confidence between the people of Balochistan and the Federal Government.
The declaration maintained that a politics of garrison should be replaced by the civilian authorities who genuinely represent the will of the people. It said it is crucial to ensure that all those responsible for authoring and killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti should be arrested and brought to justice.
It said an effective mechanism should be adopted to ensure that all natural resources in Balochistan are under the control of locals. It said that all those citizens settled in Balochistan, irrespective of their language, caste or belief, be equally respected and their social and economic rights protected.
The conference commended the Supreme Court for taking up the case of missing persons in Balochistan, but urged that those accused of heinous crimes of target killings and disappearances should be brought to justice.
The declaration said that an inter-parliamentary committee should prepare a White paper on the human rights violations carried out in Balochistan from the time of Musharraf’s regime to the present day. The report should be presented and discussed in the parliament.
The declaration can be found here.
More in PakistanPCB contracts: Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal get Category A