Absent from Balochistan: EU’s decision to not send poll observers upsets Mengal

Published: April 10, 2013

Says election observation mission should also monitor human rights violations in province.

QUETTA: 

Balochistan National Party President Sardar Akhtar Mengal has been dismayed by the European Union Election Observation Mission’s decision to not send poll observers to Balochistan for security reasons.

Briefing the media at his residence on Tuesday, the BNP chief said chief observer of the mission Michael Gahler’s decision to not send EU observers to Balochistan was of great concern for the Baloch people who were “victims of human rights violations”.

He said that the EU should not only be monitoring the parliamentary polls to ensure transparency and tranquility, but also observe the rampant violation of human rights in the province.

“If the international community wants peace in Balochistan then it should send the observer mission with a double task of monitoring elections [to ensure they are free and fair] and also the violation of human rights of innocent and law abiding people,” Mengal told the media.

He claimed that transparent elections under the present circumstances were unlikely. “Political workers are not allowed to come out of their homes and participate in the electoral process for fear of being killed.”

“Without political workers, an election campaign is not possible,” Mengal added.

He said his party had conveyed its reservations to the Election Commission of Pakistan on the safety and security of polling staff and voters and also on the conduct of the elections. “We, at the present moment, are keeping a close watch on the developments,” he said.

Mengal bluntly denied that he had returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile as a result of a political deal.

“We are unaware about the science of political deals and our elders have never made such deals.”

He said Baloch nationalists had never been a hurdle for the stability and flourishing of democracy in Pakistan.

Contradicting media reports, Mengal said he was not wielding power to compel or force militants to lay down their weapons.

Several party leaders, including Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Sajid Tareen, Sana Baloch and Agha Hassan Baloch were also present at the media briefing.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2013. 

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