QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri has said that his government is fighting terrorism on two fronts — the so-called freedom fighters in the Baloch-dominated areas and the sectarian terrorists and religious fanatics from the Pakhtun areas of the province.
Talking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors at the Hanna Lake Government Rest House during a luncheon meeting, he deplored that when the Baloch militants killed an innocent man, it was said that a disgruntled Baloch had committed the crime. He said the act was terrorism and not condonable because a deprived Baloch was involved.
The chief minister said sectarian terrorism and religious fanaticism were mainly encountered in the Pashto speaking region but the government and security forces were making serious inroads and gaining ground to wipe out the menace of terrorism.
He said more than 3,000 fighters had laid down their arms before the security forces and now they were being helped in their early rehabilitation, while their children were being educated.
Nawab Zehri, who is the chief of Jhalawan tribes, claimed that the Baloch fighters did not have the support of even 1% of the population, while their commanders and leaders were enjoying their lives in the West. He said these elements were involved in polluting the political atmosphere of Balochistan after getting money from hostile intelligence agencies and enemy countries. All such elements living outside the country were involved in disturbing the peace in Balochistan and they were not representatives of the Baloch people, he said, adding that the real representatives of the people were those sitting in the assemblies and the Senate.
The chief minister offered an olive branch to the Baloch militants and said they would be welcomed wholeheartedly if they came back, laid down their weapons and worked within the constitutional framework of Pakistan. Those elements that refused to surrender and continued to challenge the writ of the government would be dealt with strongly, he said.
“There will be no settlement with the militants nor the government will come under pressure,” he told the newspaper editors from all over Balochistan. He stressed the need for national unity and integrity and the importance of the media’s role in this regard. Zehri complained that the media was listening to those involved in terrorism and refused to heed the victims.
He recalled that at one stage there was no national anthem playing in any educational institution in the province, including the University of Balochistan. Now the situation had been brought under control, he added. He said that in the earlier time, people from Punjab were killed after checking their national identity cards, but his government had eliminated the term ‘settlers’ for the Punjabis and others in Balochistan and now they were equal citizens.
Nawab Zehri said sectarian terrorists and religious fanatics had their bases in Afghanistan and they crossed the border to carry out bomb explosions and suicide attacks. “They refuse to accept the writ of the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan and they operate at will,” he said. However, he said the situation on this front had also improved and the acts of terrorism had been contained.
Referring to a threat from militant organisations to disrupt newspaper distribution and TV transmissions in Balochistan, Nawab Zehri said the militants had become desperate and were putting pressure on the media.
Referring to the reconciliation process, he said his government would not concede to unjust and unfair demands or conditions and the militants should return home, accept the Constitution of Pakistan and join the mainstream politics.