The head of the paramilitary force has said that the son of a self-exiled Baloch leader has told him that he wants to bring his father back to Pakistan.
Maj-Gen Ubaidullah Khan Khattak, the inspector general of the Frontier Corps, said that Prince Agha Muhammad Ahmedzai, the son of Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Daud, expressed this desire in a recent meeting with him.
“I do not want to send out a wrong message about this meeting because the Khan of Kalat is a respectable citizen of the country and we will welcome him wholeheartedly when he returns,” Maj-Gen Khattak told a news conference at the FC headquarters. “We have initiated a process of reaching out to estranged (Baloch) leaders for negotiations,” he added.
The Khan of Kalat is living in self-exile in London – as do a number of other disgruntled Baloch leaders, including Balochistan Republican Party chief Barhamdagh Bugti and Hyrbyair Marri, who head outfits blamed for most violence in Balochistan.
In a clear reference to these leaders, Maj-Gen Khattak said, “Leaders spending a luxurious life in Europe cannot struggle for the rights of the people.”
Authorities had organised a ‘Balochistan Festival’ in connection with Pakistan Day celebrations on March 23 in Quetta. The Khan of Kalat’s son was seen hoisting the country’s flag at the function along with top civil and military officials.
Maj-Gen Khattak claimed that a large number of Baloch leaders turned up at the function, which shows that a majority of Baloch people wanted peace.
The Khan of Kalat, however, disassociated himself from his son’s participation in the Festival. “I’ve no contact with my son for last two years,” Mir Suleman Daud told journalists in Quetta by phone from London.
Mir Daudzai dispelled the impression that Prince Agha represented him at the festival. “Nobody represents me nor do I have any mouthpiece or spokesperson,” he said. “It’s an open secret that my son is under the supervision of pro-government Nawab Mir Aali Bugti,” the Khan of Kalat said.
Asked about Maj-Gen Khattak’s claim that the Khan of Kalat wants to return to Pakistan, Mir Daudzai said, “I will not say anything except that the ‘grapes are sour’.”
In an effort to play down the deadly insurgency, the FC chief said that the problem was not political. “The issue of Balochistan is not political but it is related to unemployment, under-development and a lack of facilities for better education,” he added. “Civil and military institutions are jointly working for the betterment of the people of Balochistan,” he said.
Asked about the criticism of his force by a number of quarters, Maj-Gen Khattak said it was regrettable that they did not appreciate institutions struggling for restoring order in the province. “However, I believe a majority of those who criticise the FC are not (in favour of peace),” he added.
The FC chief admitted that the situation in Balochistan is quite precarious and that the security forces alone cannot restore peace to the volatile province.
“Intellectuals, opinion makers, media and political leaders have to play their role; there are several examples of other countries where these quarters (are doing so),” he said.
Maj-Gen Khattak also provided a synopsis of the fluid security situation in the province over the last three months. According to him, at least 107 people, including 87 civilians and 20 security personnel, have been killed in incidents of terrorism. Gas pipelines were attacked 66 times during the year.
He added that security forces had also recovered a large range of arms, ammunitions, explosive materials, mines, detonators and Improvised Explosive Devices.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2012.
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