Separatists in Balochistan with foreign backing aim to destabilise Pakistan, said former president and All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) chief Pervez Musharraf.
The former dictator was speaking via video at a conference titled “Problems of Balochistan”, arranged by Pakistan First, a forum of retired servicemen at a local club on Sunday.
Musharraf alleged that certain politicians were supporting separatists for political benefits. “The chiefs of Bugti, Marri and Mengal (tribes) are involved in the prevailing condition of Balochistan. The Balochistan Liberation Army is a terrorist organisation which is targeting non-locals in the province. The present government has failed to tackle the province’s issues,” Musharraf said.
Shahzain Bugti, Talal Bugti and others have contacts with foreign elements. Not a single inch of the country would disintegrate in the presence of Pakistan Army,” he maintained.
He claimed that 60 per cent of Balochistan’s population had rejected the separatists. “He continued to downplay separatist elements in the province, saying: “The people do not know the real situation of Balochistan. Only four per cent of population of the country lives in Balochistan and 60 per cent of that population is in favour of Pakistan. Just three to four thousand people are involved in terrorism and those are supported by foreign elements,” he added.
The former president claimed that billions of rupees were spent on development projects in the province during his tenure.
Members of the Pakistan First forum, (conceived in January 2012), which has over 200 members affiliated with the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society, urged the government to implement the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package and the National Finance Commission Award.
Members highlighted how the province had been ignored and how its problems could be readdressed during their briefings. They stressed the significance of Gwadar Port which remains cut off from the railway system. They also expressed the geostrategic importance of the province as well as its abundance of unexploited natural resources.
General Farooq in his keynote address said: “The future of Balochistan is at stake and so is that of Pakistan,” while highlighting the province’s importance.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2012.
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