Despite the strong rain, with Quetta’s roads overflowing with gutter water, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) managed to hold a large rally at the city’s Ayub Stadium. The party chairman, Imran Khan, vowed to bring peace and prosperity to Balochistan and end six decades of discrimination and excessive force.
Imran made good use of the conditions to launch a verbal assault on those who have hindered progress in the province. “The tsunami has reached Quetta where a tsunami-like situation has already been created due to the heavy downpours. We have come here to end the climate of fear.” Imran added he would rather die than break his promises to the people of Balochistan.
The majority of the crowd were young and were either from Quetta or Pakhtun-dominated districts. Some groups from Dera Murad Jamali also participated in the rally. The hockey ground, which has a capacitiy of 15,000, was brimming with supporters, on this occasion cheering on the party rather than players. The venue had been changed from the big football ground to the smaller hockey ground on Thursday evening following the wet weather.
Strict security measures were in place with the deployment of about 800 law enforcement personnel. Police held positions on the roof and the Frontier Corps (FC) manned the entrance of the Ayub Stadium.
Imran strongly condemned enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, terming these a major crime against humanity. “The people have been subjected to enforced disappearances for the past ten years in Pakistan and are whisked away by our own people,” he said, adding that his party sympathises with the relatives of missing persons and is working on the issue.
The party chairman promised that his party would bring to justice those who murdered Nawab Akbar Bugti and other leaders in Balochistan.
Imran pounced on what he perceives as rampant corruption in the province. He said that Balochistan has been provided with Rs110 billion under the new National Finance Commission award, but these funds are largely unaccounted, because roads, educational institutions and other sectors are in appalling condition.
“PTI will make an agreement with Balochistan like an agreement inked between East Germany and West Germany about six decades ago under which Balochistan would be given a bigger share in development funds until and unless it is brought on a par with the other developed provinces.”
Imran also blamed Nawaz Sharif for the deteriorating law and order situation in the province, saying the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, under the umbrella of the All Parties Democratic Movement, had been instrumental in persuading Baloch nationalists to boycott the last general election. Balochistan suffered the most for this decision, the PTI chief told his audience.
Imran said PTI will take all the parties into confidence to resolving problems in Balochistan, adding that military operations show the inability of the political leadership to normalise the situation. “PTI will find a political solution for Balochistan,” he said, adding that his party would never deploy paramilitary troops or Frontier Corps to restore peace in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.