Incensed by Thursday’s bloodbath in Quetta, Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf directed Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani on Saturday to immediately return to Pakistan.
According to sources privy to the conversation, “The premier did not issue the directions in a friendly manner – he literally grilled him (Raisani),” a source told The Express Tribune.
“The prime minister asked Raisani if he had any idea what had happened in Quetta in the last couple of days while he was holidaying abroad,” the source said, adding that the prime minister directed him to immediately join a team of federal ministers to address the volatile security situation.
Premier Ashraf issued the orders in a meeting with Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad. According to sources, Malik said the absence of key provincial government officials and lack of coordination between the federal and provincial governments had worsened the situation in Balochistan.
Separately, the premier also directed the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) to assist the civil administration in restoring order. Ashraf also announced Rs1 million compensation for the heirs of each victim of Thursday’s blasts and Rs0.1 million each for the injured.
The prime minister also scheduled a meeting with Hazara community leaders next week to address their grievances, while he also scheduled to meet Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira today to discuss the security situation in Balochistan.
Meanwhile, President Asif Zardari directed the authorities to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in Balochistan to restore peace in the province. During a meeting at Bilawal House in Karachi, Zardari reportedly formed a six-member committee, led by Premier Ashraf, to ensure better coordination between the federal and provincial governments.
The committee will visit Balochistan within a week to meet Baloch nationalists, religious and political forces. Bilawal House spokesman Jameel Soomro, however, was not aware of any such meeting while Senator Farhatullah Babar did not respond to his phone despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2013.
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