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Category — Nawabzada Baramdagh Bugti

An elusive package: edit in the Daily Times, Jan 21

The walkout by two ministers from the Balochistan Assembly session on Monday in protest against the killing of two Baloch students at a protest rally in Khuzdar last week and condemnation of the killings by senators of both the treasury and opposition benches once again focuses minds on the plight of the Baloch. When the PPP government presented a package for Balochistan, a province that has been fighting for its rights since the inception of Pakistan, many termed it a historic step. Though the Baloch nationalists rejected the package and said that it would not bring about any change in the current situation, a broad swathe of opinion thought the nationalist leaders were being overly pessimistic. Now, however, it seems the ‘pessimist’ Baloch nationalists were right after all. This has been proved yet again by the incident in Khuzdar, where the people’s right to a peaceful protest was violated and brutally crushed. The use of brutal force by the Frontier Constabulary (FC) has not only alienated the Baloch further, it has put the federation of Pakistan at stake.

The ‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan’ package has failed to deliver on its promise. The military operation is still continuing, as are the kidnappings of Baloch nationalist leaders and workers. The government must ensure that the military operation is stopped, and the ‘missing’ persons the prime minister promised would come home, recovered. In this backdrop, the removal of some Baloch leaders’ names, including Ataullah Mengal, Akhtar Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri, from the exit control list (ECL) was a good gesture, albeit a small one. What is more shocking is Prime Minister Gilani’s comment that it was “news to me” that these people were on the ECL. We should be thankful for small mercies that the prime minister finally got this ‘information’ and acted upon it. If the chief executive has no ‘news’ about prominent names on the ECL list, one can only pray.

Despite the mention of Balochistan’s IDPs in the said package, the situation remains the same. We hear of humanitarian aid for the Swat and Malakand IDPs every day, but the Baloch IDPs are hardly ever mentioned. If this continues, the anti-federation sentiment would rise even more in the neglected province. Balochistan needs concrete steps to defuse the situation and engage the alienated Baloch rather than pie-in-the-sky ‘packages’.

For the past many years the Baloch have been waging a fight against the Pakistani establishment for their just rights. They have largely been asking for what has been promised to them under the constitution. Failure to fulfil this aspiration is the surest way to exacerbate separatist sentiment in the province. Instead of playing politics with such a serious matter, the government should deliver on its promises and not make a mockery of the Baloch issue. To ignore Baloch grievances is to run the risk of weakening the integrity of the federation. The Centre must pay heed to the disquiet ruling Balochistan. The government needs to have a dialogue with the alienated Baloch leaders, both in Pakistan and those living in exile abroad. The tension-ridden atmosphere of Balochistan should ring alarm bells for the government. Pakistan is already fighting a war with the Taliban and it cannot afford another war front against Baloch insurgents. The results of not delivering on the Balochistan package can be disastrous for the country. The government needs to get its act together or else get ready for another debacle.http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\21\story_21-1-2010_pg3_1

January 21, 2010   No Comments

Bugti’s killing was a result of clash with state’s writ: Musharraf

LAHORE: Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death was the result of a clash with the writ of the state, former president Pervez Musharraf said on Tuesday.

According to a private TV channel, Musharraf said neither the president nor the chief of the army staff could give direct orders to the army and other law enforcment agencies on any particular issue and the allegations against him were baseless.

He said Akbar Bugti and his henchmen challenged the writ of the state and later took refuge in a cave. He said a four-member delegation of the army went into the cave to ask Bugti and his followers to lay down their arms. “It seems the cave collapsed which resulted in the death of Bugti and the four soldiers”, he said. He said billions of rupees were spent on the Gwadar port under his regime. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\13\story_13-1-2010_pg7_4

January 13, 2010   No Comments

The Baloch insurgency is no bluff: op-ed in The News, Nov 3

By Rahimullah Yusufzai
The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar

Shafiq Ahmed Khan described himself as a Balochistani, spoke about the rights of the Baloch people and publicly mourned and condemned the assassination of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti at the hands of Gen Pervez Musharraf. Even then he was killed by those who insist they are fighting for the Baloch cause.

On Oct 25, Balochistan education minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan was shot dead by gunmen waiting in ambush near his house in Quetta. The killers escaped on a motorbike, but the Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF) made sure that there was no confusion about the identity of the attackers by immediately claiming responsibility for the assassination. BLUF spokesman Shahiq Baloch said the minister was killed due to his anti-Baloch policies, and to avenge the state-sponsored murders of Baloch nationalist leaders Ghulam Muhammad, Sher Muhammad and Lala Munir in Turbat in Balochistan sometime ago.

Shafiq Ahmed was the second Balochistan minister to be killed in the last few months. In July, the minister for excise and taxation, Sardarzada Rustam Khan Jamali, was gunned down in Karachi, a city with a significant Baloch population. The motives for his murder aren’t sufficiently clear, though it shocked and unnerved his colleagues in the large and unwieldy PPP-led coalition government ruling Balochistan. Subsequently, the house of Balochistan information minister Younis Mullazai in Quetta came under a grenade attack. There have been other targeted killings in the province, along with frequent acts of sabotage against government installations, infrastructure and utility services. A new trend in this campaign is the blowing up of properties of pro-government tribal elders. Frontier Corps soldiers and policemen are attacked and the settlers, the ones whose parents and grandparents came from other provinces to settle in Balochistan, are now a major target of Baloch separatists.

Shafiq was also considered a settler, even though he was born in Quetta in 1954. He studied in schools and colleges in Quetta before getting admission and qualifying from Balochistan University. He thrice won elections as councillor of the Quetta Municipal Corporation. Twice, in 2002 and 2008, he was elected member of the Balochistan Assembly on the ticket of the Pakistan People’s Party.

Senator Mir Lashkari Raisani, the PPP’s Balochistan president and brother of chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, unwisely and carelessly referred to Shafiq Ahmed’s family origins being from the NWFP, wondering aloud whether this could be a reason for his assassination. This was something farfetched as BLUF had publicly declared that he was killed for pursuing anti-Baloch policies. Shafiq Ahmed’s assassination had no link with the ongoing Taliban-inspired militancy in the NWFP and its tribal areas. Lashkari Raisani should have refrained from categorising Shafiq Ahmed as a settler.

Lashkari Raisani also highlighted two other intriguing points. One was his belief that Shafiq Ahmed was killed for raising his voice against Indian involvement in Balochistan’s affairs. This meant that the minister was eliminated for accusing India of supporting acts of terrorism in Balochistan. The other point that Lashkari Raisani made was the campaign of targeted killings of teachers in Balochistan and its culmination in the assassination of Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed. All this in his view was part of a conspiracy to deprive students of education and keep Balochistan underdeveloped. Lacking focus, Lashkari Raisani’s statement tended to create confusion about the motive behind the assassination.

In comparison, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani’s condolence message was sensible. He described Shafiq Ahmed as a Baloch leader. He termed his assassination as a violation of Baloch and Islamic traditions and asked the insurgents not to shed the blood of their own people for external forces seeking to destabilise Balochistan and Pakistan.

Shafiq Ahmed’s family had migrated to Quetta several decades ago from the village of Maloga near Oghi town in Mansehra district. His uncle, Ali Bahadur Khan, was a judicial commissioner in Balochistan and his father, Sher Bahadur, did business in Quetta. The family belongs to the Hindko-speaking Tanoli tribe living in parts of Mansehra and Abbottabad districts. Shafiq Ahmed and his family did maintain links with relatives in Mansehra and the rest of Hazara, but it was for all practical purposes now a Balochistani family. Asked in a recent event sponsored by the BBC Urdu service in Quetta whether he was a Pakhtun or Baloch, Shafiq Ahmed remarked that he was a Balochistani.

Apart from the sizeable number of families from the NWFP’s Hazara region who settled in Quetta long ago, there are also substantial groups of settlers from Punjab, Sindh and Afghanistan who call Balochistan their home. Like every urban centre, Quetta has been attracting outsiders, particularly those with some skills, and its population has been growing. Urdu-speaking families and members of minority groups such as Parsi, Hindu and Christian also have been living and working in Quetta and some other cities and towns in Balochistan. Many families decided to settle in Quetta when it was being rebuilt after the devastating 1935 earthquake.

But it seems most settlers are now unwelcome because the Baloch separatists want to settle scores with the federal government, the military and the Punjab-dominated Pakistani establishment. The victims are scapegoats in a battle in which the increasingly violent Baloch separatist groups are pitted against Pakistan’s security forces, law-enforcement agencies and pro-federation political forces.

Denial of Baloch rights and the five military operations since independence have taken its toll on the population of Balochistan, but it seems no lessons have been learnt as force is still being used to resolve a conflict that is essentially political in nature and primarily concerns the socio-economic rights of the people of the province.

The BLUF appears more aggressive and violent than the Baloch Liberation Army and Baloch Liberation Front, the two armed separatist groups that have been active for some years now in Balochistan. In February the BLUF kidnapped American John Solecki who headed the UNHCR mission in Balochistan, and freed him unharmed after much efforts, and probably a deal. The kidnapping signalled the arrival of the BLUF as the most radical of the three Baloch separatist groups even though it isn’t clear if these are separate or overlapping factions operating under different names. One lesson from the proliferation of splinter factions, which are far more radical militants and led by younger and emotional men, is that one must try and do business with the older and original groups headed by mature people because the leadership is passing to commanders who are mostly inflexible. This holds true for all militant groups, whether secular, nationalist or Islamic.

Young Baloch separatists forming part of the diaspora and living in Kabul, Kandahar, Dubai, London, Brussels and Geneva are now often calling the shots in Balochistan and setting the agenda. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud, and Herbeyar Marri are in London, Brahmadagh Bugti could be in Afghanistan. They largely control the radical separatist groups and it isn’t going to be easy doing business with them. They are presently demanding an independent Balochistan, but there are strong indications they are willing to remain part of Pakistan after grant of provincial autonomy under a deal guaranteed by international organisations and world powers. The trust deficit between them and the Pakistani establishment — which is wary of the external, primarily Indian influence on the Baloch separatists — is the main hurdle in making them talk to each other for a possible deal on managing Balochistan’s affairs.

Though an overwhelming majority of elected representatives in Balochistan are pro-Islamabad and the pro-federation political forces outnumber the ones demanding independence, it would be wrong to dismiss the Baloch nationalists and separatists as insignificant. They have the capability to keep Balochistan unstable through political means and armed struggle. Acts of sabotage and targeted killings, like that of Shafiq Ahmed Khan, aim at keeping up the pressure on Islamabad to accede to the separatists’ demands.

And this is not the only challenge confronting Balochistan. There is the issue of the Quetta Shura of the Afghan Taliban, which the US, without providing any evidence, is insisting operates out of the Balochistan capital to attack NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan. And, last but not least, is the issue of Jundullah, the Baloch Sunni militant group responsible for terrorist attacks in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province and based according to Tehran in Pakistani Balochistan. Sadly enough, the secret hand of the US also seems to be behind Jundullah. http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=206519

November 3, 2009   No Comments

Tackling Baloch bitterness: op-ed in The News, Oct 12

By Shahid Kardar
The writer is a former finance minister of Punjab

The Baloch are feeling hard done by and are very angry, the exasperation having turned into resentment following the tragic death of Akbar Bugti and the disappearances and extrajudicial killings of their leadership. The causes of their distress are deep-rooted. This article has been prompted by references to Islamabad’s trying to cobble together a “Balochistan package” and focuses on the raw economic hand dealt to Balochistan under different dispensations over the years.

Of Balochistan’s total budgeted revenue receipts 94 percent are expected to flow from the federal government, highlighting both the heavy dependence on federal transfers and the huge mismatch between the assigned responsibilities of the province and the wherewithal available to it to discharge such obligations. The high fiscal dependence on federal transfers is on account of the centralised tax structure, the almost exclusive powers granted by Constitution to the federal government and because key assets/resources on which Balochistan’s development will be predicated, gas, oil, major minerals sea ports are, under the existing constitutional framework, controlled by the federal government!

Also, not only have total federal transfers (including straight transfers in the form of the Gas Development Surcharge (GDS), excise duty and royalty on gas) and subvention grants grown at a modest rate of 1.8 percent per annum since 2001-02, they have also tended to be volatile and unpredictable. And Balochistan’s total receipts from the Islamabad for all forms of transfers is less than 25 percent what the federal government keeps for itself simply for collecting all taxes, gas related excise duties, etc.

Moreover, the horizontal distribution of the NFC divisible pool between the provinces is on the basis of population. Such an approach suggests that all Pakistanis should be treated equally, regardless of the fact that all provinces are not starting from similar initial positions of service provision. Balochistan, with its large landmass, scattered, sparsely populated settlements and high level of poverty, has to bear a higher unit cost for providing services. A pure population-based division of the divisible pool puts it at a distinct disadvantage.

Under the 1997 NFC Award, Balochistan has been receiving subvention grants to cater for the special development needs of the province, without any agreed criteria for setting the level of subvention. There has been some indexation of the basic amount with inflation, but the criterion for setting the amount as well as negotiating raises is not clearly specified, affecting the predictability and certainty of resource flows under this head.

The government of Balochistan also receives direct transfers from the federal government on account of its ownership of gas. These transfers relate to the excise duty and royalty on gas, and its share of the Gas Development Surcharge (GDS). The excise duty on gas, which is based on production volumes, is set at a low rate (of Rs5.10 per MMBTU), established several years ago. Islamabad sets the rate and collects the tax and simply transfers to the province, without the Balochistan government being in a position to influence the related policy.

The royalty on gas is paid in recognition of the ownership of the resource by the province. It is fixed at 12.5 percent of the gas sold as valued at the wellhead price. However, the wellhead price has been fixed at a low level for the gas fields in Balochistan, compared with the royalty being paid on gas fields discovered recently whose wellhead prices are much higher; the price for its largest field, Sui, has been capped at 50 percent of the market/wellhead price of new gas fields.

Presently, the GDS is determined on the basis of the cost of exploration and is distributed between the provinces, based on the proportion of gas volumes, despite the fact that the GDS collected is a function of the difference between the weighted prescribed price (determined on the basis of the wellhead price, transmission and distribution expenditure, O&M cost, excise duty, minimum return of gas companies, etc.), and the price paid by the consumer. Balochistan’s gas fields are mature and are fast depleting, which has resulted in the reduction of its share in the GDS. Since the wellhead price for Balochistan fields is low, its contribution margin, per unit of gas, to the total GDS is more than the contribution of gas fields in other provinces. By allocating GDS receipts on the basis of volumes rather than total value of gas sold, the Balochistan government’s share is being artificially depressed. Whereas it contributes more than 86 percent based on the difference between the prescribed price and the defensible weighted average wellhead cost, it is presently getting a share of roughly 24 percent in the GDS distributed between the provinces. In other words, against its present share of Rs5.6 billion in GDS Balochistan would have received an additional Rs.12.5 billion.

Moreover, before 1991, GDS was only generated from Balochistan but was not paid to it, and was utilised for developing other gas fields in the country, resulting in the province losing Rs29 billion from 1991 to 1997.

This writer therefore believes that to be able to address the kinds of grievances being articulated by the Baloch (and, for that matter, also by Pakhtuns and Sindhis), a new federal structure has to be devised for Pakistan’s long-term sustainability. This will require a recasting of the Constitution and the establishment of a more viable structure that gives meaningful autonomy to the provinces. This realignment will involve a slashing of the Concurrent List and the handing over of full control over all resources to the provinces in which these are located. Once Balochistan has control over its resources it should be able to sell its products to the others at the international price, the same way that Punjab sells its agricultural produce like wheat and cotton to the others at global prices. The adoption of such an approach will also address the intractable problem of provincial complaints on the size and timeliness of receipts from Islamabad for royalty and excise duties and the inter-provincial conflicts on shares in the Gas Development Surcharge.

In defence of this proposal, this writer would argue that if Pakistan’s political and economic structure were to be implanted in the US, Texas (and for that matter in other federations in the world, like Canada and Australia) with all its oil, would not be rich; instead entrepreneurs in New York and Washington would be living it up. Contrast this situation with that in Pakistan, where gas-rich Balochistan, the owner of this country’s lifeline and richest resource, is the least-developed province in both physical and social infrastructure, and which continuously begs for funds from the federal government to stay afloat.

Moreover, and more importantly, Islamabad should give up many of the activities that it has taken upon itself to perform, largely because of the massive share of national revenues and resources that it appropriates. The Federal Development Programme includes not only the Coastal Highway and the Sandaik projects but also the construction of provincial roads (like those connecting Chaman and Quetta and Quetta and Kila Saifullah), which should be implemented by the provincial government, because most of them fall entirely within its purview. Other than duplication of effort and expenditures, the projects also suffer from poor design and lack of prioritisation, activities that the provincial government is better placed to carry out based on local needs and priorities. It is just that Islamabad will simply not let go of functions and resources that rightfully belong with lower formations of government and is unwilling to shed weight by correcting the incongruity of its size and the expanded role and mandate that it has arrogated to itself.

Reducing the importance and size of the federal government by trimming its role and by simultaneously enhancing provincial autonomy, combined with fundamental civil service reforms, along the lines proposed by the National Commission for Government Reform, the attraction for positions and appropriate representation of different nationalities in the Federal bureaucracy would also diminish substantially. The answer to the grievances of the Baloch lies in such solutions and a genuine federal system, and not in conjuring a political system around some misconceived notion of ‘supreme national interest’ nor by simply increasing the size of the federal government’s development programme in Balochistan and enhancing the job quotas for the Baloch in federally-managed public services and projects. http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=202738

October 12, 2009   No Comments

Imran calls for mid-term polls in Balochistan: The Dawn, Oct 11

QUETTA, Oct 10: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan has called for mid-term polls in Balochistan so that ‘genuine’ elected representatives could be elected to resolve problems facing the province.
Addressing a press conference at the Bugti House and a public meeting at Meezan Chowk on Saturday, the PTI leader said he was demanding elections because the existing provincial government was not a representative of the masses.
He claimed that a new government formed by fresh elected representatives would not allow military operation in the province.
He said the government had failed to resolve people’s problems because its representatives had been chosen in polls that were conducted by a military dictator and in the absence of an independent judiciary and election commission.
Mr Khan urged the armed forces in Balochistan to keep their guns silent because political issues could only be settled through negotiations. http://epaper.dawn.com/ArticleText.aspx?article=11_10_2009_005_002

October 11, 2009   No Comments

Raisani removes parliamentary affairs minister:The Daily Times, Oct 11

By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani on Saturday relieved the provincial minister for parliamentary affairs, Rubina Irfan, of her duties, reportedly because of “objectionable activities” that were undermining the stability of the provincial coalition government.

The female minister belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and is the wife of Agha Irfan Karim, former minister for Zakat and Ushr, who earlier tendered his resignation to express solidarity with PPP minister Ali Madad Jattak. “Rubina’s portfolio has been given to Shama Perveen Magsi, the minister for Information Technology [and wife of Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi],” a senior official at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat confirmed. “Rubina will retain the status of a provincial minister, but without a portfolio,” he added. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\10\11\story_11-10-2009_pg7_15

October 11, 2009   No Comments

‘Balochistan solidarity campaign’ to be launched

By Malik Siraj Akbar in The Daily Times, Oct 10
QUETTA: Several civil society organisations have decided to launch a countrywide signature campaign to express solidarity with the people of Balochistan.
Sungi Development Foundation Director (programmes) Asad Rehman announced this at a seminar, Proposed Balochistan Package and the NFC award. Rehman said Pakistan would disintegrate if the federating units were not treated equally and respectfully. People had realised that Balochistan had been brought to the verge of disintegration due to the erroneous and repressive policies of successive governments, he said. “The government should make arrangements for the return of the internally displaced persons of Dera Bugti and Kohlu to their hometowns. The Hindus should be compensated for the damage caused to their houses during the military operation. Nawab Akbar Bugti’s body must be handed over to his family,” he added.
Balochistan National Party (BNP) President Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini said, “We reject all kinds of packages. We want ownership of our natural resources. It is impossible to run the country on the basis of ad hocism,” he commented.
National Party President Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch said the government had not consulted the Baloch parties on the proposed package. The ruling party, he said, was treading in the footsteps of former military ruler Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf.
BNP Secretary General Habib Jalib said the military government had promoted around 6,000 seminaries in the province. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\10\10\story_10-10-2009_pg7_26

October 10, 2009   No Comments

Booking Musharraf: edit in The News, Oct 8

The Balochistan High Court’s order to book former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf, his PM Shaukat Aziz and others for killing Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is the first substantial move to open up contentious issues which the present PPP government has hitherto avoided. The court’s order may force Musharraf, now in self-exile, to consider hard whether to return to Pakistan, but it also has the potential to pitch the newly assertive judiciary against the civil and military establishment. Parts of the political spectrum, including the opposition parties, will welcome the order, yet it may seem easy for a judge to order Musharraf’s trial for murder, but it would be harder for the government to comply.

If the judiciary persists with the pressure and forces the executive to act, an unfortunate situation of confrontation may develop. But to correct the massive distortions in our political and judicial systems, such bitter pills have to be swallowed. Somewhere, someday, somebody will have to start the process. Though it may appear impractical now, the FIR against Musharraf and others must be registered and action must be initiated, to the extent possible. If the PPP government drags its feet, governments to come later can pick up the thread. But the process must begin. Musharraf must be booked and tried. http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=202108

October 8, 2009   No Comments

Registration of Bugti case against Musharraf ordered

By Amanullah Kasi in The Dawn, Oct 8
QUETTA, Oct 7: The Balochistan High Court has ordered the SHO of Dera Bugti police station to register an FIR against former president Pervez Musharraf and others in the murder case of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.
On a petition by Nawab Bugti’s son Nawabzada Jamil Akbar Bugti, a bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa ordered on Wednesday registration of a case against the respondents, except NWFP Governor Owais Ghani.
The petitioner had nominated Gen (retd) Musharraf, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former governor of Balochistan Owais Ghani, former chief minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf, former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao and former home minister Shoaib Nausherwani.
The court accepted the submission of the petitioner, but excluded the name of Mr Ghani who being governor of the NWFP holds a constitutional position.
Mr Sherpao’s counsel Barrister Masoor Shah pleaded that he had no role in the killing. He said that forces which had killed the Baloch leader during a military operation were not under his command and he had not been consulted or informed about the action.
Mir Nausherwani said that three lawyers contacted by him had not yet responded to his request to represent him.
He denied having played any role in the killing of Nawab Bugti and said he had not been consulted on military actions in Dera Bugti.
He said the killing of the Baloch leader was a sad incident and morally he felt guilty for having failed to resign after the incident.
Deputy Attorney General Afzal Jami said the issue was a provincial matter and the federation had nothing to do with it.
Balochistan Prosecutor General Malik Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani said he had no objection to registration of the FIR.
The petitioner had challenged on Sept 8 the rejection by the Sibi sessions court of his application for registration of the report.
The chief justice had issued notices on Sept 11 to the respondents, except Mr Ghani, but neither the ex-president, the former prime minister and chief minister nor their counsel appeared before the court.
Nawab Bugti was killed on Aug 26, 2006.
APP adds: Interior Minister Rehman Malik told journalists in Islamabad that the federal government respected all judicial orders, including that of the BHC regarding Gen (retd) Musharraf. He expressed full support for the court order.
He said the former president did not have immunity from Interpol’s red warrants.
“We will extend maximum cooperation to the provincial government whenever required,” he added. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/registration-of-bugti-case-against-musharraf-ordered-809

October 8, 2009   No Comments

Gas exploration hampered by Balochistan security situation: The Daily Times, Sept 21

By Tahir Niaz
ISLAMABAD: The law and order situation is the foremost factor that has hampered the exploration of gas and production activity in Balochistan over the last few years, according to the recently-released ‘Balochistan Economic Report’.

The report – a copy of which is available with Daily Times – said over three-fifths of the 657 terrorist attacks in 2006, nearly one-third of deaths in such attacks and almost half the injuries were reported in Balochistan. The report said the security situation in Balochistan worsened in 2006 compared to the previous year. It said the number of terrorist attacks in 2006 was almost twice as high as the period between 2002 and 2005. According to the report, the gas fields of Sui, Uch, Pirkoh and Loti are all located in Dera Bugti, which is at the heart of a violent conflict. The report identifies the principal reason for the deteriorating security situation as “a violent conflict between security forces and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Bugti tribesmen”.

It said the BLA, the Balochistan Liberation Front and Bugti militiamen launched 403 terrorist attacks in the province during 2006, killing 277 people and injuring 676 others. It said gas pipelines, security checkpoints and camps, government offices, rail tracks and bridges were targeted in these attacks. According to statistics compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), Dera Bugti accounted for two-fifths of the 136 terrorist attacks reported in Balochistan between January 2006 and July 2006. The attacks killed 137 people and injured 315 others. According to the Balochistan Economic Report, Kohlu district – a stronghold of the BLA—along with Quetta and Sibi represent over a quarter of the terrorist attacks.

The report said Balochistan accounted for three-fifths of all terrorist attacks in Pakistan during 2006, and most of them took place in or around Dera Bugti. It said the precarious security situation in Dera Bugti was the main reason behind the decline in gas output – with the financial impact felt throughout the province. According to the study, the security situation in Balochistan was “highly unsatisfactory” during 2007, as terrorists continued attacking state installations and security apparatus.

The report said with gas fields exhausting, security worsening, fiscal receipts declining and community support in doubt, Balochistan’s gas economy was in urgent need of reforms. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\09\21\story_21-9-2009_pg7_10

September 21, 2009   No Comments