Baluchs vent anger at Bugti death

Deadly riots have continued in towns and cities in Baluchistan and some other Pakistani provinces triggered by the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a Baluch tribal chieftain and politician, at the hands of security forces.

    Baluchi loyalists offer prayers for Nawab Bugti

    The violence has left people dead and more than 50 others injured.

    Nushki in Baluchistan is under curfew, and on Sunday evening a curfew was imposed on the provincial capital, Quetta, for an indefinite period. Large contingents of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in different parts of Baluchistan.

    In Islamabad, Mohammad Ali Durrani, the Pakistani information minister, said on Sunday that the body of Bugti had not yet been taken out from the rubble of the bunker in Kohlu where he was killed and that it would be buried in the presence of members of his family.

    For its part, the Baluch Alliance has called for a general strike in Baluchistan on Monday to condemn the assassination of Bugti.

    Leaders of the alliance, Pakistan People's Party parliamentarians and the Baluchistan National Party (Awami) said they would continue their struggle against what they called anti-Baluch forces.

    Open to dialogue

    Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, on Sunday said the government will take "every step" to ensure its writ in Baluchistan and other parts of the country.

    Musharraf said that the doors for negotiations are open.

    "Neither we closed these channels in the past nor we will do so in future," he said.

    "However, we cannot let anyone attack security forces and if someone will do this, we [will] take punitive action against them."

    The government has decided that elements supporting the federal authorities will be backed, and that the pace of development projects in the province would even be accelerated.

    People in Baluchistan have been angered that natural resources in their region are being used by the government with little financial benefit locally.

    Riots continue

    Pakistani newspapers are reporting that at least 45 vehicles and scores of shops, banks and government buildings have been ransacked or set on fire in Baluchistan. Hundreds of rioters have been taken into custody.

    Quetta remained cut off from the rest of the country on Monday as protesters blocked the three main inter-linking roads. All Quetta-bound flights coming from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad were cancelled.

    Baluchis in Karachi overturned
    vehicles in protest

    Trains coming to Quetta were stopped and Pakistan Railways suspended train services out of the city.

    Two bombs exploded in Kalat. The district offices of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League were set on fire in coastal towns of Pasni and Gwadar. A police post also came under attack in Gwadar.

    Reports of violent protests were also received from many other towns in Baluchistan, and Baluch tribesmen protested in many cities of Sindh province.

    In Punjab, demonstrations were held in Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan.

    Grandsons' fate

    Durrani said it was unclear whether Bugti's grandsons, Brahmadagh and Mirali, had been killed in the raid, which left seven security forces personnel dead.

    However, a spokesman for a tribal body said in Quetta on Sunday that both the grandsons were alive as they had left Kohlu when it was under heavy attack.

    Nawabzada Balaach Khan Marri, a son of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, a veteran Baluch nationalist leader, was also alive, he said.

    Bugti was killed inside a cave in
    Kohlu, Baluchistan, on Saturday

    Durrani dismissed as untrue reports that the cave Bugti was in had been hit by a laser-guided missile.

    "No such missiles are manufactured by Pakistan," he said.

    He said the resistance offered by Bugti's men was so intense that arresting him alive was not possible.

    "The operation started on August 23 when one of the two helicopters sent on a tip-off about the presence of renegades in the Taratani area of Kohlu district came under fire. Another helicopter was hit by enemy fire shortly afterwards. The operation intensified on August 26 as the militants, operating out of heavily fortified bunkers, employed hi-tech weaponry and killed seven security officials," Durrani said.

    Funeral planned

    The family of Bugti and leaders of his Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) will hold funeral prayers in the Sadiq Shaheed Ground in Quetta on Tuesday.

    A JWP official said two days had passed since the death and the government should hand over the body to heirs in accordance with Islamic teachings, tribal traditions and human values.

    Assembly session

    In other news, the Pakistan government is expecting a stormy National Assembly sitting on Monday in light of Bugti's killing.

    Quetta is among the cities most
    affected by the riots

    There is a possibility that the government will propose a suspension of proceedings to pay respect to Bugti in an attempt to let emotions cool.

    The ARD, the MMA and other components of the combined opposition have decided to move adjournment motions to debate the issue.

    Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif, the former Pakistani prime minister, has said that the brains behind the killing of Bugti had sown seeds of hatred, and said that further damage could be controlled only if all political parties expressed solidarity with the people of Baluchistan.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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