‘158 people killed in Balochistan since January 1’
By Zulfiqar Ghuman
ISLAMABAD: Violence in Balochistan has claimed 158 lives since January 1, sources quoted Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao as telling the last cabinet meeting on law and order, with a special focus on the ongoing insurgence in Balochistan.
Of the dead, 53 were civilians and 33 personnel of law enforcement agencies, the sources quoted the minister as saying. He added that 72 rebel tribesmen (BLA men) were killed and 41 injured. He said that 147 people had also been injured since January 1.
Sherpao told the cabinet that Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Khuzdar were the main troubled districts where security personnel, government installations and infrastructure were being targeted, the sources said.
“Though incidents of rocket attacks, small arm fires and mine blasts targeting government installations have decreased considerably, there has been an upsurge in violence for the last one week because of the proscription of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and cancellation of arms licences to sardars,” the minister said.
However, Sherpao said that the overall capability of the BLA had weakened and the process of rehabilitation of displaced Kalpar, Rahija and Masori tribesmen had been completed.
The BLA was banned on April 7, while arms licences to Baloch leaders including Nawab Akbar Bugti, Senator Sanaullah Baloch and Akhtar Mengal had been cancelled.
Sherpao told the cabinet that the insurgency in Balochistan and Talibanisation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) could hamper economic activity in the country, sources said.
Sherpao told the cabinet that the government had adopted a two-pronged strategy to control the situation. “The government on the one hand is focusing on socio-economic development and political dialogue and on the other it is making a limited use of force,” Sherpao was quoted as telling the cabinet. He said that Ghazeen Marri, the main suspect in the murder of Justice Muhammad Nawaz Marri, had been arrested in Abu Dhabi and the government had sought his extradition for trial.
Justice Marri, a judge of the Balochistan High Court who resisted the sway of tribal sardars, was gunned down by armed men on January 7, 2000 on Zarghoon Road when he was going to court. Ghazeen Marri is son of tribal elder Khair Bukhsh Marri.
The cabinet meeting said that the issue of a raise in gas royalties should be finalised in consultation with the governments of Balochistan and Sindh. It said the government was planning to create 30,000 new jobs in the next two to three years.