Balochistan’s comparison with East Pakistan unjustified: Musharraf

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Former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf has said comparing the situation in Balochistan with Bangladesh was totally unjustified, as Bengal had a population of 52 percent of the undivided Pakistan, while Balochistan’s population was only five percent of the entire country.
Speaking in a TV show on Saturday, Musharraf said Baloch Sardars were only 0.5 percent of the total population of the province and it was a matter of much interest that they did not enjoy the mandate of the people.
He said situation in Balochistan had no resemblance with that of East Pakistan and asserted the province would remain an integral part of Pakistan. “Baloch people are also fed up with so-called sardars and they want to be free from their clutches.”
“A conspiracy is being hatched against Pakistan’s sovereignty and the Baloch Sardars are becoming tools for it,” the APML chief said.
He said anti-state elements were engaged in Balochistan and should be dealt with iron hands. Musharraf said the army in every country was used to fight against elements like ones in Balochistan, so criticism of the military should be stopped.
He said Pakistan was the only country in the world which criticised its army and it was a dangerous conspiracy against it.
Opposing dialogue with elements engaged in struggle for independence, the former president said they should not be negotiated with but dealt with iron fists. “Operations were launched in Balochistan against such elements in periods of Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, Ziaul Haq and mine,” he said.
Musharraf said the Baloch people were not supporting the sardars, but these sardars were misguiding the people against the government for their personal interests.
He called sardars equally responsible for backwardness in Balochistan, saying almost all sardars remained in top offices in various governments but they did not take interest in the development of Balochistan.
“Free and fair election is only way to free the Baloch people from the clutches of sardars and Baloch people can elect their real political representatives,” he said.
Commenting on Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf said the PML-N chief should award election tickets to Baloch sardars (tribal chiefs) he was currently meeting, adding that the PML-N chief would know their worth with poll results.
The former president said the situation in Balochistan was not as grim as was being painted by some Baloch leaders.
“They are misleading the people by painting a wrong picture of the province, they are terrorists and have no support among the people of Balochistan.”
Rejecting the perception that the Pakistan Army and LEAs were involved in missing persons issue, the APML chief said local terrorist organizations were involved in these criminal activities, adding that the army could not kill any of citizen of Pakistan. He further said sardars should tell the Baloch people how they were maintaining luxury vehicles and affording high expenditure. Musharraf said when he was at the helm, there were 65 camps in Balochistan from where terrorists operated and he uprooted all of them.
He said India, Russia and Afghanistan were engaged against Pakistan since 1950. “The Soviet Union tried to dismember Pakistan through Afghanistan, but Moscow itself fell apart instead of weakening Pakistan,” Musharraf said.
He said Nawab Akbar Bugti committed suicide or got killed due to an explosion of among his own weapons, but now the army was being accused of killing him in an operation.