Sunday, March 31, 2013

Balochistan and the election

By Editorial
Published: March 29, 2013

The success of elections in Balochistan may ultimately depend on Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the chief of the Balochistan National Party. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The 2008 elections, although among the freest and fairest in our chequered electoral history, were somewhat marred by the absence of the PTI, the JI and the Baloch nationalist parties. It was the boycott by the Baloch nationalists that most affected the elections since they command significant followings in the province. Without them, the results had to be taken with a large spoonful of salt. This time around, we likely will see the participation of most nationalist groups. The Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, met Baloch nationalist leaders and assured them of security at the polls and urged them to contest the elections. He even agreed to extend the deadline for filing nomination papers by two days to facilitate the participation of the nationalist groups.

It is certainly true that not all parties in Balochistan will contest the elections. There is a hardcore separatist movement that could never be convinced to take part in the polls or cooperate in any way with the centre. This is precisely why the agreement by nationalist parties to be a part of our electoral democracy is so vital. If they can conclusively show that it is possible for fair elections to be held in Balochistan in an atmosphere that is not shrouded in fear and mistrust, the nationalist parties may be able to peel away support from the separatists. This will be a heartening development for those who want Balochistan to be given the rights it has so cruelly been denied while still wanting the province to be a part of the federation.

The success of elections in Balochistan may ultimately depend on Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the chief of the Balochistan National Party. Returning to the country after a four-year self-imposed exile, Mr Mengal has hinted that he may take part in the polls. At the same time, he has also called for the Baloch people to be given the right to self-determination. Which side he eventually comes down on will have a significant bearing on Balochistan’s future. The election commission has the equally important task of ensuring that polls in the province are held without fear among the general population and malice from the security agencies. If this does not happen, the Baloch people may never take part in general elections again.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/528357/balochistan-and-the-election/


Published: March 28, 2013

KARACHI: Spelling out his six points for stabilising the situation in Balochistan, Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Akhter Mengal reiterated on Wednesday that his party would contest the upcoming elections.

Sardar Akhter Mengal – who heads his eponymous faction of Balochistan National Party – arrived in Karachi from Dubai on Monday and told journalists on Tuesday that his party would not boycott the elections.

Addressing a news conference at his residence in Karachi, he said that a comprehensive economic and social package could help stabilise the province, where Baloch insurgents have been a separatist insurgency since 2004.

On the occasion, a seasoned politician from Balochistan, Syed Nasir Ali Shah, also joined hands with Mengal. Shah, who was affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party, blamed the party of ignoring the festering issue of Balochistan.

“I raised the issue of Balochistan – but all my cries fell on deaf ears,” Shah said, adding that he has joined hands with Mengal because his party was struggling for the rights of the people of Balochistan. Mengal reiterated the six-point formula he had presented before the Supreme Court. “Elections will be meaningless, if my six points are not taken seriously,” he added.

Mengal said his party would take part in polls despite threats. “We are not afraid of anything but there is threat from the establishment,” he added.

“As of now we don’t have any plans to forge an electoral alliance with any other party,” the BNP chief said. However, he did not rule out an alliance with other likeminded Baloch nationalist parties. “We’ll not join hands with those parties which could ignore our demands,” he added.

Commenting on former military ruler Pervez Musharaf, the BNP chief said that people knew him when he had uniform. “No one knows him now,” he added. He also blamed Musharaf for introducing controversial laws like National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2013. 


Balochistan candidates, voters receiving serious threats from BLA

Posted by A.A
image
ISLAMABAD: The banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) is out to sabotage the forthcoming general elections and in this regard it has accelerated the practice of sending threatening letters to candidates and offices of political parties.
Besides that, reports emerging from Balochistan revealed that the candidates and voters were also receiving threats of being target-killed.
Despite assurances from the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (R) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, the political parties in Balochistan have demanded deployment of security forces one month prior to the Election Day.
Eight Baloch majority districts in Balochistan have been declared extremely sensitive for the forthcoming general elections. However, activities of the banned outfits are also continuing in other parts of Balochistan. Areas from Mastung to Gawadar including Khuzdar, Awaran, Kalat, Turbat, Chagai and Kharan are among the areas which have been declared most sensitive.
National Party leader Mir Hasil Khan Bazinjo has confirmed that the BLA has not only sent threatening letters to the residences of the contesting candidates, but also sent threatening pamphlets to mosques. They have threatened to target the candidates and voters taking part in the elections.
He has demanded of the CEC to deploy security forces one month earlier to the election day in Balochistan.



Akhtar Mengal’s decision annoys Baloch nationalists

March 31, 2013
2

QUETTA - The current political scenario of Balochistan is likely to change in the days and weeks ahead, after former chief minister of Balochistan and President of the Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Sardar Akthar Mengal, ended his four-year self-imposed exile by returning to the country on March 25th.

It is said that many behind-the-scene efforts were made to persuade the estranged leader to return to his homeland and join the mainstream politics. The offer to the veteran leader Ataullah Mengal, Akhtar’s father, to become the caretaker prime minister was also made to ‘soften’ the father and the son. 

A large number of BNP-M supporters gathered outside the Karachi airport to accord a warm welcome to the Baloch nationalist leader who spent all these years in neighbouring Dubai, a favourite place for many Pakistani leaders facing adversity. 

A tug-of-war seems to have started between the Baloch nationalists in the country’s least developed province. While Akhtar Mengal and his party have decided to contest the May 11 elections, Baloch separatists and radical nationalists have started mounting pressure on him to boycott the vote.

Mengal had appeared before the Supreme Court about six months ago, demanding immediate “cessation of the security establishment’s kill and dump policies and extra judicial killing of Baloch youths”. He had likened his demands to the Six Points of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman to make it clear to the relevant authorities that he would not compromise the rights of the Balochs at any cost. 

However, there is a positive change in his thinking now.

A day after his arrival, Mr Mengal presided over a meeting of his party’s central committee in Karachi which decided that the BNP-Mengal should go for elections.  It took the party some 10 hours to reach the conclusion. 

Akthar Mengal said after the marathon session that the BNP-Mengal is a democratic party and its members have no enmity with any tribe. But, he said, the party faces threats from the establishment. He made it clear that the powers that be would be responsible if any member of his party was harmed.

The BNP-Mengal along with other nationalist parties had boycotted the 2008 general elections. Prominent leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai, who was also recently offered the post of the caretaker prime minister, had also stood away from the process in accordance with a decision taken by then All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM). 

During his stay abroad, Mr Mengal had highlighted the alleged excesses on the Balochs. Also, he had written a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 regarding violation of human rights in Balochistan, incidents of enforced disappearances of Baloch youths and killing of Baloch political leaders and workers.

Political observers say the BNP-M’s decision to participate in general elections is a major development in the context of the prevailing law and order in Balochistan. 
Banned outfits, Baloch Liberation Army, Baloch Liberation Front and Baloch Republican Army have appealed to the masses in Balochistan to remain aloof from the up-coming polls.
Exiled Baloch nationalist leader and chief of Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti, who has also announced to boycott the elections, said that they do not wish to have relations with Pakistani state anymore. 

He said that participation in the electoral process would be tantamount to recognizing Pakistan, a stance which would be against  their struggle for independence.

Dr Allah Nazar, commander of Baloch Liberation Front, said if Akhtar Mengal took part in the elections, he would be compromising with the very same security establishment that had been held responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Balochs.

Political analysts say the decision of BNP-Mengal in contesting the elections was made possible because of the efforts made by government to bring the annoyed Baloch leader into mainstream of national politics.

They say convincing Akthar Mengal to contest forthcoming polls is a big victory on the part of government circles which would help improve Pakistan’s image abroad at a time when it is blamed for human rights abuses in Balochistan. 

Moreover, political analysts say, Mr Mengal’s decision of contesting elections in current situation will face a serious resistance not only from radical Baloch nationalists but also from Baloch masses which are active against him. 

This was evident from the rally of March 27th, at Sariab Road, Quetta, which was participated in by hundreds of women and children. The participants had chanted slogans against Akhar Mengal. 

On the other hand, many political parties have announced their candidates, including National Party, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) and Jamat-i- Islami. 

The president of PML-Q and former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat and Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed visited Quetta a few days ago and discussed the issue of tickets to party candidates with the party’s provincial leadership.  

Now that the date of elections is approaching different political adjustments would be made.  

The chief of Jamhoori Watan Party Nawabzada Talal Akbar Bugti has announced to hold All Parties Conference in Quetta before the elections. He is also in contact with different political leaders, including the PML-N of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. 

Talal Bugti says except for the PML-Q, PPP and MQM he would invite all political parties to the moot, which is aimed to work out a strategy to steer the country out of challenges and difficulties it faces . 

It is said owing to prevailing law and order in Balochistan it would be a big challenge for the caretaker government to conduct election peacefully. It is being speculated that army would have to be called in different areas of Balochistan. 

According to official sources, 3794 polling stations would be established in the province, out of which 2877 could be declared “highly sensitive” and 633 as sensitive while 284 as normal.




Saturday, 30 March 2013 16:35
Posted by Saqib Ali Siddiqui


KARACHI: Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mengal said on Wednesday if the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did not remove the reservations of the Baloch nationalists, it would be difficult to hold fair, free and transparent elections in the province.

Addressing a press conference on the occasion of former MNA Nasir Ali Shah joining the BNP, he said that the rulers have filled their ears with iron over the issue of Balochistan.

He announced that his party would actively take part in the forthcoming general elections.

Mengal said that a wall of hate has been erected among several communities in Balochistan which have to be dismantled with responsibility.

Mengal said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan took a few good decisions regarding the Balochistan issue. He said that national level parties showed sympathy with the Baloch, but the issue was yet to be resolved.

He said that he had informed the Supreme Court of Pakistan about his reservations regarding the general election through letters. The election would be of no use if his reservations were not addressed, he added.

Mengal said that he had sought applications from candidates aspiring to contest elections He said that there was only a one-point agenda in the meeting and the situation of Balochistan province in upcoming days was also reviewed. Mengal further said that he is a political person and he has no enmity with anyone.


An appreciable initiative

March 30, 2013



The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim’s visit to Quetta to hold talks with political parties in Balochistan to urge them to shed their reservations, if any, about participating in the forthcoming general elections was a welcome initiative. He received an across-the-board nod when he told them that he had the complete assurance of the Army and the Frontier Constabulary (FC) that they would provide due security. Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, who was present at the meeting, confirmed that the army and the FC had pledged themselves to provide due security and the both were at the disposal of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). To this, ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan added that each candidate would be given four guards during the elections and maintained that strict measures had been adopted to ensure that rigging and bogus voting did not take place. For having a secure environment for the Hazara community, the recent target of sectarian fanaticism, to cast their vote, a suitable strategy was being chalked out. ECP Member Justice (r) Fazalur Rehman was happy at all political parties’ agreeing to take part in the polls.

To the parties’ doubts about the likelihood of change in the fortunes of the province after the polls, the CEC replied that the free and fair elections his commission was striving hard to conduct should be expected to throw up candidates who would adopt policies that are oriented towards development and betterment of the people’s lot. Thus, in the full participation of parties lies the success not only for the province, but also for the whole of Pakistan. One would hope that the candidates would stand behind the ECP to achieve its goal. On the request of the political parties and in view of recent floods in Balochistan, the period of nomination of papers was extended till March 31. The CEC also met caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghaus Bakhsh Barozai. The only dissenting vote came from exiled Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti, chief of Baloch Republican Party, that has  been among those carrying out violent acts. Brahamdagh, in an interview with foreign media, said that joining in the electoral process meant recognition of Pakistan; and he did not want to have any dealings with it and that was why he was striving for an independent Balochistan.

It is good that the CEC plans to hold similar meetings with political parties of the rest of the provinces. Justice Ebrahim should remember that the change that he and the nation wish to see happen post-polls is only possible if apart from the conduct of free and fair elections, the candidates are screened strictly in the light of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution. At the same time, serious attempts at neutralising the terrorist menace have to be initiated right now to create a reassuring climate for the voters to cast their ballot. The danger of turmoil, while ever present in areas that are being daily hit, cannot be ruled out elsewhere. The whole nation, the political parties and all, have to join hands with the security forces to make the exercise of the right to franchise a success.



Electioneering in Balochistan: nationalist parties' decision termed a good omen

March 30, 2013
ALI HUSSAIN

The recent announcement by the estranged Baloch nationalist leaders to take part in the forthcoming general elections will go a long way in steering the country out of the prevailing economic crisis as stability in the mineral rich province will be the key to prosperity of the country.

According to analysts, unrest in Balochistan, a minerals rich province, has compromised the country's ability to prosper from excavation of oil, gas, copper, gold, marble etc. In addition the restive province has witnessed frequent gas pipeline explosions as well as law and order issues which have deterred foreign and local investors from engaging in exploiting the province's mineral wealth.

Baloch nationalist leaders still enjoy immense support among the masses and establishing the writ of the government without their co-operation has remained an uphill task. Thus killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2007 proved disastrous, which further alienated the Baloch with consequent difficulties for the government to exploit the natural resources of the province.

The democratically-elected government of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), sources added, failed to woo the Baloch leaders and this was the reason there was no let up in the law and order situation, kidnapping for ransom, bomb blasts, with escalating number of disappearances despite intervention of the Supreme Court and repeated efforts made by elected members of the recently dissolved government of PPP.

Long time PPP loyalist and MNA in the 2008 parliament Nasir Ali Shah has joined Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal who has ended his several years in self-imposed exile in Dubai, which indicates that the independence of the Election Commission of Pakistan is playing a key role in bringing many back into the political process.

Nasir Ali Shah told Business Recorder that the nationalist party's decision to take part in the elections would enable it to "judge the intent of the federation and its sincerity in holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country. The elections will be a test for the federation and the establishment as to how sincere they are about Balochistan which has gone from bad to worse during the five year rule by a democratically-elected government," he added. He added that nationalists political parties have agreed to fully participate in the elections after the concerned quarters assured them of their full co-operation and acknowledged that the destiny of the province will change with the forthcoming elections.



Mengal's momentous initiative

March 30, 2013
RECORDER REPORT

Among the recent arrivals on the eve of general election from self-imposed exiles there are quite a few big names, but the one that is going to make the difference is Akhtar Mengal's. His decision is consequential to the national politics all the more for he is here even when he finds six-point formula presented to the Supreme Court last year to restore normalcy in his home province unimplemented. Not that he has given up on his stand; he remains committed to it as he describes Balochistan as a "blood-stained" province. But the boycott of general election is not his position anymore. It hasn't taken him more than a day to declare that his party would be taking part in elections. After a marathon deliberative session with the members of his party's central executive he said the BNP-M would be part of the May 11 general election unmindful of what he describes as 'threats from the establishment' and those 'who had filled the vacuum when his party boycotted the previous election'.

His decision to become part of electoral process instead of staying put in the boycott mode, as is the case with some other Baloch nationalists, brings into sharp relief his democratic credentials. Hopefully, the 'establishment' would see to it that his fears are belied. His six-point formula - which calls for an end to all military operations in Balochistan, abolishment of 'death squads', return of missing persons, settlement of displaced persons - is still in the field. Any meaningful progress in its implementation would certainly help restore normalcy in the troubled Balochistan. Mengal's decision to be part of the electoral process is an immensely encouraging development, which should be rendered full support by all segments of our polity including the so-called establishment.

Then there is also a message the BNP-M chief's decision to return home and become part of the democratic endeavour tends to convey to all those who stayed away from the hustings last time. It must bring home to them the realisation that the boycott of 2008 general election was not a viable option for any democratic force for whom vote is the only oxygen to survive and remain relevant to people. Though at present he would be reluctant to advise the Baloch nationalists to come down from the mountains and join electoral race, a decision by a person of Akhtar Mengal's political standing and stature is bound to positively impact their thinking. And no less importantly, The BNP-M's decision is a measure of confidence in the competence and determination of the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold free, fair and transparent election. The truth is that in the evolving ambience of impartial polls in the country - for the first time in many years - no political party would like to miss the bus. The electoral impartiality being a major concern to the BNP-M leadership the ECP chief's assurance one of the party leaders, Agha Hasan Baloch, who attended ECP's meeting with many other 'angry' Baloch leaders in Quetta on Thursday, received must have greatly contributed to party's confidence in relation to its Tuesday's decision to take part in election. Mengal had already conveyed to the Supreme Court his concerns and apprehensions and the same was conveyed to the Chief Election Commissioner.

But the BNP-M decision to participate in election and the hope more would follow suit in Balochistan is only half of the story; the other half is creation of environment peaceful enough for the political parties to be able to reach out to the masses. Law and order situation is nowhere ideal in the country, but in Balochistan it is simply terrible, particularly when general public has to be not only persuaded to be part of electoral process but also to be ensured that it would be risk-free. Nowhere in the country are the forces out to derail election process sitting but in that province they are much more strong and deeply entrenched. Then there is also deep-seated distrust about the 'establishment' among certain sections of people. Hence the need for conceding if not all at least some of the demands made by Akhtar Mengal in his six-point formula. The danger is that the forces that have assiduously worked over the years to create this distrust are far from subdued, and would not spare any opportunity to subvert the electoral process. However, that said, the fact remains that the fundamentals to build on to obtain a healthy working democratic society in Balochistan are there - and decision of the BNP-M to take part in election is going to be a great help in this regard. 


 For the Baloch


Saturday, March 30, 2013 
From Print Edition

The nationalist leaders of Balochistan have announced that they will participate in the coming general elections. By doing so they have proved that they are patriotic and civilised people. Now it is the duty of all the political parties and the judiciary of Pakistan to stand up for the rights of the people of Balochistan. Their grievances should be redressed those and who have harmed them brought to book.

This is not possible unless all the political parties act together, regardless of their vested political interests. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued many directions for improving the situation in Balochistan. But the government did not chalk out any feasible policy nor take any effective action. Our political and military leadership always claims to be patriotic. Balochistan is a good test of their patriotism. Fair and free elections in the province is a very important step. It is the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, the caretaker governments, the superior judiciary and the military to conduct such elections in Balochistan that leave no room for doubt.

Suleman Mansha Gandhi

Lahore


Musharraf still arrogant, conceited: Akhtar Mengal


Friday, March 29, 2013 
From Print Edition

RAWALPINDI: Balochistan National Party (BNP) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal has said that as head of a political party he does not think it appropriate to respond to what a political dictator says. However, one thing is manifest from whatever Pervez Musharraf is saying. Humiliated and crestfallen as he is, still he is arrogant and conceited. It is the nature of dictators that they would never make a confession of their sins. We have become accustomed to hearing his threats and suffering his tyrannies ever since he was in uniform. An offer of Rs2 billion proves that he has made lot of money out of his uniform. There is no doubt that caretaker prime minister is a gentleman, but gentleness is not that is required or is necessary for this position. If a worker of BNP comes out with party flag in his hand, he comes back wrapped up in a shroud. Our people are still being killed and threats are being hurled at us.

Mengal expressed these views on Wednesday, while talking via video link from Karachi to Hamid Mir, the host of Geo News programme ëCapital Talkí. Debate on ëIs Election Commission Totally Helpless in Balochistan?í was participated by senior vice president of National Party Hasil Bizenjo and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association Justice (R) Tariq Mahmood. During the discussion the host revealed that Fauzia Siddiqui, sister of Aafia Siddiqui. will contest elections against Pervez Musharraf. He also said that eminent Supreme Court lawyer Ali Ahmad Kurd will also contest the forthcoming elections.

Answering different questions Sardar Akhtar Mengal declared that they would take part in elections in spite of threats from the establishment. ìWe were never bothered by such threats in the past nor can they frighten us now. Establishment and naive friends are the two forces that have sandwiched us,î he said, adding: ìI do not want to touch the worsening economic situation and unemployment in Balochistan, but I would ask whether the points I have raised in the Supreme Court are illegal and unconstitutional. To solve the problems of Balochistan is outside the pale of Election Commission or the interim government. In Balochistan not only polling stations but even roads, bazaars and houses are not safe. To violate the Constitution of the State, to take the chief justice hostage and detain his family members is tantamount to treason. However it seems that there are double standards and laws.î

To a question, he said that if he wanted to make a deal, he would have taken recourse to that while in exile. We have been presented before people as those who do not believe in democracy and believe only in arms. Megal said that he has apprised the chief election commissioner of his reservations in writing. We expect compassion from intelligentsia and the media. We want that media should constitute a team and visit the areas which are called tense accompanied by judges of the superior judiciary to judge whether atmosphere there is congenial for holding elections or not

Hasil Bizenjo said that what Pervez Musharraf has said in his press conference leads one to believe that he has gone crazy. To announce head money for those who were once in power, and declaration to fight elections from Dera Bugti point to his madness. Even if the entire GHQ is at the back of Musharraf, he cannot contest from Dera Bugti. The Election Commission has hinted at talking to Brahamdagh Bugti, little knowing that he is not contesting the elections at all. Those going to their constituencies with a mind to campaign for elections are doing so at the risk of their lives.

The ECP has not talked to anyone with respect to law and order. He said that even today dead bodies are being thrown in Balochistan cities. He said that the weirdest fear one feels is from the private army raised by the state. If vehicles with tinted glasses are taken away from them, there would be seventy percent improvement in law and order. Private force is also being developed in Pashtun areas. Most of the kidnapping cases are taking place in Pushtun areas. To a question, he said that the BNP and National Party should help each other wherever necessary. Therefore seat adjustment with both the parties is possible. However, it would be incorrect to say that in case of our alliance, other parties would not be able to make any mark.

Answering a question, Bizenjo said that the name of Khoso was suggested for caretaker chief minister, but he was made caretaker prime minister. He said that if the murder of candidates starts in districts of Balochistan, it would be confronted with another crisis.

Justice (R) Tariq Mahmood said that it would not be fair to put entire responsibility on the Election Commission. When Akhtar Mengal came back for the first time, it gave rise to many expectations. To bring the situation in Balochistan conducive to elections was the responsibility of the outgoing government. If state institutions did not play their role in improving the atmosphere for elections, the entire responsibility will be ours. If the prime minister had a political background, he could have played an important role in ameliorating the situation. We will have to face some difficulties for a better future.

If elections are held in a transparent manner, the next assemblies would definitely be far better than the previous ones. If the development fund of Balochistan had been spent for the people of the province, many of their grievances would have been redressed. Now we have a rare opportunity of solving the problems of Balochistan. Since now the entire burden has fallen on the shoulders of the chief election commissioner; therefore, the parties having any reservations should contact him and freely express their reservations and ask for steps to solve the problems of the province.


Published: March 29, 2013


Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim meets with interim Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai. PHOTO: EXPRESS


KARACHI / QUETTA: 

In an effort to ensure smooth elections in Balochistan, Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan Justice (ret’d) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim made an impassioned plea to Baloch political leaders to take part in the upcoming general elections.

“Change does not come from the bullet but from the ballot box and by casting a vote,” the CEC said, in a direct appeal to Baloch nationalists.

CEC Ebrahim is currently touring Balochistan to review the law and order situation in the province and hear the grievances of disgruntled Baloch leaders.

He asked all political parties in the province to participate in the elections, saying that “the future of Pakistan is linked with free and fair polls.”

In 2008, most Baloch nationalist parties boycotted elections to protest the ongoing military operation and the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti. This time, several nationalist parties are throwing their hats into the electoral ring.

During his visit, CEC Ebrahim met with the PML-N’s Sanaullah Zehri and Lashkari Raisani, JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Wasey, National Party’s Abdul Khaliq Baloch and the Balochistan National Party-Awami’s Wahid Baloch, among other political leaders.

“Our motive to come here and meet the leaders of political parties is to understand the problems and difficulties they are facing,” the CEC said.

While noting the problems political parties have been facing in the wake of the elections, CEC Ebrahim assured them that the commission would resolve their problems.

Denying that there were any ‘no go’ areas in Balochistan, Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad said that the provincial government plans to provide foolproof security to all candidates.

“The Balochistan government has decided to provide security to the aspiring candidates,” Yaqoob said, adding that once the final electoral list is issued, every candidate will be provided with four security guards and the election officers will also be given full protection.

Terming the meeting with the CEC a positive step, the PML-N’s Sanaullah Zehri said that if there are free and fair elections in Balochistan then the problems of the Baloch will be greatly reduced.

Speaking to the media after the meeting between the CEC and Baloch political leaders, ECP secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad said that political parties complained that they cannot file nomination papers on time because they don’t have access to the offices as they live in remote areas.

Responding to their concerns, he announced that the date of the submission of nomination papers has been extended for two days – to March 31.

Barozai meets Mengal

While the CEC was meeting Baloch leaders in Quetta, Balochistan’s caretaker Chief Minister Ghous Bakhsh Barozai was holding talks with BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal in Karachi.

Mengal expressed his concerns about the law and order situation in the province while Barozai assured him that all measures will be taken to combat security threats.

“Political leaders will be provided all possible security,” Barozai said in an attempt to address Mengal’s reservations.

The interim CM said he was in contact with the political leadership of the province to ensure that the government works towards maintaining peace in the area and also tries to resolve Baloch grievances.

To this, Mengal replied: “Transparent polls are not possible without first addressing the reservations of people of Balochistan.”

“We have informed the ECP and the caretaker government about our issues,” Mengal said, adding that it is the commission’s responsibility to ensure a peaceful atmosphere during the elections.

The BNP-M chief insisted he was not contesting the election to reap the benefits of power, but to serve his people. “Ministries and parliament seats are temporary, we don’t value such things,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2013.


Estranged Baloch leaders should take part in polls: CEC


Friday, March 29, 2013 
From Print Edition


QUETTA: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim said on Thursday that the estranged Baloch leaders should take part in the election process and promised to allay all their reservations.

In a meeting with leaders of political, religious and nationalist parties of Balochistan, the CEC called upon the Baloch people to bring about a change in the province through ballot.

“You may inform us about your reservations about the general elections. We will do everything possible to address them,” the CEC told the political, nationalist and religious leaders from Balochistan.

He said Balochistan was important and he sought the participation of all the parties in elections. He urged the provincial leaders to “bring about a change through ballot instead of bullet”.

In the meeting, there was representation of the National Party (NP), Balochistan National Party (BNP), Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Awami, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F), JUI-N, Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

Earlier, the CEC held a meeting with the caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghous Barozai and discussed different issues, including the law and order situation, in the province.CM Barozai assured him that he would do his utmost to remove the reservations of the chief of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Akhtar Mengal in a meeting with him.

Barozai informed Fakhruddin G Ebrahim that army would be deployed in any part of the province if necessary during the polls. Agencies add: The chief of Balochistan National Party (BNP), Akhtar Mengal, called on the Balochistan caretaker Chief Minister Ghaus Bakhsh Barozai and discussed the political scenario of the province in the backdrop of forthcoming general elections.

According to media reports, Mengal and the CM exchanged views over the law and order situation in Balochistan, and underscored the need for political parties to take part in the elections for a drastic change in the country.

Barozai extended full cooperation to the BNP chief and held out the assurance that complete security would be provided to all the election candidates.Meanwhile, prominent lawyer leader Ali Ahmed Kurd is set to contest the upcoming general elections after filing his nomination papers.

Kurd, who is also the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), emerged as one of the leaders in the lawyers movement for the restoration of then deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Kurd on Thursday filed his papers to contest the elections for the National Assembly seat NA-260 (Quetta).Other political leaders, including Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai and JUI-F leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, also submitted their nomination papers in Quetta.


ECP urges Baloch leaders to participate in elections

* CEC assures Baloch leaders reservations will be redressed

* Balochistan government announces to provide foolproof security to all candidates

QUETTA: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday assured the disgruntled Baloch leaders of its full support and urged them to take part in the general election.

“Through media, the ECP is conveying a message to the Baloch leaders who are abroad to take part in the general election, as their reservations will be redressed like those of other political parties in Balochistan,” ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed said. He was talking to newsmen after the meeting of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim with the political parties in Balochistan. He said that almost all the political parties were participating in the elections. 

Despite having reservations, Akhtar Mengal has reposed confidence in the ECP and decided to contest the election. Ishtiaq Ahmed said that on the recommendations given by the leaders of Balochistan’s political parties, the CEC agreed in principal to give two days extension for the submission of nomination forms. However, he said that an announcement in this regard would be made with the consultation of other members of the commission.
He dispelled the impression that holding elections in Balochistan was a difficult task, saying the law and order situation in the province was not as grim as being portrayed. Balochistan Caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai and provincial chief secretary have assured that foolproof security arrangements would be made for the contestants and voters during the polling. The secretary said that CEC Fakhruddin G Ebrahim met with the caretaker CM and home secretary and discussed all aspects of the upcoming elections.

He said that the CEC was told that the provincial government would help the ECP in holding free, fair and transparent elections in Balochistan. The CEC, along with other members of the commission, met the leadership of 13 parties, including PPP, Hazara Democratic Party, National Party Balochistan, Balochistan National Party (Awami), Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) and Jamaat-e-Islami. app

Poll chief pleads peace through ballot

March 29, 2013
Poll chief pleads peace through ballot
QUETTA - Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has called upon Baloch nationalist leaders to participate in the general elections for bringing change through ballot.


He made the call at a meeting with leaders of different political and religious parties who apprised him about their reservations and demands in connection with the forthcoming polls.

CEC Fakhrudin reached Quetta late Friday night and held meetings with political leaders and government officials. He also met caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai.

The leaders of Balochistan National Party (Mengal), National Party, Pakistan People’s Party, Pashtoon Khwa Milli Awami Party, Hazara Democratic Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and other parties met with the CEC.

They expressed their reservations over security and other issues and presented their recommendations for making the general elections a success in the restive province. They told CEC that in various districts of the province there was lack of banking system and poor transport infrastructure.
The chief election commissioner assured them that all efforts would be made to address their issues. He said that the key purpose of his visit was to hear to them and address their problems. He urged all the political parties and groups to take active part in the general elections, saying that future of Pakistan was linked with fair and transparent elections. “The change does not come with bullet, rather it comes with ballot,” he said.

He said that army was extending every possible cooperation for maintaining peace during the elections. “Election commission is bent upon holding free and fair elections in the country,” he said, adding that Balochistan was an important part of Pakistan. He said that election commission had not received any application regarding delimitation of constituencies in Balochistan.

The meeting was also addressed by Election Commission Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed and Member Election Commission Justice (r) Fazalur Rehman who said that it was welcoming development that none of the main political parties in Balochistan were boycotting the elections.

Ishtiaq said that the government would provide four guards to each candidate during elections, adding that stringent steps had been taken to stop rigging and use of bogus votes. “Due to law and order, if Balochistan chief secretary wanted to change administrative officers, he can do so.”
He said that except for Karachi there has been no delimitation of electoral constituencies anywhere in the country. He said that on the request of political parties and in view of recent floods in Balochistan, the election commission extended submission of nominations until March 31.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoub Fateh Muhammad said that Pak Army and Frontier Corps have extended complete cooperation for security during the elections and both forces were at the disposal of election commission. He said that a security plan was being chalked out for Hazara community so that they could use their right of franchise in a secure environment. He said that if political parties had any complain against any officer of the administration, they should bring that to their notice.

After the meeting, PML-N provincial president Nawab Sanaullah Zehri told the media that political parties apprised the CEC of their security reservations, and they were assured of provision of proper security to voters and the polling staff. Besides, Zehri said they also asked for extending the date of submitting nomination papers and removing the flaws.

On the other hand, exiled Baloch nationalist leader and chief of Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti, who has already announced boycott of the elections, said that neither the authorities of election commission had contacted them nor they would contact the ECP officials.

In an interview with a foreign media, he said that they did not wish to have relations with Pakistani state anymore and they had already decided that they would not participate in the elections. “Statements about holding of talks with separatist parties were mere political gimmicks,” he remarked, adding that participating in election was tantamount to recognising Pakistan while they were struggling for independence, not for elections.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Ishtiaq Ahmed said almost all political parties were participating in the elections. “Akhtar Mengal, despite having reservations, has reposed confidence in the ECP and decided to contest the election, which is a good omen for Balochistan.”
He dispelled the impression that holding elections in Balochistan was a difficult task. “Law and order in the province is not as grim as being portrayed.”

Ishtiaq said change occurs through the ballot and not through bullets and that the upcoming elections would bring change in Balochistan.
He said that efforts were being made to remove the reservations of all political parties, adding the election commission had decided to hold talks with the leaders of all political parties at the commission’s respective provincial headquarters, which was initiated in Balochistan.

The election commission’s secretary further said that during the visit to Quetta he along with Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ibrahim had met with the leaders of all political parties, the positive aspect of which was that all parties had unanimously said that they will participate in the upcoming elections.


CEC meets political leaders of Balochistan

March 29, 2013
RECORDER REPORT

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Thursday met political leaders of Balochistan and reviewed law and order situation to ensure free, fair and peaceful general elections. Along with four members of the Commission, the CEC chaired a meeting of senior officials wherein Secretary Balochistan gave a briefing on prevailing security situation in the province.

On the occasion, senior officials of law enforcement agencies briefed the meeting on security arrangements during forthcoming general elections. The meeting was also attended by representatives of Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians, PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami National Party, PML-Q, National Party' Balochistan National Party Awami, Balochistan National Party Mengal, Hazara Democratic Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, JUI-F, JUI-Nazriati and others.

In his briefing, Secretary Balochistan Akbar Durrani told that FC and the army would remain posted in Balochistan during the election. He held out assurance that the provincial government would remain impartial though out the electoral process. Earlier, the CEC held a meeting with the caretaker CM Barozai and discussed different issues including the law and order situation in the province. The CM Barozai noted that he will do his utmost to remove the reservations of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Chief Akhtar Mengal in a meeting with him. 


Balochistan, a case of double jeopardy
Friday, 29 Mar 2013 8:13 am

The portents are disturbing, indeed

While violence during the forthcoming election season would remain a countrywide threat, its recurrence in Balochistan will have far more grievous implications for the country than anywhere else. On the outcome of the elections will depend whether the province is to become a peaceful and prosperous part of the federation or is to be handed over to terrorists and separatists. What is needed is to ensure that all parties are provided a level playing field. This is not possible if candidates holding particular political views or religious inclinations continue to be targeted or if those responsible for the conduct of the polls are attacked.

The corrupt and inefficient coalition government which was clubbed together through political engineering in 2008 was disinclined to end the lawlessness that included kidnappings and killings. The government considered itself accountable only to its benefactors in the establishment rather than the people of Balochistan. The chief minister did not care to visit his constituency during his entire tenure. His colleagues were equally disinclined to look after the people’s welfare. It was in fact a matter of common knowledge that several MPAs were involved in acts of kidnapping for ransom. While the absentee chief minister lacked the ability to govern, lawlessness suited many of his colleagues who could continue their nefarious activities in a situation of the sort. None in the administration was moved even by the horrendous attacks on the Hazara community in January and February in each of which scores of innocent members of the Shias community were eliminated.

The portents one sees on the eve of the elections are disturbing, indeed. The law and order situation continues to be grim. Events over the last four weeks create apprehensions regarding the security of the candidates and their supporters. A district election commissioner was killed in Quetta. A group of armed men dressed in Frontier Corps uniform kidnapped Balochistan Assembly member belonging to the ANP in Pishin district. Ten persons were killed and 40 injured in Jaffarabad bomb blast. Senior journalist Mehmood Jan Afridi was shot dead by unidentified killers in Kalat town. In Turbat, another group of unidentified assailants shot four people and set their car on fire. Two Punjabis were killed in Gwadar.

The nationalist and secular parties are likely to be the chief target during the election campaign. It suits some of the political parties that were part of the ruling coalition to use the terrorists against the more popular candidates belonging to the ANP and the PKMAP. As usual, these parties would declare that secular and liberal views are against Islam, encouraging their allies among the terrorist to rid them of their competitors. In the Pushtun areas, the Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, the ANP and the PPP would face threats from the TTP and its affiliates. The rabidly anti-Shia LeJ has been highly active in the province during the last five years, engaging in what amounts to the ethnic cleansing of the Hazara community. Being a part of the TTP which has vowed to attack the ANP, the PPP and the MQM, LeJ is likely to train its guns against the first two which are taking part in the elections from the Pushtun areas. The terrorists have over the years employed the strategic depth available to them in the adjoining Afghan provinces to launch attacks inside Balochistan.

In Baloch areas there has been no respite to forced disappearances, torture and dumping of dead bodies. Independent rights bodies like the HRCP have collected enough evidence to prove that the illegalities were initially conducted by the agencies. After the focus turning on them, they have partly handed over the task to hired gangs of killers, which continue the activity in the Baloch areas with impunity. The armed killers move about in vehicles with coloured glasses picking up or killing on spot the political activists belonging to mainstream nationalist parties. This is the sort of counter-productive activity that was undertaken in East Pakistan through Al Shams and Al Badar. This according to mainstream nationalists is the principal threat they face during the elections.

The mainstream nationalists are also threatened by the several ‘armies’ setup by separatist organisations with leaders signing death warrants of the opponent from the mountains or from foreign countries. A peaceful resolution of the Balochistan issue does not suit those bent upon secession. For them the mainstream nationalists pose a greater threat than the law enforcement agencies. Democracy, they believe, would co-opt popular Baloch and Pushtun politicians who would mould the public opinion in favour of a united federal Pakistan. Once a democratic mechanism is in place for a peaceful resolution of the problems of Balochistan, the pull for separation would be gone.

Whether the elections in Balochistan are peaceful or marred by malpractices and bloodshed will depend on whether the establishment is willing to provide a fair, even field to the nationalist and secular parties. The establishment decided in 2008 to bring peace in Balochistan through methods altogether alien to the constitution and law. For this it chose to have a thoroughly obedient administration. A lot of political engineering was undertaken to put in place a government willing to allow the brutalities on its own population. The new administration demanded a price for its cooperation. While voluntarily handing over to the agencies the right to rule the province as they pleased, they sought total freedom to pillage the resources of the state. The bargain was struck.

The five year long experience indicates a total failure of the arrangement thus made. There is no peace in the province. Alienation among the people of Balochistan has climaxed. Lawlessness has made the province ungovernable. There are more attacks on the law enforcement agencies than before. Pakistan is being castigated at world forums for its human rights record in Balochistan. Many in the province compare Balochistan with the Indian controlled Kashmir. With Akhtar Mengal reiterating his commitment to the constitution, democracy and federation in clear and unambiguous terms, it is no more possible to dismiss the nationalists as anti-Pakistan elements. There is a greater understanding of the plight of the people of Balochistan in the rest of the country. They are no more alone.

It goes to the credit of the nationalist parties both from the Pushtun and Baloch areas that undeterred by the double jeopardy they face they are still willing to give democracy a chance. It is now for the establishment to rectify the blunders it made in 2008 and many more since, and work hard to ensure peace and equal opportunity for all entities in the elections. The question is, will it?

The writer is a political analyst and a former academic.

Published: March 28, 2013

QUETTA:  Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Ishtiaq Ahmed expressed contentment on Thursday over the fact that all political parties in Balochistan have decided to take part in the upcoming general elections.

“The interim chief minister of Balochistan told the chief election commissioner that all political parties of the province will be taking part in the upcoming elections. This is a very positive and important development,” he told the media.

“Earlier, Akhtar Mengal also had reservations, but now he has decided of taking part in elections,” Ahmed added.

The secretary further said that Caretaker CM Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai met with Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim in Quetta and discussed all aspects of the upcoming elections.

“He assured the CEC of helping the election commission in holding free, fair and transparent elections with the help of all government functionaries,” he added.

The CEC had gone to Quetta on Wednesday on a mission to pacify Baloch political leaders and persuade them to participate in the upcoming elections.

The CEC, along with other members of the commission, met the leadership of 13 parties, including the National Party Balochistan, Balochistan National Party (Awami), Balochistan National Party (Mengal) Hazara Democratic Party, Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl).


CEC urges Baloch leaders to bring change through ballot

QUETTA - Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Thursday called upon Baloch nationalist leaders to participate in general elections for bringing change through ballot.

He said this in a meeting with Baloch nationalist and other party leaders in Quetta. Leaders of more than 13 political and nationalist parties met the CEC to discuss the upcoming polls.

Ebrahim said his top priority was to hold transparent election for bringing real representatives of the people to the assembly.

He said the fate of Balochistan must be changed with ballot.

The CEC said it was unfortunate that most of the political parties did not participate in the general elections in 2008, which was why all assembly members remained ministers.

He said that the objectives of their visit were to remove their apprehension so that the election could take place in peaceful atmosphere.

The CEC urged nationalists to participate in the polls and said political leaders should bring change through ballot, not bullet. He assured them of redressing their reservations, adding that special security measures would be adopted in the province.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians‚ PML-N‚ Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf‚ Jamaat-e-Islami‚ Awami National Party, PML-Q, National Party‚ Balochistan National Party-Awami‚ Balochistan National Party-Mengal‚ Hazara Democratic Party‚ Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party‚ JUI-F‚ JUI-Nazriati and others.

Accompanied by all four ECP members, the CEC chaired a meeting of senior officials wherein the Balochistan chief secretary gave a briefing on prevailing security situation in the province.

On the occasion, senior officials of law enforcement agencies, including police and FC, briefed the participants on security arrangements planned for the forthcoming general elections.

The chief secretary said the FC and the army would remain posted in Balochistan during the election and assured that the provincial government would remain impartial though out the electoral process.

The CEC directed for better arrangements to conduct polls across Balochistan, particularly in Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts in an orderly manner.

Earlier, the CEC held a meeting with the caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghous Barozai and discussed various issues, including the law and order.

Barozai assured the CEC that he would do his utmost to remove the reservations of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Chief Akhtar Mengal.

He informed Ebrahim that the army could be deployed in any part of the province if need be during the polls.

Following the meetings, ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed said almost all political parties were participating in the elections.

“Akhtar Mengal, despite having reservations, has reposed confidence in the ECP and decided to contest the election, which is a good omen for Balochistan.”

Ishtiaq said on the recommendations given by the leaders of Baloch political parties, the CEC in principal agreed to give two days extension for the submission of nomination forms. However, he said announcement in this regard would be made with consultation of other members of the commission.

He dispelled the impression that holding elections in Balochistan was a difficult task. “Law and order in the province is not as grim as being portrayed.”

Holding transparent election top priority: CEC
Dated: 2013-03-29

QUETTA: Chief Election Commissioner Pakistan Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim has said that his top priority is to hold transparent election for bringing real representatives of the people to the assembly. 

He was presiding a meeting consisting of members of 15 various political and religious parties in Quetta Thursday morning.
Secretary Balochistan gave a briefing on prevailing security situation in the province.
On the occasion, senior officials of law enforcement agencies briefed the meeting on security arrangements during forthcoming general elections.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians‚ PML-N‚ Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf‚ Jamaat-e-Islami‚ Awami National Party, PML-Q, National Party‚ Balochistan National Party Awami‚ Balochistan National Party Mengal‚ Hazara Democratic Party‚ Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party‚ JUI-F‚ JUI-Nazriati and others.
Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim said that the fate of Balochistan may be changed with ballot and not with bullet.
The Chief Election Commissioner said it was great unfortunate that most of the political parties remained obtained from the general elections in 2008 that is why the whole assembly member remained ministers.
He said that the objectives of their visit were to remove their apprehension and hurdle so that the election could take place in peaceful atmosphere.
He called upon the political parties to take part in the coming elections for the larger interest of the country and coming generation. He said that his top priority is to hold transparent election for bringing real representatives of the people to the assembly. He said that he would do all he can for the holdings of transparent elections.
In his briefing, Secretary Balochistan Akbar Durrani told that FC and the army would remain posted in Balochistan during the election. He held out assurance that the provincial government would remain impartial though out the electoral process.
Earlier, the CEC held a meeting with the caretaker CM Barozai and discussed different issues including the law and order situation in the province.
The CM Barozai noted that he will do his utmost to remove the reservations of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Chief Akhtar Mengal in a meeting with him. 

CEC meets Baloch leaders, reviews law and order

QUETTA: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday met leaders of Baloch nationalist parties in Quetta to convince them for participation in the upcoming general elections, DawnNews reported
Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim is on a visit to Balochistan to review law and order situation amid threats by insurgents and militant organisations.
Earlier in a meeting, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim briefed the Interior Secretary, Inspector General (IG) and Frontier Corps personnel over the maintenance of law and order in the province during the upcoming general elections.
He also ordered for better arrangements to conduct polls in Dera Bhugti and Kohlu.
On Wednesday night, Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim said that the ECP will work towards persuading political parties in Balochistan to participate in the upcoming elections.
Ebrahim said that he was afraid that some people would boycott the elections but that has not happened.
He said that he will try and persuade those who are feeling alienated, adding that he wants to “put at ease political parties in the province”.
The election commissioner also said that he wants to “put at ease political parties in the province”. He further said that the ECP will ensure that the elections were conducted in a secure environment.
On the topic of delimitation, the CEC said, “So far we have not received any application regarding delimitation in Balochistan. Meanwhile, there have been some changes in Karachi.”
Ebrahim also said that peace and security was not just an issue for Balochistan, but also for the rest of the country.
CJ takes notice of 189 ex-MPs’ dubious degrees


Sunday, March 31, 2013 


ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday — while taking suo moto notice of reports that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has declared the degrees of 54 former parliamentarians as fake and that 189 ex-MPs have not submitted their educational certificates for verification — issued notices to the high-ups of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and HEC to appear before the court along with the requisite list tomorrow (April 1).

The chief justice took notice of a report that the HEC has declared the degrees of 54 former parliamentarians as fake and sent their names to the ECP. According to the report, the HEC also sent the names of 189 members, who have not submitted their Intermediate and Matric certificates.

The list consists of names of many well-known leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), including Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Engineer Amir Muqam, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Mehreen Anwar Raja, Mian Manzoor Wattoo and Syed Sumsam Ali Bukhari. The list also includes the names of Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat and Hamid Nasir Chattha.

According to a press release issued by the Supreme Court, the Election Commission submitted a list addressed by the HEC to the ECP that indicated that the current status of fake degrees as provided by the HEC stands at 54. It also appended a list of 189 parliamentarians whose cases are still pending verification for the last two and a half years and despite repeated reminders by the ECP, they have failed to provide their certificates to the ECP or the HEC. The HEC has further mentioned that the ECP in its letter dated February 7, 2013 noted that failing the verification of these degrees within 15 days thereof, the degrees will be treated as fake and criminal proceedings will be initiated.

The HEC has further stated in its aforesaid letter that cases of 19 parliamentarians are currently under litigation in various courts for verification of their degrees.

After going through the contents of the above letter the Chief Justice of Pakistan passed the following order:-

“A perusal of letter dated February 7, 2013 addressed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) indicates that the current status of fake degrees as provided by the HEC stands at 54. Along with its letter, the HEC has appended a list of 189 parliamentarians whose cases are still pending verification for the last two and a half years and despite repeated reminders by the ECP, they have failed to provide their certificates to the ECP or the HEC. The HEC has further mentioned that the ECP in its letter dated February 7, 2013 noted that failing the verification of these degrees within 15 days thereof, the degrees will be treated as fake and criminal proceedings will be initiated. The HEC has further stated in its aforesaid letter that cases of 19 parliamentarians are currently under litigation in various courts for verification of their degrees. However, surprisingly, no prosecution has been initiated against both the above categories of parliamentarians in terms of Para 18 of the judgment in the case of Muhammad Rizwan Gill v. Nadia Aziz (PLD 2010 SC 828). It may be advantageous to reproduce the said Para as under: -

‘18. The Election Commission is, therefore, directed to initiate action against all such persons who are accused of commission of corrupt practices; of committing forgery and of using, as genuine, documents which they knew or at least had reason to believe to be forged. The Election Commission shall ensure that the investigations in these matters are conducted honestly, efficiently and expeditiously and shall depute one of its senior officers to supervise the same. The learned sessions judges to whom these trials shall then be entrusted, are also directed to conclude the same without any delay, in consonance with the spirit of the elections laws as displayed, inter-alia, by the provisos newly-added to subsection (1-A) of section 67 of the said Act of 1976 through the Amending Act No.IV of 2009 promulgated on 2-11-2009. In any case, it should not take each learned sessions judge who gets seized of the matter, more than three months to conclude the same.’

In light of the above, the ECP owes an explanation for not having complied with the above judgment of this court in letter and spirit. Let notices be issued to the ECP through its Secretary and the Chairman HEC to appear before the Court on April 1, 2013.”

Muhammad Farooq adds from Swabi: A local court on Saturday sentenced Sardar Ali Khan, former member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, to three years imprisonment and fined him Rs5,000 in a fake degree case.

Sardar Ali, an independent candidate, had defeated Abdul Karim Khan of the Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao, now named the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), in the 2008 general elections, contesting elections from the PK-34, Swabi-IV constituency.

On January 29 last year, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Jehangir Khan in Tehsil Chota Lahore, did not confirm his bail before arrest (BBA) and thus he was arrested in the fake degree case.

On January 21, an application was filed in the Tehsil Chota Lahore Police Station by officials of the Election Commission, who sought registration of a case against Sardar Ali under the relevant sections of law for contesting election on a fake academic credential.

Lawyers said he was exonerated but sentenced to three years imprisonment under section 174 of the PPC by the court of Naseem Khan, Additional District and Sessions Judge.

The police arrested the former lawmaker from the courtroom after announcing the verdict and shifted him to the district judicial lockup.



ECP offices crowded as nomination papers deadline nears

ISLAMABAD: Offices of the District Returning Officers of the election commission remained crowded throughout Saturday as the deadline for submission of the nomination papers draws near.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had revised the schedule for the general elections, setting a new deadline of March 31 (Sunday) for submitting the nomination papers.
The election candidates, along with their supporters holding party flags and chanting slogans, were seen gathered around the ECP offices throughout the day.
Meanwhile, the commission directed all Returning Officers to disqualify candidates displaying weapons and carry out aerial firing while submitting the nomination papers.
“It has been noticed that while filing nomination papers, the supporters of candidates display lethal weapons and carry out aerial firing, which is clear violation of the code of conduct issued by the election commission” said an ECP official talking to APP.
He said according to the code of conduct, “There will be a complete ban on carriage and display of all kinds of weapons and fire arms in public meetings and processions, as well as on the polling day and till 24 hours after the consolidation of official results by the Returning Officer,” the official observed.
He said aerial firing, use of crackers and other explosives at public meetings and at or near the polling stations is also banned.
The official said all the District Returning Officer and Returning Officer have been asked to ensure compliance and implementation the code of conduct.
Moreover, the commission has also relaxed the condition of opening a new bank account for the prospective election candidates to justify the election expenditures within the announced limits.
According to an ECP spokesman, the commission has decided that all the prospective candidates, who would file their nomination papers on the last day tomorrow, may either provide the number of their existing accounts in any bank, if any, or open new bank account and provide that number to the Returning Officers concerned on the day of scrutiny of their candidature.
He said the decision has been taken following the calls the ECP had been receiving from the candidates that it was not possible for them to open new bank accounts on the weekly holiday.
The spokesman further informed that the election commission had so far received nomination papers of 3261 candidates from across the country, out of those 1018 have been sent back to return offices.
Around 40 candidates hailing from different political parties have so far submitted their nomination papers for two constituencies of the federal capital.
In the second phase, the commission would carry out scrutiny of the nomination papers from April 1 to 7.
The ECP has set April 10 as the deadline for filing appeals against decisions of the Returning Officers with regards to rejecting or accepting the nomination papers.
The election tribunals will decide the fate of these appeals by April 17. The candidates will be allowed to withdraw their nominations by April 18.
After thorough scrutiny, the commission will publish the final revised list of the electoral candidates on April 19, which will follow the holding of elections on May 11.
Fake degree cases: ECP, registrars asked to submit details

March 29, 2013
RECORDER REPORT

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued directives to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and registrars of High Courts, except Balochistan High Court to submit details of fake degree cases of MPs, pending either before the lower courts or with the police, particularly in Punjab, since 2010.

A three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed was hearing a Jamshaid Dasti's petition and fake degree holder parliamentarian case. All the Registrars of the High Courts have also been directed to place the names of Sessions Judges before the respective Chief Justices for an appropriate order against them over non-disposal of cases expeditiously.

The bench said in its order to High Court Registrars and the IGPs to submit report in the matter before Supreme Court and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by April 4. The Subordinate courts were directed to hold proceedings on a daily basis without adjournment.

The Supreme Court issued directives to the Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) to take action against all policemen who failed to submit challans in those cases sent by the ECP against fake degree holder parliamentarian. During the course of hearing, the bench issued directives to the Commission to observe Article 218(3) of the Constitution, saying under the constitutional provision, the ECP was bound to arrange/organise honest, free and fair election in the country.

The court observed that in various verdicts of the court regarding elections it had held that the "voter is the major stakeholder who is required to have full knowledge of the candidate whom he or she will vote." The court expressed anger that the police or investigating agencies were responsible for concluding the investigation of the fake degree holders cases promptly in as much as to send the challans in the court under Section 173 Cr.Pc.

The court noted that the police and the investigating agencies seemed to be negligent in completing the task assigned to them by the ECP. The bench noted that the reasons could only be known if they were called upon and an explanation was sought from them by the IGPs. The bench declined Jamshaid Dasti's request. He had urged the court to ask ECP that it must not proceed against him. 



Mainstreaming Balochistan


Saturday, March 30, 2013 
From Print Edition

The election this time in the troubled province of Balochistan will be especially significant. It may represent the last chance to draw its people back into the mainstream, and persuade them that political solutions to their problems – rather than just militant ones – are still possible; that it is not too late for them. In this context, the decision of Akhtar Mengal’s Balochistan National Party to take part in the polls is of course extremely significant. It represents some hope for the future and may build confidence in Baloch people that it is worth remaining a part of the political process rather than shying away from it entirely. Since his return to the country, Mengal has been playing an active role, meeting leaders of various parties, as well as the caretaker chief minister of Balochistan Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai, who has warmly welcomed his decision to take part in the polls. The significance being given to involving Baloch parties in the process is illustrated by the chief election commissioner’s trip to Quetta to meet the heads of key parties and reassure them that any concerns they have would be addressed.

The National Party (NP), Balochistan National Party (BNP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Awami, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), JUI-N, Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) all took part in the discussion with Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, again signalling a welcome sense of unity. These parties will now need to cooperate with the ECP and local authorities to ensure elections can go ahead peacefully in the province. There have been fears expressed over whether polling is possible in Balochistan at all given the degree of violence there. This remains a very valid concern. It was also raised by the CEC in his meeting with the CM, who assured him that troops would be deployed to ensure balloting could go ahead without violence. We must hope these measures succeed. The dangers in Balochistan are many. But with the major parties now on board, we can only hope that they too will do their best to work for peace and persuade people how necessary it is to ensure it is maintained at all costs. In many ways the 2013 polls and the results they produce will be essential to Balochistan’s future. How the next provincial government handles matters could determine many things. It is, therefore, essential that the process go ahead as smoothly as possible, with maximum participation by political parties and people of the troubled province. The efforts being made for this should then be welcomed. We hope and pray they succeed.



Published: March 31, 2013


QUETTA: A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Balochistan government and CK Solar Korea for installing a 300 MW solar power plant near Quetta, Provincial Secretary Energy Fuad Hashim Rabbani said on Saturday.

The project will cost around $900 million and will be completed by 2016, he said, while addressing the media.

Rabbani said the government has procured 1,500 acres of land in Khuchlak and Pishin on lease. “This project will help overcome the shortfall of electricity in Balochistan,” he added.

The project will provide green energy particularly in areas where is no conventional electricity option, the energy secretary said.
“Currently, the local population of targeted areas are using kerosene lanterns, which is hazardous to the health and non-economical due to the intermittent price hike,” he remarked.

He said that electricity to medical facilities such as hospitals, Basic Health Units and installation of solar street lights were amongst major benefits of the project.

“The government is planning to install 20 solar powered water pumps in 10 districts of Balochistan for water supply schemes,” Rabbani said.

Responding to a question, he conceded that farmers were suffering due to long hours of load-shedding and assured that steps would be taken to provide electricity to the farmers.

He said that work on Loralai-DG Khan 220 KV and Dadu-Khuzdar 220 KV power supply lines would be completed next year.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2013. 


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