April 12, 2015
KARACHI: After playing the role of an interlocutor and successfully persuading the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to engage in dialogue with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq is willing to assume a more challenging task of persuading Baloch separatists to adopt the path of reconciliation.
“I promise to lead a political Jirga for mediation between the government and Baloch separatist groups,” said the JI chief on Saturday. “War is no solution, nor the ongoing policy of action and reaction [will work],” he said at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday.
Haq said he intends to meet the prime minister and secure his permission for a political jirga to talk with the separatists. “This Balochistan issue ought to be addressed on emergency basis as the crisis can worsen to a point of no return.”
The JI chief said he is willing to lead from the front as he does not wish to see the country slipping towards another catastrophe, but the government will have to offer its pledge of support.
“If the country’s parliament unanimously announces the policy to resolve the issue of Balochistan through negotiations, then the decision will have to be followed by all including defence forces,” he said.
The JI chief said during the tumult of the PTI and Dr Tahirul Qadri’s ‘dharnas’ and protest marches, people voiced fear that the democratic system would be derailed. “Even then I was hopeful to settle the crisis through dialogue, and I am confident that the issue of Balochistan can also be settled by bringing the separatist leaders to the negotiating table.”
Conflict in Arabian peninsula
Haq said political groupings in the country’s upper and lower houses of parliament have reached a consensus to play the role of an unbiased mediator in the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
“Saudi Arabia is our friend and it is in the best interest of a friend to keep it away from getting into a war-like situation,” he said. “The Muslim world cannot afford another round of prolonged confrontation on the pattern of Iran-Iraq War that had resulted in millions of casualties and loss of billions of dollars.”
The JI chief was of the view that Pakistan needs to review its past policies in order to maintain good relations with Afghanistan. “The mentality of giving dictation to Afghanistan and perceiving it as our fifth province should have been changed by now,” said Sirajul Haq. “We need to respect their independent status and develop relations on the basis of trust and friendship.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2015.