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Renewed violence in Balochistan

Tuesday 29 August 2006, by SUBRAMANIAN*Nirupama

Joint Opposition draws up two-week long protest programme

ISLAMABAD: Balochistan witnessed renewed violence on Monday as the province shut down to protest against the killing of Jhamoori Watan Party (JWP) leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in a military operation on Saturday.

The strike called by Baloch nationalist parties affected the neighbouring Sind province too; the Baloch-dominated areas of Karachi and other parts of the province shut down, but remained incident-free.

"Ready for sacrifices"

Speaking in Muree, a hill town near the national capital, President Pervez Musharraf said he was prepared to make any sacrifice for the uplift of the people of Balochistan, and wanted in return only that they "love Pakistan."

He warned that no one would be allowed to harm the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. His Government had spent Rs. 135 million on mega projects in Balochistan, including the Gwadar port, which would bring benefits to the people.

In the capital, the Speaker of the National Assembly adjourned the session till Tuesday but the members stayed behind chanting slogans and making speeches against the Government.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told journalists that the Government did not target the JWP leader and all efforts were being made to retrieve his body from the rubble of the cave, where he was killed.

Nawab Bugti was killed in the military operation in the Bhambore Hills of Kohlu in Balochistan, where he had been hiding along with several other Bugti tribesmen. At least 40 others died with him, but his grandsons were not among the dead as was first believed.

Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said a few incidents of violence marked the day in Balochistan but other parts remained peaceful.

In the Baloch capital, Quetta, police arrested some 50 students and three members of the Provincial Assembly on the charge of inciting violence. Over 600 people have been arrested since Sunday.

Protesters set fire to a polytechnic, a teaching hospital and vehicles. They also looted banks burnt down in Sunday’s violence. Incidents were reported from across the province.

In some towns, ethnic Punjabis were targeted, reports said.

The joint Opposition has scheduled protests, starting with funeral prayers for Nawab Bugti in front of the National Assembly on Tuesday, a nationwide strike on September 1 and a public meeting in Lahore on September 10.

See online : The Hindu

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