Baloch leader will `back any foreign intervention`

Brahamdagh Bugti has welcomed a bill moved in the US Congress seeking the right to self-determination for the Baloch people.

Islamabad: A Baloch nationalist leader based in Switzerland has welcomed a bill moved in the US Congress seeking the right to self-determination for the Baloch people, saying he would support any foreign intervention in the restive Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan.

Brahamdagh Bugti, the chief of the Baloch Republican Party, said the US "must intervene in Balochistan and stop the ethnic cleansing of Baloch people”.

Addressing reporters at Quetta Press Club over phone yesterday, Bugti, the grandson of nationalist leader Akbar Khan Bugti who was killed in a military operation in 2006, contended the resolution moved in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher was "not against the sovereignty of Pakistan".

"Every country has the right to interfere or intervene (in another`s affairs) if there are state-sponsored human rights violations," Bugti was quoted as saying by the media.

"We know that foreign countries have their personal interest but we must think of our greater interest," he added. The Pakistan government has reacted angrily to Rohrabacher`s resolution, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani describing it as an attack on the country`s sovereignty.

The Foreign Ministry called in the acting US envoy this week to lodge a "strong protest" over the resolution, which has emerged as the latest irritant in bilateral ties.

The 30-year-old Bugti said Baloch political leaders, activists, students and even women had been detained without charge and tortured for years, and under these circumstances, any support from any foreign country would be welcomed.

"We have been accused of getting support from India but the Baloch movement does not have any foreign support.”

"However, we will welcome any support for independence," he said. Bugti was sceptical of attention given to the problems of Balochistan by politicians like PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and the media in the wake of the resolution moved in US Congress.

Most of this attention, he claimed, was aimed at preserving Punjab province`s dominant role in Pakistani politics.

He claimed politicians like Sharif were visiting Balochistan and there were TV talk shows on the province Balochistan because people were "now worried about the sovereignty of Punjab and wanted to protect Punjab`s interests".

Bugti criticised the Defa-e-Pakistan Council formed by Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and its plans to organise a rally in the Balochistan capital of Quetta on February 27.

"Where were they when Baloch women, children and youth were being picked up and killed by security forces? There is no influence of jihadi elements in Balochistan.”

"These religious parties are backed by security agencies," he said.

Bugti said Baloch nationalist leaders will not join an all parties` conference on Balochistan that Prime Minister Gilani plans to convene in the near future.

"On the one hand, they are calling an all parties` conference, while on the other they continue to brutally kill Baloch people and throw their bullet-riddled, mutilated bodies," he alleged.

The all parties` conference was not a solution to the problems of Balochistan, he said.

"The situation in Balochistan is critical as military operations have been continuing for the past six years," he said.

The Baloch people will not negotiate on anything less than independence of Balochistan, he added.

Bugti asked Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and Chief Minister Aslam Raisani to set aside personal interests and join the nationalist movement.

"If they do not want to join the movement, they should resign from office and sit quietly because the Baloch movement is nearing its destination," he said.

Asked about the recent killing of his sister and niece in Karachi, Bugti said such acts will not make him pull out of the movement.

Bugti rejected reports that he was living in Switzerland under a deal.

"I have not made any deal," he said. He alleged Akbar Khan Bugti, Nawabzada Balach Marri, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir, Sher Mohammad and other nationals leaders were "eliminated by the state" even though they had opted for a political struggle.

"The state does not like any political struggle against atrocities being committed against the Baloch people," he alleged.