Pakistan announced on Tuesday a package of measures aimed at winning over the estranged people of Balochistan and ending an insurgency, but Baloch nationalist parties said they were dissatisfied with it.
The package, titled Aghaaz-e-Haqooq-Balochistan — literally, the beginning of the rights of Balochistan — promises constitutional, political, economic and financial reform and early implementation monitored by Parliament.
It was announced at a joint session of Parliament by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who described the package as a “positive and determined step in the right direction”.
“It will usher in an era where there will be no subjugation but justice; where there will be no terrorism but peace; where there will be no illiteracy but education and where there will be no desperation but hope,” said Mr. Gilani.
Among the most important measures in the package, framed by a parliamentary committee headed by veteran PPP leader and Senator Raza Rabbani, is the withdrawal of the Army from the insurgency-hit Sui district of Balochistan and its replacement by the paramilitary Frontier Corps.
Mr. Rabbani, who unveiled the details of the package at the joint session in the National Assembly, also announced there would be no more construction of Army cantonments in province.
The package also deals with another thorny issue, that of missing persons, promising to set up a committee to identify all the missing persons and review their cases. It says all political prisoners are to be released immediately with the exception of those against whom there are “serious” charges, and that the government will conduct a judicial enquiry against the recent killings of three Baloch politicians.
The government will also appoint a retired judge to determine the facts and circumstances of the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006 during a military operation ordered by the then President Pervez Musharraf.
Other measures relate to the award of royalties from the sale of natural gas found in the province, a fairer share of national financial resources, employment and education.
Reports said the Prime Minister cleared aspects of the package dealing with security with the Army high command first.
Baloch nationalist leaders were, however, critical of the package saying it was insufficient.
“The government has all the powers to do what it wants. Why did it not announce that all the missing persons will be traced and released immediately instead of forming a committee, which will review the case and all that,” said Sanaullah Baloch of the Balochistan National Party, on Dawn News television.
Another member of the BNP, Jahanzeb Jamaldani, said none of the nationalist parties had been consulted in the framing of this package. He said the Frontier Corps treated the Baloch people no differently from the Army.