Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Political parties and civil society groups have called for an immediate halt to the military operation in Balochistan warning that it is creating 1971-like conditions in the country while one prominent columnist declined a state award in protest against the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in a military operation.

Nasim Zehra, widely perceived as a pro-establishment figure, declined the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, a top state award, saying she protested "the state's proclivity to opt for the use of force to settle complex political problems."

Delay in handing over body

At a press conference in Quetta, the 12-party Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy asked the international community to take note of the delay by the Government to hand over Nawab Bugti's body to his family. Demanding a political resolution to the Balochistan problem, the ARD said it would register an FIR against President Musharraf for killing Nawab Bugti and other innocent Baloch.

The Baloch Alliance, a four-party coalition of nationalist parties from the province, asked the Government to stop military operations in Kohlu and Dera Bugti, and release all arrested political workers in the province.

It described the killing of Nawab Bugti as the "worst example of state terrorism" and said no such incident had occurred before in the province, and asked the Government to hand over the leader's body to his heirs.