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Musharraf for political dialogue in Balochistan

The Musharraf directive came amid opposition protests and resignations by lawmakers belonging to local Balochistan parties.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2006 12:54 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has asked supporters in the government and leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid (PML-Q) to initiate moves for a dialogue with various political forces in troubled Balochistan.

The Musharraf directive on Monday came amid opposition protests and resignations by lawmakers belonging to local Balochistan parties.

Baloch voices were heard at the meeting he convened. Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was quoted by The Nation newspaper as telling the closed-door meeting: "Tempers are high and there is an immediate need to cool them down through skilful negotiations."

Sources attending the meeting told the newspaper that Musharraf asked PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain to remain in contact with political forces in Balochistan and "continue to pursue a political dialogue to address their genuine concerns".

Deputy Chairman of the Senate Jan Mohammad Jamali regretted the Balochistan government's decision not to hand over the body of slain leader Nawab Akbar Bugti to his heirs.

However, Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani and Chief Minister Jam Mohammed Yusuf did not agree with Jamali.

They said that it would have been an unwise step in the situation prevailing at that time in the province.

They claimed the situation was showing signs of improvement as the number of people attending protest rallies was declining rapidly.

Bugti's burial remains a subject of controversy and arouses angry sentiments. The government has sought to control the damage.

Chief military spokesperson Maj Gen Shaukat Shahin explained that the coffin containing Akbar Bugti's body was locked "with good intent to provide an opportunity to his relatives to immediately open the lock and have his 'Deedar' (last glimpse)".

"Normally, the wooden coffin containing a body is sealed off by fixing nails. Had the nails been fixed on the outer edges or top corners of the coffin, it would have been very difficult for anyone to open it if one wished to see the body," said Shahin.

The News International newspaper said: "The justification (by Shahin) makes sense, as a lot of criticism was thrown on the authorities for locking the coffin containing Bugti's body at the time of his Namaz-e-Janaza (funeral prayer) and burial."

Bugti was killed in a military operation on August 26 at Kohlu in a remote part of Balochistan where he had holed up and was resisting the security forces.

"Reports reveal that the stubborn Nawab blew himself up along with soldiers in a fit of sheer frustration and rage," the newspaper said.

He said the lock remained unopened as none of the Bugti family turned up for participation in his last rites.

It was not an issue as the government's intent was to allow the Bugti family members to attend the funeral rites and they were offered an opportunity to see him in the coffin.

According to Shahin, there were witnesses who saw Bugti's body in the coffin.