To justify its military operations in Balochistan, Pakistani government is making allegations about "Indian interference" in the province, leading Baloch nationalist leader Shahzain Bugti has said.
Bugti, president of the Jamhoori Watan Party, speaking at a seminar in Lahore yesterday said the federal government should prove its allegations about Indian interference in Balochistan, if it had any evidence.
"We are accused of being pro-India. We would have voted for inclusion of Balochistan in India in 1947, if we had been in favour of India," he said at the seminar on the theme of "Threats to National Security and Our Responsibilities".
The issue of alleged Indian interference in Balochistan came into limelight after a joint statement issued following a meeting last month between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh at Sharm-el-Sheikh mentioning Pakistan's concerns regarding unrest in the province and other areas of the country. India has denied the charges of interference.
Bugti, the grandson of tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti who was killed during a military operation ordered by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2006, said the federal government had always wronged Balochistan.
"Baloch people were asked to come down from mountains in 1960 and hanged. Nawab Akbar Bugti was assassinated and Gwadar was snatched from Balochistan," he said.
Bugti said allegations of the targeted killing of Punjabis in Balochistan were being levelled to justify the presence of Frontier Constabulary troops in the province. The Baloch people did not hate Punjabis, he said.
Bugti also said his party was criticised for demanding royalty for the province's gas reserves. He said his party demanded the royalty for the Balochistan government and not for itself. The gas from Balochistan was not available in most parts of the province and its rates were higher there than in Punjab or Sindh, he added.
Awami National Party secretary general Ehsan Wyne, who also spoke at the seminar, said there had been eight military operations in Balochistan and the last one was still in progress. He said people revolted as they did in East Pakistan whenever they were deprived of their rights.
Pakistan Democratic Party secretary general Nawaz Gondal, who also spoke, said Musharraf should be tried for the assassination of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti.