Akhtar Mengal gets to speak in the NA

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the former Balochistan chief minister and Balochistan National Party chief, made a lot of sense in his speech on the floor of the National Assembly. Regrettably, its reporting in the mainstream media has been underwhelming.

Commenting on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statment that the terrorists involved in the Ormara attack were believed to have entered Balochistan from Iran, Sardar Mengal said while it may not be impossible, it did seem highly unlikely. He pointed out that Ormara was about 400 kilometres from the Iranian border. Also, there were no less than 50 pickets on the only road connecting the two points. The pickets were manned by various security agencies. How could as many as 20 armed people have entered Pakistan from Iran, travelled all the way to Ormara, killed 14 people in a ghastly attack and then returned to Iran without attracting notice on the way?

The other important point he raised was the failure of the government to implement the six-point agreement it had reached with the BNP when it needed its support in the election of the leader of the House. The agreement calls for recovery of missing persons, on which there has been a stony silence; an immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees; effective implementation of the National Action Plan; government action to ensure that the Baloch get 6 per cent of all federal government jobs in accordance with their quota; and construction of dams in Balochistan.

Mr Mengal also called for justice for the victims of the Hazarganji massacre who have been all but forgotten since the delayed burial. Waiving photographs of women and children who have been missing for various lengths of time, he reminded Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari about the bill she was to move for the recovery of missing children.

Dr Mazari acknowledged that she was working on the bill. She also said her party and the government were committed to the six-point agreement with the BNP. She requested the Speaker to facilitate the implementation of the agreement.

Mr Mengal’s is one of the few sane voices from Balochistan. The government should see to it that it does not get drowned in the din. The questions he has been raising are relevant and timely. They deserve the right answers. *

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