Thursday, December 10, 2009

General amnesty for Baloch leaders

ISLAMABAD: Baloch leaders are “true patriots” and the government is considering granting general amnesty to aggrieved elements in Balochistan, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Thursday.

Addressing a gathering in connection with World Human Rights Day, Gilani said all “Baloch leaders are patriots and no one can doubt their patriotism. We have offered Baloch leaders an opportunity for negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues and expect a positive reply”.

The prime minister said the government was ready to talk to all Baloch leaders to bring them into the national mainstream. He said the government had released 93 detained Baloch leaders and if the need arose, the government would grant a general amnesty to Baloch leaders to normalise the province’s situation.

Progress: Gilani said the government had made progress in recovering the missing Baloch persons, a number of whom had returned home.

Gilani said Pakistan was against drone attacks as they had proved counterproductive in curbing terrorism.

Pakistan hopes: The prime minister said the country has taken up the issue with the US through all possible channels, and hoped that the government’s efforts to convince Washington to halt drone attacks would bear fruit.

To a question regarding India’s involvement in Balochistan via Afghanistan, Gilani said the issue had been brought up during his meeting with the Indian prime minister in Sharm El Sheikh.

He said the joint statement issued after the meeting clearly mentioned that all issues would be taken up in bilateral dialogues.

“Therefore, it proves that Indians themselves have agreed to talk about their involvement in Afghanistan,” he said.

The prime minister said the democratic government was stable and “there is no danger to democratic system”.

“The political leadership is very mature ... some have remained in exile and others have been behind bars for years,” he said, adding the government would complete its five-year tenure.

Gilani said the government was committed to creating a society free of exploitation and deprivation. He said the Pakistan People’s Party had an unflinching commitment to the cause of human rights. “To translate this commitment into reality, the party had established the Ministry of Human Rights in its previous tenure to provide an institutional framework for the implementation of the policies enshrined in the party’s manifesto,” Gilani said