ISLAMABAD: Despite expressing keenness to reconcile with warring Baloch factions, the newly elected PML-N government has shown little interest in ensuring safe return of around 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Dera Bugti to their respective areas despite a 55-day-long protest in the federal capital led by grandson of late Nawab Akbar Bugti.
“Half of Balochistan problems can be solved if our internally displaced people are allowed to return to their normal lives. This will be a great step towards reconciliation and peace in the province but even the current government is not paying heed to our repeated calls,” said Nawabzada Guhram Bugti who is leading a peaceful protest by around 400 Bugti tribesmen in Islamabad.
Guhram said more than 150‚000 IDPs were forced to leave their homes after 2006 military operation in Dera Bugti and have been living under open sky for the last 8 years in Jamshoro, Sanghar, Ghotki, Rohri and Karachi districts.
He said dozens of people, mostly children, have died of starvation in the settlements in the past eight years. “The refugees want to go home but the government is creating obstacles in their way,” he added.
He said before Election 2013‚ PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had promised to resolve all the issues of Balochistan province including safe return of IDPs.“But now the doors of the prime minister and even the interior minister are closed on us. How can the government of Pakistan improve its image in Balochistan if they treat the law-abiding peaceful Baloch like this?” he asked.
Minister for interior Chauhdry Nisar Ali Khan has told me that he is busy in the budget session of and can only meet after the conclusion of the session, he said.According to Guhran, a large number of these displaced people tried to go back to their respective areas on April 17, 2013 but DC Dera Bugti told them they are not allowed to return. They were told their stay would be arranged in a rest house.
\These IDPs were further directed that their particulars will be noted and entries will be made on all seven check posts falling between Doli and Dera Bugti, which they refused as they were citizens of Pakistan and moving within the boundaries of the country.
“We accept the Constitution of Pakistan, we want to go back to our homes. The Constitution of Pakistan allows us to move freely in our country as citizens but we are deprived of our rights,” said the Guhram, a central Leader of Jamhori Watan Party (JWP).
He said although the interior ministry has issued a notification on June 19 to constitute a high-level committee headed by Justice (R) Rana Bhagwan Das to oversee the re-settlement of the Bugtis in Dera Bugti within a week, the same could not be done despite the expiry of the deadline on Wednesday.
The committee was supposed to meet by June 26 but three nominations from chief secretary Balochistan are yet to be received.“Our people are dying of unhygienic conditions and hostile weather in Islamabad but the government has no time for us. One of the tribesmen is on ventilator in a local hospital. If he dies we will take her body to the Parliament House and hold protest there,” Guhram said while talking to The News. He said the local administration in Islamabad is not even providing the protesters with basic amenities and they are left on the mercy of nature.
He said the chief minister of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik met him in Islamabad after taking oath of office and promised to resolve the issue within two days but so far nothing has been done.
“When I was coming to Islamabad, I was warned by some angry relatives that I would return empty handed but I decided to give peace a chance and seek justice from the rulers,” he said.The JWP leader warned that if the government failed to repatriate them then they will not hesitate to seek help from international justice agencies including UN, as it is a violation of the basic human rights.