Zardari offers talks to exiled Baloch leaders

QUETTA: President Asif Ali Zardari has said the government is ready to hold talks with exiled Baloch leaders to convince them about sincerity of its efforts to solve Balochistan’s problems.

Speaking at a function held here on Thursday for distribution of cheques under the Benazir Income Support Programme, he said that angry Baloch people did not trust government’s promises because of atrocities committed by pervious rulers.

The president said the government would remove the distrust by resolving longstanding issues and solving problems to bring Balochistan at par with other provinces and developed areas.

“We will initiate dialogue with exiled Baloch leaders after removing their distrust of the government.”

President Zardari urged the Baloch people who had taken up arms to stop fighting during the democratic era and come to the negotiating table which was the only way to resolve issues.

“All your demands are acceptable to us and efforts are under way to resolve all issues,” he said, adding that the Aghaz Huqooq-i-Balochistan package had been endorsed by parliament.

He called for patience and said that efforts being made by the government would take time to bear fruit.

The president said the government would launch more development projects, build dams and introduce modern technology to irrigate millions of acres of barren land in Balochistan.

State land will be allotted to women in the province in line with late Benazir Bhutto’s policy.

President Zardari said the PPP did not believe in the politics of revenge. He said Justice (retd) Nasim Hasan Shah was living freely in Punjab although the PPP believed he was responsible for the political and judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

While following a policy of reconciliation, he said, he had sought Baloch people’s forgiveness for wrongs committed by others. “We will try to compensate the Baloch people for the excesses.” He also said the government would continue to pursue its policy of reconciliation despite all difficulties.

He said the people of Balochistan were as dear to him as those of Garhi Khuda Bux and he was trying to fulfil the promises made by the government.

He said the impact of global economic recession on Pakistan had caused a delay in fulfilling the promises.

However, the Centre is providing maximum resources to Balochistan despite financial problems, he said, adding that unlike in other provinces the development budget in Balochistan had not been reduced.

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