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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Balochistan 'peace has collapsed'
By Aamer Ahmed Khan
BBC News, Karachi

Marri tribesmen undergoing military training in a rebel camp
Baloch tribesmen have carried out several attacks recently
Pakistani tribal leaders say the government's peace initiative in the southern province of Balochistan has collapsed totally.

"The government's lies have surfaced and we expect nothing more from them anymore," tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti told the BBC News website.

Mr Bugti's statement comes after an increase in attacks on government installations in the province.

Baloch nationalists want autonomy and more control over natural gas reserves.

More autonomy

"They first said that they would give the Baloch more than we can ever expect," said Mr Bugti. "But they have gone back on everything."

Mr Bugti was also critical of the measures recommended by a parliamentary committee on Balochistan and said they ignored the basic issues raised by the Baloch people.

The committee headed by Mushahid Hussain, a government senator, presented its recommendations last month.

Its proposals envisage more autonomy for the provinces and an increase in the royalties for Balochistan on natural gas extracted from the area.

But for the committee's recommendations to become law, they must first be approved by the cabinet and then adopted as law by the national assembly.

Speaking to the BBC News website, Mr Hussain said he had presented his proposals to President Pervez Musharraf as well as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

He admitted that no further work was possible until a second committee - tasked with drawing up legislative proposals based on Mr Hussain's recommendations - completed its work.

"These things take time," he said. "I have no idea when the second committee intends to complete its part of the job."

But Mr Bugti, who heads the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), says the committees were just wasting their time.

Nawab Akbar Bugti at an official function
The government's lies have surfaced and we expect nothing more from them anymore
Nawab Akbar Bugti

Explaining his party's position, the JWP secretary general Shahid Bugti said that the two most important demands made by Baloch leaders in their talks with the government had been ignored.

He said Baloch leaders had asked that no new cantonment be established in Balochistan and that the Gawadar port development project be handed over to the Baloch.

"There is no mention of these two points in Mushahid committee's recommendations," he said. "That is why all Baloch leaders have rejected these recommendations without even thinking about them."

Nawab Akbar Bugti also alleged that security forces had again started to picket the area around his native residence of Dera Bugti which was a complete violation of the understanding between them.

"If this is their way of showing us our place, they are setting a dangerous precedent," he said.

Senior government officials say that the government would like to keep Mr Bugti engaged in talks despite his opposition to the Mushahid committee's recommendations. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain are expected to visit Dera Bugti after the committee's meeting scheduled for May 14.

Over the last week, more than two dozen attacks against government installations have taken place in different parts of Balochistan.

Renegade tribesmen have mostly targeted railway tracks and power transmission lines.

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24 Mar 05 |  South Asia
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27 Jan 05 |  South Asia
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17 Jan 05 |  South Asia

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