Staff Reporter/Agencies

ISLAMABAD – Amid renewed calls to resolve the Balochistan issue, a high-level meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, decided on Tuesday to form a six-member cabinet committee to engage the disgruntled Baloch leaders in talks.

Revealing details at a media briefing, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira however said dialogues with various Baloch leaders would be initiated in three phases. In the first phase, dialogues will be held with political parties believing in the federation. In the second phase, talks will be held with those nationalist groups which are working under the federation. And in the third phase, dialogues will be initiated with the other groups, he said in clear allusion to the most disgruntled dissidents who would be engaged in talks last of all.

The PM House meeting was attended, among others, by Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani, Director General Inter Service Intelligence Lt-Gen Muhammad Zaheerul Islam, Director General Intelligence Bureau Aftab Sultan, Inspector General Balochistan Karar Hussain, federal ministers and advisers.

Kaira said that COAS Gen Kayani told the meeting not a single soldier of the Army was taking part in any operation in Balochistan. The COAS assured the participants of Army’s commitment and full support in resolving the Balochistan issue, the minister added.

Speaking about the Frontier Constabulary’s role in the insurgency-stricken province, Kaira said the paramilitary force has been given under full control of the provincial government. He said the FC has no power to initiate any action on its own.

The meeting stressed that all the institutions of the state would assist the provincial government for the recovery of the missing people. Furthermore, the posts lying vacant in Balochistan would be filled in by local people at the earliest.

"The committee, comprising three members from federal government and three from Balochistan government, would submit a report on a weekly basis to the Prime Minister regarding the progress on the Balochistan issue," said the Information Minister.

The minister said that it was decided that the FC, while working under the control of the Balochistan Chief Minister, will play no role in anti-smuggling in the province. He said that only CM would determine the role of the FC in law and order situations.

To a question, Kaira said that now no martial law and emergency would be imposed in the country.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan recently warned the federal government that the situation in Balochistan was fast heading to a state where imposition of emergency would be warranted.

To a question about involvement of foreign involvement in Balochistan, the minister said all issues of the province would be resolved, but first there is a need to be on the same page on various matters. The issue of the province would be dealt with under a six dimensional plan – operational, developmental, administrative, legal, political and financial.

"Strict action will be taken whosoever found involve in human rights violation," he said, adding that a policy of Dialogue, Rule of law and Autonomy (DRA) will be adopted to deal with the issues of the province.

As per strategy, he said the government will concentrate on urban area of the province, starting from Quetta, where writ of the government will be ensured at all costs.

Kaira further said that General Kayani informed the meeting that whatever actions the Army had taken were only aimed at defending the integrity of the country. He said the COAS particularly insisted on a political solution to the Balochistan issue. The COAS further said as it is a political issue, therefore military option will not be a lasting solution.

The meeting, Kaira said, also discussed allocation of funds for two dams in the province for the next year's budget. About Kachi-Kanal and connectivity road to the Gwadar port, he said funds would be provided to expedite the projects.

To a question about the petitions filed against the NA Speakers by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), he said that there is a factual mistake in the petition of the PTI as the speaker is an elected MNA. He further made it clear that the speaker's decision could not be challenged in any court.

Earlier, in his opening remarks in the meeting, Prime Minister Gilani said that incumbent government wants change in Balochistan for stability and prosperity.

"Our sincere intention is to create an enabling environment for dialogue with the leadership of Balochistan," he said, adding that the government wants change in Balochistan.

He said that the present democratic government has seriously taken into account the factors resulting in discontentment of people of Balochistan and continuing unrest in the largest province of Pakistan. It was in this context that the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package was introduced in November, 2009. The Government envisaged 61 reforms proposals in the four categories -- constitutional, administrative, political and economic. For implementation of these reforms, a cabinet committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, he added.

The Parliament, on the recommendations of the Committee on Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, unanimously approved the package. Consequent upon the 18th amendment, a major part of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, already stands implemented, the PM added.

Many cases of political workers not involved in heinous crimes were withdrawn by the government and consequently a number of missing persons were reunited with their families, said PM Gilani.

He said that the Army was withdrawn and replaced by the Frontier Constabulary. Directions were issued to the IG FC Balochistan to seek instructions from the Balochistan Chief Minister on the issues of internal security of the province.

The PM said the demand of the Balochistan province for increase in its share in the NFC Award was also fulfilled. The share of Balochistan in the divisible pool was raised from 5.1 per cent to 9.09 percent, while an amount of one billion rupees was allocated for rehabilitation of IDPs from Dera Bugti, he added.

He said that ban on recruitment of the Balochistan domiciled candidates against the federal government posts was lifted. An effort was made to impart education to the brilliant students of the province in the best institutions of the country, he added.

ISI chief General Zaheerul Islam said that his agency would fully cooperate in the recovery of the missing persons.

The ministers and advisers who attended the meeting included Changez Khan Jamali, Minister for Science and Technology, Farooq H. Naek, Minister for Law and Justice, Mir Israrullah Zehri, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sardar Umer Gorgeij, Minister for Postal Services, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Advisor to PM on Human Rights, Senator Raza Rabbani, Choudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Defence, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Finance, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Syed Khursheed Shah, Minister for Religious Affairs.