ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said that the government has started working on a plan to initiate negotiations with “aggrieved people” and nationalists in Balochistan who were “not directly linked to India”.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after a meeting of the federal cabinet, he clarified that the criteria for those who were “directly linked to India” or were involved in terrorism would be different.
“You will see that Balochistan will soon become a hub of peace,” he said.
The minister said that peace in the province was important to the government because Balochistan was central to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “The prime minister’s tour of Gwadar was evidence of the importance we give to CPEC,” he added.
Chaudhry said Punjab police and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had jointly “exposed such a big network of India”, adding that more details about the network, including accounts, the names of people involved and the banks in Delhi through which money was transferred to the network, would be shared soon.
“It was the second biggest-network after [the one operated by Indian spy] Kulbhushan Jadhav which has been exposed in Pakistan. We have also broken the Indian network in Balochistan with great success.”
Chaudhry said that people who were part of the network had been apprehended to a “large extent”.
“I am hopeful that there will be betterment in the peace situation in the country,” he added.
The minister made similar remarks earlier in the day when he said that the “Indian terrorist network” operating in Balochistan had been dismantled and that now the government will set an agenda for dialogue with Baloch nationalists.
He said the federal government had planned to execute 131 development projects worth Rs731 billion in Balochistan while the provincial government’s development programme for this year was Rs180bn.
“Balochistan is close to Imran Khan’s heart,” the minister said.
His statement comes a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was considering “talking to insurgents” in Balochistan during a day-long visit to Gwadar.
Meanwhile, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday hailed the development initiatives launched for Balochistan during the tenure of the PTI government.
Speaking to the media in Gwadar, Umar said PM Imran was informed that schemes worth more than Rs1.2 trillion had been allocated for Balochistan under the Public Sector Development Programme.
“WiFi has been introduced in Kech district and it is in the process of being introduced in other districts,” he said.
“Never before has development work been carried out in Balochistan at this scale,” the minister said, adding that this was being done in partnership with the Balochistan government.
PM Imran says he is considering ‘talking to insurgents’
During his visit to the province yesterday, the premier said that he was considering “talking to insurgents” in Balochistan, saying that the government would never have had to worry about insurgency in the province if attention had been paid to its development.
The premier said that he had always planned that when the PTI came to power, his government would pay attention to Balochistan.
“When the province progresses and there is peace, the people of Balochistan’s will understand that Pakistan is also theirs and say ‘we should also fight for it because it thinks of our basic needs and problems,'” the PM had said.
He said if development work had been carried out in the province, “we would never have had to worry about insurgents.”
“It may be that they had grievances in the old times and may have been used by other countries […] India may have used them to spread chaos but the situation [now] is not the same,” he added.