Islamabad, Sept.7 : Baloch nationalist leaders and analysts have said that President-elect Asif Ali Zardari would need to galvanise the government into reviewing its policy towards the restive Balochistan province.
Describing Zardari's election to the post as a victory of democratic forces," Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) Central President Talal Akbar Bugti was quoted by the Daily Times as saying: "Our demands, besides others, included the provision of complete autonomy to the provinces, ending the military operation in all parts of Balochistan."
Bugti said soon after the murder of his father and former chief minister late Nawab Akbar Bugti, separatist tendencies had gained strength in Balochistan and "there was no longer any justification for the Baloch people to live within the federation of Pakistan". Yet, said he, had tried to put out the fire and opted for a political approach to bridge the gap between the province and the Centre.
National Party (NP) Central Secretary General Tahir Bizenjo hoped that President-elect Zardari would not repeat "the mistakes of his predecessors" and would prefer to sort out all problems through political dialogue, instead of using the armed forces against his own people.
"We expect negotiations about Balochistan to be meaningful, which should shun the role of the 'establishment' and provide space to the political forces," he said.
"We hope that the new president would take the opposition into confidence and avoid the politics of confrontation that we had seen in the past," he added.
Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) central leader and a former member of the National Assembly Rauf Mengal said: "Our struggle has never been against an individual or a single political party. We have been striving against a system that deprives Balochistan of its own resources."
Senior political economist Siddiq Baloch said the challenges ahead for the PPP in Balochistan were tough, and Zardari would have to ensure a complete end to the military operation and give space to all the political stakeholders.