Pakistan government drops cases against Baloch leaders

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Islamabad, Sep 30 (UNI) Pakistan's government has dropped eight cases against the top Baloch nationalist leaders as part of its policy to promote reconciliation in the insurgency-hit southwestern Balochistan.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani had issued a notification (official note), withdrawing eight criminal cases pending against Baloch nationalist leaders Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and (his son) Nawabzada Harbiar Marri.

The official notice stated that all cases, except one murder case, against the Baloch leaders had been dropped.

The move was a part of the Pakistan People's Party-led government's efforts at reconciliation in the province, which was hit by a low-scale insurgency in 2004 after Baloch nationalists, headed by slain leader Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti and Khair Bukhsh Marri, launched a renewed struggle demanding a share of the impoverished province in natural resources.

Bugti was killed in a military operation in August 2006 following repeated warnings by the then President Pervez Musharraf asking him as well as other tribal chieftains to lay down their arms and join the national mainstream.

''The government has dropped eight of the nine cases registered against the Baloch leaders. The only case still being pursued is the murder case of Balochistan High Court judge Nawaz Marri,'' officials said.

According to official sources, Khair Baksh Marri had been awarded a five-year imprisonment for failing to appear in court, and he and his son were under trial in four other cases as well.

Talking to Dawn News TV from Dubai, Ghazeen Marri, son of Khair Baksh Marri, said that it was a positive move that proved that all cases against the Baloch leaders were ''framed'' by the previous government.

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