M A I N   N E W S

Rail link to Quetta cut
Mayhem continues after Bugti’s funeral service

Quetta/Islamabad, August 29
Movement of all trains towards Baluchistan, and particularly to capital Quetta from other parts of Pakistan has been suspended in the wake of more reports of mayhem in the tribal province following the death of Baluch leader Akbar Khan Bugti in a military operation in the Kohlu Hills.

Most of the railway tracks leading out of Quetta have been blocked and boulders have been placed on railway lines.

Officials at the Railway headquarters in Lahore have issued directives not to operate any train between Quetta and Sibbi.

Railway traffic on the 141-km track between Quetta and Sibbi has been closed till further orders.

The Bolan Mail and Baluchistan Express trains that run between Karachi and Quetta are being operated only up to Sibbi. The Quetta Express originating from Peshawar, and Jaffar Express from Rawalpindi are under suspension.

The railway headquarters issued directives not to make any reservations for Quetta, as trains would operate only up to Sibbi.

Routine life has come to a complete halt in Quetta, almost 72 hours after the torching and ransacking of several government buildings, banks and private property. Even as funeral prayers were being held for Akbar Bugti at the Ayub Stadium, grief-stricken mobs roamed around in a frenzy, setting ablaze and smashing anything in sight, cars, tyres, glassed buildings and windows. The protesters continue to vent their anger by putting up huge bonfires.

At least four persons were killed and several injured when a blast ripped through a hotel at Hub, about 700 km south-east of Quetta, when at least 50 persons were taking tea inside.

Many of the injured were shifted to a local hospital for treatment.

Gunfire and explosions were also reported in Quetta. Mobs attacked a bank, shops and government offices after the prayer service for the 79-year-old Baluch leader at a sports stadium attended by political and religious leaders.

Quetta Mayor and member of the ruling PML-Q Mir Maqbool Ehmat Lehri was chased away by Bugti’s supporters who shouted slogans like “Death to Pakistan’s Army”, “Pakistan will disintegrate” and “Pakistan will no longer exist”.

Those who attended the prayers included two of Bugti’s sons who are active in his Jmabhoori Watan Party (JWP) as well as other top Baluch nationalist leaders like Ataullah Mengal and Geir Bux Murri, local TV channels reported.

Violence was also reported in several other towns of Baluchistan, including Turbat where protesters are said to have torched three shops and one bank. There were also reports of arrest of over two dozen protesters.

Protesters threw three hand grenades at the security men deployed near the stadium but that nobody was injured in the blasts.

All business centres, markets and shops have downed their shutters and vehicles have gone off the road in roads in Quetta, Turbat, Mund, Buleda, Dasht, Tamp, Naukundi, Saindak, Khuzdar, Taftan, Usta Muhammad, Gandakha, Jhall Magsi, Naseer Abad and Dera Allahyar.

The main national highways, including Quetta-Khuzdar-Karachi, Quetta-Dalbandin-Taftan-Nokandi as well as Quetta-Jaccobabad, were blocked for all kinds of traffic. Meanwhile, all government offices and educational institutions continue to remain closed in anticipation of further violence.

Tuesday was declared a holiday in the province by the local administration to pre-empt trouble.


Musharraf warns of strict action

Islamabad, August 29
Faced with widespread violence following the killing of Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has warned that strict action would be taken against anyone who harmed the country. “Whoever wants to harm Pakistan nationally or internationally would have to fight with me first,” he said.

In his first public comments since violence broke out last weekend following Bugti’s killing in a military encounter, Musharraf told a public meeting in the summer resort of Murree near here, that strict action would taken against anti-state elements.

Elements opposed to the development and prosperity of the country would be dealt with iron hands, he said.

“No comprise would be made on the country's stability and interest. Government during past five years has taken several initiatives for the development and prosperity of Baluchistan that has not been taken in last 50 years,” he said.

However, as the Opposition parties alleged that Bugti’s killing would further alienate people of Balochistan from Pakistan, he said that his only demand from the people of the province was to “love Pakistan”. “I want to tell the poor people of Baluchistan who are suffering from a sense of deprivation for the past 50 years that the government is committed to their welfare,” he said. — PTI





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |