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LeJ,death squads loom over Baloch polls

For the first time in years,two Indian journalists in Pakistan were allowed to visit Balochistan

Written by Press Trust Of India | Quetta | May 5, 2013 12:48:20 am

The shadows of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and “death squads” loom large over the election process in Pakistan’s Balochistan province but those most at threat are not even willing to name the forces that have virtually squeezed them out of the campaign.

With just a week to go till the landmark May 11 general elections,leaders of several parties in gas and mineral-rich Balochistan Friday said they have been forced to severely limit their campaign because of threats.

Ruqayya Saeed Hashmi,a PML-Q leader and a member of the minority Hazara community,said she had been receiving threats for the past few days because she is “a woman and a Shia” contesting polls to a seat in Quetta,the Baloch capital.

Hazara Democratic Party general secretary Abdul Khaliq Hazara said his campaign had been limited to a few Hazara-dominated areas of Quetta,and that he was unable to woo ethnic Baloch,Punjabi and Pashtun voters.

“I narrowly escaped a bomb attack that occurred minutes after I addressed a street corner meeting on April 23. We are campaigning under the shadow of terror,” Hazara told a group of foreign journalists visiting Quetta.

For the first time in years,two Indian journalists in Pakistan were allowed to visit Balochistan.

Leaders of Balochistan National Party-Mengal — led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal who recently ended years of self-exile — said they were threatened by “death squads” that were systematically targeting candidates.

For decades,Baloch groups and parties have complained about the neglect of the southwestern province that accounts for almost half the territory of Pakistan but has a sparse population.

“We are fighting a war,not an election. Our houses are not safe,our workers,leaders are targeted every day and people may not come out to vote,” said Niyamatullah Gichki,a senior BNP-M leader.

Pak court extends Musharraf’s remand by 14 days

Islamabad: A special Pakistani anti-terrorism court here Saturday extended the judicial remand of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf by 14 days,in connection with his decision to place judges under house arrest during the 2007 emergency. Musharraf’s lawyers filed a bail application in the court and the judge fixed a hearing for May 6. PTI

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