Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that he would return from the Supreme Court either victorious or a martyr. He said this at Pir Jo Goth, where he had gone to condole with the eighth Pir Pagaro on the death of his father. This statement is to take a mistaken view of the contempt proceedings against him. They are not a battle, and do not involve martyrdom or victory. True, if he loses the case, he will, as he himself had said earlier, lose not just office but his very membership of the National Assembly, but there would be none of the glory of martyrdom in that. The Supreme Court would convict him unless it felt that his disobedience of its orders by not writing to the Swiss authorities to re-institute the case against the President, did not constitute contempt. Though he might portray his refusal as a martyrdom, only the President could regard it as such. He should remember that after a conviction for contempt, one is not a martyr, but a common criminal, a convicted contemner. And if acquittal means victory, over whom? The Supreme Court? The Prime Minister claims to respect the Court. Is this the language in which respect is expressed?
The Prime Minister also said that the all-parties conference he had called on Balochistan would also take up the resolution moved in US Congress. Yet that resolution, which had caused so much outrage in Pakistan, did not seem to bother former Balochistan Chief Minister Akhtar Mengal, who told the BBC in an interview that the reaction was ‘surprising.’ He also showed his confusion by saying that Pakistan demanded self-determination for Kahmiris, and should not object to the Baloch asking for it. This does not take into account that the Baloch exercised this right before 1947, when the Baloch Sardars decided in a jirga to join Pakistan. The Kashmiri people have not exercised this right. Further, the moving of the resolution is for the Baloch, even though the Kashmir issue has been taken up by the international community, in the UN Security Council, which passed resolutions calling for a UN-supervised plebiscite. There is no such international dimension to the Baloch issue.
However, as was said by Talal Bugti, Nawab Akbar Bugti’s son, to Waqt TV, the role of the armed forces and the agencies in the province is negative. It does not need an APC to decide that this must stop. The Prime Minister should make them stop before the APC. Another point made by Mr Bugti was that former President Pervez Musharraf should be brought back to face a murder trial. That seems a reasonable suggestion, and is another thing that can be implemented by the government at once. At least the present government should either do this, or concede that foreign governments are protecting him. The government has an added incentive to have General Musharraf brought back, because he is also wanted in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. Mr Gilani must ensure that the Baloch people are also part of the APC process, if it is to have any result.