QUETTA - Urging disgruntled ‘friends’ to shun the path of militancy and come down from the mountains, Balochistan National Party (BNP) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal on Sunday threatened to boycott the elections midway if the ground realities were not changed in Balochistan.

Addressing a mammoth gathering at the Hockey Stadium adjacent to the Governor’s House and the Civil Secretariat here after his four-year self-imposed exile, the BNP president said the huge public meeting had confirmed that the enemy had faced a defeat and failed to subdue the Baloch people with the use of ruthless force.

He categorically declared that with the consultation of the party leaders and workers, the BNP could review its decision of participating in the next elections if the missing persons were not recovered and released, mutilation of dead bodies of the missing people continued and a congenial atmosphere was not created for free and fair elections.

Referring to the Baloch fighters on the mountains, the BNP leader said he and his colleagues had always paid due respect to their struggle and always patronised and supported them.

“Balochistan cannot be liberated by pulling the legs of other friends and supporters,” Mengal specifically told those militants criticising his decision of participating in the elections.

He said he was encouraged and got a big boost when he received a rousing welcome on his return to Karachi from Dubai and again to Quetta where a huge gathering heard his speech with patience and interest.

Those who thought the BNP had lost its image and his popularity had vanished were mistaken and they must be frustrated by witnessing a huge crowd attending this public meeting.

“BNP is very much present on the ground and has emerged stronger during these days. No power on the earth can wipe out BNP from politics,” he said. He claimed that intruders were sent to the party by the establishment to destroy it, but they failed.

The BNP president strongly criticised the past governments during the six decades, saying Islamists, military dictators and so-called democrats gifted mutilated dead bodies to the Baloch people.

“We have seen no development in Balochistan during the so-called democratic government. Instead, we have seen dead bodies of our youth, including the late Habib Jalib, a former secretary-general of BNP, who was gunned down by a death squad in the broad daylight,” he told the people present at the public meeting.

“There is no place in Balochistan where mutilated bodies of the missing Baloch youths are not thrown,” Mengal told his audience. Referring to his appearance before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, he said he had tried to seek intervention of the state institutions for relief for the Baloch people, but to no avail. “We also sought help from the political parties to seek solution to the problems of Balochistan, but again we were disappointed completely,” he added.

Sardar Mengal renewed his demand to withdraw all the government-sponsored death squads and pull back all official terrorists harassing the people even during the election campaign. Mengal said he and his party had taken the decision of contesting the elections in the interest of the Baloch people and their well being, adding the decision should not be treated as a weakness of a power-hungry politician.

He said the views of the committed Baloch people could not be changed at gunpoint, referring to the militants and their threat to the workers of political front.

“The state of Pakistan is more powerful and has more guns than the militants. Had we been scared, we would have been in the cantonment and not in the major human settlements of the civilian people,” the BNP president said. “We respect the sacrifices of others and our sacrifices should also be respected,” he said. “We always came to power with the support of the people and not for other reasons,” he said.

The BNP president called for a free and congenial atmosphere for all the people of Balochistan, including the Baloch, Pakhtuns, Hazaras, Shias, Sunnis; and minorities such as Hindus and Sikhs.

Mengal said he had not started his campaign and the government was happy over it. The BNP had presented the demands to the government seeking guarantees for free, fair and transparent polls, protection to all attending political and election rallies.

He said the BNP was reviewing the situation constantly and if there was no improvement and the government functionaries responsible for torture and murder of the Baloch people were not brought to justice, they could boycott the elections. “We want accountability of all the government functionaries who committed excesses with the Baloch youth.”