QUETTA - Senator Raza Rabbani stated on Tuesday revival of peace in Balochistan was not possible without resolution of the issue of missing persons.

In his address to a seminar of the Boy Scouts, Quetta, here, the top PPP leader affirmed that retaining law and order and carrying out development in the province was not possible without resolution of the sensitive issue which, according to him, called for immediate government attention.

Rabbani said Balochistan had been kept deprived for the past 65 years. He however recalled that it was the former PPP government that made certain moves, such as passage of the 18th Amendment and Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package, to mitigate the sense of deprivation of the Baloch people. “These revolutionary steps created a sense of ownership in the provincial government besides generating jobs,” he told the attendants.

Rabbani also recalled that PPP ended the very impression of “traitor or patriot” in Balochistan, saying, “Those nationalists who had been labeled as traitors had supported the 18th Amendment and the bill was unanimously adopted in the assembly. No one is traitor. Circumstances prompt people to take extreme steps.”

Rabbani held the view that those creating obstacles in devolution of powers to the provinces were actually endangering the federation. “They must understand they cannot take back powers of the provinces, devolved under the 18th Amendment.”

He said the provinces should unite for the provincial autonomy that was the best way for them to struggle for their rights. But he added that in Islamabad some people did not want the transfer of powers and instead they wanted the subjects of health, education and social welfare back.

Speaking in favour of PPP-led former federal government, Rabbani argued that one could not see any improvement in these sectors during the past 63 years, when they were with the federation. According to him, provinces with more powers guaranteed a powerful federation. “Civil and military bureaucracy have been saying that political actors who were empowering the provinces were weakening the federation. But we observed that without provincial autonomy, Pakistan could weaken.” The senator came down hard on the federal government, accusing it of making attempts to bypass the provinces. He also said the government had yet called a meeting of the Council for Common Interests since July that was tantamount to violation of the Constitution.

“Without the approval of the CCI, the government cannot privatise the Pakistan International Airlines and other corporations,” he went on to say, restating that it was trying to bypass the provinces.

Rabbani was of the view that the issue of Balochistan was political in nature and it was the high time for the government to find out a political solution for it. “Baloch fighters do not trust the public representatives. That is why there is a need to empower the institution to end the mistrust and flaws in Balochistan.”

Commenting on failure of National Security Policy, Rabbani said the policy would never be successful unless it was debated in Parliament.

The seminar was conducted by United Nations Development Programme and Ministry for Inter-Provincial Coordination to discuss the outcome of the 18th Amendment.

Information Minister Raheem Ziaratwal said his coalition government was seeking a political solution to the various issues confronting the province. “Efforts are on to address every single issue of Balochistan.”

National Party Balochistan chief Dr Ishaq Baloch said the separatists did not trust the elected representatives and there was a need to empower the institution.