KARACHI - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister for Local Government and ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour on Saturday advised the federal government to take practical steps rather than making announcements to resolve the problems facing Balochistan.

Interacting with mediapersons at the Karachi Press Club, the minister also floated a call for taking “angry” Nawabs on board for the redressal of grievances of the Balochs. Deploring that the issues confronting Balochistan continued for the past 40 years, the minister suggested to the ruling PPP to take the Balochistan issues seriously.

Bilour, who was accompanied by ANP Sindh Chief Shahi Syed and General Secretary Bashir Jan, recalled that Nawab Akhtar Mengal of the BNP and other Baloch nationalists had been a part of the successive elected governments, and hence the incumbent government should initiate serious efforts to have them in the democratic process.

“Had the government included the said Baloch leaders in the democratic process, the Balochistan problems would not have compounded,” he held.

To a question about the rift between the Balochs and Pakhtuns, the KP minister said his party would continue its efforts to ensure a complete harmony in Balochistan. He also asked the federal govt to take political forces in confidence and start meaningful dialogue to end the sense of deprivation of the Baloch people. Bilour observed that countries never broke because of guns or struggle but economy’s deterioration. He emphasised upon the government and political parties to sink their differences and unite to resolve the economic and political challenges to the country. The ANP leader also said that harmony in the Tribal Areas and KP province was linked to peace in the neighbouring Afghanistan. “The issues are interconnected. (And) if peace is not restored in FATA and KP, law and order problems may also hit other parts of the country,” he warned. Bilour, while briefing the media on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa govt’s efforts against terrorism, said that the ANP, which came into govt four years ago, had succeeded in containing terrorist activities.

“Earlier, a bombing took place every 24 hours in KP. With the help of law-enforcement agencies, we have pushed terrorists to the caves in FATA.”

Bilour believed that attacks by US drones were the cause of the spread in “terrorist mindset”, and said the Nato forces should immediately halt such attacks that claimed lives of many innocent people.

According to the KP minister, at least 400 workers and two MPAs from his party were killed in terrorist attacks in Balochistan. He claimed that the ANP leadership was under continuous threats from terrorists. But, he added, it would never succumb to any such pressure. “The people of Pakistan should unite to fight them.”

Coming down hard on the JUI-F leadership, Bilour said that under the banner of MMA, the party remained an ally of the government during the dictatorial rule of Pervez Musharraf. “The MMA had made an agreement with the Musharraf government under which a sum of Rs110 billion had been accepted on the account of ‘Net Hydel Profit’ instead of the total Rs595billion outstanding against the Centre, he alleged.

Responding to a question, he maintained that the ANP government was getting Rs2 billion every month to fight terrorists.

The ANP leader, to another query, claimed that there were no differences between Asfandyar Wali and his mother, Begum Nasim Wali Khan. “The ANP has great honour for Begum Nasim, but seeing her deteriorating health, it would not allow her to go for the upcoming Senate elections as it required her mobility.”

Bilour rejected that arms and ammunitions were being smuggled to Karachi from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “It is being done through sea port,” he suspected, and said other provinces should keep a check on movement along the provincial boundaries.

In reply to a question, Bilour defended his elder brother, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, saying that finances were not being provided for repair of non-functional bogeys and locomotives.