KARACHI - Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) President and former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal on Tuesday made a formal announcement to take part in the elections to be held on May 11 this year.

Mengal, after ending his self-imposed exile, returned from Dubai on Monday and chaired a meeting of the party’s central executive committee which discussed the situation of the province and the upcoming elections.

After lengthy deliberations which continued for about 10 hours, the party came up with the decision to take part in the elections. BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal in his late night press conference declared that his party would fully participate in the upcoming elections.

A five-member election board was formed, which will interview the candidates desirous of getting the party tickets to contest the elections. The parliamentary board will also negotiate with other political parties for seat adjustments in Balochistan.

The Baloch nationalist leader said his party believed in democracy, hoping the establishment and its security agencies would not indulge in the past practice of rigging the elections.

Mengal claimed the people of the province were regularly receiving mutilated bodies while the military operation of security agencies against the oppressed Baloch people was also in progress. He demanded the government immediately end the operation and atrocities against the Baloch and release the missing persons who, according to him, are into the custody of the law-enforcing agencies.

Mengal said he feared threats to his life from the establishment, warning the law-enforcing agencies would be responsible if anything happened to him or his party workers.

The BNP-M chief said his party was still facing opposition from the establishment and its cronies in the next elections, hoping the Election Commission of Pakistan would ensure free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. To a question, the Baloch nationalist leader said his party was independent in taking the decision and would not impose it on the other parties, adding an electoral alliance with the nationalist parties was premature.It may be noted that the Baloch nationalist parties boycotted the 2002 and 2008 elections held under the military dictator general (r) Pervez Musharraf. The assassination of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti further worsened the law and order situation in the province.

Political analysts believe BNP-M and other parties, taking part in the elections, may face an adverse reaction from the separatist groups in Balochistan, who don’t want to see the province a part of Pakistan.