ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that the government has initiated talks with the “Baloch militants who are not in contact with India”.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the minister had said that an “Indian terrorist network” operating in Balochistan had been dismantled. He had added and that now the government will set an agenda for dialogue with the Baloch nationalists.

On Monday, PM Imran Khan visited Gwadar — a cornerstone of the multi-billion-dollar CPEC project. During his visit, the premier had said that he was considering “talking to insurgents” in Balochistan. He had said if development work had been carried out in the province, “we would never have had to worry about insurgents”.

“It may be that they had grievances in the old times and may have been used by other countries […] India may have used them to spread chaos but the situation [now] is not the same,” he added.

In response to a question during a press conference on Tuesday, Fawad said that the government is working on a dossier related to India’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan again and once the dossier is ready, it will be presented before the international community.

He said that during the meeting of the cabinet, a discussion on the introduction of electronic voting was also held.

“Local companies will manufacture electronic voting machines by July 15,” he said, adding that the decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms have been ratified as well.

The minister also shed light on different developmental works, including the construction of an international airport in Skardu. Meanwhile, he said that all-weather airports — equipped with facilities without operational weather limits — will be constructed in Gilgit and other areas of Gilgit-Baltistan to further boost tourism in the region.

He also briefed journalists about the accommodations that the government is planning to introduce for differently-abled individuals in aircraft, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued special directives regarding that.

He also said that the premier has received a report that many governmental dignitaries are enjoying more protocol than necessary.

In this regard, the premier has asked all government officials to reduce availing protocol-related privileges, he said.

Balochistan, the focal point of China’s $60 billion Belt and Road development programme, has for years struggled with insurgents including Baloch separatists, the Taliban and Islamic State, who have targeted the military as well as projects involving foreign investors, according to Reuters.

In May, four Pakistani soldiers were killed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in what the military said was an ambush by militants from Afghanistan.

In April a car bomb at a luxury hotel in the city of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, killed four people, in an attack later claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. China’s ambassador to Pakistan was staying at the hotel but was not present during the attack.


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