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Baloch leader warns Musharraf
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January 17, 2005 17:01 IST
A prominent Baloch leader has warned the Pakistan government of serious consequences if military action was launched in the province where rebels damaged a natural gas plant last week causing severe shortages in the country.

"In case of military operations, the Baloch people will fight a decisive battle this time as they are committed to safeguarding the integrity of their land till the last drop of their blood is spilt," Ataullah Mengal, a senior leader of the Balochistan National Party said in Karachi Sunday.

Mengal, who is also the President of the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM) and a former Chief Minister of Balochistan, criticised President Pervez Musharraf's [Images] recent remark that the rebels would not know what hit them if military launched the operations to put down their revolt.

"This is not the 1970s, when you can hit and run to the mountains," Musharraf had said in an interview.

Mengal said the youths of the province "are now more conscious and cannot be overawed by threats".

Fearing that there could be military operations in other provinces also "to suppress the voice of dissent," he denied that his utterances amounted to a declaration of an armed struggle.

 It was Musharraf who had declared his aggressive intentions against Balochistan, he said.

His comments followed threats by Muthahida Quami Movement to pull out of the ruling coalition if any military action was taken in Balochistan following last week's massive attack on the gas-rich town of Sui after a lady doctor was gangraped.

The plant was severely damaged disrupting much needed supplies of gas to the whole country.

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