Within days of a resolution introduced in the United States Congress seeking the right to self-determination for Balochistan, Pakistan has offered amnesty to Baloch nationalist leaders in exile, announcing that cases against them would be closed.
"All cases against Baloch leaders will be withdrawn if they return back home," Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in what appeared to be desperate steps to break a crippling impasse on Balochistan.
The offer was made to Baloch leaders in exile including Brahamdagh Bugti and Harbyar Marri with Malik calling them "to return to Pakistan to take part in the political and development process."
"We want a political solution to Balochistan and the Pakistan People's Party-led government is determined to address the issue through political means," Malik said.
He was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting to review the implementation of a development package for Balochistan, which was attended by federal ministers and senior officials. Responding to a question, Malik said he had withdrawn all cases against Marri, except for one.
Pakistan's top leadership has reacted angrily to the bill moved in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani describing it as an attack on the country's sovereignty.
On the other hand, Brahamdagh Bugti, currently living in self-exile in Switzerland, welcomed the resolution and called on world powers to intervene to resolve the problems of Balochistan.
Malik dispelled the impression created by certain elements regarding the situation in Balochistan and said: "We want to bring development in order to ensure stability and prosperity. We want friends and at the same time, we want to strengthen Pakistan," he said.
He contended that there only 42 persons were "missing' or detained by security agencies in Balochistan but the figure had been exaggerated. A task force is working to trace these "missing persons", he added.
"I do not say the situation in the province is normal but the way it has been propagated and portrayed is not right," he said while responding to another question.
Malik announced that 15,000 graduates and postgraduates from Balochistan will be given employment under the Prime Minister's Internship Programme and that the federal government would release Rs 4 billion as a subsidy for farmers.
He said the paramilitary Frontier Corps will not operate in any district of Balochistan without permission from the deputy commissioner. No check posts should be established by the Frontier Corps without permission from the chief minister, he said.