Balochistan: a thousand apologies are not enough - Iqbal Haider - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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If US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher had not moved a resolution on Balochistan last month the most alarming conditions in Balochistan would not have received so much attention in the print and electronic media and by government and opposition politicians. This resolution of the US Congressman has awakened our past military president and the present elected president. On March 8, in a meeting with the chief minister of Balochistan, our worthy president considered it necessary to highlight the development funds granted for Balochistan and his willingness to apologise ten times to the estranged Baloch for the excesses committed against them in the past.

In a similar manner, Gen Musharraf, who is responsible for unpardonable atrocities committed in Balochistan, also highlighted the so-called “development schemes and projects” approved by him for Balochistan in his article in two parts, titled “Understanding Balochistan.” This was an attempt by Musharraf to exonerate himself and further mislead the people.

Neither mega-development programmes nor a thousand apologies are good enough unless the grievances of the people of Balochistan are addressed. Incalculable wrongs were committed against the Baloch by the regime of Gen Musharraf. Most regrettably the same policies are still continuing under the present elected government.

Most of the contentions of Gen Musharraf are either wholly baseless, or distorted and highly exaggerated. Like the present president who takes pride in the mega- development projects under “Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan,” Gen Musharraf has also presented a long list of his so-called achievements during his reign of terror. If these development projects and achievements were the answer to the turmoil in Balochistan then normalcy should have been restored long ago. The ground realities prevailing in Balochistan prove that such measures alone are not the solution to the issues and have failed to satisfy the aspirations of the people of Balochistan.

Gen Musharraf committed barbaric atrocities against the Baloch nationalists. after he made a unilateral declaration of war against the three popular Baloch tribal sardars, Sardar Akbar Bugti, Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri and Sardar Attaullah Mengal, and their family members and followers. The Marris and Mengals were never in league with the Bugtis. On the contrary, when the Bizenjo-Mengal government in Balochistan was unjustly dissolved in 1973, the Bugtis were direct beneficiaries of that.

Nawab Bugti was then appointed governor of Balochistan and remained a trusted and favoured ally of all the governments till the early years of the Musharraf regime. The attacks of Gen Musharraf on all three brought them close to each other. The Musharraf regime resorted to the worst atrocities on the soil of Pakistan and against our nationals both by aerial bombing and through the use of our forces in Awaran, Panjgur and the Murri and Dera Bugti. So much so, that from 2003 an exodus started from various districts of Balochistan, in particular from Dera Bugti, Kuhlo, Marri area, Kahan, Panjgur, Awaran, Barkhan, Jabbar and Pekal.

Details of the mass exodus and the atrocities were published in many reports in national dailies and monthly magazines, as well as in the HRCP reports of 2006 and 2009, with the testimonies of the families of the victims and local leaders.

The repeated claims that there is no army operation in Balochistan are also belied by the contents of the article by Gen Musharraf and were never believed by the people of Pakistan. For ordinary people there is no difference between army or paramilitary forces or law-enforcement agencies. For them they all look alike and act alike. The question remains unanswered as to why the internally displaced persons from the effected districts of Balochistan have not been rehabilitated with adequate compensation for repair and restoration of their houses?

In an attempt to justify the murder and mayhem let loose by him, Gen Musharraf has alleged that “Nawab Akbar Bugti was challenging the FC, the army, the provincial government, and indeed Pakistan.” He conveniently forgets that the two prime ministers nominated by him were great admirers of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Soon after his election as prime minister, Mr Zafarullah Jamali declared in December 2002 that Nawab Bugti was his “ideal political leader.” His successor, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who was appointed as prime minister by Gen Musharraf during a transitory period declared that “I owe a debt of gratitude to Nawab Bugti and the province of Balochistan and its people.”

In order to discharge this debt, Chaudhry Sahib, being a favourite and trusted ally of Gen Musharraf, constituted a parliamentary committee on Balochistan comprising 38 members of the National Assembly and the Senate. This committee was headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and included his close aides and favourites, Senators Mushahid Hussain and Waseem Sajjad, as well as members of all the political parties represented in the parliament including the JWP of Nawab Bugti. Two sub-committees of members of parliament were also constituted. One was headed by Mushahid Hussain, secretary general of the PML-Q, and the other was headed by Mr Waseem Sajjad. The members of this committee met and sought the views of most of the prominent Baloch leaders including Nawab Akbar Bugti, Sardar Khair Bukhsh Marri, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Dr Abdul Hai Baloch and the Khan of Kalat.

After due deliberations amongst themselves and discussions with the prominent leaders of Balochistan, including Nawab Bugti, the sub-committee headed by Mushahid Hussain submitted its report and recommendations. Nawab Bugti had welcomed these committees and supported the recommendations of the sub-committee, but neither was the parliamentary committee allowed to conclude its final report nor did Gen Musharraf practically implement the recommendations of the sub-committee. He continue his most aggressive and counterproductive policy of attacking Dera Bugti and other districts of Balochistan with full force, which resulted in the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti and his innumerable followers.

In his article Gen Musharraf conveniently omitted to mention his public threat to Nawab Bugti: “You will not know what has hit you.” This was no hollow threat, it was executed on Aug 26, 2006. And to add to the heinousness of the crime, the remains of Nawab Akbar Bugti were kept in a locked coffin. None of his blood relations, family members, followers and admirers of the Bugti tribe were allowed to see his face or to offer even funeral prayers before the locked coffin was buried. Perhaps, even now none of the family members and admirers of the Nawab are allowed to visit his grave. We still don’t know what is in the locked coffin.

This shocking treatment meted out to Nawab Bugti and others naturally resulted in a wave of anger not only in Balochistan but also all over Pakistan. It appears that either the Musharraf regime was oblivious of the consequences or wilfully pushed the Baloch to the wall.

(To be continued)

The writer, a former senator, attorney general and federal minister, is a Supreme Court advocate. Email:

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