|Photo (collected from open source): Nawab Akbar Shahbaz Bugti|
Nawab Akbar Shahbaz Bugti, a legendary hero of Balochistan independence was martyred on 26 August 2006. His martyrdom will be observed in silence by Baloch nationalists announced all over the world.
Thousands of recruits of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and other revolutionaries are fighting to liberate Balochistan from the occupation of Pakistan.
Nawab Bugti, a defiant Baloch nationalist leader was brutally murdered by the Pakistan Army on the orders of Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf.
In a fierce battle with the fighters, Bugti’s fortified cave in Bhamboor hills fell after the military helicopter gunship fired air-to-surface missiles into the cave killing him and his brother, grandson, and others in the August raid.
After the downfall of General Musharraf, an arrest warrant was issued when he was accused by an anti-terrorism court. Later he was acquitted by a Pakistan court in Bugti’s assassination conspiracy for insufficient evidence.
His death sparked a countrywide anti-Pakistan protest by Baloch students and youths. Police had to quell the violent ethnic riots in different cities and towns.
Nawab Bugti, born in 1927, chieftain of the rebellious Bugti tribe was the tallest Baloch leader who was the Federal Minister, Governor, and Chief Minister of Balochistan.
The nationalists from Marri and Bugti tribes – the ferocious tribes are engaged in armed insurrection. The ongoing Baloch insurgency politically challenged the forcible inclusion of the resource-rich province into Pakistan in March 1948.
Before the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, Balochistan consisted of four princely states under the British Raj – Kalat, Lasbela, Kharan and Makran, which is known as Balochistan. Two of these provinces, Lasbela and Kharan, were fiduciary states placed under Khan of Kalat’s rule by the British, as was Makran which was a district of Kalat.
The rulers of Kalat State first were subjected to Mughal emperor Akbar in Delhi and after 1839 to the British.
Only three months before the creation of Pakistan (in August 1947), Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the first Governor-General of Pakistan had negotiated the freedom of Balochistan under Kalat State from the British colonialist.
A series of meetings were held between the Viceroy, the British Crown’s representative based in New Delhi, Jinnah and the Khan of Kalat regarding the future relationship with Kalat State and Pakistan.
The parleys ensued in a communiqué, popularly a Standstill Agreement on August 11, 1947, which stated that: The Government of Pakistan recognises Kalat as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British Government with a status different from that of Indian States.
The ruling Muslim League elites of Pakistan led by Jinnah had a change of heart and unilaterally decided to merge Balochistan with Pakistan Union on March 26, 1948.
In a violent raid, the Pakistan army occupied Balochistan’s capital Quetta and forcibly entered the Amar Palace of Mir Sir Ahmad Yar Khan Ahmedzai, Khan of Kalat, who was also the President of the Council of Rulers for the Balochistan States Union and intimidated him to sign a document of accession to Pakistan.
Balochistan is populated by ethnic Baloch, as well as Pakhtuns or Pashtuns. This largest province is the least populated region and possesses abundant natural resources in Pakistan.
For decades, disgruntled Balochi nationalists are protesting forcibly converting the Baloch population into a minority in their homeland.
In the post-Bugti era, the restive Balochistan has experienced appalling human rights abuse and untold atrocities.
Anyone who speaks up, protests or writes about the persecution by security forces in Balochistan, the next day a dead body would be dumped in a village or township to warn of the dire consequences to challenge the state.
The journalists who have published critical pieces on Balochistan faced harsh backlash from the state security apparatus.
Scores of tweets are posted every day by family members of the victims of enforced disappearances. Families, relatives and well-wishers often appear in street protests demanding the return of their loved ones. Thousands of suspects supporting or sympathisers of armed insurrection were victims of enforced disappearances.
Most of the victims of enforced disappearances never returned to their families. The dead bodies which were either returned or dumped by security forces bear the brutality, the victims have endured.
In 1970 when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was on a whirlwind tour for the election campaign in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta – he was given tumultuous welcome, said Zahirul Islam Khan Panna.
When the crisis in Bangladesh was brewing at the end of 1970, the fieriest Baloch leader Nawab Bugti expressed solidarity with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Six-Point programme.
Z I Khan Panna, a leading human rights lawyer was a law student at Karachi University. He was hand-picked by Bangabandhu to be his fixer for the election campaign in Pakistan.
Panna met Nawab Bugti in Karachi in June 1970 and handed over an English copy of the Six-Point program, as desired by Shiekh Mujib.
Bugti was indeed a great admirer of Mujib and told his Baloch nationalist leaders that the Six-Point was a Bible to resolve the longstanding deprivation and political neglect of Balochistan.
Sher Mohammad Bugti, spokesperson of Baloch Republican Party – BRP spoke on WhatsApp from Geneva where he and BRP’s key leaders are living in exile lamented that the “Balochistan atrocity is worst than Bangladesh” in 1971 perpetrated by marauding Pakistan military.
Baloch nationalists are fighting on two fronts, he said. One is Pakistan and the second is China. The Chinese Communist Party is singing the tune of Pakistan on the Baloch crisis of their existence on the mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Gwadar Port, which is located in Balochistan.
Brahamdagh Bugti, leader of the Baloch Republican Party living in exile in Switzerland, and grandson of slain nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, says that Chinese economic projects in Balochistan were aimed at “colonising” the province, and must be resisted.
Brahamdagh Bugti, who is wanted by Pakistan rejected the possibility of holding any political negotiations with the government in Islamabad and suggested an internationally supervised referendum on the Balochistan crisis to bury the crisis once and for all.
First published in The News Times, 25 August 2022
Saleem Samad, is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of the Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at <email@example.com>; Twitter @saleemsamad