IN THE MEMORY OF SHAHEED NAWAB AKBAR KHAN BUGTI
“We are Rinds of swift mares; now we will be below you and now above…. I have not made war like a Jackal, but like a Tiger have I burst through my foes………”
(Popular Poetry of the Baloches)
“If death surprised him at any place, it would be welcome, providing that his battle cry had reached a receptive ear and another hand was stretched out to grasp a weapon”
I have been fortunate to share some of my rarest, happiest and joyful moments, which were also insightful and unique with such a charismatic person, Nawab Bugti. These are unforgettable experiences that I truly treasure and reflect on with deep fondness. It is both difficult and painful for me that these moments have become memories and it seems only yesterday that we shared the past glorious stories of our celebrated ancestors together. He, however, will live forever in our hearts.
Indeed it is poignant that Nawab left his ancestral abode of Dera Bugti by camel while heading to the mountains of Kohlu to resist the powerful army of Pakistan In much the same way his mother, around 74 years earlier, left Dera Bugti by camel to Barkhan, and giving birth to a baby boy; Nawab Shahbaz Akbar Khan Bugti.
Naturally, there are some people who love, hate, praise and criticise a person, who, like Shaheed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, dominated tribal, political and social life for decades. All comments and criticisms are creative providing different versions of the man. The character and personality of Nawab had been described differently by different people, such as;
‘Cruel, Hard, Arrogant, Bhta-khore, Proud, Stubborn, Gas Man, Politician, Tiger of Balochistan’ etc. However, his values and principles were completely different than what was said about him.
The late Nawab Bugti was a towering figure in the Baloch world. To his people he was a popular hero and one of the most genuinely loved leaders. He was the great Baloch nationalist who was a wonderful man, full of wisdom and humour. Furthermore, he was a philosopher and a great teacher. For me, Nawab Bugti was a man of inspiration and a shining star. As a Chieftain, he was a great administrator and the ultimate justice of his tribe.
In August 2006 when Nawab was asked by Hamid Mir, ‘how was he is dealing with the pain and suffering in mountains’, he replied in a philosophical way;
“First an idea comes in mind, and then it gets shape of ideology and implication of ideology in practical, makes human civilized and civilized human is distinguished from living creatures. Physical hardship, pain, the extreme heat, this is all a state of mind. You either give into it or not, and I choose not to”
It was his boundless courage and character that, in spite of his age and grave health conditions, together with the unending harassments, hardships, bitter feuds with internal and external tribes, Nawab gallantly accepted to face the life taking challenges of the mighty power of the state. He was fighting a war of survival against the well trained commandos of about 26,000 Pakistani army. This too under the open and sizzling sun with penetrating heat of 45 to 500 C in rugged mountains, moving cave to cave. Undeniably, he died a soldier’s death achieving a noble death and became a martyr. Of course he was not an ordinary person, but he an extraordinary man with the nerves of steel with a lions heart.
The great Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin once said;
“The real education of the masses never be separated from their independent political and especially revolutionary struggle; only struggle educates the exploited class, only struggle discloses to it the magnitude of its own power, widen its horizon, enhance its abilities, clarifies its minds and forges it will”.
Exactly, as a great teacher, like Vladimir Lenin, the Nawab educated the young Baloches that;
“First an imagination comes in mind, then it becomes ideology and enforcement of ideology is practical. That in this present state structure and system reform or betterments are impossible, hence only way is the salvation from this and construction of new system designed in minds is ideology and struggle is implementation of ideology in reality”.
He was a little bit of everything, elegant, charming, feudal, and autocratic and a law unto himself. I (writer), without any hesitation, pay my homage that, Nawab was a bold and brave leader and a committed Baloch. Suffice to say that, ‘the system was Nawab and the Nawab was an institution himself’.
As a politician he played a very powerful political role in the politics of Pakistan. He tried his best to solve the chronic grievances of Baloches by a peaceful and constitutional way through dialogue and negotiation; hopefully to achieve a respectable place for the Baloches on equal terms.
In one of his interview, Nawab made it clear that;
“What negotiation talks? They are talking to us through the gun, how else will they negotiate? They have imposed this war on us…the General himself went to visit Kohlu, and they dropped some grenades there…. He considered this a personal affront, and stated that he will take revenge for this. So now he is taking revenge, and this is a result of that revenge. There was an attack on the General in Islamabad twice, but he did not attack or drop grenades on Islamabad. Another commander was attacked in Karachi on the Clifton Bridge but that bridge is still there and so is Karachi- they did not attack there. But they are giving collective punishment to the whole Baloch people”.
(National Delhi TV –Munizae Jahangir)
As the Baloch Supreme Commander, Nawab then, adopted a different strategy. In other words, one can believe that he was forcibly pushed to fight. So, he left his ancestral abode of Dera Bugti with a handful of followers with resolute determination to fight against the mighty forces of Pakistan.
He fought the most furious battle in the history of Balochistan. He fought with bold spirit and burst like a tiger through his foes. Eventually, he was killed on 26th August, 2006, in one of the caves of Bhambore Hills.
“Tigers keep roaring, numbered are the days of slavery.
Martyr’s battle cries echo in the hills of Balochistan”.
(With courtesy of ‘Balochwarna’)
We Baloches must acknowledge that he was a daring Chieftain of the Bugti tribe and a committed Baloch. Indeed, such extraordinary courage flowed through his veins and history is the true witness of such valour. As such, we are very much proud of him and history will, forever, admire the heroism of Baloches.
The Nawab was a great nationalist, like Khan Mehrab Khan of Kalat, who, did not leave neither Baloches nor Balochistan. Instead, he fought with the Kalashnikov in his hand against those who were exploiting and plundering the natural wealth of the land of Baloches and treating them as mere colony.
He was unarguably wonderful in nature and fearless. He will always be remembered as a ‘shining star’ in the Baloch sky in a world of darkness for the Baloch.
He was a man of inspiration and it is also true that history always provides many examples of people whom are inspirational. Thus, Nawab was one of those who ignited the flame in the hearts of people of Balochistan. Only time will tell if this flame will burn bright and provide a new light for the people of Balochistan. We are sure that his flame will not be extinguished for generations to come, and will keep inspiring the Baloches wherever they live.
We believe that the Baloches will never forget Nawab as his murder is an inspiration for the Baloch youth to stimulate within them a state of mind for the persistent desire to keep struggling for the common greater cause of national salvation.
The Nawab was also famously known as a man of principle. It is interesting to note that in October1959he was arrested for the murder of Mir Haibat Khan Bugti. He was first held in Coole Camp and then moved in to the notorious Mach jail. He was tried by Military Court, which began on 26 December 1959. In due course he was found guilty and was sentenced to death, and an enormous fine. His death sentence was then commuted to life, afterward he was again sentenced for three years hard labour. After serving just about 20 months Nawab was released from jail by the general amnesty declared by Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan.
Shortly after6 months) of his release, he was again arrested for inciting the public against the government of Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan. His Life sentence was therefore re-imposed on him. This time, he was moved from one prison to another.
During the period of jail he was offered release on the condition that he would apologise unconditionally. But, as a man of principle, he constantly refused and rejected such offers of the government (General Ayub Khan) of the time. He did not care about the consequences.
Again, on another occasion in the 1980s, as was his usual provocative and individual way, Nawab Bugti declared a personal protest against the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq by refusing to speak Urdu. After the elections of1988 he resumed speaking Urdu. These are just a few examples from many, which proved him to be a man of principle.
Nawab Bugti was a man of his people and he always respected them. I often found him sitting amongst his people at Dera Bugti on a hand-made mat. His warmth and charm towards his people were always admired. Indeed, he was generous and courteous to everyone, thus Nawab Bugti was one of the most genuinely loved leaders of his people.
It is worth mentioning the following observations;
“At this time I felt we were drifting off the central theme, talking only of politics but then came the realization that as a Baloch and a tribal chieftain, deeply disturbed about the future of his land and people, all that Akbar Bugti had spoken of was his whole life. A greater urgency was building up as he approached his sixtieth year and no satisfactory solution to the dilemma of his people, appeared in sight”.
(Najma Sadiq- Herald)
He was a man of action like the other activists of modern history. It is a fact that during the closing phase of his life, Nawab Bugti stood up like an immovable and unshakable rock by opposing those, who were unconstitutionally exploiting and plundering the natural wealth of the land of Baloches. He, like the other activists before him, fought and sacrificed his own life for the honour of his land and people. Through such actions he joined the highest ranks of those great activists.
Indeed, Nawab Shaheed Akbar Khan Bugti was another Khan Mehrab Khan of Balochistan, another Nawab Nauroz Khan of Balochistan, another Che Guevara of Balochistan, another Omar Mokhtar of Balochistan, another Ken Saro Wiwa of Balochistan, and certainly an unforgettable legend that no Baloch son will ever forget who fought for the rights of the Baloches in the deserts, mountains, caves and the narrow paths of difficult terrain of Balochistan. Yes, he was the ‘Tiger of Balochistan’ of Sylvia Matheson.
The Nawab is still alive. Certainly, he is alive in the hearts of Baloch people. He will never ever die. His love, inspiration, motivation, nationalism, heroism, determination and constant refusal to surrender, will definitely be remembered by every Baloch of the present generation and generations to come. He became the legendary national hero of Baloch Nation.He is now more alive than ever before.
There are many examples from history of men who proved more influential in death than in life. The Nawab seems to have joined their ranks. He is the latest in the long list of Baloch martyrs and the most famous scion of the Baloch Nation. There is no doubt that he left a legacy and tragedy that always will remain beyond the rocky caves of Bhambore hills for many centuries to come in the shimmering desert sands of Balochistan.
The last words of Nawab now echo in and out Balochistan, and have become a slogan for young Baloches. let history judge.
“Force is not a solution. Use of Military Power within a State and against its
own people has never been an acceptable norm. Some people view it as a recipe for intra-state implosions, a familiar scene in Africa. I our own country, we have had very bitter and tragic experiences in the past and must not repeat the same mistakes. We cannot afford any more tragedies and national debacles”.
(Shamshad Ahmed –daily Dawn, 14th February, 2005)
The problems of Balochistan are simply political there by need full of a political solution.
Let us conclude with the recommendation of Sylvia Matheson that;
“Certainly it will require much tact, tolerance and, above all, patience and understanding from both the Government in power and the tribes themselves before they can be assimilated into our present-day life. And yet, given this and the will to find a solution, life for these ‘Tigers of Baluchistan’ might be one of fulfillment and constructive participation, for they have many good qualities to offer”.
(The Tigers of Balochistan)
Abstracts are taken from Book. “The Nawab” will be published soon
© Johar Ali Bugti, London.