THE EXECUTION OF THE TIGER OF BALOCHISTAN
“Some die for honour and dignity.
Some live for a piece of bread”
“The profession of fighting and waging war is not new to the Baloch people. Pages of history are full with the records of their matchless valour and chivalry in war; on the battlefield, their generosity and forgiveness to their fallen foe. When provoked and challenged they did not hesitate to match their mettle against mighty emperors, but, they never resort to win a war through deceit, despite the fact that they themselves would very often fall victims to such mean tactics. It was in their character to meet their foe mainly in straight fights and this ethnic virtue is clearly borne out by abundant war records of history through the ages”.
In fact,when Nawab Bugti was provoked and challenged by President Musharraf, he then, without any hesitation, accepted his challenge and declared war against the government of the time. The way he fought the historical battle against the mighty army forces of Pakistan proved the Baloches of the present century to the fact as described by Firadusi. It is in this manner that he added a new golden leaf in Baloch history.
Shaheed Nawab Shahbaz Akbar Khan Bugti was popularly known to many as the ‘Tiger of Balochistan’. He lived and died for his principles. His personality and great charisma attracted many from within Pakistan and even outside of his passion for the honour, identity and rights of Baloches plus greater autonomy for Balochistan.
Thus, he has gone down in Baloch history for his mannerisms, his beliefs and his persona. Indeed the Baloches have lost one of the most nationalist leaders of the 21stcentury. His death is a national tragedy which still goes unsolved.
Much has been written and said about Nawab Bugti, however, let us give our readers a few glimpses of the chain of events, which caused his heroic death.
The Construction of the Gwadar Deep-Sea- Port
It was 2002, when Nawab Bugti along with other Baloch nationalist leaders bitterly opposed the construction of Deep-Sea- Port of Gwadar. It was from this moment onwards that the establishment of Pakistan targeted mostly upon him.
However, in April 2002 the situation further exaggerated when President General Pervez Musharraf announced the construction of the Deep-Sea- Port Project in Gwadar with the promise that;
“The people of Gwadar and Makran will get ample job opportunities which will raise their standard of living and to transfer the destiny of Balochistan by an equitable distribution of resources”
Almost all Baloch nationalists disagreed with the claims made by Musharraf.They anticipated that the Gwadar project would not generate employment for the local people. Instead, the people of the other provinces would be employed. Hence, the Baloches would certainly not benefit from Gwadar nor from any other mega-projects, such as, Ormara naval base on the Makran coast, Copper-gold project of Saindak, Chamalang coal mine and Sui gas field within Bugti Tribal area. These are recent examples of development projects that have not improved the socio-economic conditions of the local population.
Nationalists analyzed that the mass of people from other provinces will move into Gwadar, which will side-line the local population. In this way the Baloches would definantly lose their houses, lands and livelihood.
Further, they manipulated that the land grabbing by the military and the federal government personnel and the posting of officials and staff (non-Baloches) along with the Chinese presence in Gwadar will subsequently increase tensions and the Baloch will ultimately suffer as a result.
The non-Baloch settlers from other provinces domiciled in Balochistan would claim their share of employment under the Balochistan provincial quota.The Baloch do have a legitimate fear that Gwadar will of course draw many settlers from other provinces and consequently the Baloch will one day become an underclass minority in their own land.
Nawab Bugti went one step further by saying that;
“Gwadar was being developed by Pakistan to give facilities to the biggest American Naval Fleet. For this purpose, the entire coastal land stretching 40 miles inland from Karachi to Jiwani including Gwadar would be separated from Balochistan……..”
“His party (JWP) would co-operate with any other party that planned to fight for the return of the Baloch territory from the United States”
It is, however, important here to say that since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Baloch nationalists have been accusing the federal government of depriving their rights and their long-standing grievances are still unsolved. Sadly, whenever Baloches demand their rights, the federal government would use unreasonable force to quell their demands. Basic Baloch rights, for example, natural resources,marginalization, jobs, controls over land,and the lack of participation in the federal and provincial governments were all bone of contention. The announcement of Musharraf with respect to the construction of a new Deep-Port at Gwadar, national high ways, the new three cantonments and many others, no doubt irritated the Baloch nationalists which intensified the matter.
It is totally true that since 2002, when Nawab Bugti strongly criticized General Musharraf his name was highlighted with red ink. He was alleged as terrorist by the state establishment of Pakistan. Further, he was blamed for acting against the safety and sovereignty of Pakistan. It is then the whole state machinery began planning to remove him,not only from the scene of politics of Balochistan, but from Pakistan itself, thus they carefully, systematically and gradually planned to isolate him.
Siege of Dera Bugti
During the months of June and July 2002, the town of Dera Bugti came under siege bypara military forces. The whole town of Dera Bugti was left paralyzed;the local population left deprived of electricity, water, telephone and medical facilities.There was no doubt,this was the first clear message to Nawab Bugti.
This was the first attempt to execute Nawab Bugti.
The Construction of the Cantonments
In 2005the military regime of President Musharraf announced the construction of three more Cantonments in, Sue, Kohlu and Gwadar. This announcement vexed the Baloch nationalists. In protest, the Bugti and Marri tribesmen along with other Baloch militants started serious reaction against the Pakistan Forces.
This was the second attempt to execute Nawab Bugti.
The Rape of the Lady Doctor
On 2nd January 2004, in the Sui Gas Field of Pakistan Petroleum hospital,the lady Dr Shazia Khalid was raped by Captain Hamad. No doubt, this shameless act of rape was totally against the ‘Balochi code of honour’ which shocked the entire Baloch community.
The tension between Nawab Bugti and Musharraf was further intensified.
This was the third attempt to Execute Nawab Bugti.
The Military Operation on Dera Bugti
On17th of March 2005, Dera Bugti was attacked by Pakistan army forces.Indiscriminately they fired mortars and rockets on his residence where he was supervising a traditional ‘Jirga’ of Bugti tribesmen. They used sophisticated air and ground power during which more than 77 innocent civilians were killed, among them were Hindus, Sikhs, children, elderly ,young men and women; and more than 100 were seriously wounded. Mosques, Temples and houses were badly damaged too, but luckily the Nawab survived.
This was the fourth attempt to execute Nawab Bugti.
The Peace Agreement on March 23, 2005
The tense deadlock between State forces and Bugti forces resulted in a dialogue process between the government and Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. A parliamentary delegation, including opposition members of parliament, was sent to Dera Bugti.
In the meantime, leaders of all nationalist political parties of Balochistan unanimously gave an open hand to Nawab Bugti to negotiate with the representatives of the government. As a result, he was acknowledged as sole negotiator and despite the barbaric and immoral action of state on 17th march 2005, he did not shut the door of dialogues.
However, after long discussions and negotiations, on March 23, 2005, an agreement of peace was made between him and Chaudhrary Shujaat Hussain, the Chairman and the Secretary General, Mushahid Hussain of the ruling political party of Muslim League (Q).
Unfortunately, the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf vetoed the peace agreement and the Prime Minister Shuakat Aziz refused the general amnesty. Not only this, all the posts under the peace agreement vacated by Bugti tribesmen were occupied by army troops.
General Musharraf said;
“The past governments have made deals with them (Sardars) and indulge them. My government is determined to establish its writ. It will be a fight to the finish”.
Military Operation on Marri Tribal Area
At the height of tensions between Nawab Bugti and President Musharraf on17thDecember 2005, Pakistan army launched a huge operation against innocent people in Marri tribal area,including the other places of the province of Balochistan, where the Baloches were thickly populated.
It was believed that 30,000 army personnel with gunship helicopters, fighter jets,several spy planes, heavy artillery and missiles were used. The operation was continued for 10 successive days resulting in the killing of more than100 people and more than 200 severely injured. Most of the victims were women and children.
This was the fifth attempt to execute Nawab Bugti.
The Breaking of the Peace Agreement
Obliviously, the state army operation in Marri and Bugti tribal areas broke the peace agreement of 23rd March 2005. Immediately after the above mentioned army operation,so Nawab Bugti without any hesitation declareda full fledged war against the military rule of Pervez Musharraf.
Nawab Bugti left forMountains
After the brutal military action on his own town of Dera Bugti and the military operation on Marri tribal area,he then decided to leave for the mountains with the firm determination to fight. It is true that in order to save the lives of innocent people within the towns and other Baloches, he abruptly decided to leave his ancestral Dera (abode). In this way he risked his own life for the sake of others and for the noble cause of Baloch rights. Under the circumstance one can appreciate that he was actually forced to leave his ancestral home of Dera Bugti, the capital of Bugti Tribe.
In early July 2006, the special commandos were dropped near his hideout in the mountains. At this time a violent fighting took place between the commando and the Baloch militants under the command of Nawab Bugti. During the intense fighting the army commandos suffered heavy casualties. However, Nawab Bugti survived and managed to escape into the Bhambore Hills.
This was the sixth attempt to execute Nawab Bugti.
Prediction of the Death of Nawab Bugti
Nawab Bugti said once;
“They wanted to eliminate us, especiallyme and (fellow Baloch tribal leader) Balach Marri and alsothose Baloches who are not with government and want their rights”
Further he said;
“It was a pre-planned attack (by the security forces) and I was their target
They wanted to knock me out….”
(Sarfraz Ahmed, Daily Times)
Nawab Bugti told Hamid Mir that;
“Your commando general will rest only after he martyrs me, but after my martyrdom he will be held responsible. So now it’s up to you people either choose Musharraf or Pakistan. The choice is yours.”
Execution of The tiger of Balochistan
It is an irrefutable fact that when the state establishment realized that he,Nawab Bugti,even in his old agewith multiple health problems, under penetrating heat and uncomfortable living situations in the mountains, will never surrender. Hence, it was then decided to execute him. It was believed that President Musharraf personallyordered to use chemical weapons to execute him once and forever. This time, however, many times lucky, he met withhis heroic death. On 26th August during the darkness of night he was finallyexecuted by the special commandos of Pakistan army in one of the rocky caves ofthe Bhambore Hills.
“Despite age, he keeps fighting like the tiger of Balochistan.
Outnumbered he is, encircled by shameless jackals”.
(With courtesy of ‘Baloh Warna’)
It is most important to mention that the constant statements of President Musharrafwhen he repeatedly warned the Baloch nationalists that those who defy the writ of state “will be fixed” and “won’t know what has hit them”. Akbar Bugti was certainly “fixed”. Even the public till today donot know what had hit him; surly it is a mystery thatwill remain as a mystery.
In one of his statements he stated that;
“You may kill me, but remember, I will gift you such a war that your generation will fight it”
Another time he is quoted as saying;
“It is better to die fighting up in the mountains than on your sick bed”.
So, finally, he achieved his desired death on 26th August 2006.
ControversialStatements of Government Officials About His Death
In July 2006, Governor of Balochistan Owais Ghani had said that;
“The government had no intention of harming Bugti. He is too old to bepunished. He is a respected figure. We just want him to give up arms”.
A few weeks later on August 26, 2006, he was killed.
It is a pity that, even after his murder, Musharraf was proudly telling the media that;
“His government will enforce the writ of the state at all costs”
He (Musharraf) then changed his claim;
“He had not been targeted, but he was killed by a‘mysterious explosion’ that had occurred when troops entered the cave to negotiate his surrender”
Unquestionably, the story of collapse of the cave was pure fiction and was totally baseless. However, the murder of Nawab Bugti was definitely wellplanned and the fact is that, under the circumstances, he was murdered.
According to army sources;
“Nawab Bugti was traced down on a hillside where the Baloch militants and army commandos engaged openly in bitter combat and resulting heavy losses on both sides. Finally the noble body of Nawab Shahbaz Akbar Khan Bugti was found among the many massacred”
Mohammad Ali Durrani theinformation Minister of Pakistan said;
“The operation included both air and ground assault and that his death occurred as the cave collapsed; killing him including all those who were with him”.
He added that;
“Based on exact intelligence reports, security forces carried out an operation in the tribal areas where militants belonging to Bugti tribe resisted and after a heavy exchange of firing Nawab Bugti, along with his high-profile fellows involved in many terrorist activities in the country, was killed”
It is true that the Government spokesmen had, no doubt, tried to cover, in aninadequate way, that he was killedincidentally by the collapse of cave; meagrestatements, which anyone with a little bit of sense,has not believed nor accepted that he was killed by the collapse of the cave.
However,Sardar Sherbaz Mazaritotally rejected claims made by the government officials that;
“I heard a strange voice saying‘Koi baat nahi kar sakta and the line dropped. I protested, but the voice insisted that I could not talk’”
He,Sardar Mazari frankly refuted that Nawab Bugti was killed by the collapse of the cave and he claimed that;
“He was actually killed following a bitter shoot-out and his body has been taken to Islamabad”
He added that;“Obviously, the story about the cave is creative fiction”
According to private public sources it was believed that he, along with his radicals,weremurdered; they all were alive in the cave before the military helicopter struck.
It is a sore fact the government did not officiallyregret his killing. Instead, the President put the salt on the deep wounds of the Baloch nation, which is still bleeding, when he outrageously and dishonourablycongratulated the secret service chief and his team who carried out the operation. He further bluntly defended the operation against Nawab Bugtui by saying that;
“It was 500% justified”.
Absolutely, it is not the victory of such brutal and barbaric execution, which can be celebrated openly, undoubtedly; the entire Baloch communitywas stunned by such disgraceful statements of Musharraf.
All most all leaders of major political parties of Pakistan and media stronglycondemned the target killing of Nawab Bugti.
“It was an unfortunate outcome rather than an operational objective”
(Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain)
“A huge disaster not only for Balochistan andalso for the whole country. The Baloches have all been devastated by the magnitude of the crime the government had committed”.
(Dr Hayee Baloch)
”Killing politcians after declaring them traitors”
(Mian Mohammad Nawaz Shareef)
“This is disastrous and it will divert attention from war on terror…by engaging the Pakistan forces in Balochistan such bigger way”.
“This is not a good sign.Just a few years ago Nawab Bugti was talking to the government. Keep that door open was the way to go. Now that door has been slammed shut”.
(Samina Ahmed, South Asia director of the international Crisis Group)
“The killing of Nawab Bugti was a murder, a target murder and highly condemnable act, warning that the target killings of politicians would be dangerous for the country and those who are responsible.”
(Makhdoom Amin Fahim)
“Bugti would be remembered as a martyr and a hero who died fighting for the national rights of the Baloch people, while General Musharraf would be remembered as “a tyrant who added another black chapter in Pakistan’s history”.
(Mairag Muhammad Khan)
“His vision for Balochistan has never been achieved but the insurgency he led has been one of the biggest headaches for president Musharraf in recent years”
“Bugti dead was more dangers than Bugti alive”
(Asad Durani former military intelligence chief)
“The killing of Bugti a national loss. He will be a national hero after his martyrdom”
(Illahi Bux Soomro)
“The rulers removed the justification of Pakistan by eliminating the Baloch leader. His only crime was to dissent and raise his voice against injustice to his community”
(Sardar Mumtaz Bhutto)
He is living in death while there are some people, who are dead in life
Indeed, his legacy is and will continue for long. His life and death became a symbol of hope and inspiration of the Baloch nationalists, youths and every unborn Baloch child for generations to come. There is no doubt that he will be lauded by the youth asa role model.
The Philosopher Isaiah Berlin portrayed Winston Churchill as;
“A man larger than life, a gigantic historical figure during his own life time , superhumanly bold, strong and imaginative, one of the two greatest of action this nation has produced, an orator of prodigious powers, the saviour of his country, a mythical hero who belongs to legend as much as to reality, the largest human being of our time. A man of unlimited courage and possessed of a brilliant intellect”.
Roy Jenkins-The British politician and writersaid that;
“His genius, his persistent ability right or wrong, successful or unsuccessful, to be larger than life, as the greatest human being ever to occupy his place.
He then, is no longer the hero that he used to be, but in the end the recognition of his frailties and flaws has worked in his favour. It has brought him up to date making him into the kind of hero our disenchanted culture can accept and admire; a hero with feet of clay. He possessed great abilities, remarkable eloquence, and streak of genius”
It is unquestionable fact that even after his death Shaeed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is still a force to be reckoned. Indeed, he possessed all the qualities, as mentioned t by Roy Jenkins
Definitely, the killing of Bugti at the hands of an army dictator was the second biggest political killing in the country after the murder of Z.A Bhutto. More over the killing of Benazir Bhutto during the same military regime was also the third biggest political murder.
Let us conclude with Akbar Allahbaadi;
“Hum aah bhi karten hain to ho Jaate hain badnaam
Woh qatal bhi karte hain to charcha nahi hota”
“If we draw even a sigh, our honour slurred.
If they even take a life, not a whisper is heard”