Washing of Faces
“The pathless gorges are our friends,
Our drink is from the flowing springs,
Our cup the leaf of the dwarf of palm
Our bed the thorny brush,
The ground we make our pillow”
Popular Poetry of Baloches
Sui Cantonment Turns into Military College.
After the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti, the Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan formerly decided on January 3, 2011 to discard the cantonment in Sui and it was then converted into a military college. During the inauguration, General (R) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani announced that;
“10,000 Baloch youths would be inducted into the army. Classes will commence in April with 60 per cent seats reserved for Balochistan”
Further, on Defence Day, Friday September 06, 2013 he said;
“It is not just coincidence that I’m celebrating the National Defence Day in the Sui town of Balochistan, but it is a matter of importance and honour which the army keeps for Balochistan……… It is a gift from Pakistan Army to the people of Balochistan. Balochistan is rich in various resources that needed to be utilised for the development of the province and people of Balochistan have first right on these resource. If these resources were utilised properly, Balochistan would become the richest province in the country; the Baloch people to hold important positions in these institutions, instead of working as labourers”
General (R) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani
Enough is enough; we the Baloches now do not trust Pakistan government any more. Since the establishment till today many promises were made, but none of them were honoured. This article would be too long if all the details of mistrust were enumerated herein, however, when ever we remember the past our hearts bleed. Simply we would like to bring to our readers’ attention the relevant facts as follows:
Since the independence of Pakistan, Islamabad has come into open conflict with the Baloches on five occasions starting, that is, 1948, 1958, 1962 and 1973 to 1977. The last bloody battle was from 2002 to 2007 which ended with the brutal murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 followed by the assassination of Nawabzada Balach Marri in 2007. All this and much more deeply wounded the whole province of Balochistan.
Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, also said;
“The only way to resolve major issues in the province was to provide the youth with pens instead of weapons.”
He additionally demanded of the Army Chief
“To allocate special quota for the poor children of the area (Dera Bugti) in the Cadet College”
The Chief Minister promised
“The provincial government will make all out efforts to promote education in the province ‘particularly’ in the far-flung areas like Sui and Dera Bugti”
He further asked;
“The Pakistan Petroleum Limited would be made liable to provide jobs to the people of Dera Bugti and Sui”
Speaking at the Jang Forum London on September 26, 2013, Dr. Abdul Malik said;
“Dera Bugti is rich with resources and is providing the energy to Pakistan, but, it is one of the most backward areas of Pakistan, which is stuck in almost dark ages. If prosperity and equality was introduced in areas like Dera Bugti, then the militants would not have been able to have grievances to exploit. The Baloches were liberal and secular people who have openly welcomed outsider’s cultures and ideologies, but have always resisted the imposition of ideologies against their will”
It is, of course, an undeniable fact that not only Dera Bugti District, but entire Balochistan is one of the most poor, backward, undeveloped, deprived and ignored province of Pakistan. However, we Baloches appreciate the courage of Dr. Abdul Malik and no doubt he is straight forward and a gentleman. Fair enough. But the actual fact is totally different.
Dr. Mubashir Hasan in his book stated;
“The civil and military establishment of Pakistan, created and trained by the British to maintain a colonial hold, has never opted for a political solution as it implies a give and take of political power. The establishment knew only one solution that is where intrigue and bribery fail, suppress dissent by physical force. It acted in the colonial tradition in Balochistan, in the NWFP and later East Pakistan”
The Mirage of Power; pg.168
The question is why the Baloches were and are backward? Just some of the reasons may be that the Baloches are a martial race; they were always engaged in fighting against occupation and for the honour of their mother Land. Perhaps many of you know that the Baloches carried a long painful history of resistance. They were the victims of many rulers and invaders from the Persians and British Empires till today. They have strong socially, psychologically and emotionally sentiments with their culture, language and land. Still they are maintaining the pride and honour of their ancestors with their own blood.
During the first Anglo-Afghan war the Baloches came face to face against British forces and they fought many fierce battles against them. So after more than 25 years consistent fighting against Baloches, the British government was defeated again and again resulting in the killing of thousands of the both sides. We have seen that due to the ceaseless fighting of Baloches the British government then considerably changed their policy of armed force and finally worked upon the policy of pacification in Balochistan.
It would be interesting to note that the British government was not really concerned about educational, social and economic uplift of Balochistan. They were merely interested in continuing British Sovereignty over India, with Balochistan as a buffer-zone. Thus, the educational and economic development was carefully ‘rationed’. It is obvious that during the colonial era the people of Balochistan were deliberately deprived of educational, political, social and economic developments.
Emergence of Pakistan.
However with the emergence of a new Islamic State of Pakistan, the people of Balochistan were hoping for a new and prosperous chapter with opportunities being available for them. They expected that their fate would be changed on the basis of Islamic ideology and concept of social justice.
It is a sore fact that with the death of Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the successive gangs of politician and bureaucrats who grabbed the power. They treated themselves as the heirs to the British masters. The doors were opened to corrupt and selfish civil servants and politicians. They struggled for the dirty power at the centre as well in the provinces without addressing the grievance to the long standing problems of Balochistan.
The administration was run by British trained Indian civil servant officers who proceeded on out-dated British patterns, regardless of the marvellous political and social changes brought about by the partitions of India. As per record, the entire Balochistan administration was run by persons imported from outside of the province.
Unfortunately, things were not to be as they should have been and the government of Pakistan, instead of justifying the grievances of Baloches, persistently ignored them and they were deprived of equality in law, opportunities for jobs in government services, participation in other economic and educational spheres. In such a way the already ignored land of Balochistan was ill-treated. As a result, the sons of the soil (Balochistan) had been deprived and branded as “BACKWARD”
The public of Pakistan must know the fact that as early as 1837, even Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah the founder of this ‘Holy Land’ of Pakistan had already certified that ‘the Baloches are fit for provincial autonomy’. When the founder of Pakistan himself confirmed Baloches being capable of running their own administration then we Baloches believe it is a painful joke in order to cover up their shameful action against the Baloches. It is a fact that after the confirmation of Quaid-e-Azam we the Baloches do not need any further certificate.
There is a stabbing pain when you see what is happening in Balochistan. Since Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan’s regime, till to day, whatever and whenever, the promises (even on oath of Holy Qur’an) were made to Baloches, were not honoured. Instead thousands of innocent Baloches of every walk of life including children and women were butchered. Nawabs and nobles were also arrested, hanged and murdered with impunity. It is without any doubt that the Baloches were and are the ‘victims of Pakistan’.
It is commonly said that the present problems of Balochistan are a creation of Baloch Nawabs and Sardars, however, this is not so, rather it would not only be unjust but a denial of the facts.
Since the creation of Pakistan the military, the democratic governments, including the ‘establishment’ of Pakistan keep blaming the Baloch Sardars for the underdevelopment of Balochistan. The government authorities holding responsible only three Sardars excluding many others for underdevelopment of Balochistan mainly; Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and Nawab Akbar Bugti.
“Only three Sardars, Akbar Bugti, Khair Bux Marri and Ataullah Mengal are the problems in Balochistan. Don’t push us. It isn’t the 1970s when you can hit and run and hide in the mountains. This time you won’t even know what hit you.”
General Musharaaf; February 2005
Actually from 1948 to the present day the Baloch Sardars have ruled Balochistan only for a total period of thirty months and sixteen days. Here follows some facts of these nationalist Sardars;
Sardar Attaullah Mengal.
In 1972 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the President of Pakistan appointed Mir Ghaus Bakash Bezinjo as the governor of Balochistan. Sardar Ataullah Mengal with the alliance of JUI was elected as the Chief Minister on May 1, 1972. However, just after ten months on February 15, 1973, his government was dismissed by the President Z. A. Bhutto. In this way the first representative provincial government of Balochistan lasted only ten months the many National Awami Party (NAP) leaders and workers including Nawab Khair Bux Marri, Sardar Attauallah Mengal and Mir Ghous Bux Bezinjo, were arrested then followed the military operations through out Balochistan especially in Marri Areas.
Mir Gul Khan Naseer, Sardar Attaullah Mengal & Mir Ghous Bakash Bezinjo
Nawab Akbar Bugti.
In February 15, 1973, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto now Prime Minister of Pakistan appointed Nawab Akbar Bugti as the Governor of Balochistan. After just nine months and fourteen days on January 1, 1974 he resigned on the grounds of Federal Government policies when Pakistan army was deployed in the province of Balochistan as part of a crackdown on the NAP in Balochistan
Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, wrote on 311st October 1973;
“Dear Mr Prime Minister,
…….. with the thought and intention of being able to do justice for the down trodden masses of Baluchistan….but…in spite of my best efforts, things don’t seem to get done as I would want them done, or, are not allowed to be got done”.
Further Nawab said;
“…..that he resigned on December 31, 1973, shortly after Bhutto launched the army operation in Balochistan. …… left when ghamsan ki larai (fierce skirmishes) began”
He doesn’t absolve himself from responsibility. I am not absolving myself. I was Governor. You can’t change history. You can’t believe history. I don’t say I did something great or something fine. No great or fine things happened during that period [his governorship].”
Daily Times 31st December 1973
In February 4, 1989 the Nawab was elected by the house of Balochistan as the Chief Minister. Just after seven months and two days he resigned on August 6, 1990 because he could not agree with Benazir Bhutto’s government on the rights of the province.
However, there are many other tribes of Baloches with their own chieftains in Balochistan. For example;
Khans of Kalat, Raisani, Jamali, Jams, Magsi, Rinds, Khosa and many more, who served as Governors, Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers. The question is – why none of them developed their area? Those areas are still undeveloped; most of their people are living without basic human facilities.
To be honest, we are neither the advocate of only three tribal Chieftains nor against the other Baloch Sardars. But we are just trying to bring the facts to the people of Pakistan. It is fact that none of them are responsible for the underdevelopment of Balochistan, on other hand the Federal government is responsible for such horrible situation in Balochistan
We the Baloches, without hesitation, reject such shameful and baseless allegations on Baloch nationalists. This is not only false and bogus, but misleading propaganda against Baloches. The fact is, the successive Islamabad governments have never made an effort to develop Balochistan.
It is an undeniable fact that due to issue of provincial autonomy, control of mineral resources exploitation and subsequent sense of deprivation, Balochistan had a tense relationship with the Federal government of Pakistan. It is also true that when ever the Baloches demanded their rights, the Federal government always sent the army to quell the Baloches. In fact the quest for establishing the writ of the authority is the motive behind such use of force as it was in the case of late Nawab Akbar Bugti.
“The problem of Balochistan, all said and done, is mainly political. All that Baloch nationalists want is the power to make decisions in Balochistan and a share at the Centre. Their self-rule aims to prevent exploitation of resources that does not benefit them. This is their right and they should get it. They also do not want outsiders to out number them.
This too is justified. They do not want their government to be run by outside bureaucrats and ‘agencies’. These ‘agencies’ have to be reigned in any how and brought firmly under parliament’s control”
Further he added; Musharraf’s words to the effect that; “No Islamabad government can survive against the Punjab’s wishes”
(Plain Words – M. B. Naqvi)
Cantonments in Balochistan.
It was 2004 when the government of General Musharraf announced to build three new military cantonments in Sui, Kohlu and Gwadar. The Baloches and Pakhtuns, including the Baloch nationalists strongly opposed the government plans. Moreover, the Balochistan Assembly also passed a resolution against the construction of more army cantonments in the province. Instead giving due attention to the people of Balochistan the Military government of General Pervez Musharraf started building of the cantonments it is absolutely right that from 2004 the Baloches openly revolt against the constructions of Cantonment in Balochistan. In protest the Bugti militants started a new wave of attack on various gas and military installations in order to put harsh resistance against the construction of the Cantonments. This gave an excuse to the government to retaliate forcefully against the Bugti and other Baloch militants.
In his last interview Nawab Akbar Bugti told Hamid Mir (journalist);
“The Baloch have always resisted unconstitutional measures. I’m not a traitor; the people who go against the Article 6 and take control of Pakistan are the real traitors. I, like Mir Gul Khan Naseer only put forward the demand for Balochistan rights. But in General Musharraf’s view this is a crime punishable by death. 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. So now the choice is yours. They are determined to eliminate me but I am transferring my legacy to the young generation, and it’s now the youth who will continue the fight till absolute freedom”
(Nawab Akbar Bugti; August 2006)
Baloch and Balochistan.
Without prejudice we may divide the Baloches as;
1. The Baloches who are the sons of the soil.
2. The Baloches who are the out side settlers including those who are the employees of Provincial, Federal governments, along with Chief Secretaries and Secretaries of the different departments and mega projects like Sui Gas Field, Gwadar Sea Port etc.
The Sons of the soil may be divided further;
a) Privileged class,
b) Underprivileged class or ordinary.
Both are the legal heirs of the land of Balochistan. There is no real problem for the privileged class due to their wealth and position, but the underprivileged sons of soil have been deprived of basic human facilities, like pure drinking water, school, health and education. They no doubt, are struggling for their survival.
Take an example of Bugti tribesmen as described by Sylvia Matheson below:
“But for the majority of Bugti tribesmen living in their mountain fastness or barren deserts, life had remained unchanged for centauries. Unlike the inhabitants of many Middle East countries who often share the wealth brought by the discovery of Oil or Natural Gas, the Bugtis as a whole have so far seen few tangible benefits from the richest discovered beneath their sizzling deserts. It is true that tribal life remains violent as ever.-indeed, the violence over spills into the every day life of the gas field. It is a bitter fact that unlike the fortunate inhabitants of many Middle East Countries, the Bugti’s as a whole do not receive a single paisa as royalties from the production of natural gas in their own land”
The Tigers of Balochistan
2. This class of Baloches with the facilities of acquiring domicile and local certificates of Balochistan are more educated, advanced and with the support of their class (community) have more chance to avail all suitable advantages. More over, they easily compete and leave the class 1 of Baloches behind.
The example of reality given as below;
“In 2002 when the military government of General Musharraf announced the construction of Gwadar Deep-Sea Port promising to transfer the standard of Balochistan on the basis of equal distribution of sources. In contradiction the Baloches doubted the Baloch would hardly benefit from Gwadar, or indeed any other mega-projects, as most of the jobs in the federally controlled organisations would go to the people of other provinces under to the quota system. Meanwhile, land grabbing by the military further exacerbated the situation. The Ormara naval base is another big project which has come up on the Makran coast, but Baloch nationalists maintain that the development of the second largest naval installation has not helped in improving the socio-economic conditions of the local population. Similarly, they too are not given jobs at the Sui gas plant”
(Nawab Akbar Bugti)
The plain truth is that the son of soil neither could nor never will compete with the Baloches of class 2 within Balochistan.
Day Light Robbery.
Prior to the partition of India sub-continent in 1947, the Burma Oil Company made an agreement which reads as;
‘‘The revenues will be paid to the people who owned the land’.
Natural gas was discovered in 1951 near the town of Sui in Bugti Tribal Area. As it was discovered near Sui town, it was then named “Sui Gas”. This was the seventh largest natural gas reserve in world and biggest in Pakistan. The gas in Bugti Tribal Area is no doubt ‘the gift of God’ for the Bugti tribe and is a real asset for the economic development of the country of Pakistan. It is an energy resource that brought revolution in industry, power generation, agriculture, commerce, and the family kitchen of the country. According to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles Pakistan is the third-largest user of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) in Asia, and third largest in the world.
It is fact that the Sui gas has saved precious foreign exchange and it is the country’s single largest foreign exchange. But, on the other hand, it is a painful fact to mention here that prior to the development of the gas field at Sui the Federal government of Pakistan legislated that;
“The resources two inches below the surface of the ground belong to the federal government rather than to the owners of the land”
Thus, the common Bugtis do not receive any direct remuneration for the gas extracted from their ancestral lands. Hence, we Bugtis as a tribe believe that it is ‘a day light robbery’.
The Natural gas produced in Bugti Tribal Area, supplies almost every kitchen in Pakistan, i.e. Burns Sui Gas. However, 95% Bugtis are still burning wood instead of gas; unbelievably this includes those living in Dera Bugti district.
Bugti girl carrying dry woods for cooking
Look seriously at this Bugti girl, who is collecting dry sticks for the kitchen. This is the every day life in Bugti area. Alas, if this innocent Bugti girl, with naked feet, under the naked sky and sizzling sun, were yours?
In 1874, under the order of Sir Charles Napier (then governor of Sindh) many families of Bugtis were by force brought from Bugti trible aress and settled near larkana. They kept under the supervision of the Deputy Collector. This included the chieftain of Bugti’s, Sardar Islam Khan Bugti and the ancestors of the writer from the Bugti tribal areas. He (Deputy Collector) was asked to stop these wild people from returning to Dera Bugti and that they be prevented from possessing of horses and weapons. In 1851 under the personal guarantee of Khan of Kalat the Khan of Kalat, most of them were allowed to return to their original homes in Bugti hills. However, about 250, the immediate ancestors of the writer were not allowed to return, thus they settled near Larkana town and have been there ever since.
One must mention that we the Bugtis of Larkana like other Bugtis of Dera Bugti tribal area are also the masters of Sui Gas. But unfortunately, the government did not facilitate gas supply to our village. Until today we are using dry sticks and dung cakes to cook our food when almost every kitchen throughout Pakistan is using Sui Gas.
I personally appeal to Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to take personal action in this injustice and prejudice and to redress the chronic grievances of the Bugtis residing in Larkana.
Nawab Akbar Bugti, in one of his interviews told;
“The people of Bugti Area living within one kilometre radius of gas plant still they burn dung cakes to cook their food. These people see that they have no power and their gas is being pumped outside their province, while they are deprived. The gas companies make promises, but never implement them, so no one believes them. No body talks about the plight of the Bugtis, but choolas (kitchens) went cold for a few hours in the holy land of Punjab and the heavens shook”.
(Daily Times- Tuesday, November 15, 2005)
Since centuries the Bugti way of life remained largely unchanged. However, after the discovery of Sui gas, the establishment of Pakistan Petroleum and Refinery Fields gradually changed little bit the lives of the Bugtis, but most of them continue to live much as their ancestors had done.
Washing the Faces of Bugti Tribesmen
“Musharraf had apologized to the Baloches for all the discrimination they had faced, but that turned out to be just a face wash. The government’s quest for occupation of natural resources, which ‘belong to us’ is in full swing”.
“They continue to bring in people from outside. They are taking away food from the local people’s mouth. This is unacceptable. They are promoting to ensure jobs for the locals in Gwadar. But the people have the example of Sui before them. That is why no one trusts them”.
(Nawab Akbar Bugti; June 2006)
The fact is that General Musharaaf’s intention was only to remove Nawab Akber Bugti, including Nawabzada Balach Marri. The killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, actually, was a personal desire of General Musharraf, who wanted to establish his writ by force in the province. In his view the best way to resolve the current crisis of Balochistan was to eliminate Nawab Akbar Bugti. It is said that the security establishment in Pakistan had been planning to remove the Nawab, who according to them, was a heavy weight politician and powerful Tumandar of the war like Bugti tribe from the political scene. So he was murdered in August 2006. After this Islamabad did not feel any incoming threat, hence the Federal government decided to abandon cantonments in Kohlu and in Sui.
But make no mistake, we the Baloches already rejected this plan like the previous decisions of the Federal government for the same reason as before, that is, there would not be any improvement in the lives of the ordinary Baloches. What actually occurs is the ‘establishment’ of Pakistan creating a new army force in the land of Balochistan by deceiving the Baloches. Surely, the Bugti children who are grazing their herds while playing their flutes, sitting on the tops of hill, will not be admitted in to Military College in Sui. I argue that the children of class (2) mentioned above will be trained for the sixth round of battles against the Baloches of the sons of the soil.
With confidence we can claim that, like British government, the Pakistan government has also changed its policy of using force against the Baloches by introducing the new policy of pacification. The populous of Pakistan should remember that in October 2009 Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani cancelled the plans of establishing military cantonments at the time of announcing the ‘Aghaz-e- Haqooq Balochistan’ package. This plan was already rejected by the Baloch nationalists. We the Baloches are rejecting again the plan of changing cantonments into military colleges.
We have thousands of reasons to believe that after the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti it is just ‘washing the faces of Bugti tribesmen’. With a bleeding heart, we the Bugtis, are now like ‘an army without commander’
Extracts taken from ‘The Nawab’ to be published soon.
© Johar Ali Bugtti, London
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