Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Murder of a Proud Baloch

It would be fair to say that the killing of the Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti has shocked many if not most of Pakistan – the 99.65% civilian part that is.

The general feeling is that this was one step too far for Musharraf to take.

Many people believe – including your Blogger – that the little man in Musharraf was incensed by the derision Akbar Bugti often directed towards his burgeoning sense of self-importance. This was made obvious when he made pejorative references to Nawab Bugti as a ‘pygmy’ and ‘non-Nawab’ in his televised speeches.

The first attempt to kill Bugti was made on 17th March 2005 when high-tech TOW missiles rained all around the Nawab as he moved around his private grounds in Dera Bugti. Then luck was with him as several of people accompanying him perished in the sudden aerial attack. Sadly seventeen Hindus of Dera Bugti, who had taken shelter nearby, also died after being subjected to a direct hit.

The second attempt to assassinate him took place in
early July 2006 when after some PAF bombing sorties and dozens of helicopter gunship missile attacks, elite SSG commandos were dropped near Bugti’s mountain hideout. In the ensuing firefight in which the commandos suffered heavy casualties, Nawab Bugti made a successful escape and sought sanctuary, as we now discover, in the Bhambore hills, between Kohlu and Dera Bugti.

On Saturday the
Army said their interception of a satellite phone call led security forces to Bugti’s latest lair. A ferocious firefight took place in which it is believed that 25 commandos and between 24-37 Baloch rebels died – including the venerable Nawab Akbar Bugti. Upon hearing the news of Bugti’s death, Dawn reported, Musharraf was quick to congratulate his troops.


Not surprisingly the news of Nawab Bugti’s killing led to a frenzied response in Balochistan as the whole province came to a standstill amid public protest.

Caught on a hop Musharraf began dissembling. No, said the ISPR spokesman, Bugti had not been a target – which is pure piffle. Then came an extremely muddled response from the usually glib ex-Jamaati Minister for Information. Durrani prattled on about a cave which had seemingly collapsed with the Nawab in it, ‘We are now searching for his body’, he said.

Hang on, Akbar Bugti was an eighty-year old man incapacitated with a muscle-wasting disease and unable to walk. How could the army have so confidently announced that they had killed him if he had been trapped within the depths of a cave?

On the other hand the account of the BLA spokesman Azad Baloch, broadcast last night on BBC’s Urdu Service, is much more credible. According to him, having tracked down the Bugti chief on a hillside the commandos and the Baloch engaged in a bitter battle out in the open. Outnumbered the Baloch were all killed and Akbar Bugti’s body was identified among the slain. The army has no intention of handing over the deceased Nawab’s body to his heirs, hence the subterfuge about digging out the cave searching for a body that will not be found.

And, why is Musharraf so scared of handing over the body to the Nawab’s family?

Simply because his grave will become a focal point, a shrine for all the Baloch as they vent their rage over the army’s merciless actions in Balochistan.

Your Bloggers parting comments:
1. Nawab Akbar Bugti was a man who was prepared to die for his beliefs. He will be eulogized by the Baloch, even by the unborn Baloch generations yet to come.
2. Musharraf is a disaster for Pakistan. He is a little man wearing boots of a size much too large for him.


Anonymous said...

Whoever trying to tear Pakistan apart should be treated in the same way. May God be with Musharraf

Anonymous said...

Musharraf has crossed the line. There will be retribution for the murder of Mr Bugti.

It is astonishing that in Pakistan the president follows a policy of assassinatig his political opponents.

Anonymous said...

Bugti was not a political opponent to Musharraf. He was looking to carve his own country out of Pakistan/Balochistan.

Any traitor to the country, as he was, should be dealt with in the same way.

The simpletons will rail and moan against the government for killing Bugti, never realizing that much of the cause of their poor lot was Bugti himself - who never wanted progress for his own people.

With this troublemaker out of the way, now is the time for the government to invest in Balochistan and build it up.

Long live Musharraf - I only hope he takes out more feudals soon.

Asad said...

"The general feeling is that this was one step too far for Musharraf to take."

I respectfully disagree. The general feeling is that this was the right step and should have been done sooner.

I hope the Balochi people realize their great potential and can rise up to use the opportunity presented to them before some other feudal lord takes the place of Bugti and his henchmen.

AAS said...

I agree his killing will just make life a great deal worse in Pakistan. Bugti was right in trying to address the grievances of his province but one should not forget that he was also responsible for the situation that has made Balochistan so poor and backwater. He was not a saint but a provincial tyrant.

I just wish we could also get rid of Musharraf, Bhutto, and Sharif. That in itself would do wonders for Pakistan.

Onlooker said...

Just because someone has a different viewpoint to one’s own doesn’t mean one has to kill him. That is perhaps one of the many definitions of the word being ‘civilized’.

In 2005 negotiations went on between Akbar Bugti and Ch. Shujaat Hussain (accompanied by Mushahid Hussain). These two PML(Q) leaders then forwarded the finalized agreement to Musharraf.

Did Musharraf listen to his handpicked politicians?

No, he opted instead to listen to his hawkish DG of Military Intelligence and the Chairman of PPL, who proclaimed himself to be an expert on the Bugtis by reason of PPL’s presence in Sui. For those not in the know, the DG of ISI opposed these views on grounds of the political realities in Balochistan. But Musharraf decided to ignore the ISI on this occasion and opted to go with the bullet.

Everyone may say what they like about Akbar Bugti - the fact remains he voted for Pakistan in 1947, he was a governor and chief minister of Balochistan. The fact that a gung-ho constitutional usurper opted to eliminate Bugti speaks loudly for the mess that Pakistan is in.

Anyone who disagrees with Musharraf in recent times (so a retired Corps Commander and a recent former close associate and friend of his told me this week) is regarded as a traitor to Pakistan as far our General-in-Power is concerned. The man is said to have become quite ego-centric and increasingly vindictive.

Let me try and put you commenters in the true picture - please just imagine if Musharraf participated in this discussion and you happened to disagree with his views, what would your future be?

I would say initially your phones would be tapped, then if you persisted you might then get picked up by the agencies and become one of the ‘disappeared’. In an extreme case you might have to take a bullet like Akbar Bugti. That is the current reality in political Pakistan.

Why do you think that I prefer to remain anonymous? To protect my physical welfare or hasn’t that crossed any of your minds?

It is always easy to talk about Pakistan sitting from thousands of miles away at a Starbucks or wherever not worrying about whether you car is being followed or who is tapping your conversations and whether you will be around tomorrow. Needless to add these days the dreaded agencies are constantly on the prowl. Just ask any local non-lifafa journalist.

Therefore I politely suggest it’s time to get real and not just throw words in the wind about supposed traitors or people you don’t particularly like….

Jafridi said...

Musharraf's ultimate obective seems to be the breakup of Pakistan, well in sync with his London based political guru Mr. Altaf Hussein. Mith the murder of Bugti he has moved closer to the objective.

1. Musharraf has deployed 1/3rd of the active combat strength Pakistani Armed forces on Pakistani soil, waging war against Pakistani citizens.
2. Has given a free walk over to Indians on the Western border.
3. Has infused a culture of rampant corruption in an otherwise incompetent, undercofident and inexperienced General class. None of our Generals has ever been in active combat, never fired a bullet in anger; except against Pushtoons, Balochis and Sindhis.

Bugti was a tall figure, 80 years old with a frail diplilitated body. He died for a cause, whether we agree with him or not .... he was a TIGER.

May Allah bless his soul.

Honest Desi said...

From The Nation, August 30, 2006. A shorter version appeared in Gulf News under the title 'Brute Force is Not the Answer':

‘Violence Against Politics’
By: Husain Haqqani

The death of Nawab Akbar Bugti at the hands of Pakistan’s armed forces serves as a metaphor for the war between politics and militarism that characterizes Pakistan’s unfortunate history as a nation. One need not agree with all of Nawab Bugti’s views to acknowledge that he was a towering political figure in his life and a man who retained his pride and honor in his death. Only those schooled in the ways of colonial soldiers can feel pride in killing an 80-year old tribal chieftain with the help of modern precision weapons.

Officials described Nawab Bugti and his companions as “miscreants,” a term brought to South Asia by the British East India Company. The term was last used widely in 1971 by the Pakistani establishment to describe the Bengali people of erstwhile East Pakistan. The Bengalis had voted for Shaikh Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League in the 1970 elections, hoping that their votes would enable them to write the constitution of the country of which they were the majority of citizens. But the generals who ruled Pakistan then did not like the people’s verdict or their chosen representative. When Mujibur Rehman refused to give in to the generals’ demand to accept their views on the constitution as final and in the national interest, confrontation between the people and the army began.

Late Brigadier Siddiq Salik, who worked as an officer in the Pakistan army’s public relations directorate at the time, wrote an excellent account of events in Dhaka after the 1970 elections titled ‘Witness to Surrender.’ In that book, he cites a comment that sums up the attitude of the army in East Pakistan. According to Salik, the General Officer Commanding, Major General Khadim Hussain Raja, who told an Awami League sympathizer within the hearing of fellow officers: “I will muster all I can – tanks, artillery and machine guns – to kill all the traitors and, if necessary, raze Dhaka to the ground. There will be no one to rule; there will be nothing to rule”.

The military cracked down on the politicians and the people they led. ‘Operation Searchlight’, began on the night of March 25, 1971 and its basis for planning clearly stated: “A.L. [Awami League] action and reactions to be treated as rebellion and those who support [the League] or defy M.L. [Martial Law] action be dealt with as hostile elements.... As A.L has widespread support even amongst E.P [East Pakistani] elements in the Army the operation has to be launched with great cunningness, surprise, deception and speed combined with shock action.”

Troops moved with full force against Awami League supporters, students at the Dhaka University and Bengali Hindus. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was arrested and moved to West Pakistan. Foreign journalists were rounded up and expelled from the province so that they would not be able to see the slaughter. Eye witness accounts spoke of soldiers blowing up newspaper offices and several rooms in the University hostel shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is great) – the Muslim battle cry while facing enemies of Islam. There is no evidence of the Awami League at this point having any military capability.

Siddiq Salik offers the following account of the night of March 25, 1971: “The first column from the cantonment met resistance at Farm Gate, about one kilometer from the cantonment. The column was halted by a huge tree trunk felled across the road. The side gaps were covered with the hulks of old cars and a disabled steam-roller. On the city side of the barricade stood several hundred Awami Leaguers shouting Joi Bangla slogans. I heard their spirited shouts while standing on the verandah of General Tikka’s headquarters. Soon some rifle shots mingled with the Joi Bangla slogans. A little later a burst of fire from an automatic weapon shrilled through the air. Thereafter it was a mixed affair of firing and fiery slogans, punctuated with the occasional chatter of a light machine gun. Fifteen minutes later the noise began to subside and the slogans started dying down. Apparently, the weapons had triumphed”.

The triumph of weapons was, however, short-lived. After the first flush of victory, the Pakistan army in East Pakistan faced broader resistance. Bengali nationalism replaced demands for autonomy within a federal Pakistan as the Bengalis’ aspiration. Seeing themselves as freedom fighters, the Bengalis secured help from India and the Pakistan army faced an ignominious defeat and surrender. But even that experience has not made Pakistan’s generals wiser to the need for politics as opposed to their preference for the logic of brute power.

The consequences of Nawab Bugti’s assassination are likely to be monumental. Pakistan’s generals might think that the situation in Balochistan is different from that in East Pakistan because the army’s logistics and supply situation is better. More troops can be brought in from cantonments around the country to Balochistan and much faster than was possible during the civil war in East Pakistan.

Moreover, Balochistan does not border India and the prospect of a foreign military intervention in favor of the Baloch is unlikely. But these soldierly obsessions miss the crucial point. Should the conduct of the armed forces of a sovereign independent nation be the same as the behaviour of the British Indian army? Shouldn’t a modern independent state draw its legitimacy, not from force, but from the consent of the majority of its own citizens?

The mind-set of Pakistan’s ruling establishment is vice-regal and a hold-over from British colonial Raj. In the vice-regal system, the civil servants and military officers claimed to know what was best and the natives could only be trusted with minimal decision-making. British civil servants and military officers could over-rule popular leaders and elected officials even after the British had introduced elective offices, originally at local government level. Those challenging the colonial generals and civil servants were enemies of the state and deserving of incarceration or even death.

The army’s intervention in Pakistan’s politics has created the unfortunate situation where Pakistan’s army is responsible for killing more Pakistanis as enemies of the country than it has eliminated foreign troops with whom Pakistan has gone to war. The army’s control of most levers of power has led to a gradual decline in the influence of political parties and the marginalization of civil society. The army often cites the influence of “self-serving feudal leaders” as an argument in favor of its intervention, which is supposed to create a new breed of selfless politicians. But after four rounds of military intervention, a breed of politician acceptable and fully trusted by the army has yet to appear.

Pakistan’s second indigenous army chief, General Muhammad Moosa, once observed that his training as a soldier was to locate and liquidate enemies. He felt uncomfortable in the world of politics with its complex issues and agendas and shifting allegiances and alliances. Soldiers are unsuited for politics, he declared, because they treat those disagreeing with them as enemies. “You cannot do that with your own people,” General Moosa said, explaining why he was never comfortable with the army running the country’s affairs.

Jafridi said...

Since 1948 Pakistan Army has launched 26 operations against Pakistani citizens on Pakistani soil; and only 2.5 wars against India.

Mr. Hussain Haqqani is right in asserting that Pak Army has killed more Pakistanis than Indian soldiers. To be precise, India lost about 1800 soldiers in the 1948 operation and about 15000 in both the 1965 and 1971 wars. Army's score in 1971 East Pakistan was more than One Million Pakistani "miscreant" citizens. The cumulative Army "score" in Waziristan, Balcohistan and Bajaur in the last 4 years alone is estimated at about 15,000!.

Pakistani Armed forces use their full might and most modern weapon systems against its own people; but are very reluctant to bring their first line systems against external enemy. For example:

1. Whereas : During the Kargil operation, IAF Mirage-2000 used to penetrate about 50 miles into Pakistan controlled Kashmir to drop bombs on our positions at Kaksar and Tololing. Pakistan Air Force had no mobilization for kargil war and did not even take part.
On other hand: PAF flew hundreds of missions against Pushtoons in Waziristan and fired Laser Guided Bombs and Cluster Bombs.
2. Whereas : Cobra Gunship Helicopters and TOW missiels were never used in Kargil:
on other hand Nearly our entire cobra gunship force is now deployed against Pakistanis, with none facing India. TOW missiles were liberally used against pakistanis; including the house of Nawab Akbar Bugti.
3. Army is using expensive Communications and Thermal vision systems against its own people .. whereas only primitive systems were used in Kargil and on the LOC.

It is most unfortunate that 15% of the National GDP has been channeled into a essentially a mercenary outfit for 6 decades; whose character is little better than the Banana Republic armies.

Our Army is supposedly very disciplined. The soldiers are supposed to do and die on the Command of the Generals. But, what sort of discipline do the Generals themselves subscribe to?
Discipline is a much abused word

libertarian said...

Onlooker: The man is said to have become quite ego-centric and increasingly vindictive.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He's decimated all checks and balances and is essentially flying blind.

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