Has President Musharraf Hit Deadly Baloch Beehive?
Will President Musharraf invite the “wrath of the bees” after killing Sardar Akbar Bugti, a powerful rebel leader of Balochistan province of Pakistan on the highly sensitive border of Iran and Afghanistan? Some say that it is a matter of time before the “bees” settle down. But others fear that this killing could further destabilise Pakistan.
“A general strike called by the Baloch Alliance to condemn the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti crippled life in Balochistan on Monday. Rioters ransacked government offices, banks, a national airline office, a hotel and set ablaze several shops in Quetta, Gawadar and Pasni, says CNN-IBN channel.
Sardar Akbar Bugti was not your ordinary rebel. A former Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan, Bugti was educated at Oxford, England, Aitchison College, Lahore, and Karachi Grammar School but he lived by tribal laws more than a thousand years old.
President Pervez Musharraf issued threats against Nawab Akbar Bugti saying,’You won’t know what hit you!’ with Bugti replying,’Now, weâ€™ve gone into the â€œguerrilla modeâ€? of warfare, Iâ€™ll give you a war you won’t forget and send you back to the barracks where you belong!’
“The Baloch conflict crackled and flared from the creation of Pakistan in 1947 to the 1970s as Baloch nationalists bridled against the Punjabi-dominated central government in Islamabad.
“The conflict has steadily escalated since 2000 as President Pervez Musharraf widened exploration of gas fields, and the Baloch were gradually excluded from provincial government, by Punjabis and Pashtuns. Rebellious tribal chiefs are linked to a shadowy group that first surfaced in the 1970s, the Baloch Liberation Army, which conducts guerilla attacks.”
A columnist says in a BBC report: “Bugti, the Sardar or chief of more than 200,000 Bugti tribesmen, was killed along with more than 35 of his followers when the Pakistan Air Force bombed his hideout in the Bambore mountain range in the Marri tribal area.
“Pakistani officials say that at least 16 soldiers including four officers were killed after they went in to mop up the remnants of the Baloch guerrilla group. A fierce battle ensued which led to their deaths.
“Bugti, a 79-year-old invalid who could not walk due to arthritis, is reported to be buried in the rubble of the cave where he was hiding.
The tit-for-tat proxy war between Pakistan on one side and India and Afghanistan on the other will now heat up.
“For months, Pakistani politicians including members of the ruling party had been insisting that the military regime agree to hold talks with the Baloch leaders in order to stop what was becoming an ever-widening civil war in the province. Several security agencies and advisers to President Pervez Musharraf, including the Interservices Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau, asked Musharraf to talk to the Baloch leaders.”
But then President Musharraf and the hawks had a personal score to settle!
Sardar Akbar Bugti (wearing a suit and a tie) shaking hands with the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah. (click on photo to enlarge)
“Many people say that the country is rapidly unravelling with Mr Musharraf refusing to give clear-cut guarantees about free and fair elections next year, while he insists on running again for another five-year term as president even as he remains army chief.
“Bugti’s death will only add to the growing fears about the country’s future and the danger inherent in a policy of killing political opponents rather than holding a dialogue with them.”
But isn’t this the international flavour in world politics in recent years?