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Posted by on Aug 29, 2006 in At TMV | 1 comment

More on Killing of Powerful Pakistani Sardar Akbar Bugti

(click on photo to enlarge)
The Hindustan Times, India’s leading newspaper, comments editorially under the heading ‘Pakistan vs Pakistan’: “The needless death of 79-year-old Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is a multiple tragedy – for his family, Balochistan and Pakistan. While the aged leader died as he would have undoubtedly wished – a warrior at the head of his tribe – the manner of his death speaks volumes of the values with which Pakistan is governed.

“India, too, has many separatist insurgencies and terrorist movements. But in recent decades, there have been no instances where air power and artillery have been employed against them, even in very trying circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir. The chosen method is, instead, police action plus negotiation. The reason for this is both pragmatic and humane: military solutions don’t work and they always carry the danger of horrific collateral damage. Islamabad, obviously, is not deterred by such concerns.

“The Baloch resistance to their forced annexation has never ceased despite the Pakistan army’s brutal repression going back to the Seventies. Pakistan has never been able to overcome the Balochi feeling that their rich natural resources are being exploited for the benefit of the Punjab-dominated government in Islamabad.”

Opposition ethnic-Baloch lawmakers denounced the government in a rowdy provincial assembly session in Quetta and vowed to avenge the killing of Bugti, arguably the most prominent ethnic-Baloch leader since Pakistan’s 1947 founding, reports The Arab News, an influential Middle East paper.

“All the leaders of Pakistan’s combined opposition including MMA’s Liaquat Baloch, Maulana Ghafoor Hydri, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of PML (N), Mahmud Khan Achakzai (Pakhtoonkhawa Mili Awami Party), Imran Khan (Tehrik-e-Insaf), Raja Pervez Ashraf of PPP, Rauf Mengal (BNM), Yousaf Talpur of PPP and others paid tributes to Bugti.

“Pakistani legendary cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has termed Bugti’s murder as ‘custodial killing.’ He said they would file an FIR against those who ordered the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Amin Fahim of Pakistan People’s Party (whose charismatic leader Benazir Bhutto lives in exile) said Bugti’s murder is an attempt to disintegrate Pakistan. Maulana Ghafoor Hydri said Akbar Bugti is a martyr.

“Meanwhile, chief minister of Balochistan Jam Yousuf made a request to the president and prime minister to hand over the body of Bugti to his kin.

“In another development, the Central Executive Committee of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) met and decided to resign from the National Assembly, the Senate and all the provincial assemblies.

“After the meeting in a statement PML (N) said now politicians are being murdered by state power. Under these circumstances PML (N) has decided to quit what it termed as ‘puppet assemblies’.”

Robi Sen has an interesting perspective in his ‘The Killing of a Nawab’: “But the big unknown is what effect Bugti’s assassination will have on ordinary Baloch people. If the rebellion becomes a mass movement, especially in towns and cities like Quetta, then the dead Nawab can cause far worse headaches for Musharraf than he ever did during his lifetime. With so little independent reporting coming out of Balochistan, it is hard to tell which way public opinion is headed.

“So much for Balochistan. The Pakistani army just proved how good it is in chasing and eliminating ‘terrorists’ who seek refuge in the remote areas bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan. The question the world should ask is, why then is it unable to do the same with that other terrorist that everyone is interested in.

“Pakistani politicians are aghast. Newspaper editors think it does not bode well. But Musharraf is unapologetic.

“Amid all this, Dawn carries a report titled: ’91-word NYT report on Bugti’s death’. The report details how little space American newspapers devoted to Bugti’s death. If the New York Times article was 91 words long, the report points out, the other big US newspapers were even more brief. And why, the Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor didn’t even report the killing.

“Reading the tea leaves to divine Washington’s position is an old Pakistani ritual. In this case, the Dawn is hinting that the United States is not about to squeeze Musharraf on his handling of Balochistan. But of course.”

This is the first time I have read an article by Robi Sen. He has an interesting blog.

Another article by Alok Bansal, a Research Fellow at India’s think-tank – Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, also offers interesting perspectives.

“British-educated Nawab Akbar Bugti, who was in his 80s and had played a major role in the politics of Balochistan for five decades, was relatively a late entrant to the cause of Baloch nationalism and till his recent falling out with the Pakistani establishment; he had been one of the pillars of Pakistani government in the region.

“He was not only the first Baloch to be nominated to the Pakistani cabinet, but also a former chief minister of the province. He had also been the governor of the province and Islamabad’s point man during the last major conflagration in Balochistan from 1973 to 1979.

“Despite the government’s attempts to paint him as an autocratic feudal despot, Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti, on account of the circumstances and the manner of his death, is destined to become a martyr of Baloch nationalism like Nauroz Khan before him.

“By killing Bugti, General Musharraf has now permanently alienated a significant section of Baloch population. He has apparently underestimated the Baloch nationalism which has led to four major insurgencies since Pakistan came into being.”

So President Musharraf if there is any truth in these reports, tighten your belt further for the likely, but really, turbulent flight ahead! Was it really necessary to get rid of a charismatic leader who was once the pillar of Pakistani establishment?

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