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    Posted: 20 September 2006 at 8:43am

Bugti turned into a legend

Sarmad Bashir

The present government seems traversing the path of self-destruction faster than expected, caring little for the consequences the naked state aggression might have on national solidarity. The killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti in an army attack reflects a peculiar mindset that feels no qualms about massacring those whose only sin is to raise their voice against the military operation that shows no sign of abating.

No sooner had the ISPR denied the news reports that General Musharraf congratulated the security officials on launching a 'successful operation' in Kohlu than the President announced that Bugti's killing would not stop operation against 'miscreants' to establish the writ of state in Balochistan. It is however distressing to find him telling the ruling coalition to demonstrate solidarity in its ranks rather than condemning the Kohlu tragedy.
A news report indicated that some of the ruling coalition leaders, otherwise putting on a brave face to the barbaric incident, expressed their reservation at not having been taken into confidence before the army was given a go-ahead to launch operation in a rather inaccessible mountainous region. Perhaps they can understand that hiding in a cave far away from his hometown from where he was banished some months ago, Nawab Bugti was posing no threat to the government. Nor was he obstructing the official effort to restore order in the restive province. So the question remains why was he assassinated?

But none of them had the spine to ask General Musharraf a few straight questions:

Who decided to assassinate Nawab Bugti and whether it was approved by him?

Did anyone in the internal security establishment bother to consider the possible backlash of this gruesome incident?

Did anyone ever think how the Baloch would react to the situation arising out of the targeted killing of a leader whom they not only loved but virtually worshiped?

Bugti was the first mainstream politician to have been physically eliminated since the judicial murder of Mr Bhutto. Twenty-seven years down the line it was the biggest blunder committed by another military regime that is bound to have a devastating impact on national politics.

No doubt Nawab Bugti was a bold man who always wished to die 'with his spurs on' but the credit for making him a martyr of nationalism goes to the present dispensation which compelled him to take the plunge first by attacking his residence in Dera Bugti and then driving him out of his native town along with his family and tribesmen. It didn't take the President and his uniformed aides too long to comprehend that the man with whom the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan had been negotiating was a traitor, aided and abetted by a hostile neighbouring country to create chaos and instability in Pakistan!

There has always been one serious problem with the military regimes we have had so far. They cannot really differentiate between the enemy and their own citizens when it comes to dealing with external aggression against our sovereignty or the matters of internal security, albeit self-created. Maybe from the Kargil debacle, which made the army suffer more humiliation than all its previous misadventures put together, our sacred saviours have learnt an important lesson: It's no use challenging a bigger and mightier army when they have a weaker enemy (the people of this country) to fight against and their own territory to conquer over and again.

That the State Department says that "there is nothing in the agreement with Pakistan to prevent Musharraf from using the US military aid against the Baloch insurgents," doesn't justify bombing civilian population in Balochistan with helicopter gunships in the operation ostensibly launched against 'miscreants'. TIME magazine recently reported that "the conflict (in Balochistan) has diverted Musharraf's overstretched troops and US-supplied weaponry away from the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban". The report appeared after it was officially claimed that peace would be restored in Balochistan within a month. The government would, however, have been grossly mistaken had it ever thought that Nawab Bugti's murder would bring the insurgency to an end at once.

Bugti lived with honour and died with honour.

One wonders how does the government expect the Baloch to stop taking up arms against the naked aggression especially now that the attempts to marginalise them have culminated into the elimination of a widely respected nationalist who had never incited his followers to challenge the state until driven against the wall. If he was seeking more autonomy for his province he was actually articulating the aspiration of the people of Balochistan, who need not only the protection of their life but also to keep the usurpers from depriving them of their rights and resources.


The eruption of violent protests in Balochistan which might spread to the rest of the country is the occasion for the separatist elements to gain strength. Bugti is dead but the Baloch are resolved to avenge the murder, not just his but also of hundreds of innocent citizens, including women and children, killed in the military operation launched two years ago.

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