|Balochistan vs General Pervaiz Musharraf
Daily: Daily Times
On last Wednesday March 14 and Thursday March 15, under the heading ‘Understanding
Balochistan’, General (retired) Pervaiz Musharraf’s piece appeared (in two parts) in a
national English daily. The quality of writing indicated that Dubai must be short of ghost
writers; otherwise, better written stuff could have been produced. If a piece of writing is a
criterion to judge a writer’s intellectual caliber, one wonders who the fellows are inviting
General Musharraf to deliver lectures and make him earn millions of dollars. The reason to
attend his lectures is still explicable but the rationale to pay him in millions is beyond a
Pakistani’s understanding. The public money of some foreign countries must be
squandered by the ghost paymasters.
Last Friday, on a talk show hosted by the TV channel associated with the same daily,
General Musharraf chided Nawaz Sharif for his sympathies with the Baloch and tried to
provoke him on the issue of the killings of the Punjabis in Balochistan. It was a cheap shot.
Was Dr Shazia Khalid a Baloch? General Musharraf did not mention the Dr Shazia rape
case that led to a confrontation between him and late Nawab Akbar Bugti. In fact, as the
death of Bushra Zaidi in April 1985 in a traffic accident changed Karachi for ever, the rape
of Dr Shazia Khalid in January 2005 changed Balochistan for ever.
The second reason for the Musharraf-Bugti conflict was the construction of a military
cantonment in the Sui area. Late Nawab Bugti was of the view that gas was discovered in
1951 and there had never been any problem of security for the gas installation, then what
was the need to set up a military cantonment in Sui in 2004-05.
On the talk show, General Musharraf also wondered how come the issue of Balochistan be
raised at the US Congress by the exiled Baloch. He seems oblivious of the reality that
human rights transcend geographical boundaries: it is ‘human rights beyond borders’
formula haunting Pakistan now. Notwithstanding their ethnic identity, dissenters have an
equal right to survive in Pakistan. They can be convinced and won over but they cannot be
abducted and killed. The difference between these two extremes is the level patience. The
impatient General Musharraf discarded the recommendations of Shujaat-Mushahid
committee which had negotiated with Nawab Bugti. The committee’s report should be made
In his write-up, General Musharraf claimed to have done a number of development projects
in Balochistan. His efforts must have made him popular amongst the Baloch, as he himself
says that the heads of only three tribes (Marri, Bugti and Mengal) agitated against his
policies, as they were indisposed to development done in their areas. One can surmise that
General Musharraf must be very popular amongst the ethnic Baloch who are not members
of these three tribes. To rebut his critics, why does General Musharraf not contest an
election from an area (such as Turbat) in Balochistan not inhabited by any of these three
Pakistanis are interesting creatures. They tend to question loyalties of one another. In
search of ‘who is a better Muslim’, thousands have been sacrificed in Pakistan. Similarly, in
search of ‘who is a better Pakistani’, thousands have been abducted and killed without
compunction. No one in Pakistan knew about the theme ‘Pakistan first’ until General
Musharraf surfaced to divulge that. To vindicate his theme, General Musharraf first
constituted the NAB and then utilized it to blackmail politicians to build up his political
support group called the PML-Q.
In the case of Balochistan, by manipulating the elections of 2002, Musharraf excluded the
Baloch nationalist politicians and brought in new faces to form the Balochistan version of
the PML-Q. The approach also undermined the authority of the moderate Baloch political
leaders who used to talk about their rights within the realm of the federation. Consequently,
the representative Baloch voice was muffled which let the anger brew among the Baloch
and led to the demand for independence.
General Musharraf’s three sardars (tribal chiefs) model says that sardars are averse to
development. The Marri dwell mostly in Kohlu District, the Bugti inhabit Sui and Dera Bugti
and the Mengal live in Khuzdar and Noshki Districts. Demographically, all three together
constitute about 10% of the total population of Balochistan. Now, when the sardars are
gone, some are killed, some are in exile, then why cannot the military or the FC restore law
and order in the rest of Balochistan?
Secondly, the RCD highway from Quetta to Karachi passes through the Mengal area and
was constructed in the 1970s. Sardar Attauallah Mengal and his son, Sardar Akhtar
Mengal, remained chief ministers. They always participated in parliamentary elections, and
wanted autonomy within the state of Pakistan. If they were anti-establishment or anti-
development, why did they allow construction of a cantonment and an engineering
university in Khuzdar before General Musharaf's rule?
What General Musharraf has asked the ethnic Baloch is to barter away their political rights
for the development work he did in Balochistan. The Baloch are declining that proposition.
General Musharraf might have eliminated 67 Ferrari (rebel) camps but the question is: why
there was no such Ferrari camp before 1999? Secondly, why was there no voice for the
independence of Balochistan from the three Baloch tribes before 1999?
General Musharraf’s approach to deal with the ethnic Baloch created so much loathing for
the federation in Balochistan that it seems difficult to bring the people back in the
mainstream. The mode of burial of the dead body of Nawab Bugti elicited a huge reaction
from the Baloch youth, who is now spearheading the unrest. The elimination of Balaach
Marri in 2007 added fuel to the fire. Subsequently, abductions and appearance of mutilated
dead bodies did the rest of damage. The Baloch youth are not even listening to the
moderates. Even those who are in exile have become the victims of circumstances, as now
they cannot draw back from their stated positions. Certainly, General Musharraf committed
a crime against the federation of Pakistan.
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