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Baluchistan: Yesterday And Today

20 January, 2006

By Asim Muzaffar


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Even when the British government had consented to creation of India and Pakistan as independent states, one thing continually badgered Churchill`s mind. It was concern about downtrodden masses who would groan under tyranny of Nawabs, Waderas and Chaudhris, after the Englishman`s exit from the Sub-Continent. Churchill believed that the Englishman`s legacy in the Sub-Continent was a modicum of justice and rule of law.
 
No-one better knew the psyche of the feudal lords better than the Englishman himself. Loyalty to the British crown was sine qua non of being a protégé of the British Raj. After all, the Wadera icons were the Englishman`s own creation. Of all the lords, the conduct of Akber Bugti baffles one`s wits. His father, Mehrab Khan, was given title of `Sir` by the English rulers and allotted land not only in the Punjab but also in the Sindh province. Akber Bugti, former governor of Baluchistan (1972), owns houses in Quetta, Sibi, Jacobabad, Kendkot, Sanghar, besides his native house in Dera Bugti along with about 12,000 acres of land.
 The Waderas in the yesteryears used to be tyrannical only to the inhabitants of their own constituency, not to the whole country. The situation appears to have changed now. Is it justified to aid or abet blowing up of gas pipelines, shooting at army helicopters, dragging the innocent Punjabi from the Punjab-bound buses and shooting them point-blank, looting buses going to the other provinces.
Will killing innocent passengers lead to forced payment of money by the gas companies, in addition to agreed royalty? By no stretch of logic, such a step could be justified. The matter needs a closer pry by the government into the psyche of our Baluch lords. Why Pak army can`t build cantonments on Pak soil?
The grievance appears to stem from the perception that lion`s share of windfall gains from the multi-billion dollar Gwador port and city project will go to affluent and influential non-Baluchi civilians and non-civilians. Well, that issue could be sorted out at talks.
In terms of area, Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan. It covers 43.6 per cent of the country`s total area with only 5 per cent of the total population. It is rich in natural resources. Pakistan`s industrial infrastructure mainly depends on the gas and coal of this province. The gas from Dera Bugti meets 60 per cent of Pakistan`s, mainly Punjab`s, domestic and industrial needs. The province has 200 coal mines, which again meet the industrial requirements of Punjab. The province is rich in marble and mineral wealth which is being explored by foreigners under contracts from the Government of Pakistan. Baluchistan benefits from the resources of the other provinces just as the other provinces benefit from the resources of Baluchistan. The Nawabs receive crores of rupees as royalty for the gas transmitted. They are to be blamed for the backwardness of the province. Why don`t they spend a pittance out of the received money on economic development of the province?
A few months back, gas pipelines in Dera Bugti, the source of the Sui Gas, were frequently attacked by missiles. The government said the attackers were men of Bugti chief Nawab Akbar Bugti, who was giving them protection. Nawab Akber Bugti, former chief minister of Baluchistan, could not stop the attacks? The Pakistan government sent about 50,000 para military troops to protect sensitive installations in Dera Bugti in June.
 In his interviews with foreign media, Nawab Akbar Bugti said that the gas of Balochistan was being stolen by other provinces since a long time. And, it was inevitable for the people to rise. In other words he indirectly agreed that the Bugtis, whose area the gas comes from, were blowing up the pipelines. He also said that Bugti tribes were doing what the people of Kashmir were doing.
It appears to be cruel to compare Balochistan with Indian Held Kashmir, where half a million Indian troops have killed over seventy thousand men, women and children.
In Bugti-dominated area, though the currency is Pakistani, orders of Nawab Akbar Bugti are supreme. The Dera Bugti administration appears paralysed. Ghulam Qadir`s brother and son were in Akbar Bugti`s `prison`, but the administration dare not interfere in the matter.
 In the Sui-gas-fields area, Akbar Bugti initially owned no land. In collusion with revenue officials he got 7,000 acres transferred in his name. He has been receiving royalty from two gas companies at the rate of Rs. 14,000/- per acre, to the tune of ten crore rupees annually. But this land was the property of the Kalpar tribe.
In 1992 armed Bugti tribesmen forcefully evicted six thousand Kalpars and Masuri Bugtis and occupied their lands, gardens and houses. These people are wandering hither and thither in different districts.
 Unless the concept of a state within a state is upheld, durable peace in Dera Bugti will remain a dream. The federal and provincial governments should make the gas and oil fields safe, and should return the lands allotted to Nawab Akbar Bugti to their real owners.
There are two issues here: the dispensation of Sui gas royalties, and warlordism. As far as the first is concerned, the government`s spokesman has assured that royalty is being given at the agreed rate of twelve-and-a-half percent. The ostensible reason for blowing up the pipelines was that the period of the agreement had expired. And, a new agreement was required to be drafted between the parties. The actual reason appeared to be that the interested parties wanted to dictate their terms into the new agreements.
 There is no reason why the government should give in to pressure. In law, according to the concept of `eminent domain` and Islamic concept of Maslaha Mursala (broader public interest), the government has a preferential claim on the natural resources. It can even forcible acquire the gas-fields land. The government should bring home this point to the Nawabs. The root cause of the problem is the medieval Sardari system in Baluchistan. This system is responsible for suppression of the common man. This system should be abolished. If the Sardars of today had not been constantly loyal to the Englishman, he would have dis-knighted them.
Not all the Nawabs are so malevolent, as our Baluch scions of Nawabs. Nawab of Kalabagh tried to abolish the Sardari system by setting up about 40 police stations in Balochistan. However, General Moosa was averse to the policy. The government should seriously consider such steps as would effectively extend its writ in every nook and corner of Baluchistan. The Sardari system must be abolished. Meanwhile, a study should be undertaken to evaluate loyalty and political nuisance of the Nawabs, Sardars, Waderas, and so the like. For instance, we know that in the 1993 elections for the president, Akbar Bugti backed Sardar Farooq Leghari, and consequently, relations were cordial between him and Benazir Bhutto. By 1994, differences began to crop up between the PPP and the Jamhoori Watan Party. These differences transformed into an open clash during election of the Senate`s Chairman in March 1994. Then, the PML candidate, Wasim Sajjad, won with support of the JWP.
 If the Sardars are not loyal to the national interests, what is the fun of propping them up with government`s patronage? Why not take corrective action to cut them to size?

Reader Comments:

Sad to say the Pakistani elite only looks after its own interests - Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, our Generals et al. Akbar Bugti truth be told, and I've checked the facts, owned the land in Sui in 1952. The Kalpur Bugtis did live there but the land was not legally owned by them, such was the life then. The Government of Pakistan entered into a lease agreement with Akbar Bugti for the Sui land. What you now hear is untruths which perhaps appeal to your point of view.
The Baloch sardars are accused of ruling by the gun, at least they are restricted to 20% of balochistan. What about the people who have ruled Pakistan by the gun for the majority of the past 50 years?

Amused, Pakistan - 20 January, 2006

Developing Pakistan

Undeveloped muslim resource region is infected with killing looting .Always it
Involved gas oil iron ore gold marble LNG sui Gas water.These muslim
Are not really muslim with basic Iman.Ministers can keep glory in
Pakistan for little work they did which is Called progress.But Muslims
do go bury their dead by religion like pretending atheist Who go
using Christian or using Other religion format. Fruit pickers these
days have one thing in common.They have carved favour of few .
Million of Muslim have perished or living without adequate
Provision .In fact Muslims 95% do not even have car or basics.
Pakistan economy is saturated 60% in tiny area with next to nothing
population.On what basis few ruling class muslim leaders surround
themselves with foreign soldiers foreign expertise allocating expenditure
as if money comes from bank card bank machine loan or workers (oversea)
or via donation in the name of earthquake misery.Seeing Pakistan
resource going waste or being looted was heart breaking In my
recent evaluation trip. Gas and few money makers could have been
used to make Pakistan Industrialized instantly.


bulue _zacaria, Georgia - 20 January, 2006

Awesome story

I am happy to read that Peoples like you have there eyes open and watching the Balucistan issues very closely. i totally agree with the writer and i think its about time that Goverment is taking some sort of actions.

J. Ahmed, Aruba - 20 January, 2006

This is probably the first EXCELLENT article i have read on this website...the paktribune website is great with all the news and quick updates ...great stuff guys hats off too you all...but some of the writers i should say lack common knowledge...but Asim Muzaffar this article is great...thanks for writing such a great article and i hope it opens the eyes of many people...i really liked the facts you have posted too

Asfar Siddiqui, United Kingdom - 21 January, 2006

balochistan

this person must be payed by army or must be punjabi

vp, Pakistan - 21 January, 2006

Akbar Bugti

Its high time that all the land and illegally occupation of territors by Bugti and others be confiscated and Akber Bugti charged with the crimes against the State. He and others who are left overs of British Raj be dealth with the same way so that normality to life in Baluchistan is returned. At the moment he is a thorn and playing with the people of Baluchistan and their destiny which is not on. Gen. Musharaf got to come out with his power together with the present government to take severe action so that progress is achieved and taxes are paid to the treasury instead of going into his pocket. No one is above the law and culprits must be punished.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 22 January, 2006

Reply to Mr Mohammad

Sir may I remind you to collect your data first and then comment on any matter. The British had not just handed us these thousands of acres of lands but instead we had to fight for these lands. In Sanghar we had fought the Pir Pagara at that time in order to get these lands. None of this was illegal and when this nation came into existence we had the right documents and papers, why hadnt anyone questioned us at that time? Do they realise this now that we have such vast lands? At least we fought for our lands unlike the punjabis who had recieved their lands from the Sikhs. Why doesnt the government turn its eye towards the Punjabi Chaudhris with their lush green fields by usurping Sindh,s share of the water. As for the "ROYALTY" we have never recieved any but instead the government of balochistan is being paid a small amount of money by Islamabad to keep their mouths shut and that small amount of money is also not being spent on us. The question of why NAWAB AKBAR KHAN BUGTI does not spend on his people, let me tell you that since our fore fathers time there used to be a "LANGHAR" to increase your knoledge a "LANGHAR" is where all the people of the land come and have food at the NAWAB'S expense. So before pointing the dirty end of the stick towards us, get your facts straight, and dont just listen to one side of the story hear the other side as well.

washane, Pakistan - 23 January, 2006

No matter what...


No matter who you are (Baloch, Pujabi or Japanese) - where you're from (the villages in Balochistan, Karachi or even Amsterdam) - no matter what you are (religious or non-believing) - no matter what the history of Balochistan, the Sardars, the Royalties and so on is in your history book - NOTHING can EVER justify the horrible military attacks on villages occupied by women and children. Whatever your perspective is you should never condone the killing of (innocent) people... Keep that in mind before you encourage the punjabi army to carry on with their hostile presence in Balochistan.

No matter who is at fault - and many will blame the British, the Indians, americans, punjabis and even the Baloch - genocide will no solve the problems that are so evident in Balochistan.

Mr. Muzzafar points out that "the root cause of the problem is the Sardari system" - well if it is such a problem why is it only the lands where minerals and natural ressources are that are important to the army (i.e Kohlu and Dera Bugti)?? What about the rest of Balochistan?Why are the Marris and the Bugtis suddenly the enemy of the people AND the state. I always thought the state was the enemy of the people??! Besides who are we kidding - the root cause is money and wanting more of it! Whatever excuse or explanation the government issues – i sincerely hope the people of Pakistan soon realize THAT!

Mohammad in the UK claims that Balochistan should be rid of the Sardars to "return the Baloch peoples life to normal"?? What exactly IS normal life in Balochistan - a vast area - mostly desert where literacy rates are extremely low - electricity almost non-existent - hardly any Gas supply (only in towns that have military compounds) - a generally terrible infrastructure and a ever-growing presence of paramilitary as well as army troops (whose only aim is to suppress and be a threat to the Baloch masses) This is NOT the UK Mr. Mohammad from the UK. People here need the basic necessities and a sense of peace. They will never achieve these goals that are common for man all over the world and should be a given right - as long as the government continues to govern Balochistan as a colony and offer them minimal funding to improve the infrastructure.

To the others who have applauded Mr. Muzaffar for his serious article full of "facts" - I hope you soon realize that every story can be told differently - what the truth is can be a tricky subject. Unfortunately the people who win the war choose what truths are told...and remembered.


hassan, Czech Republic - 24 January, 2006

Bugits, Kalats, et al

Sadly all of you have either intentionally overlooked or perhaps just don't know that immediately after the birth of Pakistan, the "government", which mainly was made up of the landed gentry, Liaqat Ali, Nazimuddin and the rest of the wealthy but extremely inept lot somehow managed to legislate law that was supposed to bring about the dissolution of fuedal landownership. Here is the important aspect of that law: The law was "supposed" to be applied across the entire nation, meaning both East and West Pakistan. Incredibly, this law was only applied to the Eastern wing and more than any, the Nawab family of Dacca amongst other in East Pakistan lost was the worst off! Nazimuddin being from that family and weak as he was gave in to the bullying of the West Pakistani leadership did not utter a word of protestation. Instead two things resulted...First,the Bhuttos, Kalats, Bugtis and the rest of them remained in power and lorded over the poor, the uneducated and the disenfrancised...a form of slavery, if you will. The second was the sowing of the seed that finally bore fruit in the form of Bangla Desh! The Eastern part had been pushed to the limits since the very start of Pakistan. Now, with all that's happening in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan...ask this of yourself and the current government....in all the years since 1947, why has the percentage of the educated population in Pakistan remained so very low! Are the Bugtis, Kalats and the rest of the slave masters afraid their "position" will be challenged or more specifically their "gaddis" will be threatened? Regardless of who purchased or "inherited" whatever land and wherever, the time to reposition and redistribute the "fortunes" ill-gotten as they have been, is well over due! Again and again, repeatedly I have said and will continue to opine, legally, maybe through discussion and if all else fails then maybe by force abolish fuedal land ownership, educate the TOTAL population of Pakistan and restart the journey! Maybe and hopefully this time there will be different and positive results. From my vantage point the impression is that Pakistan is gasping for a last chance to survive poor and inept leadership. Please allow this experiment to succeed, give it educated, selfless governance. If it's not Musharraf, then someone else should put Pakistanis and Pakistan above all else. Once and for always!

redauqs, United Kingdom - 30 January, 2006

No attack on villages or genocide

Your claims of genocide and civilian-targeting are lies. The government is pursing violent tribesmen who have the blood of Pakistanis on their hands. That is the right thing to do and will continue.

Aamir Ali, Pakistan - 27 March, 2006

INDEPENDENT BALUCHISTAN

I URGE PEOPLE IN INDIA, US, IRAN AND RUSSIA TO HELP THE CAUSE OF MOVEMENT FOR AN INDEPENDENT BALUCHISTAN. PEOPLE OF BALUCHISTAN WANT FREEDOM FROM PAKISTANI ARMY AND PAKISTAN.

Pakistan is looting our resources. Its army is wrecking havoc in our public life. PAKISTAN ARMY has taken away our freedom and our prosperity.

PAKISTAN is engaged in genoside of the Baloch people. AN INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC BALUCHISTAN is the need of the hour.



Azhar Masood, Pakistan - 22 April, 2006

reply from a Pakistani

Pakistani forces are targeting violent tribesmen. Tell the tribes to stop violence.

Aamir ali, Pakistan - 30 December, 2006

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