Akbar Bugti was killed last Saturday night through a military operation that federal officials insist was conducted on the request of Balochistan government. The issue is seen by the ruling camp in the context of worsening law and order situation; the opposition insists that the incident speaks of the mindset of the rulers who want to solve political problems through the barrel of gun and thereby are paving way for country’s dismemberment.
General Musharraf has termed death of Akbar Bugti as the biggest achievement on his agenda; he has vowed to continue the operation against miscreants in the south-western province of the country. Those who are celebrating his success in Islamabad are the likes of Sherpao and Muhammad Ali Durrani. The rest in the ruling camp are feeling fortunate enough not to have responsibility to justify the murderous assault on the veteran politician of Balochistan.
On this side of the divide are also the various clans of Bugti tribe who had termed the deceased tribal chief as a traitor in an unusual Jirga held only two days before the incident. They had announced ending of tribal system in Balochistan, confiscated property of Akbar Bugti, and issued warning to the Maris who were allegedly provided shelter to their absconder. These people say they feel relieved over the death of Akbar Bugti as they have got rid of an oppressor tribal chief who had killed innocents, constructed private jails and was supporting the cause of state enemies to further his personal interests.
On his part Nawab Akbar Bugti was fighting for the rights of Balochs. In the last days of his life he was a nationalist par excellence who saw his life not more important than preventing Balochistan from being colonised by Punjab and selling out of its mineral and coastal resources to the ‘foreigners’. In his various interviews he gave to the private news channels, he made it clear that the federation will have to face tough resistance and meet more dire consequences than that of 1971 if it did not abandoned its militaristic path for resolving the otherwise political issues.
Irrespective of the blame game, Akbar Bugti was a towering personality. His services for Pakistan are a matter of record. He was among the people who defeated the forces opposed to the inclusion of Balochistan into Pakistan. He, contrary to Maris and Mengals, let the country benefit from the oil and gas resources of his personal and tribal property.
Throughout his life he remained willing to find out ways to make Pakistan governable. He never went on the path of separation like other nationalists of his province did. Even now he was not ready to buy up the blame of treason. Though Islamabad believed he was patronising the so-called Baloch Liberation Army, his only answer was that the culprits should be dealt in the befitting manner.
In a country where men lack integrity and uprightness, it is unfortunate that Pakistan has lost Akbar Bugti. He was a sort of politician who should have been sought for advice to resolve the issues ailing the country since the times of partition. He was insulted and dishonoured instead. He was kicked off from Islamabad and was not spared even in his own citadel, Dera Bugti. The nation should be worried by his wishing that his tribesmen should kill him instead of handing him over to Pakistan Army.
Now when he is dead, it is of no use to condemn him for his royal deeds. He defended to his last breath his prestige and honour that he had inherited from his forefathers. He did not surrender when he was asked to obey the new rules of the game, Musharraf and his friends are up to introduce in the Pure Land. He had a world and lived in it without any fear of interference from the outside. When earth became too narrow on him in Dera Bugti he ‘migrated’ to mountains and returned, never.
Probably Bugti was too stubborn to understand emerging realities of national and international politics. It is also possible that he could not assess how strong the will of the government to establish its writ was. May be, he was unable to understand the logic behind Centre’s resolve to convert tribal belt of the country into zone A. But who is wrong is not a right question as far as one is living in the Pure Land because the ways of those who claim to be walking on straight path are also questionable.
General Musharraf is not alone to celebrate the demise of Akbar Bugti. There are many who considered him one of the last hurdles in the development of the resource rich province of the country. Still, happy over his death are the intelligentsia who think Balochistan should also share the burden of population that is hurting the economy and, ultimately, the morale of the areas on the lower side of the Indus River. There are also some foreign friends who must be rejoicing on the death of Akbar Bugti, for he did not approve the Gwadar Port.
Akbar Bugti has left behind him a legacy that is too dangerous for the federation. He has become hero for the nationalists of the country who consider Punjab as the major source of poverty and underdevelopment the rest of the provinces are living with. He has expired but every thing he was identified with him lives on.
General Musharraf’s real problem is that his supporters can’t fight street battles. The so-called silent majority on whose behalf he has taken such a daring step is divided against itself. His allies are the greatest hypocrites the world has ever had; they support him in his face but ridicule him in public gatherings. Yes, he has no enemies and one wonders if he needs them in the presence of so many friends who guide him on the way to govern as difficult land as Pakistan.
Where to place the death of Akbar Bugti now, is a million-dollar question for the intelligentsia of Pakistan. If it is a murder then the whole lot of politicians should walk into the death cell for they knew it very well what the military operation in Balochistan was meant for. If it is about establishing the writ of law, only angels can speak truth. But silence, too, is not an option, for it has already brought deadly storms in the land. One of such storm came in 1971 leaving Pakistan half-limbed. So the nation must prepare itself to live with the dilemma Bulleh Shah spoke about centuries ago: “It is difficult to be silent but speaking truth is also dangerous”.