The Story of Bugti’s Death
From: Behind the Chairman’s Door
I am taking a break from writing the Pakistan’s Bermuda Triangle series to discuss what happened in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province early this morning. Some people are making very interesting comments about Akbar Bugti, but noone wants to tell the true story of what caused the action by the military early this morning, so here we go.
Nawab Akbar Bugti (leader of the Bugti tribe), his grandson and 37 militiants were killed early this morning in a massive military operation in Tartani, Baluchistan. I personally don’t have much respect for anyone who is a Nawab and I will explain why, but this discussion is more about the man than the designation he held. Since my family’s background is from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which is littered with Nawabs, we have a lot of personal experience with these “leaders” and their methods of control, which I will try to explain.
A Nawab is the king of a specific area. These are remnants from the British rule that used to exist in Pakistan. The British, when pulling out of Pakistan in 1947, gave massive amounts of land to individuals to rule and control as they wished. Traditionally, the Nawab has never allowed the government to interfere in the workings of their area to the point of taking armed resistances. How do people live in these areas? Everyone who lives and works in an area that has a Nawab is under their control, not the government’s. They receive no benefit from the government nor is the government allowed to enter these areas. Now, it should be clear that these people only exist in the tribal areas of Pakistan (except in Bugti’s case), which are extremely backward and kept that way by these same Nawabs. By backward, I mean no education, no rights, no property ownership, unless the Nawab says so. For example, as a subject under a Nawab, you are required to work their lands, defend their home, and pay a “tax” from your earnings to them. In return, they will exercise a violent rule over the people, jailing them at will, seizing their lands and punishing them for whatever they feel.
If you look at a map of Pakistan, you will see certain areas that are specifically marked as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which are mainly on the border with Afghanistan. These areas were set up to absorb the massive Afghani refugee population during the Soviet occupation and their loyalties are firmly with Afghanistan. For those who watch the news, you may have heard the name South Waziristan, Khyber Agency, Mohmand Agency, which are all FATA areas and are the sources of terrorism and massive weapons stores that are used to keep the government out, militiants in and Nawabs in power.
As a matter of fact, my home area of Pakistan was once ruled by a Nawab that gave up power in 1971, when it became part of Pakistan. Prior to that, it had its own military, civil (government), educational and medical structure and did not incorporate itself with any of the laws and regulations of the Government of Pakistan. In 1971, when it formally became part of Pakistan, Wali Swat, our Nawab, gave up his control of the region and disassembled the military militia. But when Wali Swat was in power, the system of government was based on executive order from the Nawab, nothing was written down and everything operated on the whims of the Nawab. But I digress….
When it comes to this Nawab, Akbar Bugti, who is British educated, you are talking about the most extreme form of Nawabdom that Pakistan has ever seen. Akbar Bugti established his Nawabdom on Pakistani soil, not in a FATA, making him answerable to government laws. Akbar Bugti has been a staunch ally of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was exiled by President Musharraf for corruption, extrajudicial killings and various other crimes against the state. He has served as Chief Minister of Baluchistan and was a member of the National Assembly. He hates Pakistan’s other ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto because she allowed rival tribesman to return to Dera Bugti after Bugti kicked them out of the region. When President Musharraf came to power, his first act was to re-settle 10,000 tribesman back into Dera Bugti, again after Akbar Bugti had kicked them out and seized their lands. But none of this is the reason for what happened in the early hours of the morning. Akbar Bugti was involved in anti-state activities. As the President said in July, “Dera Bugti has a population of 9,000; 5,000 of which are now able to return to their homes, with land, cattle and the promise of a better life.”
In December of 2005, while President Musharraf was visiting Baluchistan, Bugti instructed his militia to launch a rocket attack against the President. Earlier this year, Bugti fled Dera Bugti to the mountains when the military started a crackdown against his militia and the illegal arms holds. When I say arms holds, I am not talking about shotguns and grenades; I am talking about rockets, surface to air missiles, mortars, automatic weapons among other military equipment. GEO TV, Pakistan’s largest satellite channel, has been broadcasting recent video footage of Bugti in the mountains watching weapon capabilities being demonstrated, from shotguns to rocket launchers. For almost 7 months, he has been living in a cave, which could only be reached via a long camel ride through the mountains, and using his militia to fight the Pakistan Army. Over the course of the year, hundreds of his tribesman and commanders have accepted amnesty offers from the government and had started handing over their weapons because they were tired of fighting the Army. However, Bugti was not ready to give up the resistance, which brings us to the events of the past few days….
On August 23rd, 2 Army helicopters while flying surveillience missions over the areas were met with ground fire, resulting in the downing of 1 helicopter and heavy damage to the second. The Army sent another helicopter to the area to perform search and rescue, but it was also fired upon and was able to return to base with minimal damage. On the 24th and 25th, another ground search operation was started against the suspected camps where the firing came from, where the Army was again attacked with rockets, machine gun and mortar fire which resulted in the death of 2 additional soliders and 3 injuries. On the 26th, the Pakistan Army started airstrikes against the caves where he was hiding, collapsing the cave after ground forces came under heavy fire.
Bugti and his militia are credited with the numerous bombings of the natural gas pipeline running through Baluchistan, attacks on power generation plants and towers. This militia and its leader believed it to be their mission to destabilize the government and cause untold losses to the national resources. Why did he do it? Because Bugti claimed that the natural gas that was in Baluchistan’s earth belonged to his tribe and they should recieve a larger share of the profits for allowing its provision to the rest of the nation. In his words, “The gas belongs to me. It is a Baluchi resource.”
Now, you are probably wondering, why did this guy take so much time to explain all of this? If you check any Pakistani newspaper, satellite television channel or web blog, you will find people singing the praises of Akbar Bugti and calling him a “Shaheed” (Martyr), which is unjustified. A martyr dies for an honorable cause, Bugti died for other reasons.
From 2 am Pakistan time to the writing of this entry, I have been glued to the television listening to the various political and religious leaders saying that the military operation was unjustified and it could have been resolved by discussion. Hmm… let’s see: Militant walks away from the bargaining table because he isn’t getting what he wants, goes into hiding in the mountains and launches attacks on the Pakistan Army with illegal weapons (successfully shooting down a helicopter and killing Pakistan Army soldiers) and the government should invite him for tea? That’s like asking Osama bin Laden to lay down his weapons and war cry against the West by sitting down at a table and talking to George Bush and Tony Blair? Do you think it would work? When you take a militant stand, you will be dealt with as a militant; not as a politician. I was most shocked at ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pouring accolades on this man and comparing him to historically respected leaders of Pakistan. What a farce! A corrupt Prime Minister that begged to be exiled to Saudi Arabia, after plundering the country exchequer, only to move to the UK for “medical reasons (read hair transplant).” But then the UK has traditionally been a haven for the criminals of Pakistan like Nawaz, Benazir Bhutto and other Pakistan politicians that won’t return to Pakistan to face numerous criminal charges. A request for the UK government, these people have stolen millions, if not billions, from Pakistan and placed the funds in your country, how about you help Pakistan out and bring them to justice for us?
Now, I don’t want to go as far as calling his militia terrorist in nature, but let’s look at the events immediately after Bugti’s death was announced:
- Massive weapons cache of rockets, surface to air missiles, mortars, automatic weapons among other military equipment
- 2 banks were set on fire in Quetta, Baluchistan
- 16 cars at Baluchistan University and the Bolan Medical College’s (Baluchistan) bus were set ablaze (200 students arrested)
- Borders from Baluchistan to Punjab and Sindh were sealed by the Army
- Quetta has had a full lockdown curfew enforced with the Army patrolling the streets
- Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad Police were put on high alert with predominately Baluchi areas put under lockdown
- All airports, rail stations and bus terminals have become heavily patrolled areas by the police, Rangers and Army
Even though the whole country is bracing for retailiation, I don’t want to call his militia terrorist in nature…..
On the bright side, through the morning, updates reported on the various domestic news channels that people were going to the mosques to give prayers of thanks that this tyrant was removed. People from Dera Bugti are happy, especially when Minister for Information M A Durrani announced that the Bugti lands, bank accounts and assets had been seized by the government and would be re-distributed to the people that had suffered under this tyrant’s rule.
The military has vowed to continue the operation until all terrorist activities are brought to an end. So for the remaining Nawabs and militants in Pakistan, either shape up or ship out. Your days are numbered and we are looking forward to a new Pakistan.