Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo’s impressions on Balochistan

Asif Haroon Raja

Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo son of Ghaus Bux Bizenjo, an old politician and President National Party (NP) is currently a senator. He was invited by ‘Thinkers Forum Pakistan’ chaired by former Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat on October 2012 to deliver a talk on Balochistan issue. I being a member of the forum was also present. Scholarly Col Bakhtiar Hakeem, Secretary General of this forum, is the life of this think tank.

Giving a run-through of the past events the worthy speaker started his talk by stating that other than Quad-i-Azam there was no visionary leader in Pakistan. He said that Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmad Yar Khan decided to join Pakistan on the invitation and request of Mr. MA Jinnah on March 1948. The first mistrust between the Baloch and the central government took place soon after when the brother of Khan of Kalat Prince Abdul Karim Baloch didn’t agree to the accession plan of Khan of Kalat and revolted and took refuge in Afghanistan. When he failed to muster the desired support from his hosts and other Sardars, mutual negotiations took place and he returned to Pakistan in 1950. He was however arrested and sent to Machh Jail and after trial handed down ten-year imprisonment. In his view he should have been spared.

He said that formation of One-Unit in 1956 was strongly opposed by Khan of Kalat. In 1958, another mishap took place. Khan of Kalat was invited by the then President Iskandar Mirza to Karachi and was asked to change his mind set on one-unit. He on return called a conference in which Sardar of DG Khan also participated. Nawab Nauroz who differed with others, in protest took along a small group with him to the mountains. Later on he was asked to return and by the time he agreed to return, Gen Ayub Khan had taken over. Although he was given guarantee of sparing his life on the Holy Quran, Nauroz, his two sons and nephews were arrested in October 1958 and were hanged to death. Nauroz’s sole demand was that Khan of Kalat should be released. Ayub Khan propagated that they all were a bunch of traitors.

He said that NAP under his father Ghaus Bux Bizenjo emerged as the largest political party of Balochistan and NWFP during Ayub era. It was against Ayub Khan and One-Unit scheme and had no design of dismembering Pakistan. Other parties that were against the one-unit were Jieay Sindh headed by GM Sayyed, Mian Iftikhar heading a communist party in Punjab, Khan Ghaffar Khan heading NAP in Frontier.

When East Pakistan crisis erupted in 1971 after the military operation and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman stuck to his six points and there was a political impasse, and when ZA Bhutto had declared that legs will be broken of anyone proceeding to Dacca, no political party from West Pakistan other than NAP was prepared to go to Dacca. Only Wali Khan, Ghaus Bux Bizenjo and Noorani went to Dhan Mandi in Dacca to hold parleys with Mujibur Rahman. Mujib told them that he didn’t want to break away from Pakistan but reminded Wali Khan that it was ironic that his father had opposed the creation of Pakistan and today he was persuading him to stop his secession struggle and remain within the folds of Pakistan.

He stated that Ghaus Bux Bizenjo was the only political leader from Balochistan who signed the 1973 constitution and Sardar Attaullah Mengal was the first chief minister to declare Urdu as official language for Balochistan. He also removed the prevailing notion of settlers and non-settlers in Balochistan.

In his view, the 1973 insurgency was not against the federation of Pakistan but was in reaction to dissolution of the governments of Balochistan led by Nawab Attaullah Mengal and NWFP headed by Mufti Mahmood. NAP was banned by Supreme Court and political leaders belonging to NAP and Balochistan were interned and put under trial at Hyderabad on charges of treason. Despite the fact that a huge military operation was launched, no slogan of independence was ever heard.

Mr. Bizenjo said that former Soviet Union never aspired to breakup Pakistan or had plans to invade it. Soviet quest for warm waters was hugely magnified by USA as well as by Pakistan’s ruling elite. No proof was ever given or found of the Soviet agenda and its involvement against Pakistan.

After Gen Ziaul Haq took over in July 1977, he dissolved the Hyderabad tribunal and set free the political prisoners. Although the insurgency died down in 1978, but the rot started in 1979 when the Afghan influx in Balochistan changed the demographic complexion and disturbed the security environment. NAP which had kept Balochistan-NWFP together broke up when the Pashtun leadership took its own route and Ghaus Bux formed National Party and NAP changed to ANP under Wali Khan. Khair Bux Marri in that timeframe started agitating political and economic grievances of Balochistan. Khair Bux professed that there was no future of the Baloch and that they should raise the voice of freedom and shouldn’t call back the fighters from the mountains. He formed Balochistan Popular Liberation Front (BPLF) which is at present known as BLA. Khair Bux then shifted his whole tribe to Afghanistan.

Mr. Bizenjo informed the audience that Balochistan remained most peaceful province of Pakistan from 1979 to 2005. Gawadar Port and Gawadar-Rato Dhero Road should have been made during the early 1970s to remove the economic inequities of the province. Had the mega projects been launched then, there would been no opposition and Balochistan would not have become such a volatile region as it is today. He added that from 1958 till 2005, no civilian casualty occurred as a result of insurgencies in Balochistan. It is for the first time that civilians are being killed, specially the Punjabis. He said that the Baloch had grievances against Punjab but not against Punjabis who had settled down in Balochistan in 1901. Individually there was no clash between the Baloch and Punjabis. Quetta was a Punjabi city till 2006. In the street on which Akbar Bugti lived, except his house, all other houses belonged to the Punjabis. He gave a modest figure of 1200 Punjabis killed in the ongoing insurgency and 50,000 who have migrated. According to him, all told, 2000 civilians lost their lives including 350 Baloch branded as informers at the hands of militants. Those in the government are seen as enemies of the Baloch. 350 Baloch militants and 260 Frontier Corps soldiers died in the firefight.

The guest speaker said that Nawab Akbar Bugti was never a good name in Balochistan since he had earned the reputation of being an establishment man and had aligned himself with ZA Bhutto and Gen Tikka Khan. He never associated himself with the nationalist parties. A very sick man suffering from fatal disease of gangrene, the doctors had refused administering him medicines. There was no need for the FC to attack his house and force him to dislocate to mountains from Dera Bugti and then kill him. After his death, the Baloch youth got energized which was cashed in by vested groups an d Khair Bux. Major portion of insurgents belong to the middle class and the youth mostly living in urban and semi-urban areas and a small segment is from the tribal belt. No tribal leader is leading the insurgency. He said that the Sardars and Nawabs should not be given that much weightage since they have little control over the insurgents. In the troubled districts of Chaghai, Naushki, Kharan, Awaran, Panjgur, Gawadar, there are no Sardars. Brahvis are located in the old state of Kalat belt and along Quetta-Kalat road. About the six points floated by Sardar Akhtar Mengal he said it was in bad taste and he should not have given it this name.

Balochistan is very rich in resources. Riqo Dick gold and copper project alone is worth $ 60-70 billion. Out of 52 minerals fifty are available in Balochistan. The people of Balochistan burnt coal as late as 1979 although gas was discovered in 1952. The Baloch Sardars have played no role in the uplift of the province; rather they have played a destructive role. They lead a luxurious life and prefer to live in Islamabad or Karachi. All the members of the provincial assembly are Sardars and Nawabs and except one the rest are ministers in the government who have no clue of governance. The British empowered the Sardars and governed this region through them. We did the same and failed to empower the people. Zafarullah Jamali was the PM of Islamabad and not of Balochistan. Out of the whole lot, only Khair Bux Marri and Sardar Attaullah Mengal took to militancy. The Mujahideen, Taliban, lashkars in Fata have also made our society violence prone. Methodology of the BLA militants in Balochistan is similar to the one followed by the TTP except for the difference in ideology. Extremism and violence have to be curbed and eliminated from the whole country and not Balochistan alone. Mr. Bizenjo forcefully stressed that we should stop saying that this is not our war. He said that this is our war and the militants of all hues must be dealt with sternly.

Mr. Bizenjo said that Afghanistan should not be our headache and added that the mindset of antagonism against India should be changed. He opined that war with India was impossible because of nuclearisation and suggested that conversion of Pakistan from security to welfare state is only possible through friendship with India.

He remarked that both India and Iran cannot afford disintegration of Pakistan, with Balochistan becoming an independent state since it will lead to chain reaction. 2.5 million Iranian-Baloch would rise and so would the Kurds. Iran at one time was contemplating to change the name of Seistan to Makran since it considers Makran as its part. Likewise Afghanistan would lay claims on Pashtun belt of Balochistan. India will be the biggest sufferer whose internal problems are far greater.

Mr. Hasil Khan Bizenjo is a highly respected Baloch leader imbued with high sense of patriotism. I wish him success in all his future doings.

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. Email: asifharoon7751@yaho

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