June 16, 2006



Karachi, 16 June (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - The first post mortem on Hasan Gichki said he died of a brain haemorrhage, the second from wounds to the head and spinal cord, while the prison authorities said he died of drink. The mysterious death of Gichki, 45 an engineer married to a woman from an influential Baluchistan tribal family, took place in January 2006 in a Pakistani jail. It stirred sentiments in the restive energy-rich province - especially in the coastal belt of Makran and Gwadar, where the Pakistani government has major plans linked to oil and gas pipeline developments. Adnkronos International (AKI) has been re-tracing the conflicting accounts and evidence of how and why he died.

Gichki, former managing director of Lasbel Industrial Development Authority, left his home in March 2005, and never came back. His relatives were informed that he had been arrested by the anti narcotics force.

Some political analysts say the killing was the first blatant move by the Pakistani state to subjugate the political renegades in Baluchistan and eliminate political opponents who happen to be the chieftains of varous powerful tribes.

"The case was in fact fabricated. Since Hasan Gichki was my brother-in-law, it was an effort by the state to break us" said former chief minister of Balochistan, Akhtar Mengal at his Quetta residence. "Hasan was kept in Bostal Jail Karachi then shifted to another jail for no reason. We filed court applications, arguing his life was in danger, but no one took heed. One day we were informed he was found dead in his prison cell," he said.

Akhtar Mengal has been declared a wanted fugitive by the Pakistani authorities and a court has ordered all his properties be confiscated. "Every other day, cases are being registered against me. This is just to terrify us, and we would give up struggle for the right of the Baloch people," Akhtar Mengal maintained.

"I do not comment on Hasan Gichki's murder, but I would say that this whole family and all Baluch Chiefs are tyrants of the highest order. They consider Baluchistan their own fiefdom," said Shafiqur Rehman Mengal, an opponent of the chieftan's family, whose father is a federal state minister for petroleum.

"The area belong to Mengal tribe is completely hostage by Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal and his family. All mineral resources, cromite and other minerals are exploited by Attaullah and his family," he added.

He argued that some tribal leaders are allergic to democratic changes and intimidate their rivals. "All political parties are banned. I was Tehsil Nazim (Mayor), but I cannot walk into the Wadh market area. My office was also burnt," he said.

"Sardars killed many of their political opponents and even humilated religious personalities.
They played the same game with the state and killed six soldiers. Would any state or country tolerate this kind of attitude?" said Shafiqur Akhtar Mengal and his relatives
Gambar Gichki and Javed Mengal were also involved in drug trafficking and everybody knows that" Shafiqur Rehman Mengal alleged.

However, the Hasan Gichki murder case is complex. Adnkronos International investigated the case from Karachi up to Quetta, and it emerged that the Pakistani state never wanted him dead and that the incident ignited sentiment against the government.

One of the interviewees, Amanullah Khan Niazi, a deputy prison superintendent, was shot dead on Thursday morning in a drive-by shooting in Karachi.

He told AKI that while Gichki was a high security prisoner he had never given the prison authorities any trouble: "He was alcholic and he died because of that."

Amanullah Khan cited a bail application on behalf of the late Hasan Ghichki in which it was argued that he is physically unfit and suffering from kidney and liver problems. "When he used to appear on court hearings, he used to drink a lot," Amanullah maintained, without explaining how police and prison guards allowed him to drink liquor, which is a prohibited commodity in Pakistan."

The slain superintendent said he remembers two things vey clearly. "When any guard spoke to him harshly, he always reminded them he was a chieftan and deserved respect, and second, he could not bear name-calling," Amanullah Khan recalled.

Highly reliable sources believe name-calling was precisely what enraged him and led to his death. They say that officials of a high profile intelligence service unlawfully visited Karachi Central Jail, just hours before Gichki died. They had come on other occasions to try to find any concrete evidence against his in-laws, like Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal (former chief minister exiled for many years in London and back in Pakistan from 2002) and Sardar Akhtar Mengal, also a former chief minister of Balochistan.

Sources allege that a few hours before his death, an intelligence operative came and used the usual 'third degree' methods on Hasan, who remained silent. However when the operative insulted Hasan's mother, he became uncontrollable and, a powerfully built man, lashed out at those around them. Those who were punched and kicked by Hasan retaliated by beating him so severely that he eventually died.

The security situation in the coastal belt of Baluchistan has recently deteriorated and all non-Baluchi Pakistanis - especially Punjabis - are targets - killed while travelling in a bus or when grenades are thrown into their houses. Gichki's ghost will haunt government and its mega projects along the coastal region for a long time to come.

(Syed Saleem Shahzad/Aki)