September 03, 2006

The Murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti

The Murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti

Source: IndianMavericks
A very simple adage to keep in mind about Pakistan is that if it cannot export violence to other countries, it will implode.

And that is what is happening in Baluchistan.

The Pakistani Army's decapitation strike on Nawab Bugti's command complex has succeeded. Though it is increasingly becoming apparent that Nawab Bugti was shot before he was buried in the cave, we must all remember that in Pakistan they shoot first and then arrange everything for a photo op later.

The assasination has left the Balochis seething. There has been rioting in many parts of the Balochistan and in the past the Pakistan Army has proved incapable of preventing attacks on the Sui gas production facilities. A Baloch strike on the Sui facility had successfully managed to cut the supply of gas to parts of pakistan and forced several steel mills in Punjab to close down. The anger among Punjabi steel barons had encouraged Gen. Musharraf to take a harder line on the Balochis and consequently a cantonment had been set up in Kalpars with the help of Khan Mohammed Kalpars, who is a Bugti chieftian opposed to Nawab Akbar Bugti.

It may be recalled that a number of oil companies such as Occidental Petroleum, had expressed interest in being able to carry out prospecting for oil in Bugti and Marri dominated areas. The companies were unable to carry out prospecting as the local Bugti and Marri Sardars had made additional demands on the companies. One report suggests that a Bugti chieftian had quite bluntly lectured an American oil company representive on the need to give greater revenue and benifits directly to the Baloch people. The company representative was unhappy, to say the least.

By having a funeral for Nawab Bugti attended only by members of the Kalpars and Masuri clans, the sworn enemies of the Nawab, the Pakistan Army is now rubbing salt into the Nawab's family's wounds. This may seem highly offensive to you all, but its all par for the course in Pakistan.

Every Pakistani politician has taken it upon himself or herself to rail in the media about the negative impact of the murder of Nawab Bugti on the longevity of Pervez Musharraf's reign. Given how many people are running around helter skelter, screaming on top of their lungs in Musharraf's controlled media, that the end is near, you can be certain of one thing...

Nothing is going to happen.

By making a major show of their grief at the Nawab's death at Musharraf's hands, the Pakistani political elite are divesting themselves of the cost of actually having to do something politically about it.

What rankles among most of them, is not that a veteran political leader of the Baloch people has been killed, but that a member of the RAPE (as they are called on that disreputable forum) has been murdered in broad daylight. Despite all his connections to Eton, and his British Nanny, and good friends like Mary Anne Weaver of the NYT etc... the good Nawab has fallen to the Pakistan Army's bullets. Neither the US Ambassador nor the State Department spokesman is willing to say a harsh word to Musharraf about this. After all Musharraf helped the world so much by wiping out that planned terrorist attack on US bound airplanes from Heathrow.

The RAPE aren't shedding a tear for the Baloch people, they are in fact crying about the current American induced pecking order that places Musharraf far above them. This pecking order allows Musharraf to get away with murder, not just of random homeless men accused of being Al Qaida, if Musharraf desires he could pick any member of his choice among the RAPE and simply shoot them. He could order that their bodies be arranged with a few rocks in the middle of Wana somewhere and then the BBC and CNN will dutifully report that the Pakistan Army has used their brand new F-16s to kill "Al Qaida Terrorists plotting to attack America".

Fed rich on the trickle down from the drug trade of the roaring 80s and 90s, the RAPE now whines about the death of Nawab Bugti in the hope that their plea to their western sponsors will save them from Musharraf's bloodlust.

A large number of people are talking about how India should support the Baloch insurgency. These ideas are premature. Among those that are angry over the Nawab's death, perhaps a recent event has gone unnoticed? the surrender of a large number of Marri forces to the Pakistan Army. Also unnoticed was the surrender of a number of Bugti warriors to the Pakistan Army in Quetta.

The analogies between the Baloch insurgency and 1971 are largely based on hype. The Baloch people are too thinly spread to mount the kind of effective resistance that the Bengali speaking East Pakistanis put up. Unlike the Bengali speakers who were the majority in Pakistan (45 million Bengalis v/s 25 million west Pakistanis), the Balochis are a minority. Their only tactical advantage so far has been their command of the terrain and the PA will soon overcome that with their use of the American supplied helicopter gunships. Also after 1973, the Pakistan Army mapped out all the major water sources in the region. They are now in a position to deny Baloch populations access to these at will. This tactic was very effectively used to bring Bugti to the negotiating table last year.

All things taken into consideration, the essential core of a real freedom struggle is missing in Balochistan and consequently there can be no real movement towards that goal.

A year or so ago, I was asked to comment on the security situation in Sui after the Kalpars Cantonment had commenced building. I was specifically asked to evaluate the threat to the Sui fields and to the pipelines and generations stations in the Rajanpur area. I concluded that subsequent to the deployment of a large number of Pakistan Army units, and the institution of a punitive artillery shelling policy by the Pakistan Army, any further attacks on the Sui complex or the pipelines themselves would be severely disincentivized. I stand by that assessment.

It is difficult to assign such an assessment to the security of Gwadur or other nodes in the Balochistan road network.

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