We are fighting for Balochistan’s liberation: Brahumdagh Bugti
Malik Siraj Akbar interviews Baloch nationalist leader Brahumdagh Bugti about the newly formed Baloch Republican Party and its role in the Baloch nationalist movement.
When 79-year old Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Muhammad Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in 2006, many in Islamabad thought it was the end of the Baloch armed resistance. Soon, Islamabad hunted another charismatic Baloch fighter Nawabzada Balach Marri. But the Baloch resistance seems to have transformed into a more complicated state as the leadership shifts to the younger lot. Twenty-seven-year-old Nawabzada Brahumdagh Bugti, a grandson of late Akbar Bugti, is a leading Baloch guerilla leader. Waging a battle against Islamabad for the “liberation of Balochistan” from the rocky hills of the province, a steadfast Bugti spoke to Daily Times in an exclusive interview. DAILY TIMES: Why have you spurned Islamabad's offer for negotiations and reconciliation? NAWAB BRAHUMDAGH BUGTI: Firstly, we believe the so-called democratic government is absolutely powerless. It is the military that is directly involved in Balochistan. The new government is not powerful enough to challenge the army. While the government is extending a hand of reconciliation, a contingent of the Pakistan army consisting of 200,000 men has unleashed a new phase of military operation in Balochistan. The deployment of forces has been enhanced recently. Talks are impossible amid military operation. We will not talk on gunpoint. Secondly, the Baloch are neither begging for favours from the federation of Pakistan nor willing to share anything with Islamabad. Our demand is not provincial autonomy as believed by some people. We are fighting for complete independence of the Baloch land. The Pakistan army is determined to usurp our land, coast and natural resources. We are unwilling to give even an inch of our motherland to Pakistan. However, if the army completely withdraws from Balochistan then we will consider participating in negotiations with Islamabad. DT: But what are you fighting for? NBB: Our struggle is for the liberation of the Baloch land. In Pakistan, we have been treated as slaves for the last 60 years. Though Balochistan's accession with Pakistan was forceful, our elders still tried to co-exist peacefully with Pakistan. Our ancestors participated in parliamentary politics and hoped to get their rights through a peaceful democratic struggle. But that did not work out. Military operations were inflicted on us five times. Our resources were brutally exploited. Pakistan is solely dominated by the Punjab province. DT: Recently you were accused of taking shelter in Afghanistan and being financed from India. Is that true? NBB: I am very much present in Balochistan. However, I keep changing my location due to security reasons. If I get a chance to escape to another country – which would help me highlight the Baloch issue internationally – then I see nothing wrong with it. After all, we are an oppressed nation. If Islamabad can use American weapons to crush the Baloch people, then why should we be blamed if we seek international support? As an oppressed nation, we will wholeheartedly welcome all external support, from India and the rest of the world. DT: If you believe in an armed movement, why did you recently form the Baloch Republican Party (BRP)? NBB: You see we are not terrorists who have delightedly picked up guns. We are purely political people, fighting for a political cause. While some of us are fighting in the mountains, our political party would, at the same time, strive to create awareness among our people for their political rights. DT: Is your movement supported by all the Balochs or only the members of your own Bugti tribe? NBB: The government of Pakistan has always discredited our movement by saying that the armed movement is confined to only one district of Balochistan. This is disinformation. Not only is the common Baloch our well-wisher but he is also practically participating in the armed movement. DT: Do you think the current circumstances are favourable for an independent Balochistan? NBB: We cannot wait for favourable circumstances as much as we cannot live as slaves inside Pakistan. DT: What will happen to your movement if you are killed? NBB: I am 100 percent confident that our resistance movement would continue even if I murdered. Movements of national liberation do not hinge on individuals. DT: You were recently quoted as saying that the integrity of Balochistan was more important for you than that of Pakistan. What did you actually mean? NBB: Any Baloch who says that the integrity of Pakistan is important to him would be speaking unrealistically simply to please the government of Pakistan. We have lived in Balochistan for thousands of years. I am a Baloch. I am concerned about the future of my people. I shall not be sad but exuberant if Pakistan disintegrates. DT: Do you support the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)? NBB: Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) is not the only armed group operating in Balochistan. There are others such as the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and Baloch Republican Army (BRA). I fully support the existing armed groups and those which are in the process of joining our ranks. DT: Do you have the moral support of the international community? NBB: I only wish to inform the international community that the weapons given to Pakistan to fight Islamic terrorists and Taliban are now being used against the Baloch people and somebody should take notice of it. I would like to invite the international media and human rights organisations to witness the gross violation of the human rights by the army.
This interview was originally published in the Daily Times, Pakistan