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Nawab Bugti Was a Freedom Fighter: Jamil Akbar Bugti

In August 2007, Malik Siraj Akbar interviewed Jamil Akbar Bugti, Nawab Akbar Bugti's son, on the first death anniversary of his father. They talked about Nawab Bugti's legacy and the events that followed his killing.

How do you think history will remember Akbar Bugti?

Nawab Bugti was a freedom fighter from his teenage days. He fought against the British rulers and voted for Pakistan. After independence, he fought against all dictators, starting from Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq to General Musharraf. He spent eight and half years in the jail on the charges of murder and treason. He would be remembered as a man who fought for the rights of oppressed nations of Pakistan. He sacrificed his life but did not compromise on the rights of the smaller nationalities.

They say the Nawab did nothing for the Baloch people when he was the Balochistan chief minister and the governor.

As a matter of fact, no chief minister or governor in Balochistan enjoys true administrative powers. All powers are controlled by Islamabad. Nawab Bugti too was powerless in the hands of the very strong federal government. Even he was kept in dark by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the army about the military operation conducted in Balochistan. Islamabad never trusted him. They said he was a Baloch nationalist. And if the details of the operation were divulged in front of him, he might leak them to the Baloch nationalists.

How would your respond to the widespread perception that late Bugti blackmailed the government and was secretly receiving money from Islamabad in shape of political bribe?

Had our father truly gotten what they call ‘royalty’ from Islamabad then today we all would be living in huge palaces in Switzerland. What actually happened was that the Nawab gave a piece of his land in Uch to a gas company. As a universal law, when you take someone’s property on rent under a legal agreement then you are required to pay the agreed sum to the land owner. As time passed, the gas company complained that Nawab Bugti was charging more rent than the actual 5000 acre land he had rented the company. Hence, Nawab Bugti was offended by the charges.

Later on, he asked for the re-measurement of the land. Once done under the supervision of the then Inspector General of the Frontier Corps (IGFC) Sadaqat Hussain Shah in early 2000s, interestingly, it was found out that the land given to the gas company was 7000 instead of 5000.

You know very well that my father used to stick to his Balochi Zid (stubbornness). He said okay, previously you accused me of charging you more. Now, it is the time you paid me from day one for the extra two thousand acres of land you had been using for such a long time. Initially, the FC agreed to repay the Nawab. But all in a sudden, the establishment spread the disinformation that Nawab Bugti was blackmailing the government. Such disinformation is spread in order to defame my father.

If he wanted to make money, he would have become a multi-billionaire. He gave up everything, including the position of tribal chief, and went to the hills at the age of 80 for a scared cause.

How would you justify the forceful ouster of several Kulpars [members of an opponent clan of the Bugti tribe] by Nawab Bugti?

The Kulpars broke the tribal code. They acted on the dictations of the intelligence agencies and killed my brother, Salal Bugti. Now, the same Kulpars are being portrayed by the agencies as the “victims” of Nawab Bugti’s so-called injustices. Interestingly, now the chief of Kulpar, whose grandson has been made the wadera of the area by the Military Intelligence (MI), is charged by his own grandfather, Wadera Khan Mohammad Kalpar, of having killed one of his sons.

The Kulpars themselves are outlaws. It is only that they have the protection of the state intelligence agencies. Would you not term it as a paradox that a man accused of a murder case by his own grandfather and then declared by the court as an absconder sits freely in the front row of a public gathering in Sui addressed by General Pervez Musharraf?

You see it is not difficult for the establishment to term the notorious terrorists as notables. A similar effort is being made by the military regime to portray the Kulpars, who actually killed my brother Salal Bugti, as innocent and Nawab Bugti, who fought for the rights of his nation, as a scoundrel.

What factors enticed the Nawab to go to hills?

The Nawab did not willingly go to the hills. He was rather forcefully driven out of his house. I was with him when on March 17, 2005 when the first organized assault was carried out against him in Dera Bugti. Then, they consciously chased him with the objective to kill him by hook or by crook.

What would the government get by killing your father?

What irked Musharraf the most was Bugti’s courage to challenge his authority and autocratic tendenceis. On the one hand, Musharraf thought he was the conqueror of Kargil and on the other hand, Akbar Khan had never learnt to retreat.

What are the causes of break-up in your father’s Jamori Watan Party?

Soon after the assassination of Nawab Bugti, I asked all of our legislators to give up their seats. Once they denied doing so, I said then they must quit the party. They quit but soon rejoined because a legal arrangement does not allow them to continue their assembly seats once they relinquish the membership of their respective parties.

The father of a JWP [Jamori Watan Party] MPA came to us at Bugti House and said that the Quetta Corps Commander had warned: “No way will your son resign from the Balochistan Assembly.” I told my party people: Look the military does not want you to resign. Now, you are all speaking the same language of my father’s murderers. Thus, the JWP shattered into parts. The Khosa group joined the Pakistan Muslim League (Q). I am clueless about the whereabouts of my party’s legislators, except knowing that they have all become pro-government now.

All that I am concerned about is my younger brother,Talal Bugti. I want him not to fall in the trap of the Military Intelligence (MI). I am least interested in politics. I will accept him as the president of the JWP but he should stop contacting the MI. He is no more a kid who can not differentiate between his friends and foes.

Do you support the Baloch insurgency?

What insurgency? This is no insurgency. People are defending their homes. If you attack the other people’s house and loot their property, then you are an insurgent. The Baloch are just defending their land from the attackers. We are all defensive.

Look, don’t expect us to be like the old Christens who said you should offer your second cheek if you are slapped on one cheek. Even today, if you slap a Christen, he will slap you ten times more. We are doing what the Quran has enjoined us to do: An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. As long as we are not offensive, you can’t brand us as insurgents. Even Allah says kill those who kill your people.

When do you intend to go to Dera Bugti to offer fateha on your father’s grave?

I wish I could. We are not allowed to go to Dera Bugti. Just like the Jews during the Nazis regime, the Baloch entry is banned in Dera Bugti. Even my servant will have to seek permission, which is unlikely to be granted, by the MI before going to Dera Bugti. The government is engaged in the ethnic cleansing of the Baloch people. It wants to Red Indianize us. Today, 90,000 Bugtis, as even acknowledge by General Musharraf himself, are internally displaced persons (IDPs). All the property of my father has been illegally confiscated by the army.

[Note: In response to my article Balochistan: A broken Promise? published in Dawn on March 2,2009, Jamil Bugti called me up. He said he was still not sure if the grave located in Dera Bugti was in fact that of his father. Because no one was shown the face of the man put in the coffin. Today, he still firmly stands on his demand that a DNA test of that body be conducted by an internationally independent medical team in order to find out if the dead body is that of the Nawab. Furthermore, the Bugti sons want to ascertain the actual causes for the murder of their father because Jamil still insists that the government had used lethal weapons to kill his father]

Who is going to succeed Nawab Bugti?

Presently, the Bugti tribe is at a state of war. We are not allowed to go to our area. During his life time, Nawab Bugti had considered his grandsons, Bhramdug Bugti and Mir Hali Bugti, as the first and second options respectively to succeed him. If and when there is peace in Dera Bugti, the Bugti elders will sit and decide who to choose as the next nawab of Bugti tribe. I will fully abide by the decision of the Bugti elders whosoever they pick up as the Nawab of Bugti tribe.

Are you in touch with the government for any kind of reconciliation?

No. I am only receiving constant threats from the Military Intelligence to keep my mouth shout or face death.

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