Friday, September 15, 2006
It would be fair to say that the killing of the Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti has shocked many if not most of Pakistan – the 99.65% civilian part that is.
The general feeling is that this was one step too far for Musharraf to take.
Many people believe – including your Blogger – that the little man in Musharraf was incensed by the derision Akbar Bugti often directed towards his burgeoning sense of self-importance. This was made obvious when he made pejorative references to Nawab Bugti as a ‘pygmy’ and ‘non-Nawab’ in his televised speeches.
The first attempt to kill Bugti was made on 17th March 2005 when high-tech TOW missiles rained all around the Nawab as he moved around his private grounds in Dera Bugti. Then luck was with him as several of people accompanying him perished in the sudden aerial attack. Sadly seventeen Hindus of Dera Bugti, who had taken shelter nearby, also died after being subjected to a direct hit.
The second attempt to assassinate him took place in early July 2006 when after some PAF bombing sorties and dozens of helicopter gunship missile attacks, elite SSG commandos were dropped near Bugti’s mountain hideout. In the ensuing firefight in which the commandos suffered heavy casualties, Nawab Bugti made a successful escape and sought sanctuary, as we now discover, in the Bhambore hills, between Kohlu and Dera Bugti.
On Saturday the Army said their interception of a satellite phone call led security forces to Bugti’s latest lair. A ferocious firefight took place in which it is believed that 25 commandos and between 24-37 Baloch rebels died – including the venerable Nawab Akbar Bugti. Upon hearing the news of Bugti’s death, Dawn reported, Musharraf was quick to congratulate his troops.
Not surprisingly the news of Nawab Bugti’s killing led to a frenzied response in Balochistan as the whole province came to a standstill amid public protest.
Caught on a hop Musharraf began dissembling. No, said the ISPR spokesman, Bugti had not been a target – which is pure piffle. Then came an extremely muddled response from the usually glib ex-Jamaati Minister for Information. Durrani prattled on about a cave which had seemingly collapsed with the Nawab in it, ‘We are now searching for his body’, he said.
Hang on, Akbar Bugti was an eighty-year old man incapacitated with a muscle-wasting disease and unable to walk. How could the army have so confidently announced that they had killed him if he had been trapped within the depths of a cave?
On the other hand the account of the BLA spokesman Azad Baloch, broadcast last night on BBC’s Urdu Service, is much more credible. According to him, having tracked down the Bugti chief on a hillside the commandos and the Baloch engaged in a bitter battle out in the open. Outnumbered the Baloch were all killed and Akbar Bugti’s body was identified among the slain. The army has no intention of handing over the deceased Nawab’s body to his heirs, hence the subterfuge about digging out the cave searching for a body that will not be found.
And, why is Musharraf so scared of handing over the body to the Nawab’s family?
Simply because his grave will become a focal point, a shrine for all the Baloch as they vent their rage over the army’s merciless actions in Balochistan.
Your Bloggers parting comments:
1. Nawab Akbar Bugti was a man who was prepared to die for his beliefs. He will be eulogized by the Baloch, even by the unborn Baloch generations yet to come.
2. Musharraf is a disaster for Pakistan. He is a little man wearing boots of a size much too large for him.