Face-to-face: Aslam Bhootani blames previous regime for Balochistan unrest

Published: April 3, 2012

Says foreign involvement cannot be ruled out completely. PHOTO: FILE

QUETTA: 

In a candid interview with The Express Tribune, Balochistan Assembly’s speaker Aslam Bhootani blamed the last provincial government for the current unrest in Balochistan.

Flaying Pervez Musharraf’s decision of launching military action in the restive province, Bhootani was the only member of the treasury bench to have condemned the killing of Nawab Akber Bugti and to have raised a voice against the arrest of Sardar Akhtar Mengal at the time.

He is of the opinion that if the previous provincial government had resisted Musharraf’s decision, the province might not have succumbed to such chronic lawlessness.

Bhootani, 52, hails from a veteran political background. His family has the distinction of being elected to the provincial assembly for the eight consecutive time in the last 35 years. In contrast to many lawmakers of the area, he seems quite at ease while replying to questions about the embattled province.

Bhootani has also served in the police, Federal Investigation Agency and the Anti-Narcotics Force. He has not only served in the province, but has also been posted in Peshawar, Islamabad and Hyderabad.

“The situation would have been normal had Nawab Akber Bugti not been killed along with 30 of his tribesmen. Things have gone out of control since then, and Bugti has become a martyr. Politicians should have shown the courage to resist the dictator’s decision knowing that it would be a disastrous move.”

He remains unmoved by the ongoing reconciliatory process, especially with regards to negotiations with the estranged Baloch leadership. “It is unclear who is responsible for holding these talks; one day the government decides it will be the chief minister and another day it’s the governor.”

Bhootani did seem to choose his words carefully when commenting on the alleged involvement of foreign elements in the insurgency. “It’s a natural phenomenon; foreign forces do exploit the situation when there is insurgency at home. One cannot rule it out completely.”

Bhootani also feels that the situation isn’t as bad as is portrayed by the media. “I won’t say the law and order situation is ideal, but it isn’t as terrible either.”

When asked if he thought the unrest could be controlled, Bhootani said “this is not the first time this has happened. The province has witnessed insurgency five times since 1948, and it was at its peak in the 1970s, but eventually things did settle down.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Aristo
    Apr 3, 2012 - 12:17PM

    All Mr. Bhootani has to say is to blame the last government, would he care to tell us what he did in the last four years to undo all that, if nothing, then he is as useless as the last government.

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  • Apr 3, 2012 - 5:26PM

    It is easy to blame the previous govt. You have been elected several times, what you have done to Balochistan. That province is ruled by Balochs all along for 60+ years and it is a very poor province. It has the lowest population (only in lakhs) it should the most envious province in terms of development etc. but their politician/sardars keeps and maintain a big army of their own but they do not want to build a decent school, hospital etc etc.
    Musharraf build Gwadar deep sea port. Developed roads. Let the kalpar tribe to go back to the bugti area which were kicked out by the bugtis. Musharraf has a long list of his achievement in Balochistan, but people blamed only who has done some work, those who looted with both hands they were not blamed at all.

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  • Adnan
    Apr 4, 2012 - 12:15AM

    What a surprise! I thought he was going for Punjabi bashing….

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