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.