ISLAMABAD: Former chief of the army staff General Abdul Waheed Kakar has said that the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation in August 2006 was “a crime against Pakistan.”
General Kakar, a Pashtun from Balochistan, served as army chief from 1993 to 1996. In his first public appearance since retirement in 1996, Kakar spoke at a seminar on Balochistan held here on Saturday. General Kakar said Musharraf “committed a big mistake” by launching a military operation in Balochistan. Terming Nawab Akbar Bugti “a symbol of the federation” he said when he met Nawab Bugti he found that not only the Baloch leader had great respect for the Pakistan army but he also considered it a unifying factor for the federation.
He said killing Nawab Bugti was not only a crime against Balochistan but it was also a crime against Pakistan. Kakar said that the killing should be investigated and those held responsible should be tried. He said what the state has done to the people of Balochistan is totally unjustified. The seminar on “Friends of the Baloch and Balochistan” was organised and funded by former speaker National Assembly Syed Fakhar Imam and former Ambassador to the US Syeda Abida Hussain.
They were also joined in their effort by two prominent Baloch political figures Amanullah Gichki and Fazila Aliyani. A number of retired bureaucrats, generals, and activists addressed the seminar. Former ambassador Jahangir Ashraf Qazi commented that the state of Pakistan has waged five wars against Balochistan since 1948. He said alienation is a “poison to national identity” and called for addressing the problems of the restive province.
Former secretary foreign affairs Tanvir Ahmed Khan said if there is no Balochistan then there is no Pakistan. He said the people who live on the eastern side of the river Indus have a poor understanding of the people living on the west of the Indus. But the ex-bureaucrat’s optimism was not shared by young Baloch nationalist activists. A leader of the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) Aleem Baloch said that the people of Balochistan were never involved with the struggle for Pakistan. He said Balochistan was annexed into Pakistan through force. He said the Baloch could not sacrifice their 8,000-year history for the 62-year history of Pakistan.
He said the Baloch have been deprived of their rights and their natural resources. Those who speak for their rights either get killed or abducted and disappear forever. Another BSO leader, Muhiuddin Baloch said that the Pakistani military, the media, parliament and judiciary have no concern for the plight of Balochistan. A former speaker of the Balochistan Assembly called for a new social contract between the centre and the province. Lieutenant General (retired) Salahuddin Tirmizi said that in other countries the intelligence agencies collect information and the governments make decisions. “But here the intelligence agencies make decisions”.
Fakhar Imam, who presided over the seminar, said it was unfortunate that democracy had not been allowed to truly function in Pakistan. He said the problems of the country could only be solved through an uninterrupted process of democracy with free and fair elections.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 16th, 2010.