Veteran Baloch leader and Balochistan's former chief minister Sardar Attaullah Mengal passed away on Thursday after a protracted illness at the age of 92.
The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) confirmed his demise.
Mengal breathed his last at a private hospital in Karachi, where he was under treatment. He will be buried on Friday (today) in Wadh, a small town of Balochistan’s Khuzdar district.
Born in 1929, Mengal spent his childhood in Balochistan’s Lasbela and later moved to Karachi. He was declared the chief of the Mengal tribe in 1954.
Mengal was introduced to politics by Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, a founding member of the National Awami Party (NAP) -- who also briefly served as the governor of Balochistan in 1972-73.
In 1962, Mengal was elected to West Pakistan’s provincial assembly. Bizenjo ran his election campaign. Mengal was put behind bars for opposing then military dictator Ayub Khan’s rule.
He went on to become the first chief minister of Balochistan in May 1972. Mengal remained in that position until his government was dismissed by then premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in February 1973.
Mengal and then governor Bizenjo were jailed on charges of involvement in armed rebellion. However, the charges were never proved and Mengal went into self-exile in the UK during Gen Ziaul Haq's era.
He returned from exile after 18 years in the 1990s and established his political party, the BNP.
He also headed the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement.
Mengal was the father of the current BNP-M chief, Akhtar Mengal.
The BNP-M chief wrote on Twitter that he had not only lost his father, but a guiding light and teacher. “He taught me the difference between the good and the bad … To fight for injustice with conviction,” he added.
“He was a beacon of hope for our nation and land. Rest in peace my Baba. Please pray for his soul.”
Condolences poured in
Balochistan CM Jam Kamal expressed sorrow over the death of the veteran Baloch leader and offered condolences to the bereaved family.
President Dr Arif Alvi in his condolence message expressed sympathy with the grieved family and prayed for the high ranks of the deceased.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed his sorrow over Mengal's death.
"An era of intellect, tolerance and honourable politics has concluded in Pakistan with Sardar Ataullah Mengal's death. His long struggle for Balochistan's rights and democracy is an unforgettable part of our history," the PPP media cell’s official Twitter handle quoted him as saying.
PML-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also expressed their sorrow and prayed for the soul of the veteran Baloch leader.
Former senator Afrasiab Khattak took to Twitter to pay rich tribute to Mengal and term his death a "huge loss" for the people of Balochistan.
"His struggle against brutal oppressors inspired generations of activists," Khattak added.
Other senior politicians also paid tributes to Mengal and prayed for the departed soul.
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