Former chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani, is no stranger to political games. And yet, the events that led to his dismissal a few months back took even this seasoned player by surprise.
In this exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, he talks about his removal, his relationship with the Pakistan Peoples Party, his dedication to the welfare of the Baloch people, and his father.
“After being disgraced by the PPP leadership, I am left with no option but to stay away from electioneering all together,” he explains, frowning deeply. “I have no plan to contest elections, and no immediate plan to join another party. I prefer to sit in my house for the time being.”
On January 14, a presidential proclamation dismissed Raisani’s government, a move he took as a personal insult. “It was not my decision to quit the PPP, the party’s leadership arbitrarily suspended my membership five months ago,” he says.
“I am the chief of a large tribal region of Sarawan and I will continue to be so. You can take away my right to be a part of the party, but you cannot take away my tribal status!” he exclaims. “They [the PPP] have insulted me and my tribesmen by taking arbitrary action while I was out of the country.”
That action was taken in the wake of the Alamdar Road blast which claimed over a hundred lives. The ravaged Hazara community refused to bury its dead until Raisani was removed from his position.
But Raisani says this was just an excuse to topple his government.
“The federal government had already made up its mind to get rid of me and my cabinet as I refused to compromise on the economic rights of the Baloch.”
Warming to this theme, Raisani claims he tried to open negotiations with Baloch separatists, but to no avail.
“I was willing to invite the exiled Baloch leaders to negotiations, with a precondition that a senior ISI officer be present. I also demanded the presence of Pakistani diplomats if such talks were organised in London or Geneva. I insisted on this during my meetings with the army high command [General Parvez Kiyani], with Zulfiqar Magsi also there. I made these demands because I know that our [Baloch] loyalty to the country has always been questioned by Islamabad,” he explains. “However, all my demands were rejected by the establishment.”
It is clear that he feels wronged and cheated. He also feels that he is the voice of those Baloch who want to remain a part of Pakistan.
“It is unfortunate that pro-Pakistan elements in Balochistan are considered politically weak. Only those who continuously raise slogans against the country are taken seriously. We are insulted when we are dismissed as politically weak. I would like to warn them [the centre] that we should not be taken for granted,” he says threateningly.
The conversation takes a loaded turn as Raisani starts to talk about his family. With no hesitation, he accuses former military ruler General Ziaul Haq of the assassination of his father, Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani, in 1986.
Raisani believes his father, who served as federal minister and the governor of Balochistan in the 1970s, and also as the provincial president of the PPP, was killed because of a meeting with Sardar Attaullah Mengal, who was in exile in London at the time.
“General Zia thought my father, who was arrested by the army after the imposition of martial law in 1977, was conspiring with Mengal for the establishment of a greater Balochistan,” he says. “Sardar Attaullah Mengal served the interests of the Baloch throughout his life. I respect him from the core of my heart and will continue to do so.”
Raisani says he came to know about Zia’s involvement in his father’s murder just three years ago. “Sardar Yar Muhammad Jamali quoted Mir Abdul Nabi Jamali, a former minister, as saying that my father was killed on the orders of Ziaul Haq,” he recalls.
However, he has not registered a murder case against anyone.
“Only Allah can exact sufficient revenge,” he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.