Balochistan election candidates: Brothers in arms

Several candidates in Balochistan have close relatives in the ranks of separatist organisations.

Qaiser Butt April 07, 2013


Many Baloch nationalists are opting for the ballot, but Baloch insurgents seem wedded to the bullet. In an interesting twist, it seems that many prominent contenders, many of whom boycotted the 2008 elections, are related to the very militant commanders who have vowed to disrupt the elections their own kinsmen are contesting.

One such candidate is former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal. The chief of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party, Akhtar Mengal recently returned to Pakistan after years of self-exile, to lead his party in the elections. Interestingly, his younger brother, Javed Mengal, also returned from exile in Europe, but only to lead militants in the volatile Khuzdar district.

Then there is Nawabzada Chengaiz Marri, the elder son of Karachi-based separatist leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri. Chengaiz is a nominated Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate for the National Assembly as well as the Balochistan Assembly. However, his three younger brothers – Nawabzada Balaach Marri, Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marri and Nawabzada Zamran Marri, alias Mehran Marri – have all been involved in separatist causes.

Hyrbyair took the command of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) after the 2007 death of his brother Balach Marri in Afghanistan. Following this, Hyrbyair went into exile in London and has since then led the BLA, a separatist outfit responsible for various acts of terrorism and sabotage. Zamran Marri, who is also in exile in Europe, actively lobbies for Baloch separatism.

Furthermore, Nawab Aali Bugti and Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, paternal cousins of Baloch Republican Army (BRA) commander Brahamdagh Bugti, are also among the candidates for the provincial seats, as is Brahamdagh’s own uncle Nawabazada Talal Bugti.

The sister of Abbas Gichki, a key commander of the BLA, is also a contender for a Balochistan Assembly seat.

She is Dr Nagina Baloch, 53, a former activist of the Baloch Students Organisation, and she has filed her nomination papers to contest on a general seat from PB-50 (Kech-III) as an independent candidate.

“I don’t think there will be free, fair and impartial elections in Balochistan,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune. “I am aware that the establishment has already selected its ‘buddies’ who will be declared winners. Such elections will not bring any change, but we should still make our efforts to bring about better days.”

Previously, Nagina Baloch contested for a provincial assembly seat in 2002, as a nominee of the Balochistan National Party (Mengal). However, she lost to Muhamamd Asghar of the Balochistan National Party (Awami). “I lost because I had only 15 days for the campaign,” she explained.

In 2003, a few of her close relatives were killed by unidentified men in Turbat, prompting her to close down her hospital in Kech and move to Karachi with her husband and six children.

She now has to travel back and forth between Karachi and Kech for the scrutiny reasons and is optimistic that her nomination will be cleared.

“I don’t think being the sister of a BLA commander could be a cause for rejection,” she said. “If so, they will also have to reject the nomination papers of Nawabzada Aali Bugti, Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, Nawabzada Talal Bugti, Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Nawabzada Changaiz Marri.”

And yet, despite her desire to improve the situation, and her own family connections, Nagina said she felt threatened by the BLA and other militant outfits who are opposing the polls.

“Contesting general elections in Balochistan is very difficult and dangerous for genuine candidates,” she said. “On the one hand, we are faced with the threats of terrible consequences by armed militants for not boycotting the elections, and on the other, we are faced with threats from the establishment, which does not want to let independent people of independent who are committed to serving the Baloch people, into Parliament.”

Despite what Nagina Baloch says, a senior official of the provincial government said he is confident that insurgents will not harm their own relatives who are contesting elections.

“We are glad that at least the militants will not harm those who are taking part in elections despite their threats,” the official said requesting anonymity. “We are aware that militants will desist from attacking their relatives.” However, he added that the government has already prepared a plan to ensure the safety of candidates and voters, before and during elections.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013. 


Fida Khan | 11 years ago | Reply

A very good news for Balochistan. We hope that this time we'll get our true representatives. But one thing is very important that these leaders must do some thing for general public also after coming into power. For last 5 years all the funds given to Balochistan have been somehow completely gone into the pockets of those elected members of assemblies.

Ajaz | 11 years ago | Reply

Allow these leaders to participate...this will give vent to their anger and those of the baloch people....this will help them reintegrate into the one can deny that these simple noble people have been denied their birth rights to their land and its is time for reconcillation and development....some steps like ceasing army activity there...handing over gwadar to the local government.....recruiting locals for government jobs by provision of 100% quota would be steps in the right direction.

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