A lost tribe: Home is where Dera Bugti is

Thousands of Bugti tribesmen appeal to the new government to address their plight.

Zahid Gishkori July 11, 2013
Thousands of Bugti tribesmen appeal to the new government to address their plight. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM

ISLAMABAD: Nawabzada Gohram Bugti talks with the vehemence of a man who feels wronged, a man itching to go home. He sits at the Parade Lane, his legs crossed, as one of the 400 internally displaced Bugtis protesting against law enforcement agencies that have reportedly denied them entry into their hometown, Dera Bugti.

“We will live and die in Balochistan,” says Gohram. “But, unfortunately, we are paying the price of being loyal to our late leader, my grandfather, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. We appeal to Nawaz Sharif to come up with a new strategy to restore peace to the province.”

According to Gohram, he has not been able to enter Dera Bugti for 67 days…and counting.

Nothing being done

After the Pakistani government’s military operation in Balochistan in 2006-2007, an estimated 170,000 tribesmen who migrated from Dera Bugti and its adjoining districts were kept from resettling in their homes. According to Gohram, over 200,000 are homeless since 2005.

The tribesmen say the previous government did nothing for these displaced families, except for arresting them in 2010 and later releasing them.

Today, families continue to protest, determined to go home. The protests have taken place in front of the Prime Minister House, the Parliament House and, now, at Parade Lane.

“We will continue to protest against the continued siege-like situation in Dera Bugti,” Gohram states categorically. “We demand our basic right to return to our birthplace.” Gohram also adds that despite court orders, the government has not provided security to the internally displaced Bugti families, and no one has listened to their appeals.

Earlier this year, the tribes tried to enter into Dera Bugti twice but were stopped at the Dolo checkpoint by law enforcement agencies asking them to show entry passes. They are now living in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Hyderabad, Rohri, Sukkur, Khairpur and Karachi.

“Tell me what we should do now?” Gohram asks. “The law should be equal for everybody!”

In this vein, Bari Bugti, who spent his entire life with the late Nawab Akbar, also reiterates that the last government severely let people down. “We are really optimistic that the government will open doors to justice.”

Similarly, Allah Bux Bugti appeals to the chief justice and the premier to let them live at home.

A clueless committee?

On June 20, Crisis Management Cell Director General Khalid Lodhi constituted a committee to resolve the issue of resettlement, on Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s orders. However, the committee has not convened a single meeting as yet.

The committee, headed by Justice (retd) Rana Baghwandas, also includes Minister for SAFRON Maj General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Asma Jehangir and former MNA Ayaz Amir as members. Three other members of the committee will be nominated by the chief secretary of Balochistan.

When contracted, Ayaz Amir said he did not know of any development in this case. He confirmed that no meeting has taken place in this regard. Similarly, Interior Ministry spokesperson Omar Hadeed Khan also said he did not know why a meeting has not taken place. “I’ll update you [The Express Tribune] if I find something on this matter,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.