Balochistan chronicles: When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers

According to Baloch elders, the power struggle among sardars is fuelling militancy and violence in the province.

Zahid Gishkori August 01, 2013
According to Baloch elders, the power struggle among sardars is fuelling militancy and violence in the province.


Karim Bux Baharani is 84. He doesn’t know if he will live to see a peaceful, prosperous Balochistan, but he does know that resolving the power struggle in the province is essential.

“The power struggle is just fuelling militancy in Balochistan,” says Baharani, a childhood friend of the late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. “If this is not addressed, their militants’ power will continue to grow unabated.”

Fight against hegemony

Abdur Rehman Pizarani, 34, recalls the kidnapping of his brother last month.

“A layman is at the end of his rope with the militants, and he doesn’t accept the hegemony of the sardars, who want to impose their will on the poor people of Balochistan,” he says.

Jalal Khan Badlani Bugti agrees with Pizarani. According to him, the nawabs of the Bugti and Marri families are now trying their best to maintain the respect they enjoyed in the past.

“Baloch commanders fighting against security forces have nothing but sheer disdain for the government,” observes Marri Khan Bugti of Dera Bugti. “This stems from the extreme sense of deprivation and poverty in the province.”

According to Sarbaz Baloch, a spokesperson for Balochistan Liberation Army, the fight is simply against the hegemony of the sardars and the Frontier Constabulary.

“We want to get rid of all this,” he says in a telephonic conversation from somewhere in Afghanistan. “Most commanders are ready for talks if someone approaches them positively.”

Battle of the Bugtis

Jalal says the power struggle within the Bugti family is one that cannot be undermined. The sons and grandsons of Akbar Bugti have yet to decide on who the new chieftain of the Bugti tribe will be.

“The government tested Mir Aali Bugti, Akbar Bugti’s grandson, for seven to eight months but he failed to deliver,” says Jalal, adding that some leaders of Kalpar, Messori and Raheja Baloch Bugtis also wish to rule the area. “Now they [government] are going to test Gohram Bugti, another grandson — it’ll be a litmus test for him, and for his father Talal Bugti, to bring the disgruntled Baloch to the negotiating table.”

A game of resources

Marri Khan, a resident of Dera Bugti, is of the view that now the real power struggle will start between Mir Aali Bugti, Brahamdag Bugti, Talal Bugti and Gohram Bugti. They are fighting, he says, for their share in natural resources found in Sui and Dera Bugti.

“Millions in ransom and smuggling also caused the militancy in the province, widening the gap between the sardars,” reveals Nawabdeen Bugti, a resource person for Gohram Bugti. “A powerful mafia, under Imam Bheel’s control, is involved in kidnapping and smuggling.”

Lawmaker Hasil Khan Bizenjo, too, is well aware of the quotidian nature of the heroin industry in Balochistan.

“Everybody knows that smuggling, kidnapping and drug trafficking have become lucrative businesses in the province,” he says. “The unjust division of natural resources, underground commanders, and private militia – all these factors are pushing the Baloch into a blind alley.”

All about compromise

Mumtaz Bibi, 78, the chief lady of Kalpar tribe, is striving to bring all sardars from the Bugti and Marri families on to the negotiating table. According to her, the major stumbling block to resolving the issues, including that of militancy in volatile areas, is the difference in opinion amongst them.

“My prime job is to bring together all tribal elders, particularly those who are on the mountains,” she says. “The Khan of Kalat, Salman Daud, who is now in London, can also play his role to make way for better power sharing.”

“Talks with dissident Baloch will not succeed until followers of Brahamdag Bugti and the late Balach Marri attend,” says Mehboob Kalpar, son of Khan Muhammad Kalpar Bugti, speaking from the Mach jail.

Gohram Bugti, the son of Talal Bugti, believes that this cross-tribe negotiation is a unique opportunity. If availed properly, the government can calm down the Baloch commanders fighting against security forces. “Peace must prevail in Balochistan now,” he says.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2013.


Ali Baloch | 10 years ago | Reply

Sarbaz is not a spokesperson for BLA it's Mir Shehek.

Jaffer Abbas Mirza | 10 years ago | Reply

I would say that editor has highlighted one of the core issues of Balochistan. But it will be unfair to say that this is the main issue or this is the only reason behind Balochistan unrest. How one can ignore the role of the Army in the province?

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