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Showdown in Dera Bugti?

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    Showdown in Dera Bugti?


    The old tiger of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Bugti, is no pushover. Dogged, arrogant, foolhardy, he has chewed more politicians than anyone else. The exception was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who succeeded in stoking the Nawab’s fiery ambitions and manipulated him to split and undermine the Baloch tribal-nationalist movement in the 1970s. In recent years, shunned by his Baloch comrades and estranged from Islamabad, Nawab Bugti has retreated into a sullen and isolated splendour, growling his presence from time to time and keeping a tight rein over the Bugti tribe.

    Now he is in the news again. Reports say Bugti tribesmen have amassed around Sui in Dera Bugti and are taking pot shots at the oil and gas pipelines of the OGDC, allegedly at the behest of Nawab Bugti. But Mr Bugti claims they are retaliating against broken pledges by the federal government regarding welfare issues of employment, workers’ salaries and benefits, pensions, etc. The OGDC submits that crores have been paid against such claims but the Bugti tribesmen, acting through their trade union Nawab, are accusing the federal government and the OGDC of reneging on various contracts and agreements signed with them in the past.

    Islamabad is apparently at its wits end about what to do. The oil and gas sector is the only sector to receive a dose of foreign investment this year and the last thing this financially strapped government wants is an unruly insurgency in the oil and gas lands on its hands. So the OGDC has dangled some carrots for the Nawab while the federal government has unleashed a stick with which to browbeat the rebels. Contingents of the Frontier Corps, along with elements of the Bhambore Rifles, Loralai Scouts, Chagai Scouts, Sibi Scouts etc have “gheraoed” Nawab Bugti’s lair and are itching to rout the frisky Bugtis.

    There are two ways in which people can react to this situation. They can say they are sick and tired of “tribal Sardars holding the state to ransom” and standing in the way of the state’s centralizing and leveling mission in pursuit of a “unified and enlightened” nation. Such people see backward remnants and aggressive defenders of tribalism as an obstacle to progress measured in terms of transiting from pre-capitalist social structures based on special bilateral agreements and arrangements to market economies based on universal, contractual laws. In this perspective, Nawab Bugti and his tribes are anachronistic blackmailers who should be dealt with ruthlessly by the state so that the multinational oil and gas companies can get on with their job.

    Then there are those who, like their opportunistic political predecessors, would rather buy off the Nawab and his Bugtis for a token in ransom rather than incur their wrath and be compelled to take military action against them. No one really wants to draw attention to yet another fault line in the country’s body politic.

    Neither side is completely right or wrong. But both seem unaware of the peculiar strains of Baloch nationalism that still impinge on such issues and create the conditions for national distrust and disunity. Consider.

    The Baloch believe that Balochistan “state” acceded to Pakistan in 1947 as a sovereign entity with defined rights. Among these, they claim, was the right to hugely benefit from its natural resources, including oil and gas. But since these have been effectively usurped by Islamabad which has denied any form of royalties to the province on the exploitation of these resources, political and economic struggles to reclaim such rights and privileges are not only justified but necessary. Of course, Islamabad has not helped matters by adopting “double standards” and conceding a percentage of royalties to the NWFP on the federal exploitation of its water resources. Thus when Nawab Bugti exhorts Islamabad to cough up in Sui, he evokes a degree of sympathy from his fellow Baloch and provokes a wave of outrage against Islamabad from his fellow Bugtis.

    Islamabad tends to be on a short fuse when it is ruled by the military. This is especially true of insipient provincial or tribal rebels with or without a cause because the military’s “civilizing and nation-building” view of itself is so powerfully and self-righteously imbedded in its approach to political issues. But this is a classic case of false consciousness. True, states have had to be cobbled together. But it is truer still that nations have evolved voluntarily over time.

    Thus the use of the stick against the Baloch in general and the Bugtis in particular should be avoided, irrespective of Nawab Bugti’s histrionics. Similarly, instead of opportunistic agreements to appease the Bugti tribes or silence Nawab Bugti, Islamabad might be advised to better define and build provincial rights and benefits into the federal constitution so that the provincial government rather than the federal government is responsible for “trickling-down” the benefits of exploiting the natural resources of any state or province. Indeed, if Akbar Bugti is to be the last Nawab of the Bugti tribe who combines in himself the dual power of function and exploitation, the state of Pakistan should strive to become the first Sardar of the Bugti tribe which retains the power of function and gives up the power of exploitation.

    How can a man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his fathers and the Temple of his Gods?

    I wasn't aware of the fact that the Baluchistan gov't wasn't receiving a certain amount of royalties..well it should...but these sardars have and other land lords with estates ecseeding 500 acres need to be eliminated. they are an impediment to a strong and prosperous future for Pakistan.



      Bugti tribe asks govt to refrain from operation

      DERA BUGTI: The Bugti tribe on Thursday warned government of dire consequences if it tried to launch any operation in the area and vowed to defend every inch of its land.

      The warning comes following the interior ministry’s acknowledgement of the presence of paramilitary troops and Frontier Corps jawans in Sui and Dera Bugti to protect natural gas installations. Talking to journalists, tribal elders of the area said that every person of the Bugti tribe was ready to shed his or her last drop of blood to save their land from what they called ‘government aggression’. They said that under the agreement signed between the government and the Bugti tribe on December 14, 2001, the government had agreed to recruit 70 percent local people in gas exploring companies, besides constructing roads, hospitals and educational institutes. However, so far the government had not implemented any of its promises and was continuing to deprive tribesmen of their rights, they said.

      Tribal elders went on to say that when they raised their voice against these injustices, the gas exploring companies incited the government to launch an operation against them. They said they wanted development in the area, adding that the government should give due consideration to the tribesmen’s genuine demands, as it could not achieve anything through force.


        Poor Balochs. They get nothing out of all these empty promises of govnt. Perhaps if they had Taliban and Al-Qaeda fugitives on their land, the govnt would pay more attention to them?


          A letter from a Baloch on a different subject but shows the huge disconect between Army Generals and the people.

          No war


          The mullahs and the khakis have been dreaming of Kashmir banega Pakistan for the past 50 years, although during this period colossal changes have occurred internationally and domestically. First, since 1971, Pakistan is no longer the same, having lost its eastern part. Second, historically rooted animosities between nations have changed. China’s differences with the US spanned many years; however, China is now America’s most favoured trading partner, in spite of its attitude towards Taiwan.

          Why should we suffer for Kashmir in the name of Islam? Let’s be a good neighbour to India, so that our rivers flowing from Kashmir are never stopped. European desis live in peace, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike. The armed bureaucracy is milking the Kashmir issue for all its worth, so that they can carry on with their massive spending and arms purchases. What interest do I have in Kashmir as a Baloch? In fact, is the average Pakistani willing to risk his all for Kashmir, for that is what a war with India will amount to? I think not.

          I say turn the LoC into an international border and shake hands with India.

          Yousaf Shah,




            Pakistan Faces Rebellion In Balochistan

            Refrain from military operation: Bugti tribe extends a stern warning

            QUETTA: There was no change in the situation in Dera Bugti as both troops of Pakistan's Army and tribesmen continued fortifying their positions, the reports reaching here said. It is learnt that the government is reevaluating the situation after a complete solidarity of various segments of the society in Balochistan with the Bugti tribe opposing the government's plan to use force against the tribal people to punish them for their uncompromising political stand against the military government.

            JWP leader Amanullah Kanarani, speaking at a news conference here alleged that the government was intentionally creating a conflict in the area. He warned that if the moves of the government resulted in any mishap, the consequences would not remain confined to Dera Bugti. The whole country will be affected by any mistake in Dera Bugti, he added.

            Observers say that the discontent in the smaller provinces of Pakistan is so deep and wide that it is only a matter of time before they will rise against the central authority of Pakistan. They point out that just like in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), in 60s and 70s, in Balochistan too, the anger and frustration against the Pakistan's central government is so severe that there is growing number of Balochis who want to leave Pakistan like East Bangalis and form their own independent Balochistan.

            JWP leader Amanullah Kanarani said that despite even after three weeks Dera Bugti town and residence of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti were still under siege and FC personnel and armed Bugti tribesmen along with supporters from other tribes were pitched face to face in the area. He said that the Federal government had started the military operation in Dera Bugti without consulting District Nazim Mir Zulfiqar Ali Bugti who was the competent authority under the devolution of power plan introduced by the military government.

            He said that Federal and Provincial Governments have not consulted to the nazim for taking over the role for maintenance of law and order situation and while deploying the heavy contingents of FC personnel in the area. Mr. Kanrani said that the District Nazim has written a latter to the concerned authorities asking for withdrawal of militiamen from the area. He said several dozen check posts have been established in and around Dera Bugti while camps and pickets were also set up for launching operation in Dera Bugti town just to punish them for their principled stand against the military dictatorship.

            Meanwhile, a government spokesman claimed that every thing was normal in Dera Bugti and there was no bar on the transportation or travel of the people in and out of Dera Bugti. The claim was opposed to the facts on the ground and amused the public.

            Bugti tribe Thursday warned the military government and commanders of the armed forces in their area that they should be prepared for dire consequences if they tried to launch operation in their areas as they would defend every inch of their land and every person of their tribe. The stern warning came after the interior ministry's acknowledgment about the concentration of military troops and Frontier Corps in Sui and Dera Bugti for what the officials described as to protect gas installations. Talking to reporters elders of the area said that every person of Bugti tribe including children were ready to sacrifice the last drop of their blood to protect their land from what they call "government's aggression."

            They informed that under the agreement signed between government and Bugti tribe on December 14, 2001, government had agreed recruiting 70% local people in gas exploration companies besides constructing roads, hospitals and educational institutions. However, contrary to that, so far government had not implemented the accord and deprived the tribesmen from their rights, they alleged. Tribal elders further said that when they raise their voice against these injustices, the gas exploring companies incite the government to launch operation against them. They said we want development in the area, therefore, government should give due consideration to tribesmen's rational demands.


              Now, after 50 years, its time to give the deprived provinces, namely Balochistan and Rural Sindh their due share, otherwise Pakistan will reach its end pretty soon, as the awareness of the people for their rights is growing fast.



                Attacks On Gas Fields Cause Rs 250m Loss

                ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has suffered a loss of Rs 250 million on account of damages to its gas installations and vehicles in Dera Bugti in the last two months, reliable sources said here on Tuesday.
                The loss includes damage to gas pipelines, burning of vehicles and suspension in gas supply to the country, the sources said. According to the OGDCL, the damage was caused by rocket attacks on the gas installations, oil and gas reservoirs and pipeline in the area, allegedly at the behest of a chief of a local tribe. The sources said the chief of the tribe had been paid Rs 200 million, under an agreement, on account of land acquisition, royalty, water charges, use of roads linking to Pirkoh and Looti areas during the last three years. The tribal chief was also paid an amount of Rs 80 million last month, they added.

                In January 2001, negotiations were carried out with the tribal head and an agreement was signed in September 2001. "We completed and implemented all the points agreed upon in the agreement," the sources said. Under the agreement, 50 persons were appointed on various posts by the OGDCL while services of another 80 personnel were regularised. But in March, the employees belonging to the area, backed by their tribal chief, started a strike at the gas field. They raided a post of Frontier Constabulary in the area, killing one of its personnel and injuring another.

                They also abducted two personnel of FC in the raid. The tribesmen continued rocket attacks at various points, causing a loss of millions to the OGDCL from March. Similar attacks were also carried out on the installations of another oil company, PPL, causing huge damage.



                  Dera Bugti siege likely to end soon

                  By Our Staff Correspondent

                  QUETTA, June 29: After almost a month-long stand-off in Dera Bugti, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti seems to have reached some understanding with the government, as both sides have agreed to withdraw forces from their positions.

                  "As a first step, both parties have agreed to pull back their forces for creating a conducive atmosphere to initiate negotiations," sources told Dawn here on Saturday.

                  Reports received from Dera Bugti suggested that most Frontier Constabulary (FC) armed men and Bugti tribesmen had withdrawn from their pickets and trenches and the local people had begun moving freely in the area.

                  According to the sources, the efforts of Sardar Sher Ali Mzari proved to be fruitful, as he brought both sides close to each other after a series of meetings with Nawab Bugti and the government officials concerned.

                  According to the understanding reached between the government and Nawab Bugti, the pickets and trenches established by the Frontier Constabulary and the tribesmen would be abandoned and all additional armed personnel, except the officials of the Bhambhoor Rifles, would be withdrawn from the area.

                  Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) sources confirmed to Dawn that both sides had agreed to hold talks after complete withdrawal of the FC men from the area.

                  The sources said formal negotiations between Nawab Bugti, the government and gas companies would start in the next few days in which all issues and problems being faced by the locals would be discussed and that an agreement was expected very soon.

                  Gas companies, according to the sources, have agreed to provide maximum unskilled jobs to the locals, who would also be employed to protect gas installations and wells in the area. Gas installations in Sui, Pir Koh, Uch and Lotifor have been attacked many times in the past three months, causing huge losses to the companies and prompting a siege to the Dera Bugti area and the residence of Nawab Bugti.

                  In reaction to the deployment of the frontier constabulary (FC) officials, armed men from Bugti and other tribes also took positions at different places.