Although the tactics of the incumbent government led by President Asif Ali Zardari are different from those adopted by former president Pervez Musharraf, the aim of both governments remains the same, exiled Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti told Daily Times on Wednesday.
Q. What do you think of the current government’s initiative with regards to Balochistan since President Zardari is himself a Baloch.
BB: The tactics are different from Musharraf’s era, but the aim is absolutely the same. The current government is worse than the previous government for Balochistan. During the previous government, the government conducted operation against Balochs at a specific area, but now it has spread out to all of Balochistan. Now our political leaders, intellectuals and activists are targeted too. Let’s not talk about Zardari too much because he has no authority. The politicians don’t have any control. The Punjabi lobby doesn’t want to solve our problems because there is a vested interest. Balochistan feeds Punjab and unless there is a change in the Punjabi psyche, nothing will change.
Q. Are you talking about all Punjabis? Please be specific.
BB: I am not talking about all the people of Punjab, but let me be clear that it’s the Punjabi administrators, lawmakers, decision makers and uniform-walas. If you remember, Nawab Bugti talked to everyone and anyone to solve our problems, but we got to know that we had been fooled every time. No one is sincere with Balochistan. It’s too late now for talks now. I personally think that no one in Balochistan is a fool to actually trust Pakistan and its system. We Balochs don’t trust anyone. We are ahead of provincial autonomy. Look at Nawaz Sharif and his statements. He’s confused, he’s not clear about us… one moment he says that he doesn’t support an operation in Balochistan while the next he support’s the FC and gives out contradictory statements. We don’t trust them.
Q. Tell us about the target killings of Punjabis in Balochistan. What did they deserve to take the hit for the crimes that according to you are committed by a certain lobby in Balochistan?
BB: There’s no target killings in Dera Bugti. The Punjabis had lived peacefully in Dera Bugti. There has never been one. You need to distinguish between the two. The insurgency and the target killings. The insurgents are blowing up gas-fields, railway lines, but the whole concept that the insurgents are actually killing and targeting civilians is propaganda.
Q. Recently, some of the Baloch militant organisations had been banned by Rehman Malik and the Interior Ministry.
BB: The Baloch Republican Army (BRA) or Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), they are fighting for the indigenous right of Balochis fighting inside our land. I along with the whole of the Baloch people fully support them and anyone who wants to fight for the rights of our land. I am just the political face who doesn’t have any authority over these organisations. I am again a political face. Let me also ask why the BLA, BRA is considered a problem? They are not fighting in Punjab, but in Balochistan, on their own lands, defending their own rights. They are not aggressors or terrorists… they are fighting for their rights. Well, Pakistan could ban us, suppress us and frankly, no one cares if they ban us… we have been banned, jailed, suppressed for the last sixty three years.
Q. What is the way forward?
BB: That would only be that there has to be an absolute withdrawal of the Pakistan Army and all security forces from our land to at least give a sense of security to the people of Balochistan and that some form of independence and respect given to us. There also has to be some sort of acceptance by the state for carrying out genocide of Balochs in Balochistan and an apology to the Baloch people. Let me be also clear that the Baloch want freedom and nothing more.
Q. When you say Baloch, do you represent all of Balochistan. There’s a question as to what kind of support you enjoy. There had been claims that you don’t represent all of the Baloch people?
BB: Claims by who? You see there have been many people on agencies’ payroll and with the ban on the media to report the reality in Balochistan, what do you expect? As for the Baloch, I think they have a right to self-determination. We have been free people and we will be free people. You go and ask any Baloch what he or she wants and he will tell you what’s on his or her mind. They are fed up of the federation. Go and see what students of Balochistan University say or go to any school or colleges and ask Baloch students and you will know.
Q. The sectarian aspect of Balochistan is getting pretty bad everyday, where Shia’s have been targeted. Any comments on the situation?
BB: Its getting pretty bad. The people of Hazara had been an integral part of Balochistan for centuries now, but there has been an effort by certain sections or the establishment in Pakistan to impose a certain religious ideology in Balochistan, which is resulting in attacks on minorities. And the demographic changes play a huge role too. Balochistan is used as a safe haven for people, which creates a problem.
Q. Now there had been calls for sentencing Musharraf for Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murder? Your comments.
BB: What would that accomplish now? You see I am a Bugti, but I am a Baloch first. We have come to know that anything from now on is artificial. There’s a huge gap between us and them and there are no bridges left.
Q. There had been claims that you have an Indian passport and that you are supported by India and certain other agencies?
BB: You know that has been the biggest turn-off. The Pakistanis think that everyone is supported by someone else. While the Baloch would welcome any international intervention to stop human rights abuses, but the concept of India supporting us is just pathetic. What else could I say? We are fighting for Balochistan, not India or anyone else. When will people understand this?
Q. What do you think about the current provincial setup in Balochistan? They are Baloch.
BB: They are indeed Baloch but they are helpless. Balochistan is micromanaged not by a Baloch, but by the GHQ. I wish people have real power. If they really had power then there would be no need for a struggle for our rights in Balochistan and there would never be organisations like the BLA and BRA. They have even installed a fake and sponsored setup at Dera Bugti. Look at them. Look at there credibility. How could a real Baloch act as a stooge? How could a real Baloch compromise his freedom? They might have a Baloch body but not a Baloch spirit. Stooges of establishment are just scared and waiting for the right time. – thebalochal