Remembering Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti: The founder of Baloch freedom movement

There is no denying that Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti was the bravest, creative and greatest leader the Baloch nation has ever had, but what he is more than that is an ideology that continues to guide us, the Baloch, in our struggle for an independent Balochistan.

He was an inspiration for thousands. One thing that inspired people about him was his massive love and carefulness for his people, and it did not require you to be a Muslim, particularly: in addition, he abandoned a luxurious life and chose the mountains, instead, to fight for dignity, honor and the freedom of his people, which, to be frank, is quite rare in this modern world. He believed that freedom is the basic right every human being is born with and should have till the end of their days, and that was what he stood for and wanted for his people. He did not like the concept of slavery for anyone and prefered death over it, as he once said “Hunger in Freedom is much better than repleting in slavery”. Pakistan was not a state deserving of a leader such as him, because he believed in justice, equality, freedom and peace, but Pakistan was/is being led by a group (Army) that was/is in contrary to all what he believed in. Despite trying all the peaceful and political ways there possibly were, the military led government was not ready to be convinced with his demands, so he had to take weapon at his 80s to fight for the rights of his people while bearing a cane in the other hand to help him walk. Although, the state had tried misleading people about him, he enjoyed massive love and support among his people, the Baloch nation. He knew what kind of force he was standing against, but for his people’s freedom, nothing mattered.  “I will be beheaded but will never bow my head down before the oppressors and occupiers” he said once proving how genuine his struggle was for the freedom of his people. Although he had assumed power and leadership of his people in an early age, his people found no disappointment but experienced more importance to accept him as their leader and follow him. He had massive support in Balochistan, more than any Baloch leader has ever had before him. People felt safe under his arms, because he spoke of their rights and freedom.

At his 80s, In the harshest of mountains, he walked with his companions seeking refuge to fight a state that he was failed to persuade politically. Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti had assumed the Governor of Balochistan office in 15 Feb, 1973. And he became the Chief Minister of Balochistan in February 4, 1989. He tried negotiations with Pakistani Punjabi elites to keep them from plundering the Baloch resources while Balochistan remains the least developed and deprived of education. Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti was jailed by Pakistan occupying state multiple times, but he was determined to his and his people”™s cause. Some people believe that India or RAW is behind the unrest in Balochistan, it is a must that they know this: “When an army of an entire state comes in your home, loot your resources, abduct, kill your people and destroy your houses and slaughter your cattles, women and children with gunship helicopters, you do not expect kisses in return.”

Pakistani Army, specifically the then chief of army, dictator Pervez Musharraf, did not like the support and love Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti had for and from his people. The dictator began preparations of operations against Shaheed Nawab Akbar by sieging the entire district of Dera Bugti backed by gunship helicopters, fighter jets, tanks and a large number of ground troops. The army started behaving lunatic with the people of Dera Bugti, they harassed women and children, humiliated elders and youths, they were more like a group of gangsters. For some times now, there was silence from both sides. And then slowly, In 17th March, 2005, a massive gory military operation was conducted in Dera Bugti right on the house of Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti resulting in the death of hundreds of innocent civilians, women and children in large numbers belonging to the Hindu Bugti Community. Thousands were injured, as well. Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti had given shelter to hundreds of Hindu Families, thousands individuals, and they lived within the premises of his fort. He cared for them equally because they were his people, after all. The Hindu community felt safe and enjoyed freedom under his arm; They practiced their beliefs without any further difficulties. He took Hindus under his arms after partition when most of them in Pakistan felt insecurity from military-establishment that was not happy with their presence in the country. They mattered a lot to Shaheed Akbar Bugti. Basically, it”™s in our traditions to serve our guests and take care of them in all good possible ways. Once we have someone our guest, he matters to us no less than a relative. Some of his closest assets were our Hindu brothers, some of them had adopted “Bugti” as their last name inspired of the leadership of Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti. Afterall, Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti considered them as family.

Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti in his own words “Hindu and Sikh have been living with us from decades, and they are part of our Bugti tribe. We have religious freedom here. We have Hindus and Sikhs, and if people of another religion comes, they”™ll have their freedom practicing their beliefs, as well. We have mosque, Mandir and Gurdwara”.

Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti and some of his companion successfully escaped the attack. He then moved his direction to the mountains to fight for the Baloch cause in an armed way to achieve the goals which he could not in a political way. After Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti left the town, forces behavior toward the Bugti people went from bad to worse,  thousands of them migrated to different parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan including Sindh and Punjab. Even Today, Pakistan intelligence agencies target them with their sponsored terrorists. Bugti Refugees in Afghanistan have been attacked multiple times and lost many of their dearests. While in Sindh, Pakistan rangers abduct and disappear them as they do in Balochistan. Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti continued his fight. Later, Pakistani forces, with the orders from Islamabad and the then army chief dictator Pervez Musharraf, conducted a grand-scale gory military operation in Taratani area of occupied Balochistan in 26th August, 2006. Fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, SSG commandos and a large number of armed troops were backing the military operation. They indiscriminately bombarded with jets the mountains were Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti had taken refuge. Orders were to shoot and bombard every moving thing. The operation continued for five consecutive days and thousands of Pakistani army troops and commandos were sent to hell by Baloch freedom fighters, but unfortunately, that day, we lost Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti and 35 of his loyal companions. The days of mourning for Baloch people began, atrocities, abductions, kill and dump of Baloch political activists and leaders by Pakistan army continued. But still, with the leadership of Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, Baloch people raised once again to fight for their rights and freedom from Pakistan occupying state.

People say when you die, everything you have done or had، dieو with you, but in case of Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti, i consider that to be wrong, because although he is not with us, his ideology continues to guide us through easy to difficult times and advances our struggle to reaching its ultimate goals. His name will be written with golden words in Baloch history. His ideas, struggle and sacrifices made him immortal.

Gull Nawaz Bugti

The writer is the executive editor of BRP Media Cell and a political activist of Baloch Republican Party (BRP) led by Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti. You can also reach him at @GN_Bugti or email him [email protected]