Filed Under BALOCHISTAN SITUATION
DERA BUGTI: Nawab Akbari Bugti was perhaps the last of the old-style Baloch Sardars who maintained a near totalitarian control over Dera Bugti for over half a century.
He ensured that he got a ‘fair’ share from the discovery of natural gas from his native Sui in the 1950s. He used the money and resources that he got from Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), which runs Sui gas field, to create what a Baloch Sardar termed as “Shaddad’s heavens.”
The money he got was pittance in comparison to the billions of dollars that the PPL had been making or the benefits that the rest of Pakistan, particularly Punjab, was drawing out of Sui’s gas. It suited the Sui management and the Pakistani establishment to pay a paltry sum to a local Nawab than to appease the entire Balochistan that was the last to use its own gas. In return the Nawab expected to be given a complete say in controlling his area.
The Nawab devised a system where the PPL, the local Bugtis, the security agencies and even the governments in Quetta and Islamabad were dependent on him for delivering security and business-as-usual in Sui. The money that he charged, depending on how you calculate, ranged from Rs10 million to Rs40 million monthly.
Most of this was in kind. He got Rs10 million for Uch gas field, which during land reforms of 1970s was transferred in the name of his grand son Shahzain Bugti. Shahzain recently got Rs45O million through the courts as arrears of the last four years.
An amount of Rs5 million was given to Nawab Bugti for what continues to be called as ‘kitchen’ expense. Every Bugti working in Sui had to pay “phoori” of Rs2000 monthly, which was a private tax popularly dubbed as ‘bhatta.’ Other officials in education, health and security who could not be employed without his consent paid Rs300 per month. He also took money for vehicles, manpower and infrastructure that he claimed to use for providing security to the gas field.
Every time the establishment tried to cut down Nawab’s power the security situation suffered not just in Sui but sometimes threatened the law and order in the entire Balochistan. It was always the Nawab who got away with a bigger pound of flesh in every tug of war. Until Musharraf, that is.
He used these resources to maintain his absolute control. He decided which roads, waterways, schools and hospitals were to be allowed. In the absence of normal administration, as Dera Bugti remains ‘B’ area, he was the law, jury and the executioner. He was a role model for every Sardar in Balochistan. Even Nawab Khair Bux Marri or Sardar Attaullah Mengal emulates Nawab’s power in his area. Nothing moved without him in Dera for as long as he lived. The world created by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is no more.
Nawab’s fiefdom was sure to change after him because it was his prowess and charisma that let him live on his own terms. That it should change so drastically is either extremely sad or extremely good, depending on how you see it.
None of his family member lives in Dera Bugti any more. Most cannot even enter the Nawab’s ‘heavens.’ His children and grand children are involved in tense fight over his political and material legacy. His eldest sons Salim and Rehan are dead while Salal got murdered in 1980s.
Between his living sons, Jamil is less important in the tribal tradition as his mother was an ‘outsider’ while Talal was banished from entering Dera Bugti by the Nawab in his life. But Talal along with his son Shahzain is now claimant to Nawab’s legacy. Talal holds the fort in his father’s house in Quetta and is most active on the media circuit. He blames everybody from President Asif Zardari to Interior Minister Rehman Malik to the army for blocking him in taking over Dera Bugti.
Talal may not be wrong as it was President Asif Zardari, of course backed by the establishment, who put the mantle of the Nawab of Dera Bugti on the head of Aali Bugti. In the Baloch tradition Aali being the eldest grand child of Nawab’s eldest son Salim is the rightful heir. President Asif being a baloch should know as he turbaned himself as the chief of Baloch clan of Zardaris.
Aali was helped by the establishment (read army/ISI/FC) to take over Nawab’s fort in Dera Bugti. He was given share of Nawab’s money and perks. But the bigger issue was to make him acceptable to the warring Bugtis. Some accepted him because of tribal codes of the eldest being the rightful heir, others out of fear and still others because it was now through him that the salaries and perks were being distributed.
Aali is anything but his macho grandfather. He is media shy, politically inexperienced and may not be as brave as the Nawab. Also, the establishment did not want to create another Nawab. Sources say that he was being given only a small share of the Nawab’s money and perks. He did not feel comfortable in Dera Bugti and is now living in Sanghar district of Sindh where his grandfather had bought some land. He is still being propped by the security agencies but he has virtually resigned from active life.
Nawab’s Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP) also stands divided among Jamil, Talal and Aali. The party’s last general secretary Rauf Khan sasoli has long left the JWP to join the PML-N.
However, the popular face of the Nawab’s legacy remains his grand son Brahmadagh Bugti, who supposedly runs the Baloch republican Army. He has all the rebelliousness and the charisma of the Nawab but it is yet to be seen whether he also has the worldly statesmanship of his grandfather as well. After all, the Nawab always balanced between his radical ideas and the practical politics. This pragmatism, balance, opportunism or call it way you may kept him one up on his peers.
Brahmadagh may not have enough time. For life is changing so fast in his native Dera Bugti that very soon there might not be a shred of the world that his grandfather created in Dera Bugti. http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=10189&Cat=13