June issue 2009
A jirga installed Nawabzada Mir Aali Bugti, the grandson of Nawab Muhammad Akbar Khan Bugti, as the 23rd nawab of the Bugti tribe, one of the strongest and largest tribes in the province. Mir Aali, the son of the late Nawabzada Salim Akbar Bugti, had left Dera Bugti after the killing of Nawab Muhammad Akbar Khan Bugti in a military action in August 2006.
After the launching of military operation in Dera Bugti, members of Akbar Bugti’s family were forced to leave Dera Bugti. Mir Aali Bugti and his younger brother Taleh Bugti were the first members of the family to return to the province after they were brought to Sui from Karachi by a special plane in May 2009.
Prior to Mir Aali’s arrival, Minister for Interior Rehman Malik had made an announcement in the senate about the restoration of the sardari system in Balochistan. Political observers of Balochistan are viewing Rehman Malik’s statement in the context of Aali Bugti’s return to his native area and his installation as nawab of the Bugti tribe.
It is worth mentioning that a few days before the killing of Nawab Bugti, a tribal jirga of pro-government Bugti elders was held in Dera Bugti town under the supervision of security forces and this jirga had announced the complete elimination of the sardari system from Dera Bugti. This jirga had also announced that in future, Bugti tribes would not accept the sardari system in Dera Bugti. Surprisingly, a majority of these pro-government tribal elders voted to make Aali Bugti the nawab of the tribe.
Some three months before his return, an armed lashkar was also formed in Dera Bugti to raise a fighting force under the leadership of Mir Aali Bugti.
Nawabzada Talal Akbar Bugti, the son of the late Nawab Bugti, has termed the raising of the lashkar as an attempt by the government to pit the Bugtis against each other after, its failure to crush the resistance of people there.
Political observers of Balochistan are of the view that the installation of Aali Bugti, as the head of the tribe under government patronage, is a sign of defeat of the policies of the hawks in the establishment, who wanted to eliminate all traces of the influence held by Nawab Akbar Bugti and his family in Dera Bugti. But it has also highlighted the division among the ranks of the nawab family over Nawab Akbar Bugti’s successor.
Apart from Aali Bugti’s brother, none of the important members of the Bugti family voted for Aali Bugti and they even refused to attend the ceremony in Sui. Addressing a press conference in Quetta, Nawabzada Talal Akbar Bugti said, “Information provided by Mir Aali Bugti led to the assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military action.”
Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti, who is leading the armed struggle in Dera Bugti and other parts of Balochistan, also completely rejected the installation of Mir Aali Bugti as the head of tribe and reacted by firing 10 rockets on Sui town.
Sarbaz Baloch, a spokesman of the Baloch Liberation Army, said, “The killers of Nawab Akbar Bugti have made Aali Bugti the so-called nawab of the Bugti tribes and this is not acceptable to the Baloch nation.”
It is yet to be seen whether the installation of Mir Aali Bugti will be helpful in bringing peace in Dera Bugti. But the signs are not hopeful. A new campaign has been started by hardliner Baloch nationalists where they threaten government and private educational institutions that are hoisting the national flag and singing the national anthem. Following this threat, a large contingent of Frontier Corps has been deployed at Balochistan University and other important colleges in Quetta.
The much-hyped reconciliation process in Balochistan has not yielded any positive results and has succeeded only in increasing the anger and resentment amongst people in the province.