Bugti and his legacy

Sunday 3rd September 2006

Bugti and his legacy

I was just reading Kokaine Katha and this post about "The Bugtis of Balochistan".

As you may have heard, Nawab Akbar Bugti, a powerful tribal rebel leader of Balochistan, the biggest and most mineral rich (yet still the poorest) province of Pakistan, was recently killed by the government's security forces. He had been quite a nuisance for the government (and the rest of the country) due to his rebellion (or "struggle for independance", if you prefer to call it that) and repeated attacks on gas pipelines that supply the whole country. Though taking of any life is deplorable and avoidable, many Pakistanis have breathed a sigh of relief after the Nawab's demise. "Good riddance" is the appropriate term, I believe.

The theories presented by Kokaine in the above article are quite interesting. Adding to that, the presence of advanced and expensive equipment in the hands of the insurgency that Bugti commanded point to two possibilities.

1. That the insurgency was being funded by an outside source, as suggested by the article and many other conspiracy theories.

2. That they were purchased through legitimate revenue that the province generates from its immense natural gas, oil and other mineral reserves.

The first scenario turns the whole thing into an act of treason and the insurgency loses any glory it may have held if it was truly justified. There should be no qualms about suppressing it for the better good.

Since Balochistan is claimed to be deprived of all the benefits that the other provinces receive and such a large number of its people live in a state of poverty, the second scenario implies that the issue is one of unequal distribution of wealth and power. If all the money that is spent on training and arming the militias and to acquire sophisticated equipment was instead used to educate the people and develop the region's economy, this imbalance wouldn't exist.

The Gwadar port, which is located within Balochistan, looks destined to become a crown jewel for Pakistan and at the same time, provide a great opportunity for the people of this region to bring themselves into the 21st century. Other projects, such as the planned gas pipeline from Iran to India that will pass through here (if the deal actually materialises), and proper exploration and use of this vast area, will bring unprecedented prosperity, yet the tribal system ensures that only a privileged few reap these benefits.

For the good of the people of Balochistan and the whole country, the current system must be modernized and people like the late Nawab will have to mend their ways or go the way of the Dodo.


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