Nawab Akbar Shahbaz Khan Bugti (July 12, 1927–August 26, 2006) was the Tumandar (head) of the Bugti tribe of the Baluch, and had served as governor of the restive Balochistan Province in Pakistan. An Oxford educated man in a land of widespread illiteracy, he was a towering personality in the Baloch politics for more than five decades.
After an armed struggle started in Balochistan in 2004, Bugti was widely perceived as the leader, going underground in 2005. On August 26, 2006, after several attempts in the preceding months he was killed in his cave in Kohlu, about 150 miles east of Quetta, leading to widespread unrest in the area, where he is unanimously regarded as a hero and martyr.
With the following broad lines exceeded that in most tribal groups, ethnic Baluchi, roused the contradictions in this western tribal leader educated the most powerful emotions, whether positive or negative. Despite the tough decisions sometimes that are sometimes a must for a tribal leader, he had a peaceful image in many groups, and certainly did not adopt a violent streak in his political career early. In recent years, and accused by the Pakistani government of being a warlord, running on a well-regulated militia is sometimes considered to be mysterious Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) numbering in the thousands. Balochistan Liberation Army claimed, ran dozens of training camps, armed militants. Campaign of the mountain ranges of Dera Bugti, was, according to the Pakistani government, under the guidance, “Fidel Castro / Che Guevara” style guerrilla war. In July 2006, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf targeted him through aerial bombing, using Air Force planes and helicopter gunships, said the leader of the National Party Balochistan (Mengal) Sardar Select Mengal: “The increase in bomb attacks in the Bugti and Marri to target Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and his companions, and called on the international community to take note of the situation. “
With epithets such as the Tiger of Balochistan, and the trade union or a gas (having assumed ownership of many gas fields), but he was a towering figure in the world Baloch. Conflict for a long time in Balochistan stems from quantam of autonomy promised when it joined the boycott Pakistan in 1947 and thereafter in accordance with the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. Today a large faction fighting and sometimes resort to arms, to get self-government in Balochistan, which is due under the promises made to its people by various Pakistani leaders. Balochistan Liberation Army, is painted by the Pakistani government as a “significant threat” to law and order in Balochistan and the recently banned by the government of Pakistan as well as by the United Kingdom.
History and Background
He was the son of Nawab Mehrab Khan Bugti and a grandson of Sir Shahbaz Khan Bugti. He was born in Barkhan on July 12, 1927. A former Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan. He was educated at Oxford, England and Aitchison College, Lahore. It is alleged that he killed his first man when he was only 12, and that he had several killed to avenge the assassination of his son (Salal Bugti).
Nawab Akbar Bugti was elected in a by-election to the National Assembly of Pakistan in May 1958 to fill the vacancy created as a result of the assassination of the incumbent, Dr Khan Sahib and sat on the government benches as a member of the ruling coalition.
Bugti (Republican) served as Minister of State (Interior) in the government of Prime Minister Malik Sir Feroz Khan Noon (Republican) from September 20, 1958 to October 7, 1958, when the cabinet was dismissed on the declaration of Martial Law by President Iskander Mirza.
He was arrested and convicted by a Military Tribunal in 1960, and subsequently disqualified from holding public office. As a result of his legal battles, he did not contest the 1970 general elections. Instead, he campaigned on behalf of his younger brother, Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Bugti, a candidate of the National Awami Party.
However, Bugti developed differences with the NAP leadership, especially the new Balochistan Governor, Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo. He informed the Federal Government and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Pakistan Peoples Party) about the alleged London Plan, which resulted in the dismissal of the provincial governor as well as the Chief Minister Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal and his cabinet on February 14, 1973.
The next day, the Federal Government appointed Bugti as the Governor of Balochistan, and the Pakistan Army was deployed in the province as part of a crackdown on the National Awami Party.
He resigned on January 1, 1974 after disagreeing with the manner in which the Federal Government was carrying out policies in Balochistan.The army had deployed 100,000 men in Baluchistan and with the help of the Iranian airforce had resorted to wholsesale murder of the Baluchis. Muhammad Raza Shah Pehlavi, the King of Iran had sent F-14 fighter jets along with his pilots, to help Pakistani army suppress the Baluchis. The Pakistani army killed more than 4000 Baluchis in these operations.
There was a lull in his activities when General Rahimuddin Khan was appointed as Governor of Balochistan in 1978. Bugti remained silent throughout the course of Rahimuddin’s rule, which was often characterized by hostility towards the Baloch Sardars.
In 1988, he joined the Balochistan National Alliance and was elected Chief Minister on February 4, 1989. His government frequently disagreed with the Federal Government led by the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan Peoples Party).
Bugti resigned on August 6, 1990 when the provincial assembly was dissolved by Governor of Balochistan General Muhammad Musa Khan in accordance with the instructions of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan exercising his authority by virtue of Article 58 (2 b) of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The incoming caretaker Chief Minister Mir Humayun Khan Marri was his son-in-law.
For the 1990 General Elections, Bugti formed his own political party, the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), being Balochistan’s single largest party and was elected to the provincial assembly.
In 1993, he was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan representing the JWP in parliament. Also in 1993 Nawab Bugti announced his candidacy to be President of Pakistan, but later withdrew his candidacy and announced his support to the eventual winner Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari. In 1997, Nawab Bugti was re-elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan representing the JWP.
Bugti was involved in struggles, at times armed ones, in Balochistan in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He was leading the current movement in Balochistan for greater autonomy. He was the public face and provided political support for the movement while his grandson Brahamdagh Bugti leads the Bugti tribesmen.
Bugti lead a protest against the present establishment in Pakistan in February 2005, after the rape of a female doctor, Shazia Khalid in Pakistan’s Sui gas fields .The alleged rapist was a certain Captain Hamad of Pakistan Army. The Pakistani President, General Musharraf absolved the captain of any wrongdoing without any judicial proceedings. The General later had told the Washington Post that women like Shazia Khalid had made it a business concern by getting raped to procure foreign visas (see the WP link below) Violence erupted in the Sui area after the high-handed tactics of Pakistan army. The Bugti tribesman attacked gas installations in Sui and claimed the reaction to be “appropriate and fitting”. In the following months, Bugti’s tribesmen launched attacks on infrastructure and military/govt. installations while Bugti threatened the government. Clashes continued until a ceasefire later that year.
The members of the General Musharraf’s inner circle i.e. Chaudhary Shujaat Hussein and Mushahid Hussein met Bugti and negotiated a political settlement. The General however, vetoed the agreement reached by his own men and launched the military offensive against the Bugtis, especially with an intent to decapitate them by killing Akbar Bugti. After a major aerial attack using air to surface missiles, on his compound the Nawab left his hometown of Dera Bugti , and went into hiding in the Bhambore hills in Marri area.
While Bugti was well-loved by most Baloch, many also frowned on his tribal background and lamented the lack of development for his region during his stints in power. However, his courage in standing up against an undemocratic establishment in an environment where most politicians were either bribed or coerced into submission was widely respected. The fact however, remains that from 1978-1984 the military ruler of Baluchistan had a complete control over the region, without any interference from Bugti or any other leader. Instead of using this record time – longest period for any governor in Pakistan’s history- the army with General Rahimuudin focused on developing its own infrastructure and running a covert war against the former USSR .
On Saturday August 26, 2006, around 2230 hrs (PST), Bugti was killed in a bombing operation that caused the cave roof to collapse on him. His location was traced through the satellite phone he was using and Pakistani secret service agencies pin-pointed his location. (It is not clear if he was pinpointed through a satellite phone) The news of his death was broken to the media by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, leader of Pakistan Peoples Party Parlimentarians.
Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf has termed his death a victory for Pakistanis and congratulated the secret service chief who carried out this operation. Pakistan’s Information Minister Ali Durrani, confirmed that the operation included both air and ground assault. In a short telephonic interview made to a Private TV network, Pakistani Information Minister said that Bugti’s death occurred as the cave he was in collapsed.
On August 24, 2006, under controversial circumstances, some Bugti tribesmen announced an end to the Nawabi system and requested the handing over of Nawab Bugti to authorities. His property was seized and he was declared as a “proclaimed offender.”
Bugti’s death was followed by rioting by hundreds of students from the state-run Balochistan university. As the news flashed across TV screens in Pakistan, the government deployed Rangers and paramilitary forces across major cities to prevent a backlash and impose a curfew in the provincial capital, Quetta. Security arrangements for the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf have been beefed up to the highest level and his movement has since been very restricted, fearing a retaliatory attack. Security arrangements have been further enhanced in and around all airports of Pakistan. The media both in Pakistan and outside have severely condemend the killing as “Military’s second biggest blunder after Bhutto’s execution” and calling it a “political nightmare”. Others have likened it to the East Bengal crisis of 1971 where military violence eventually led to the Bangladesh Liberation War.
On 27 August 2006, some private media broadcasted news that Bugti’s grandson Bramdakh and Mir Ali are still alive but no official confirmation has been made.
On September 1, 2006 Bugti was buried in Dera Bugti, next to the graves of his son and brother. His family, who wanted a public funeral in Quetta, did not attend the burial.
This is one of the few instances in Asia of a government killing a political leader who had previously served in high official positions—as a cabinet minister, Senator, and Governor.
Akbar Khan Bugti Pictures