Politics of the Corpse
04 September, 2006
By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
Though the death of Akbar Bugti is unfortunate but it was more of his own choosing and had to come sooner or later. It was a writ large on the wall for all to read, yet it cannot be slighted away as an ordinary event. It is no victory for the conqueror or the vanquished. It was a simple case of bringing order to a house disarrayed and make the delinquent respect the authority of the 'family' elders. However, the 80 year old juvenile thought it otherwise and wanted his diktat to rule supreme. It was a matter handled amateurishly by both - the late Bugti and the law enforcing agencies. Akbar Bugti was known for his obstinacy bordering fool hardiness and at the same time for his avarice for the worldly possessions and ostentation. He had been a trouble maker almost throughout his political life but the previous rulers had been somewhat successful in taming him by use of the carrot and stick policy. This had in a way spoiled him also and during one of his cell phone interceptions he was heard lamenting as to why was the present government not negotiating with him as had all the previous governments done. In order to enforce his terms he adopted still a harder stance. He not only confronted the power of the state but also literally waged a war against it using weapons of all kinds; rifles, Kalashnikovs, LMGs, automatic weapons, rockets, mortars, grenades, mines, explosives and bombs. Where did he get such a liberal supply of these is something that should be a matter of concern to all patriotic Pakistanis? Time and again he was cajoled, advised and even warned to desist from the policy of open confrontation but the Sardari blood running in his veins kept pumping vain ideas of his invincibility into his head. He was warned in clear terms that it was no more 1973/74 and it will not be possible for him to hide in the mountains where the then ill equipped FC and Police had found itself helpless against the renegades. It was the 21st century and the law enforcing agencies were much better equipped for any one to resist them. However, all such warnings went heedless. To top it all and probably emboldened by the success of his hit and run sporadic attacks on government installations and killing the unwary by ambushing them, he literally invited the inevitable by firing upon two helicopters and damaging one of them severely which gave away his hideout. A hi-tech reconnaissance soon betrayed his presence inside the mud cave in a side hill of Kohlu. A last minute effort by a team of officers to negotiate his surrender cost them their lives due to a sudden explosion in the cave. Most probably Sardar's unplaced ego made him rather take his own life than surrender alive. The explosion caved in the cave killing all inside and rendering the retrieval of the body impossible without proper engineer effort.
It happened on 26th of August 2006 and as of that moment triggered off the Politics of the Corpses, reminiscent of a pagan ritualistic war dance circling around the flaming pyre of a dead Chief. The ARD, the MMA, the ML(N), the PPP, the Mengals, the Marris, Imran Khan, Abida Hussain, the Bugti sons et al, are trying to surpass one another in applauding the last Samurai stand of the fallen Nawab and condemning the army and Musharraf for killing him. The print and electronic media not to be left behind joined the chorus instantly taking the topic to every home throughout the length and breadth of the country. The whole episode was portrayed as if it was a target killing transforming the late Bugti into a martyr and a Shaheed. While the crescendo of the martyrdom was going full blast surprisingly not a word of condolence was uttered by any of these leaders or media men for the army officers and men who made the supreme sacrifice of laying down their life in the call of duty. Even a novice conducting the military operation would have ordered his four officers (a Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors and a Captain) and a JCO out of the cave before aligning the barrel of his rocket launcher in the direction of the cave. How ignorant of those making the accusations of target killing?! Such an accusation speaks volumes about the hollowness of their heads about the military operations. They do not have the foggiest idea and yet each one of them tries to be a Napoleon by propounding his own theory as to the conduct of the operation. Do they know that if the authorities wanted to eliminate Bugti there were hundred and one overt and covert methods of doing it. Why would the government make a hero out of a runaway renegade hiding in a cave for his life with only a handful of his followers? Why had the four officers and a JCO gone to the cave? To kill Bugti? For that only a squad of commandos would have sufficed and not the senior officers. The fact of the matter is that they were there to persuade Bugti once again to come to the negotiation table and give up his terrorist activities. Akbar Bugti, strip of the Sardari a week before by the Bugti Jirga, a social pariah in his own Dera Bugti, the fiefdom gone where once he ruled supreme and now the once ousted by the Nawab thousands of Katpars, Missoris and Bugtis had returned in droves under the government protection, and finally finding the law enforcing agencies knocking at the very entrance of the cave where he was hiding for his life, was driven to a total desperation and blew up the cave taking the lives of the officers along with his own life and that of his few compatriots. He had nothing left to live for.
Ironically, the Sardar, the Nawab and the once Mighty Tumandar of Bugtis had passed away and his mortal remains were lying locked in a coffin but strangely there were no mourners around. No one from the tribe or the family. Only a few government functionaries and media men were at hand to perform the last rituals. His remains were interned in ancestral graveyard next to his forefathers and other family members.
The end was most unbecoming of a Nawab and that's what provided the opposition and the anti-government elements with an ideal opportunity of waging the Politics of the Corpse against the government. Those who despite their incessant rhetoric could never muster even a few men on the street, have announced a series of strikes, protests and demonstrations one after the other spreading over the weeks to keep the momentum going. A plethora of politicians of all shades and standing have taken upon themselves on TV shows and print media to save Pakistan from disintegration in the wake of Bugti's death. Time and again parallels are drawn between the execution of ZAB and the killing of Bugti. Firstly, there is no comparison between the statures of ZAB and the Bugti and anyone equating the two needs a lesson or two in history. Secondly, while portraying both as the victims of the military regimes, what is not understood is as to why a mention is repeatedly made of their belonging to the smaller provinces?! Is it just an unintentional figure of speech or some well thought out nefarious design of spreading hatred between the provinces for the weakening of the federation? Ch. Shujaat is also being chastised for not repaying Bugti's debt who had spared Ch. Zahoor's life against ZAB orders of eliminating him while transferring from Muchh jail to Mianwali. I wonder if the exponents of democracy reminding Shujaat publicly of his such obligation, realize that how naively they are damaging the cause of democracy run by leaders like ZAB and strengthening the perception against him as a physical eliminator of his opponents? Is this the way the democracy is run? Needless to say, his one such 'elimination order' ultimately landed him at the gallows. Some democracy, some leader.
The other most favourite theme of the so called well wishers of Pakistan is the 1971 events of the then East Pakistan. We are being constantly reminded by them to learn the lesson from history. I think it is time someone told them also to learn the lesson from history. Peoples memory is not that short and most of us still remember pronouncements like, "We will break the legs of those who go to Dacca to attend the NA session there", "Undhar tum, idhar ham", "It is better to be a Topdog in half of Pakistan than be an underdog in full Pakistan", etc. While taking a lesson or two from East Pakistan history let's dig a little deeper. Agartala case had proved beyond any shadow of doubt Mujib's treason in collusion with India. A simple death sentence for the traitor and then relatively unimportant Mujib would have nipped the evil in the bud and the ultimate catastrophe averted. But not acceptable to our politicians and of all the persons Asghar Khan was the chief spokesman for arranging a Round Table Conference with Mujib. The significance of the roundtable is that no one sits at the head of the table to preside over it and all participants are equal. Asghar Khan brought Mujib at par with the President of Pakistan!! Made a hero of a near zero over night. I think Musharraf remembered his lesson from history and knows that , Baluchistan is not a thousand miles away East Pakistan with hostile India in between, Baluchis are all Muslims and highly patriotic Pakistanis - unlike the Bengalis who had an influential and dominant segment of Hindu population there, no contiguity with India for cross border support, the present government has done many times more for the uplift of Baluchistan than all the previous government put together during the last fifty years. A number of mega development projects going on and planned for Baluchistan should transform Baluchistan into one of the most opulent provinces of Pakistan, and the Baluchis know it. And, lastly the late Bugti, because of his own doings, had completely lost the confidence of his tribe or for matter of other Baluchis at large. Hence, the worthy politicians need not have any concerns for the secession of Baluchistan. As a matter of fact, if they are sincere and honest in keeping the solidarity of the federation intact, they will be well advised to refrain from such talk promoting any secessionist trends and tendencies. The operation carried out by the law enforcing agencies must be viewed as an inevitable and an undesirable spanking of a delinquent child in the family and not as any personal grudge against any one. What enmity or grouse could the colonels and majors have against the late Akbar Bugti or his few followers? How many innocent lives have been lost during the last two years or so? Members of law enforcing agencies, the engineers - including Chinese and other expatriates, civil government servants and officials, workers at government installations, innocent passengers in buses, trolleys and trains. Don't they and their families deserve a word of sympathy or condolence for having been killed by the Bugti? Were they not the loyal and patriotic citizens of Pakistan? If they were, then please politicians, show by your deeds and words that you are also sorry for them to have had lost their lives. That you also pray for the departed souls, if you cannot hold 'Ghaibana Namaz e Janaza for them. That you are also sorry for their widows and the young children left behind by them. That you shall strive in future never to allow a situation to develop where a politician has to take up arms and kill the innocent. That you shall always keep the interest of the country before self. For the present, all it seems, surprisingly, that the only panacea to this all near you is for Musharraf to quit and the government to resign. Is it really so? Do really believe it to be good for the country or is it just a ruse just to enter the corridors of powers? This is one question that haunts me badly? I wish I were wrong.