Bugti’s Support for Pakistan Democracy Opens Doors for Balochistan

The chief of Balochistan Republican Party (BRP), Brahumdagh Bugti, represents a voice of reason among Baloch nationalists who have borne the brunt of the worst atrocities by Pakistani authorities. But unlike some of them, he seems unwilling to close all doors for politics and a political settlement. After all, the Baloch are relatively in few numbers and have waged a struggle for their human rights and right of self-determination for several decades. But their courage notwithstanding, the Baloch cannot succeed by armed struggle. They will eventually need a political settlement that recognizes their national rights.

Recently, Bugti tweeted:

Some Baloch nationalists misread that tweet as support for one of the many Punjabi political actors that have condoned or ignored the injustices against the people of Balochistan. In fact, it should be seen as a sensible political move to expand the circle of friends within Pakistan for the Baloch people.

The most unreasonable stance against the Baloch has been adopted by Pakistan’s establishment, which has periodically waged war against the Baloch. General Pervez Musharraf killed Nawab Akbar Bugti and proudly proclaimed the end of Baloch resistance and Baloch nationalism. Since then, the Baloch have proved him wrong by resisting centralized control over their historic homeland.

The establishment has retaliated by completely taking over Balochistan’s political process, installing puppets in the provincial government and taking away any semblance of real Baloch representation in the government. Human Rights violation in Balochistan are rampant, forcing many Baloch leaders into exile or driving them underground. Those supporting the Baloch are dismissed as foreign agents.

Still, there are many Pakistanis committed to democracy and human rights who speak out boldly for the Baloch. Although those Pakistani politicians who have wielded power in recent years have done little to stand by the Baloch people, it is in the interest of the Baloch struggle that the Baloch seek support from any politician who confronts the Pakistani establishment. It is in this context that Brahumdagh Bugti’s acknowledgement of Nawaz Sharif’s recent anti-establishment stance should be seen.

No Baloch or supporter of Baloch rights can condone the Pakistani politicians’ tendency to ignore the Baloch. But we can all appreciate efforts to expand the circle of friends of the Baloch people from among opponents of Pakistan’s establishment.

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