Remembering Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo
By Malik Siraj Akbar
The 20th death anniversary of former Balochistan governor and leading Baloch nationalist leader Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo is being observed across the province today (Monday).
Widely remembered as ‘Baba-e-Balochistan’ or the father of Balochistan, late Bizenjo was involved in relentless political struggle for the rights of the oppressed people. He was the cardholder of the Communist Party of India since his student days in Aligarh. He retained his membership till his death in 1988. He was a member of the politburo of the party.
For his strong connections with the Communist Party of India, Bizenjo, the then Balochistan governor, refused, for political reasons, to accompany President Zulfiqar Bhutto to India to broker the Simla Accord. However, he recommended that NWFP governor late Arbab Sikandar Khan Khalil be included in the delegation representing the defunct National Awami Party in the talks.
Bizenjo was an activist seeking ouster of the British colonial rule from India for which he was off and on arrested too.
On his return from Aligarh, he was appointed the leader of the house in the House of Common of Kalat State.
Bizenjo joined the Kalat National Party, a front organisation that fought for the independence of Balochistan from Britain. He was arrested and expelled from Kalat on the Kalat prime minister’s orders. He spent his days of exile in Karachi where he was active in nationalist politics of the Baloch people.
He also assisted local intellectuals in bringing out weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines working without any remuneration. He wrote reports and articles both in Balochi and Urdu.
Popular: He was equally popular among the people in the Iranian province of Balochistan and he always fought for their democratic rights in Iran.
Bizenjo helped normalise relations between the late Shah of Iran and the Baloch sardars who had fought against the Iranian forces for decades. He was invited to Tehran by late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then president of Pakistan, for consultations on Pakistan-Iran relations.
To the surprise of many, Bizenjo was received at the Meharabad Airport by the Shah of Iran himself. “It was a shock to the Pakistani establishment and to Zulfiqar Bhutto who was leading the delegation to Tehran seeking economic assistance from the Shah following the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971,” Siddique Baluch, the then personal secretary of late Bizenjo, told Daily Times.
Some pro-establishment politicians and officials were offended with the reception Bizenjo got in Tehran and they launched a vilification campaign against him dubbing him as SAWAK agent. It is on record that it was Bizenjo who launched a counter-attack on the Shah of Iran that Iran would invade Balochistan and occupy it if security of Pakistan was threatened. His statement was carried by hundreds of newspapers worldwide.
Finally, Bizenjo played a very important role in the constitution making process. He concluded constitutional accords between the NAP and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for framing a progressive constitution in which maximum provincial autonomy was ensured.
However, senior elements within the NAP, led by late Khan Abdul Wali Khan, opposed the approach to have an alliance with the PPP and Bhutto thus the constitutional accords were shelved compelling Bhutto to rely heavily on the clergy and rightwing political parties to frame the “Islamic Constitution” of Pakistan in 1973.
Bizenjo, as a protest, voted for the 1973 Constitution while the three remaining NAP representatives in the Constituent Assembly did not. Therefore, it is wrong to claim that the 1973 constitution was drafted on the basis of consensus. Balochistan had virtually vetoed it by not casting votes in its favour. When the 1973 Constitution was promulgated on August 14, 1974, the PPP government arrested all the top Baloch leaders. They were released six months after a martial law was imposed by General Ziaul Haq, overthrowing Bhutto’s government.