By Malik Siraj Akbar
The largest and most militant wing of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO-Azad) is plagued with worst defection and infighting since its creation in February 2006 over the activists’ dissatisfaction with their Chairman, Bashir Zeb Baloch.
The BSO-Azad, a sympathizer of the armed struggle in Balochistan and a proponent of an Independent Balochistan, was abandoned by around 60 workers during the ongoing week. The activists whine that they have been disappointed by the ‘undemocratic’ and ‘domineering’ role of their chairman Bashir Zeb Baloch who refuses to quit his office of chairman in order to pave the way for the budding leadership to assume the charge of the organization. As a result, around 25 students quit the Azad faction of the BSO and joined the Pajar faction. The next day, 30 other supporters of the BSO-Azad announced their resignations from the militant student wing and joined the Mohiuddin faction of BSO, which is loyal to the Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal).
Currently, there are three factions of the BSO –Azad, Pajar and Mohiuddin. While the last two are the student wings of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and the National Party (NP) respectively, the Azad faction, as its name indicates, does not associate itself with any political organization. However, its support for Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Bramdagh Bugti’s armed struggle is an open secrete.
The BSO Azad came into being in February 2006 when three separate factions of the organization, BSO Muthida, headed by Dr. Imdad Baloch, BSO-Mengal, headed by Chairman Amanullah Baloch and BSO- Hai group, headed by Chairman Asif Baloch, reunified and formed the single BSO which disassociated itself from any mainstream nationalist party. Yet, the BNP and NP did not view the unification of the BSO favorably as an independent body. Thus, both the nationalist parties created their own student wings and gave them the name of BSO. Two factions of BSO, called Mohiuddin, under the influence of the BNP, and Pajar, under the influence of the National Party, could not in combined challenge the strength and organization of the BSO-Azad.
The annoyed activists of the BSO-Azad complain their chairman has been hiding underground throughout the year. Now, they want to replace him with a more committed young leader, Sangat Sana Baloch. But the Chairman refuses to give up his office despite the demand of the majority of the party workers. “The BSO is a democratic student party. We want the leadership to be present among its workers. Elections should be held regularly to choose a new chairman. We have been badly disappointed by the undemocratic and rigid role of the chairman and decided to quit the organization and join BSO-Mohiuddin which is more democratic in its orientation,” said Imran Baloch, a BSO defector.
In a detailed meeting with me in my office over a cup of tea, Chairman Bashir Zeb Baloch, rejected the allegations against him, saying that the BSO had always come under the influence of ‘invisible forces’ which tried to exploit some ‘immature workers’ to cause the break-up of the organization. “I still enjoy the support of the majority of the ideologically committed comrades,” he remarked, “Those who have decided to quit have proven how immature their political vision is. BSO-Azad stands for an independent Balochistan and rejects parliament. My friends have made their commitment with the Baloch cause questionable by joining factions of BSO which are subservient of the political parties that support parliamentary politics.” Zeb argued that the BSO would not destabilize or disintegrate by the defection of ‘unknown and immature workers’.
Originally, the BSO, founded for the first time on 26th November, 1967, was a replacement of the Warna Wannda Gal (The Educated Youth Forum) that was founded in 1961 in Quetta with Siddique Azat as its first president. Since its outset, the BSO has been divided in two and, in some cases, more than two factions. Differences and divisions have always been there. But this time, a former chairman of the BSO, Dr. Imdad Baloch, pointed out: “These differences are going to prove to be fatal. This is likely to mark the death of BSO for good. BSO has become irrelevant today because it lacks scientific tools and techniques needed to represent the students in today’s age.”
Imdad, who as the chairman of the BSO spent seven months in a hidden torture cell during the Musharraf regime, predicts the newly created Baloch Republican Students Organization (BRSO) is expected to replace the BSO.
BRSO emerged on the students’ political scene of Balochistan soon after the formation of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), a broke-way faction of the Jamori Watan Party (JWP) of late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. The BRSO supports Bramdagh Bugti and champions the cause of an independent Balochistan. Its organizer, Ilftaf Baloch, told me that the BRSO was a relatively new outfit as compared to the BSO but he was optimistic that it would soon gain popularity among the Baloch youths.
“We are in touch with the annoyed workers of the BSO-Azad. If they want to join us, we will welcome them provided that they agree with our ideology,” he remarked, arguing that people across the province had lost faith in the nationalist partiers that espouse the cause of parliamentary politics. Therefore, they were joining the BRP and its students’ wing, BRSO.