Marri-Mengal tussle: Please stop the music
By Malik Siraj Akbar
This newspaper had previously predicted that the meeting between Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and veteran Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Attaullah Mengal in Karachi earlier this week would divide the Balochs. While making such a predication, we had not imagined in our wildest dreams that the backlash of Sardar Mengal’s meeting could culminate into a new phase of abhorrence and allegations between Marri and Mengal tribes.
By initiating a series of abusive statements against each other in the local newspapers, which are dominated by personal assaults on respected tribal elders, the Marris and Mengals have begun a more serious business which is more costly than even the loss of a great leader like Nawab Mohammad Khan Bugti.
The outburst of such differences between two most important sections of Baloch nationalist movement has not only pushed an ideological movement several decades backward but has also provided the worst enemies of the Baloch movement a chance to ridicule the Baloch struggle.
Marri and Mengal are two eyes of a bride called the Baloch nationalist movement. While the Marris have contributed enormously to the armed struggle, which was the last option remaining for the Balochs, the Mengals, on the other hand, have richly fought the Baloch battle in the streets through political means. If Sardar Attaullah Mengal gave the sacrifice of his charismatic son Asad Mengal, Nawab Khair Baksh Marri lost his fearless commander son Nawabzada Balach Marri. If a scion of the Marri family, Nawabzada Hairbayar Marri faced courts and terrorism charges in London during the dictatorial regime of Pervez Musharraf, a son of the Mengal house, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, lived in an “iron cage” during his 18-month long detention to face cases of terrorism before an anti-terrorist court in Karachi. If the mother of a BNP activist, Shahnaz Bibi, was killed by the security forces in Quetta, the Marri daughter, Zarina Marri, spent rigorous torture at unknown locations. If the Marri town of New Kahan was repeatedly raided by security forces then truckloads of activists of BNP activists were also rounded up on the call of Lashkar-e-Balochistan long march.
Thus, it is utterly meaningless to score points against each other. Marri and Mengals are both respected tribes of Balochistan which have not compromised on the interests of people of Balochistan over the years. Their services are highly admirable and the sacrifices they have offered over the years have become a part of the rich history that makes every Baloch very proud.
The abusive campaign both the parties have started against each other in the aftermath of Sardar Attaullah Mengal’s meeting with Prime Minister Gilani is highly regrettable and disappointing. This is not the epitome of liberal democratic struggles. Civilized political parties do not behave this way at a time when the Baloch nation is at a state of war. Such irresponsible attitude will demoralize the mothers and daughters of the missing persons. This will disappoint the young Baloch political activists who are still spending jail terms. This will end the Baloch nationalist movement like a classical tragedy.
To borrow a phrase from infamous military dictator Pervez Musharraf, one must say, it is not the 70s. On a positive side, the Baloch movement this time has proved itself very different from the previous epochs of Baloch resistance movements. In the current phase, the Baloch nationalist movement was not confined to one tribe or section of the society. Musharraf’s repressive policies destroyed the Balochs economically and socially all over Balochistan. The military operation was expanded from Marri and Bugti areas to rest of Balochistan. The economic onslaught on the Baloch was expanded throughout the province. The colonial force of the Frontier Corps (FC) was deployed in all Baloch towns. Young political activists went missing across the Baloch land.
Likewise, the resistance movement was joined by middle class educated youths as well. Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch, all belonging to middle class families, gave their lives as well in as remote places as Mekran. Dr. Allah Nizar was not a Bugti, Marri or Mengal son. He is an ordinary Baloch who made up his mind to fight for the rights of his people. Banok Karima and Shakar Bibi were yet again new role models for Baloch mothers and sisters who brought Baloch women on the forefront of the struggle by creating mass awareness about the Baloch movement. They spent days and days at hunger strike camps to protest the enforced disappearance of Baloch children.
Do the “over-smart” press secretaries of BNP and Anjuman-e-Ittehad-e-Marri want to reverse all this progress Baloch movement has made in the last many years? Do they think they have the right to shatter the hopes and desires of so many Balochs? Do they want Islamabad to withdraw its security forces and spymasters from Balochistan because the Balochs have already started fighting each other and made Islamabad’s task easier? Do they want the usurpers of Baloch resources to sit and laugh in their drawing rooms after reading the abusive statements issued by one Baloch party against the other?
The Baloch media have always championed the cause of Baloch unity. Reaffirming our commitment to the Baloch solidarity, we humbly request both the sides to immediately stop this abusive campaign against each other. Balochistan is already burning and it cannot afford any kind of vendetta among its political forces which give some hope to the people of this impoverished province. We equally appeal to both the sides to respect each others’ mode of struggle. Heavens have not fallen after the Gilani-Mengal meeting nor would heavens fall if BNP ignored a statement of Anjuman-e-Ittehad-e-Marri criticizing Sardar Mengal for meeting Gilani. Politics is all about tolerance. The Baloch parties have to realize that they face a common enemy which is bent upon usurping their natural resources.
We would like to appeal to both, the older and the younger, generations of Baloch leadership comprising of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Nawabzada Hairbayar Marri and Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal to play a positive role to put out this fire of detestation and allegations. This will not lead the Baloch to any safe destination except for that of utter aimlessness, chaos and civil war. In addition, Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti should also move forward to play a mediatory role to ask the Marris and Mengals to announce a ceasefire for their dangerous cold war.
The Baloch Hal is the first online English newspaper of Balochistan