Adieu Comrade Jalib

By Malik Siraj Akbar

In the most high-profile political assassination since the killing of Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006, Wednesday’s target killing of Balochistan National Party (BNP) secretary general Habib Jalib Baloch, the entire province is in a state of agony, incredulity and fury.

The killing of the senior-most BNP leader has been condemned all over the country irrespective of political, ideological differences of opinion.

Not many people in the history of Baloch nationalist movement have had such a long and consistent commitment to democracy, secularism and nationalism like Jalib,57, who did not bow down or sell out his loyalties inside the torture cells during the dictatorial rule of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf.

Scores of political colleagues ditched Jalib in the last four decades either to join the civil services or become members of the ruling class. Jalib remained the only man in the entire caravan who did not jump on the bandwagon to become a top bureaucrat or a spokesman for the government.

In the good old days, his supporters would chant promisingly Inqilab kay theen Nishan: Raziq Jalib, Kahor Khan (Three symbols of revolution: Raziq, Jalib and Kahor Khan). On the other hand, the opponents would jokingly say CIA kay theen Nishan: Raziq, Jalib, Kahor Khan (Three symbols of CIA: Raziq Jalib and Kahor Khan. While late Raziq Bugti decided to become a spokesman for the government of Balochistan under the leadership of Jam Yousaf during the gruesome days of Musharraf’s martial law until was killed by the Baloch Liberation Army, Dr. Kahor Khan, like several other top BSO leaders, gave up politics and joined civil services. Nonetheless, Habib Jalib remained a hard nut to crack. He would surely die if he was kept away from politics. Therefore, Jalib remained in the world of politics until he was killed apparently for his bold political views.

A foreign PhD-degree holder intellectual, author, Supreme Court lawyer, cogent orator, prolific writer, ex-parliamentarian and an active political campaigner, Jalib was a unique chapter of the Baloch national history which was very brutally brought to a tragic end. Unidentified persons shot him near his brother’s shop at Musa Colony of Sariab Road after he had returned from dropping his children at school. Doctors pronounced him dead by the time he was rushed to the hospital.

It was the political murder of a second chairman of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO), the other being Mir Maula Baksh Dashti, who was killed in a short period of four days.

There cannot be a greater loss to the Baloch nationalist movement than the coldblooded murder of ideological, educated and rational leaders. Jalib was one of the highly educated leaders of the Baloch movement who had a clear sense of Baloch nationalism. Along with Maula Baksh Dashti, he also belonged to a middle class family. He was purely a self-made figure who was widely respected in the BNP cadre as well as in other political parties. The killing of Dashti and now that of Jalib proves that NP and BNP face a common threat which needs to be tackled with unity.

Jalib appeared before courts without charging a penny in dozens of cases involving the missing Baloch persons. He was a champion of human rights who would always stand up with the families of those who have been whisked away. He actively pursued the cases of missing persons. He also regularly fought the cases of all those Baloch students-cum-political activists who were picked up by the police in raids on college and university hostels from time to time. Jalib would get bail or offer free legal assistance to the Baloch students facing any kind of legal battle.

The BNP activists took to the streets and blocked all roads in Quetta and many other districts of Balochistan to pay respect and vent their anger over the killing of a peaceful democratic leader who stuck to political solutions of the matters. The protestors were barred by the police when they wanted to take the dead body to the Governor’s House in order to lodge their protest. The police used tear gases and shell to dissuade the protestors from approaching the Governor’s House.

The government has formulated a judicial inquiry into the murder under the leadership of a high court while four teams of law enforcement agencies have also been created to investigate the killing of the Baloch leader. In the initial stage, the police department has also released the photo sketch of one of the murders and a reward of Rs. One million. It has to be seen how much success the committee will achieve in its fact-finding mission.

While Jalib’s killing is an irreparable loss which will never be compensated, the heartening news comes from the Baloch Republican Party of Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti which has strongly denounced the killing of a leader with whom the latter does not share a similar political ideology The BRP has said differences aside, the killing of Jalib was a great tragedy. We hope this tragic development is taken by the groups and Baloch nationalists to map out the enemy of the Baloch nationalists and this province.

(This write-up originally appeared in The Baloch Hal)

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