Why Mengal Should Not Have Met Jam Yousaf
Two former chief ministers of Balochistan, Sardar Attaullah Mengal (Balochistan National Party) and Jam Mohammad Yousaf (Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam) met on Sunday at the latter’s Karachi residence. The meeting lasted for more than two hours while the veteran Baloch leader was also accompanied by the president of B.N.P.’s Lasbela District chapter.
This was an extraordinary meeting considering the fact that Baloch nationalist leaders and tribal chiefs are extremely picky when it comes to the people they meet. While Mr. Mengal and Mr. Yousaf , despite political differences, have close family ties, Balochistan is not known as one of those wonderful places on the earth where people delightedly socialize with their political rivals in order to retain their family ties. Balochistan is one such deeply politicized societies where, forget about family ties, even brothers do not talk to each other based on their divergent political opinions (some examples include Hairbayar Marri v/s Jhangiz Marri, Jamil Bugti v/s Talal Bugti, Lashkari Raisani v/s Aslam Raisani and the Zehri brothers, besides several others). So it is vey naive to believe what B.N.P.’s central spokesman said that the meeting could have taken place purely based on the family relations of the two politicians.
A day before this meeting, some reports in the media suggested that the federal government, which had recently inducted Mr. Yousaf as the country’s minister for privatization, had called him in Islamabad to seeks his assistance for the government in its efforts to fix the conflict in Balochistan.
Mr. Yousaf, a diehard supporter and subservient of former military dictator General Musharraf, is a deeply unpopular politician whose integrity has come under question on a number of occasions for multiple reasons. The Baloch people do not have fond memories of his five-year term as the head of the provincial government during the dark days of Musharraf’s (mis)rule. The province faced a military operation, resulting in the killing of hundreds of political activists and ordinary citizens; thousands disappeared and tens of thousands from Marri and Bugti tribal areas ended up as internally displaced people in the Sindh and Punjab provinces and parts of Balochistan. Rampant corruption, bad governance and administrative mismanagement are some other reasons why Mr. Yousaf will go down in the dark chapters of the history.
Pakistani courts had been looking for him for the past many years in connection to the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Balochistan’s former governor and chief minister. Bugti was mysteriously killed in an operation on August 26, 2006. His sons have nominated Mr.Yousaf among men responsible for their father’s murder while Baloch armed groups have enlisted his name among the politicians they intend to “eliminate”. Furthermore, it was during Yousaf’s government when Sardar Mengal’s son and former chief minister Akhtar Mengal was arrested in the wake of the Lashkar-e-Balochistan, a peaceful Balochistan-wide long-march called by the B.N.P. against General Musharraf’s policies in the province. The junior Mengal was humiliated as, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, he was literally kept in an “iron cage” in Karachi. Mengal’s jail-term, which was entirely politically-motivated, lasted for nearly two years.
Senior Mengal’s willingness to meet meet Mr. Yousaf is deeply disappointing. It does not bode well for B.N.P.’s image as Balochistan’s largest political party. This meeting also takes away the reason from the Baloch people to complain with the P.P.P. for patronizing and appointing Mr. Yousaf as a federal minister. The B.N.P. may justify this by simply calling it as a routine meeting between two family members but we believe one of the “family members” is a crook who is directly responsible for inflicting immeasurable pain on the people of Balochistan. A respected political figure like Sardar Mengal, who has spent his entire life championing the rights of the Baloch, was certainly not in his best political shape when he met the man blamed for Nawab Bugti’s killing. Mengal has significantly belittled his political stature by meeting a man who least cared about the rights of the rights of Balochistan. If Sardar Mengal is fond of keeping his doors open for all because he is a political figure then he should have at least met with a Pakistani representative compatible with his own towering political figure say someone like President Asif Ali Zardari or the army chief, General Ashgaq Parvez Kayani. Jam Yousaf is indeed too unimportant a leader to deserve Sardar Mengal’s time and attention.
The B.N.P. has lately shown repeated signs of desperation to reconcile with the Pakistani government ahead of the upcoming general elections. One such example was the party president Akhtar Mengal’s appearance before the Pakistani Supreme Court in October 2012 where he presented his Six Points . Mengal’s Six Points were immediately rejected by the Pakistani Establishment. Ironically, Senior Mengal’s meeting with Mr. Yousaf also contradicts with Junior Mengal’s Point No. 5 which states, “those responsible for the killings and disappearances should be brought to book.” Aren’t people like Mr. Yousaf directly or indirectly responsible for the killing and disappearances in Balochistan? Now, who is disrespecting and disregarding Mengal’s Six Points?
The B.N.P. often reacts madly to criticism from fellow Baloch politicians and the media by saying that it is not bound to any other party or individual’s wishes and it, as an independent political party, is entitled to make its own decisions. True but while a political party is not under any obligation to listen to what other parties have to say, it certainly is required to listen to what the people, who repose their trust in the party, have to say. In this case, the B.N.P. has once again tarnished its public trust and image. This shows B.N.P.’s unpredictable and inconsistent political approach on key political issues. The damage caused to the Party’s reputation is even worse in the wake of the general elections because speculations are already abundant about a possible deal between the B.N.P. and Islamabad’s powerful quarters.
This editorial was originally published in The Baloch Hal on December 31, 2012