Mengal’s Inadequate Support For Dr. Malik
Balochistan’s Chief Minister-designate Dr. Malik Baloch called on Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.) president and former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal at his residence, the Mengal House, in Quetta on Monday, June 3, in an attempt to gain the prominent Baloch nationalist leader’s support. This newspaper hadpassionately recommended such a meeting in order not to isolate Mr. Mengal.
The B.N.P. miserably failed in the general elections of May 11 as it could only win two seats in the Balochistan Assembly. Accusing the security establishment of rigging the polls, B.N.P.’s two members of the provincial assembly did not (and have not) take(en) oath of their membership of the provincial legislature. The B.N.P. is disillusioned to such an extent that it is once again contemplating giving up parliamentary struggle. If an upcoming high-level Party meeting scheduled for June 30th endorses such a decision, the B.N.P. may resign from the parliament.
Until some months ago, political observers were visualizing an absolutely different post-election scenario for Balochistan. They saw Sardar Mengal in the place of Dr. Baloch emerging victorious in the general elections and becoming Balochistan’s next chief minister.
The meeting between Dr. Baloch and Sardar Mengal ended in absolute failure. Sardar Mengal did not offer any kind of support to a man who is all set to make history by becoming the first chief minister of Balochistan from the province’s middle-class. It was a sad moment in Baloch political history that Sardar Mengal refrained from unconditionally supporting a nationalist chief minister at a time when even a Punjabi, Nawaz Sharif and a Pashtun, Mahmooad Khan Achakzai, were supporting a Baloch as the chief executive of the province. Unfortunately, Sardar Mengal’s political career has seen a dramatic decline wherein he has gradually limited himself into a self-centered, egoistic politician. He is not willing to celebrate the historic success of a fellow Baloch leader nor is he willing to work with someone who is coming into power with high public support and expectations. If Mr. Mengal had cooperated with Dr. Baloch’s National Party during the elections, the nationalist parties would have certainly performed far better.
Mr. Mengal should realize that his is not the only party that was defeated in the general elections. Ruling parties such as the Pakistan People’s Party (P.P.P.), the Awami National Party (A.N.P.) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (J.U.I-Fazal) were all quashed during the polls but they have still remained normal in their reactions and accepted their defeat. Sardar Mengal should understand that it is normal in politics to win and/or to lose elections. This is simply a part of life. Overreaction can sometimes lead to one’s political demise. Among all who were defeated in the elections, Mr. Mengal is the only one who has adopted a self-defeating and isolationist approach toward the post-election scenario. He is saying goodbye to his decades-old friends and entering the unknown political zone.
One truly wishes Sardar Mengal became a part of this important moment in Balochistan’s history and backed the new government. Nobody wants to see him go isolation. He is too important to be ignored. Similar to all the past governments, Dr. Baloch’s upcoming government will also have all its shortcomings, weaknesses and issues with the security establishment. Mr. Mengal could at least share the burden of a fellow nationalist Baloch leader if he chose to support him in a genuine effort to resolve Balochistan’s outstanding problems. Mr. Mengal would have no reason to criticize Dr. Baloch’s government over its failure in the future over its failures as the latter reached out to the former and sought his cooperation. It was Mr. Mengal who chose not to cooperate.
In their Monday’s meeting, Dr. Baloch said he wished that Sardar Mengal did not quit parliamentary politics. He reminded the former chief minister that the B.N.P. and the N.P. originally were the brainchild of the same political party, the defunct National Awami Party (N.A.P). They could still work together in the greater interest of the Baloch people. Seen from their body language, it appeared that the two Baloch leaders had nothing in common. While Dr. Baloch sounded too ambitious, Sardar Mengal sounded too cynical and pessimistic.
It is ironic that Dr. Baloch has promised to take up the issue of the missing Baloch persons and the bullet-riddled dead bodies with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while Sardar Mengal has raised the same issue as a reason for his party not to join the government. If they collectively agree on the list of the top issues Balochistan faces then one does not understand why they cannot work with each other to resolve these issues. Sardar Mengal does not have to be a part of the government to extend his support to Dr. Baloch in fighting for the rights of Balochistan. After all, an opposition leader is as much responsible for the public welfare as a government official is.
Based on his failed meeting with Sardar Mengal, we suggest Dr. Baloch should reconcile with the bitter reality of politics and society of Balochistan. He will face more such rejections from fellow Baloch nationalists when he reaches out to them for cooperation and assistance. Dr. Baloch has already hinted at reaching out to veteran Baloch leader Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and Dr. Allah Nazar, the alleged head of the Baloch Liberation Front.
While it is hard to convince Islamabad to change its hostile policy toward Balochistan, it is also difficult, in the first place, to bring all Baloch nationalists on the same page. They are disunited and divided on issues of political goals, the leadership, strategies and approaches. The B.N.P. and the N.P. share so many things in common (such as non-violent, parliamentary struggle within the federation of Pakistan). Yet, they are unwilling or unable to work with each other (apparently for no known reasons) . So, it is easy to foresee how hard it would be for Dr. Baloch to offer reconciliation to the hardliner segments of the Baloch political leadership that supports the insurgency and the cause of a free Balochistan.
Published in The Baloch Hal on June 6, 2013