Activists Demand International Probe into Baloch Leader’s Death

Activists call for an investigation into the death of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.

nawab-marri-balochVeteran Baloch nationalist leader and one of the key leaders of the 1970s insurgency in Balochistan passed away on Tuesday night at a private hospital in Pakistan’s port city Karachi after a prolonged illness.

He was 86 and is survived by six sons; one an advocate of Baloch rights at United Nation and another struggling for Balochistan freedom in London.

Among the other four one was allegedly killed by Pakistani military in Sarlatt, a bordering town between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The others include Channgaiz Marri, an elected member of Balochistan provincial assembly, Gazain Marri, based in Dubai and the youngest Hamza Marri.

Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, a former guerrilla leader, was firmly opposed to Balochistan’s status as a province and annexation to Pakistan.

He was an active leader of the National Awami Party – an allied political platform of Pakhthun-Baloch nationalists from across the country who struggled for the rights of their people. Despite being a representative of NAP which was running campaign for a federal system, Nawab Marri remained like a tall tower and never compromised with his dream of a separate homeland for the people of Balochistan.

Nawab Marri spent life in exile during 1977-90; first in England and France for a brief break before taking asylum in Afghanistan. After the fall of Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah’s Soviet-backed government in the early 1990s, Nawab Marri returned to Pakistan.

Leaders and social media activists including Baloch nationalists expressed deep grief at the death of Nawab Marri, calling him as “a staunch Marxist-Leninist who set an example of the Communist style of work among the working class of his powerful Marri tribe during exile in Afghanistan.”

Taking an active part of the Balochistan liberation struggle from early 1970 until 2000, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri made notable contribution to the evolution of the Balochistan’s freedom struggle. The news of Nawab Marri’s death saddened everyone from all walks of life. Nawab Marri eventually settled in Karachi from the last decade where his dead body will be taken after a funeral in his native town Kohlu.

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Mr. Marri struggled for Baloch’s rights along veteran Baloch guerrilla leader Sherof Marri but later fell out with the communist fighter and returned to Pakistan after the fall of the Soviet regime.

A statement released by relatives said Nawab Marri had died on June 10 at a private hospital in Karachi because of a massive heart attack he had suffered some days earlier. “I should be buried in my homeland whose people have always showed me solidarity and care. I want to rest in my home town with the hope that my dreams of an independent Balochistan will be fulfilled,” he had said.

The former Baloch fighter considered the government led by Pakistani authorities in Balochistan as “occupying forces.”

His youngest son Mehran Marri who is based in Geneva was quick to hold Pakistani security forces behind the death of his father a few hours before his father’s death. Mehran Marri tweeted “The Pakistan Establishment has decided to assassinate #Balochistan’s ailing leader, my father Nawab KhairBux Marri.”

Hussain Haqqani, former ambassador of Pakistan in United States, renowned writer and author Willem Marx, among other political leaders and writers, expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of the veteran Baloch leader.

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Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.