Malik Baloch’s Life Under Constant Threat

Dr. Malik Baloch, the first commoner to head the predominantly tribal province of Balochistan, receives regular death threats for his politics.

malik-baloch-pakistanHis life remains on the line.

From a student leader clamoring for independence and wanted by the military authorities, to the chief executive of Pakistan’s largest, insurgency-torn province, Dr. Malik Baloch has seen it all in nearly four decades of political struggle.

I first met Dr. Malik Baloch, the first commoner to head the predominantly tribal province of Balochistan, where feudal lords think it is their birth right to rule, more than 34 years ago.

The rendezvous was at a medical college in Larkana, the hometown of slain premier Zulfiqar Ali  Bhutto. He was then studying at the Bolan Medical College in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, and was an ideologue of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO).  He stayed at our hostel as he was in hiding because the military authorities, under then dictator General Ziaul Haq, had issued his arrest warrants.

I vividly recall he was reading the Urdu translation of his favorite book Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.

Balochistan, which has to this day its fair share of the wretched of the earth as it is one of the most oppressed provinces of Pakistan, had just emerged from a four-year bloody military operation.

During 1933-77, the then premier Zulfiqar Ali  Bhutto had dismantled a duly elected government in Balochistan and jailed the main nationalist leaders of Balochistan, called the Baloch triumvirate — Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, Sardar Ataullah Mengal and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri — along with Pashtun nationalists of the National Awami Party. They were all tried them for treason.

The Baloch were up in arms in the mountains.

A military coup on July 5, 1977 removed Bhutto from power and paved the way for the freedom of the Baloch nationalist leaders from prison. But the National Awami Party (NAP), as a political movement, was over.

I met Dr. Baloch after more than 15 years in London two weeks ago.

Malik-Baloch

Dr. Malik Baloch at the BBC studios in London. Photo courtesy Faqir Muhammad of London and Turbat.

Though the National Party which he heads is a moderate nationalist party from Balochistan, its leaders are widely respected among the progressive and democratic circles all over Pakistan. As such, thunderous applause by hundreds of Britons of Pakistani descent greeted Dr. Malik Baloch and his comrade Senator Hasil Bizenjo’s speeches at an event to pay tributes to the progressive Pakistani  poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

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Dr. Malik Baloch makes no secret of his political mistakes. “We sided with Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, not with Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, after the Nati onal Awami Party split in 1977,” he said in the lobby of the London hotel where he was staying. Dr. Baloch, along with the majority of the youths in the BSO, rejected Mir Bizenjo’s conciliatory politics of parliament and democracy and instead adopted Nawab Marri’s hardline stance of all forms of struggle, with an emphasis on armed struggle.

It soon dawned on the youth that Nawab Marri’s hard line was impractical. “We decided to go into mainstream politics ten years later, adopting Mir Bizenjo’s stance of 1977. This happened when the Balochistan National Youth Movement was launched in December 1987,” he recalled.

Though an eye specialist, Dr. Baloch is the most educated chief minister in Balochistan’s history, a commoner who wants to change the fate of the people by education. He has allotted an unprecedented 26 percent of the budget towards education, and his life remains under constant threat.

The militant Baloch Republican Army, led by Geneva-based Brahumdagh Bugti, 33, made two attempts on his life during the election campaign in summer. The irony is Brahumdagh Bugti was not even born when I first met Dr. Baloch in 1979.

Just last week, Dr. Baloch’s convoy was attacked by the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) while he was busy helping the earthquake victims in Awaran. The BLF is led by Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, who is nearly 20 years junior than Dr. Baloch, and like him belonged to the BSO and is a graduate of the Bolan Medical College.

Ahmar Mustikhan is the senior most Balochistan English writer based in the West. He has worked in newsrooms in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and the United States. Read other articles by Ahmar.

  • Tariq Mehmood

    thanks for detailed information…into early lifelong struggle of Dr. Malik Baloch. Giving 26% to education is commendable and him being ordinary is another plus for a positive change in Baluchistan.

  • Ia butt

    Balochistan is a very important part of Pakistan which is ignored very callously by Federal Government and petty interests of petty politics.No one minds petty politics as long as a committed and professional bureaucracy continues to serve the people of Balochistan and lifts the poor from the poverty and helplessness,which is not the case.It is educated and best of the nation that is causing greatest harm to the motherland and this is the irony and tragedy of Pakistan.Poor and deprived of Balochistan are desperate and need justice.Some one has to really help them and reassure them of fairness and faith in democracy.Dr A Malik is a good choice and has a good chance with Mr Nawaz Sharif to prove his worth.God speed to the honourable Baloch and down with the feudalism of Balochistan.The change is the only constant that lives.

  • Chakar Mohammad hasni

    Dr Malik is the greatest Baloch Nationalist leader after babae Balochistan Mir ghaus bakhsh bezinjo. the gangsters like BLF ,BRA, BLA ,UBA Will have to face the Balochi court for their dirty deeds and history will remember them as Baloch traitor including the cockfighting retarded Baloch sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri .