Dera Bugti: The One Town We Missed

Dera Bugti is a no-go zone in Balochistan, which has escaped media coverage for years.


Pakistani Bugti tribesmen gather in Dera Bugti town in Pakistan’s volatile southwestern Balochistan province. Credit: Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images

I would not start my article by writing where Dera Bugti exists on the map, because if I do so, you might abandon the article from the start.

After reading the line in the starter you might say “Uh, what does that suppose to mean?” This is 99 percent of the time true that whenever an article or news comes out about Balochistan, people tend to ignore it. I wonder why wouldn’t they give it a look? Even if they don’t want to read it, at least they should browse it.

I have seen several articles jumping up from the Pakistani-occupied Balochistan of an unfortunate, Baloch nation. Still, I think they have almost missed Dera Bugti, a town in Dera Bugti District, Balochistan. This is a town living in fear because of the suppression of Pakistani death squads under which the people of the district lives.

Then I thought if no one is going to write about it why don’t I give it a shot?

I decided to gather information about the city from friends who live there. I made requests to help me, and after they received assurances from me that I would not to disclose their names for security reasons, they provided me details.

What kind of fear do they live in that they are unwilling to share anything about themselves? They explain it like this: “We are afraid of getting abducted, being detained, tortured and then being killed and our names added to the list of Pakistan’s policy of “kill and dump” which is ongoing in Balochistan for the last several years.” “If a friend of ours is abducted, killed or dumped, we can’t dare hold a protest to demonstrate what is happening with us,” one of them explained.

I tried every kind of research about the town, sometimes through friends or searching online. I first researched the name Sarfraz Bugti, who I think is a person that lived in the area and in his own words, is a “pure person.”

But the people I talked to had a totally different view about him. They told me a few things about Sarfraz Bugti.

“Look, all those who call Sarfraz Bugti the interior minister of Balochistan are affiliated with current state establishment which is best known for massacring the Baloch people. On the other hand, he doesn’t enjoy the reputation of even being an insect among the people of the territory. Along with a bunch of goons, he runs a death squad organization in Dera Bugti, generally known as ‘Bugti Aman Force.'”

Sarfraz Bugti has not been elected by the people of Dera Bugti; rather he has been selected by the state to carry out their wishes and suppress those who oppose him for the brutalities he commits in the area. I have been told by many inhabitants of the area that his organization abducts, kills and dumps people with full immunity under allowance of the state.

Journalists in Quetta, Balochistan’s commercial capital, wouldn’t dare report the atrocities that the Baloch nation have faced for 66 years. Those who do are threatened to remain silent otherwise they will be abducted, killed and dumped like thousands of others. On November 6, 2014 the journalist Manzoor Ahmed Bugti, who used to report on military operations in Balochistan with a focus on Dera Bugti, was abducted from Quetta and his whereabouts remain unknown.

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Sarfraz Bugti is blamed for killing and dumping of Baloch political activists and mass graves in Dera Bugti, which were found on March 25, 2011 (read more here.) The reason behind his selection by the state is to keep the people of Dera Bugti in the darkness of slavery and never let them enjoy the pursuit of happiness in an independent Balochistan.

Apart from all of this, if we talk about natural gas then surely we need to mention Sui, which is the wealthiest spot in Dera Bugti in terms of gas. But people there have to walk miles to collect wood in order to cook their food while the gas is supplied to Punjab and Karachi. It wouldn’t be fair if I failed to mention attacks on gas pipelines by Baloch insurgents, in particular the Baloch Republican Army which is active in the area. Their vision about their action is quite clear and hasn’t invited any disagreement from the people of Balochistan. The reason is if you cannot use something that belongs to you, you would probably not allow someone else to use it either.

What’s the condition of development in the area? You might be confused on that also, so allow me to explain. In spite of its enormous wealth, the people are extremely poor. The education system in the area has been forgotten by Pakistan’s so-called leaders. There are schools, but those are closed. Teachers wouldn’t dare teach students as they receive threats from Sarfraz Bugti death squads.

Dera Bugti is a no-go zone in Balochistan, which has escaped media coverage for years. “Pakistan uses US weapons on Baloch areas instead of fighting terrorism,” Baloch leader Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti said in an interview. He said many things people did not know about Balochistan such as the military operation in 2005 in Dera Bugti which resulted in a large number of civilian casualties, including Hindu inhabitants of the area.

I think you would remember the incident on November 13, 2014. According to the Baloch Republican Party Media Cell, three Bugti women along with their four under-aged daughters and a son were abducted by the Pakistani soldiers. This was generally described as “abduction of females,” but if you look at this abduction in the context of a Baloch psychosocial makeup, this was surely an attack on their dignity and honor. So the retaliation would surely follow. We have seen the Baloch Republican Army’s actions against the occupying state accelerated after the November 13 abductions.

Baloch armed organization are not the only ones you would see showing outrage. Baloch political organizations such as Baloch Republican Party, Baloch Student Organization (BSO), the Baloch Republican Student Organization and others have demonstrated against Islamabad for abducting Baloch women. Despite many protests, Pakistani security forces have not freed the Bugti women.

The last thing that I want to mention here is the need for the international media to conduct an independent investigation in Dera Bugti. International media must conduct a thorough investigation not only in the town of Dera Bugti, but cover the entire Balochistan province to expose a reality seldom seen or read in Pakistani mainstream media.

Beauragh Baloch is a Baloch freedom activist from Balochistan’s Makuran district. Follow Beauragh on Twitter @Beaurgh_Baloch.