As Baloch from all walks of life—even those close to Islamabad– continued to condemn the security forces abduction of the spouse of freedom leader Dr. Allah Nazar, the “Che Guevara” of Balochistan stunned the Baloch Wednesday by blaming his brother in-law for assisting the ISI with his wife’s abduction.
Presence of “fifth column” within Baloch families is common in Balochistan — the main reason why Pakistan was able in March 1948 to take control of the France-sized territory, rich in resources and having one of the sexiest strategic location as northern lip of the Straits of Hormuz.
“ISI & its hired goons Ali Haidar M. Hasani & Mehrullah M. Hasani are involved in abduction of my wife and child & other sisters from Quetta,” Dr Nazar, chief of the Balochistan Liberation Front, tweeted from his mountain hideout somewhere in Balochistan. Dr. Nazar is one of the main faces of the Baloch resistance in the bloody battlefields of Balochistan.
It turns out Mehrullah M. Hasni is brother of Fazila Baloch, wife of Dr Nazar, who was abducted along with his adopted baby daughter Popal Jan, 4, on Monday from a house in Sariab Road in Quetta. Though the government said the women were arrested from Chaman, bordering Afghanistan, even the BBC Urdu senior correspondent Shafi Naqi Jamie seemed to reject the cock-and-bull story.
Fazila Baloch’s friend Salma Bibi, who is sister of another Baloch freedom leader Aslam Baloch, head of a splinter faction of the Baloch Liberation Army, and her three sons baby Irfan, who is one and half year old, Guharam Baloch, 7, Meerak Baloch, 9, and a cousin Beebarg Baloch, 17, were also abducted, along with two other women and another baby girl.
Dr Nazar accused his brother-in-law Mehrullah M. Hasni of being an ISI goon, but a plain letter circulating in Mashkay, purportedly written by the accused, said no brother could ever think of doing such a thing and added that had “I been so shameless I would still have been with Dr Nazar.” Mehrullah M. Hasni once led the Lashkar-i-Balochistan, according to Dr. Ali Mengal, president of Baloch Diaspora France, who has known Dr Nazar for many years both were students at the Bolan Medical College in Quetta. The Lashkar-i-Balochistan, though the name sounds Islamist is a secular smaller militant outfit, that is widely believed to be spearheaded by the notable nationalist Mengal family of Wadh. However, the senior most member of the family and former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Attaullah Mengal is strictly opposed to both militancy and any foreign intervention in Balochistan.
The BLF leader, who refused to leave Balochistan unlike others who sought refuge in the West, had near misses with tragedy many a time. In fall of 2015, Dr. Nazar disappeared from the political radar after an army offensive that killed his two brothers and nephew in Awaran. Earlier, in December 2012 the army bombed his village Mehi that left 44 members of his extended family dead. Pakistan army is one of the few armies in the world that uses air power against civilians in Balochistan. Reuters reported that Balochistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti told a press conference on September 8 in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, that Dr. Nazar had died but just two and half months later Dr Nazar surfaced in a video on November 26. “Leaning against a rocky hill, with a rifle, news magazines and a water bottle on his side, he appears to be in good health,” according to a report in the Balochistan Times. On that same day, Dr. Nazar’s brother-in-law Daulat M. Hasni, elder brother of Mehrullah M. Hasni, was reportedly killed by BLF militants in Mashkay area on a suspicion that he had snitched on their leader. Once a comrades-in-arms of Dr. Nazar, he had surrendered to the army after the rumors about Dr Nazar’s assassination, according the news report. Mehrullah M. Hasni, who was chief of Lashkar-i-Balochistan surrendered to the authorities after his brother’s death. In one picture, he is seen with an army officer but looks rather dejected.
Mehrullah M. Hasni became daggers drawn with Dr. Nazar after his eldest brother’s slaying by the BLF. Even Dr Nazar’s wife, Fazila Baloch, who is now reportedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), was miffed over her brother’s killing and wanted to go public against it, but was persuaded to keep silent. However, a poster attributed to her criticizing her husband did circulate at the time on the net, said Dr. Mengal, who has a copy of the poster.
Dr. Nazar also blamed Ali Haider M. Hasni for colluding with the ISI in his wife’s abduction. However, sources said Haider M. Hasni became Dr Nazar nemesis not long ago after a property dispute with the BLF. Haider M. Hasni’s himself has a bloody saga to tell to the world. His father Sardar Arif Jan M. Hasni and brother-in-law Aslam Gichki were both assassinated in an intra-family dispute, allegedly instigated by the Pakistan intelligence services. Gichki’s highly articulate granddaughter Banari Mengal, who is daughter of former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal, lamented in a blog piece titled “What we received from people of Pakistan except neglect and torment” in Pakistan’s Express Tribune, “Our family was not only divided but hatred amongst us elevated for one another. The tactic of ‘divide and rule’ is one that I strongly believe the British planted for our agencies to adopt. Even though his (Aslam Gichki) murder is assumed to be the cause of tribal enmity, the ones who are aware of deceitful Pakistani politics know who is responsible for his death.”
In a second tweet, Dr. Nazar accused Jumma Khan and Zahid, his distant relatives from the Bangchop of Mashkay, for providing info that led to his wife’s abduction. Dr Nazar’s war with his relatives is the saddest part of the Balochistan tragedy. That said, it is true the ISI has erected fifth columns in many notable Baloch families. For example, to contain the political clout of Mengal family of Wadh, the ISI over the years nurtured Shafiq Mengal, who is head of the Baloch Mussalla Diffah Tanzeem. According to the Pakistan investigative magazine Herald Shafi Mengal’s death squad is suspected of burying Baloch freedom fighters in a mass grave in Tootak in Khuzdar. On June 17, just a day after former chief minister Akhar Mengal, met US congressman Brad Sherman in Washington DC,Shafiq Mengal is widely suspected of lobbing a rocket on the former chief minister Wadh home.
Likewise, the ISI succeeded in winning over the senior most member of the Marri family Nawab Jangyz Marri, presently Balochistan’s irrigation and energy minister, three decades back, while his father veteran nationalist leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri was still alive. Intriguingly his two younger affluent brothers, Hyrbyair Marri and Mehran Marri, both of who are involved in the Baloch resistance are daggers drawn against one another too and many of their armed supporters have died in pitched gun battles in recent years. Jangyz Marri accuses his younger brothers of being paid agents of India.
Yet another Baloch tribal leader, Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Baloch Republican Party who lives in exile in Switzerland and who is facing the wrath of Islamabad, has two first cousins as political contenders back home. The two cousins are Nawab Aali Bugti and Nawab Shahzain Bugti, last of whom has publicly said about going to war with India in Kashmir, though he was dragged like a sheep and publicly humiliated by the Pakistan security forces on the streets of Quetta for carrying illicit arms.
Likewise, the Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Daud has not one many fifth columns within his “royal” family as most of his brothers and the eldest son owe allegiance to Pakistan. Daud has sworn not to return to Pakistan until he sees the dawn of freedom in Balochistan and lives in exile in Cardiff.
The big challenge is for Baloch militant organizations on how to deal with such fifth columns that they allege are erected by the ISI. If they act trigger happy, like they have done many times in the recent past, and turn their gun on their own kith and kin like Dr. Nazar did instead of winning them over through jirga, they will become even more vulnerable to Pakistan Deep State’s divide and rule policy