Succession battle: The fight for Dera Bugti
By Qaiser Butt
April 15, 2011
As three grandsons of the slain Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti fight over control of Bugti lands, the late Nawab’s successor, Nawab Aali Bugti, has been expelled from the area, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The problems started last year when Brahamdagh Bugti and Shahzain Bugti, who are also co-claimants to the title of the tribe’s chieftainship, refused to recognise Aali Bugti as the successor of the late Nawab.
“His exit paved the way for the civil and military establishment to put their own man, feudal lord Ghulam Qadir of the Masuri tribe, a sub-tribe of the Bugtis, as the custodian of gas-rich Dera Bugti,” a source said.
Qadir, the arch rival of the late Nawab and his grandsons, is looking after the government’s interests in the Sui gas project by protecting the gas fields, a source said.
“Pakistan Petroleum Ltd has diverted funds to Ghulam Qadir Masuri after withholding them from Nawab Aali Bugti,” he said.
Nawab Aali Bugti left Dera Bugti a few months ago, when the federal government ‘sacrificed’ him to appease Brahamdagh Bugti, the source said requesting anonymity.
“The expulsion of Nawab Aali Bugti was a pre-condition by his first cousin Brahamdagh for reconciliation with the government,” the source added.
Brahamdagh dictated his terms from Kabul during Islamabad’s initiated bid to broker a peace deal with the absconding Baloch leader. But in a surprising move, Brahamdagh then shifted to Switzerland from Kabul via India after the government met his condition.
With the removal of Aali Bugti, the establishment lost the support of a comparatively cooperative and peaceful man.
Aali Bugti replaced Akbar Bugti as the Nawab of Bugti tribes with the consent of the civil and military establishment in May last year.
When the establishment was negotiating a peace deal with Brahamdagh, Shahzain Bugti made several attempts to capture the Bugti fort with the help of his loyal tribesmen, but the government frustrated all his efforts.
“He (Shahzain) was intercepted by the government twice when he planned to capture the tribal position in his ancestral town, the source said, adding that the government also confiscated the arms and ammunition which he was bringing from Chaman.
The young Nawab is now struggling to keep hold of 5,000 acres of land in Sanghar district of Sindh, which his father had inherited from Nawab Akbar Bugti.
According to Baloch tribal traditions, the chief of a tribe is supposed to be succeeded by the eldest son of the tribal elder. In case the sons of the tribal chief are dead then the eldest grandson is inducted as the tribal chief.
However, when Nawab Bugti had decided to nominate Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti as his successor during his lifetime, several tribal elders had resisted the decision, saying that they would not accept any other tribal chief in the lifetime of Nawab Bugti.
In the last days of his life, Nawab Bugti had informally appointed Brahamdagh as his political successor and Mir Aali as his tribal successor. Since the killing of Nawab Bugti, the Bugti tribe and his political party, the Jamori Watan Party (JWP) has experienced serious differences and infightings.
Even though Islamabad had recognised Nawab Aali Bugti as the legal heir of Nawab Akbar Bugti, the establishment is continuing with the policy of “divide and rule,” a senior journalist from Quetta told The Express Tribune while commenting on the situation.
The establishment had created a situation to strengthen its control on the natural resources of Balochistan, he said adding that “the subversive activities in the oil and gas projects of the Oil and Gas Development Corporation is the result of the establishment’s policies.”
“The Pakistan Petroleum Ltd, with its colonial mindset, also played a key role in creating a sense of deprivation among Bugti tribesmen by refusing them jobs in the project.’’ PPL’s senior officials always looked down upon the Baloch tribesmen who are now attacking OGDC’s projects in Balochistan to settle their score, the journalist concluded.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the ministry of petroleum and natural resources told The Express Tribune that it had irrefutable evidence to establish that Brahamdagh was instigating bomb explosions in and around the oil and gas projects of the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2011.