To Pakistan’s military rulers and political rivals in Baluchistan, Bugti, who was killed in an army operation in Kohlu near Dera Bugti in Baluchistan, was a feudal lord who prevented development from reaching his tribesmen and operating a state within a state.
They blamed him for the past Baluch insurgencies of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and accused him of being a warlord who was running a a well-organised militia and private courts and prisons using his income from the gas fields in Dera Bugti.
But to the warrior Bugti tribe, he was not only the tribal head but also the latest in a long line of Baluchi nationalist leaders who tried to defend the province from exploitation by the federal authorities.
Bugti was believed to be the main force behind the separatist Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), which has been waging a guerrilla campaign for greater rights and control over natural resources. Banned by the government of Pakistan, the BLA accuses Islamabad of taking the area’s great natural wealth, especially natural gas, and neglecting the province.
In an interview to Pakistan’s Newsline magazine in 2005, Bugti denied any connection to BLA and said: “General Sahib [Pervez Musharraf] has promised to hit us in such a way that we will not know what hit us. In one sense it is quick death that he is promising us. They could do this to a few Baloch leaders, but not the whole Baluch nation.”
With about six million inhabitants, Baluchistan – Pakistan’s biggest province – has less than half the population of the port city of Karachi.
In terms of mineral resources though, it is believed to be the richest province. It is also a major source of natural gas.
The Pakistan government is pumping money into Baluchistan to turn it into a regional economic and energy hub, a land corridor between south-east Asia and central Asia. A deep-sea port in Gwadar and military garrisons are also being built to secure the investments.
Born on July 12, 1927, Bugti attended the elite Aitchison College in Lahore and Oxford University in England before going into politics.
Bugti first won a place in the national assembly of Pakistan in May 1958 after contesting a by-election to fill the vacancy created by the assassination of an ethnic nationalist politician. He sat on the government benches as a member of the ruling coalition.
He briefly served as interior minister in the government of Malik Feroz Khan Noon in 1958 before the cabinet was dismissed on the declaration of martial law.
He was arrested and convicted by a military tribunal in 1960, and subsequently disqualified from holding public office. Hamstrung by legal battles, he did not contest the 1970 general elections, but campaigned on behalf of his brother, a National Awami Party (NAP) candidate.
Bugti’s relationship with the NAP leadership, in particular the new Baluchistan governor, was rocky. In 1973, with his intervention, the federal government and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the president, dismissed the provincial governor and the chief minister. Bugti was immediately appointed governor of Baluchistan and the army deployed in the province to rein in the NAP.
In 1974, Bugti resigned following disagreement with the federal government over its handling of the situation.
After a long gap, he reoccupied the political centre-stage in 1988 when he joined the Baluchistan National Alliance and, in February 1989, he was elected chief minister of Baluchistan.
His provincial government frequently disagreed with the Benazir Bhutto government, however.
In 1990, Bugti again resigned when the provincial assembly was dissolved by the governor under instructions from Ghulam Ishaq Khan, then Pakistani president.
In that year’s general elections, Bugti returned to the provincial assembly after his newly created political party, the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), became Baluchistan’s single largest party. In 1993, he was elected to the national assembly representing the JWP in parliament.
Bugti began an armed uprising against Pakistan in February 2005 after the rape of a female doctor in the Sui gas fields area increased simmering local resentment against federal authorities.
In the following months, Bugti tribesmen launched attacks on the region’s infrastructure and military and government installations. Musharraf, the Pakistani president, responded with full military force. Clashes continued until a ceasefire later that year, but resumed in the absence of a political settlement.
In an interview to BBC in June this year, Bugti said: “They [Pakistani government] are communicating with us through the use of these cannons, fighter jets, deep penetration bombs; these are such great dialogues that they are having loud discussions with us.”
Source: Wikipedia and other encyclopedias