KARACHI, Aug 25: Ali Jan named his son Noori with the prayer that he might have a bright future and brighten his family’s days ahead. But after five years of the boy’s life, he believes, history has left him with a dark present and an ever darker future.
For nearly two years, Jan daily takes his boy to the hills in Gadap Town to help him while he breaks rocks into small stones with his 61-year-old father, Khuda Bukhsh, to make ends meet.
A few days after the assassination of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Jan migrated from Dera Bugti to the metropolis with about 200 other families, staying on the mountains dotted along the Super Highway. He is unaware that Aug 26 marks the second death anniversary of the veteran nationalist leader.
But what he firmly believes is that during the last two years his home in Dera Bugti might have been destroyed, cattle must have died and his hamlet turned into a ghost land after all of the inhabitants, living there for centuries, have left it to escape the battle between government forces and alleged nationalist militants.“I am unable to describe the horrible experience we and my family had when we left our home,” he says. “I don’t exactly remember how many days and nights we trudged with children and women to finally reach the Sindh-Balochistan border, where we caught a vehicle.”
He is not alone to share the story of a painful journey for survival, which made these more than 1,000 men, women and children refugees within their own homeland. They all moved to the city for a safer place but life here has turned into a nightmare for them, making most of them feel strangers in their own homeland.
“First our camps were uprooted from Faqeera Goth by some influential people there, who asked us to pay them protection money or leave,” says Jan Mohammad, guardian of another displaced family. “We have changed our places five times in less than two years due to pressure from the authorities or influential individuals.”
Staying in Union Council 3 of Gadap Town near Thaddo Dam, some 40 kilometres from the city centre, a majority of the DPs from Dera Bugti have been here for the last two years. From Bugti’s tribe, they started pouring down to the country’s melting pot after Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed along with 37 others in a military operation in the Chalgri area of Bhambore hills of Dera Bugti district on Aug 26, 2006.
The killing of the 79-year-old chief of the Bugti tribe on the one hand earned criticism for the Musharraf-led administration and, on the other, added fuel to the fire in the fragile southern province. However, despite harsh reactions from the political quarters against the killing of Nawab Bugti, after months of new political set-up, no case has been registered in line with the desire of the deceased leader’s heirs about the Aug 26 tragedy.
The Bugti DPs in Gadap Town consider themselves lucky to have escaped the bullets traded by the two sides and even from “the bombings by gunship helicopters on residential areas”. But they regret that in the city they had come with the hope to be welcomed, they have not seen officials and organisations extending a helping hand, which might have helped heal their wounds and given them a sense of security.
From the foot of the hills, a thin line of men, women and children can be seen walking upwards for their daily labour. Shaping heavy rocks into small pieces of stones to be used as raw material in construction, their lives seem pining away with no basic facility available to them -- they sleep in the open and drink water from stagnant pools created by rainwater.
Most of them are convinced that the people displaced from the strife-torn area have not been accepted yet both by the people and the authorities and some have reason to think on such lines.
“One of my daughters and the only son became eligible for national identity cards last year, but it is more than nine months that I couldn’t get even the guidance in this regard from local people and area officials,” recalls Manzoor Bugti.
Though the officials at both provincial and federal levels avoid commenting on the particular subject, political leaders, who saw some hope after the Feb 18 elections, feel “things spinning out of control of everyone”.
“We see the current political set-up as a continuation of the past one,” comments Hasil Bizenjo, general secretary of the National Party. “Nawab Sahib (Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti) was willing to talk everyone in the larger interest of the country and the province, but he was cheated time and again in the name of dialogue, and finally the establishment and the army jointly struck after months of planning.”
His fears match the feeling among the majority of the Pakistani people, who see Balochistan drifting away from the federation due to indifference of the authorities in the centre. While Mr Bizenjo was making comments on the Balochistan situation, his concerns echoed in a message he received on the other phone that firing allegedly by police on a Baloch Front rally in Turbat held to mark the second death anniversary of Nawab Bugti had left several participants seriously wounded.