KARACHI: Brahamdagh Bugti, the grandson of slain Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, fears that the authorities will kill him if he returns to Pakistan from his self-exile in Europe.

“If I go back, I also will be killed,” he said in an interview in Geneva, Switzerland. “Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed, Balach Marri was killed,” he added to make his point.

Brahamdagh, now living in Zurich, often meets the press in an upscale hotel in Geneva. He said the reason he was living in exile was that he was better able to work for his cause from outside Pakistan. “I can work for the Baloch people from here,” he said.

He was only 25 when Akbar Bugti was murdered on August 26, 2006. That was when he fled to Afghanistan where he stayed for a number of years before seeking asylum in Switzerland last year. He has shaved off his Baloch beard, trimmed his flowing black locks and exchanged his Baloch turban for a beret. An apparently unarmed but sturdy-looking young Baloch guard shadows Brahamdagh wherever he goes.

Rejecting the possibility of holding any negotiations with the authorities in Pakistan, he suggested that the only way to resolve the crisis in Balochistan was to hold an internationally-supervised referendum in the Baloch districts of the province. “Let there be a referendum under the auspices of the United Nations…If the people say they want to live with Pakistan, I will have no objection; I will accept that. I will give up my demand [for the independence of Balochistan]. But if the majority supports independence, then the international governments and the United Nations should guarantee that they would support it,” he said.

Brahamdagh, whom the authorities in Pakistan have variously accused of financing, running and heading terrorist activities in Balochistan, rejected the perception that Baloch sardars were against development in their areas. He said the Baloch were, however, opposed to road-building projects meant for further exploitation of the province’s natural resources.

When asked about the murder of Punjabi settlers in Balochistan, Brahamdagh blamed the army. “When the army kills people, the family members [of those killed) have no choice but to react and take revenge,” he said.

The full text of the interview has been published in Herald’s April issue.