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Akbar Bugti's party falling apart

In less than two months after his death in a military operation, Bugti's Jamhoori Watan Party has split into many squabbling groups.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 17:33 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

In less than two months after his death in a military operation, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) that Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti founded and nurtured in Pakistan's Balochistan province has split into many squabbling groups.

Dawn newspaper attributed this to the "disruptive interference of Pakistan's intelligence agencies".

The squabblers are led by his three sons whom the newspaper called "political novices".

They are not even in the party but distrustful of each other they have encouraged dissensions.

Jamil Bugti, the 57-year-old son of the slain leader says: "The JWP that my father founded died the day he was assassinated."

Akbar Bugti, who led a separatist movement against the government in Islamabad for several years, died on August 25 when the roof of a cave in which he was hiding with his followers collapsed as a result of air assault by army helicopters.

The JWP lawmakers at the federal and provincial level have since charted their own courses.

The big split took place soon after Eid last week, says the paper.

President Pervez Musharraf, who had been working to end the separatist movement in Balochistan, allowed the use of helicopter gunships and other heavy military material to quell the movement that has seen many ups and downs since the province became part of Pakistan in 1947.

At the height of the operations, Musharraf had told the media that the movement was the "handiwork of two or three sardars" (tribal leaders), and he would "sort them out".

Activists recall that the disintegration of the party began in July when Mir Ghulam Haider Khan Bugti, JWP's lone representative in the National Assembly, suddenly refused to toe the party line and expressed support for development projects in Balochistan - a move which earned him the ire of the embattled Nawab Bugti, who stood for greater provincial autonomy.

They believe that the JWP suffered another setback a month later when the leader of the parliamentary party in the Balochistan assembly, Haji Juma Bugti, attended the government-sponsored jirga in Dera Bugti and made it abundantly clear where his loyalty lay.

Both Mir Ghulam Haider Bugti and Haji Juma Bugti are the late Nawab Bugti's nephews.

Dawn quoted an intelligence source as saying that fomenting dissent in the JWP has not been terribly difficult because the three surviving sons of the late Nawab - political novices - not only harboured deep distrust of the JWP legislators but also often indulged in mutual recrimination.

"While the sons are not JWP members, they could have put enormous pressure on the top leadership to remove the defectors from parliament under the constitution.

Since all the senior-most office-bearers of the JWP have resigned now, there is no possibility of disqualification of turncoats on grounds of defection," he was quoted by the newspaper.

First Published: Oct 31, 2006 17:33 IST