by Adnan Aamir
In Search of Solutions is the title of the autobiography of Baba-e-Balochistan Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, one of the greatest politicians in the history of Balochistan. The book is based on personal notes about his life and political career which were edited by his former political secretary, B. M. Kutty, and published in the form of a book in 2009. From the prolific political career of Mir Bizenjo which started in 1939 and continued for 50 years till his death in 1989, In Search of Solutions covers events from his childhood till the political developments of 1973. During his 50 years political career, he spent at least 10 years in prison. His autobiography not only provides an insight into various political issues, it also uncovers some very important facts which were previously unknown.
Mir Bizenjo writes in his book that he met President Yahya Khan before 1970 General Elections to discuss some aspects of elections in Balochistan. In this meeting Yahya Khan told him that “Sooner or later, East Pakistan will have to be amputated. And if at all that is to happen, why let them suck our blood for two or three more years.”1 This means that President Yahya Khan was not interested in keep both wings of Pakistan together way before the Elections and the preceding civil war. This is a very important insight into the mentality of our establishment which was primarily responsible for the breakup of Pakistan. On 14th March 1971, Mir Bizenjo and Wali Khan went to Dhaka to convince Sheikh Mujib to negotiate with Yahya Khan. Mujib agreed and talks between Yahya and him started in Dhaka. After some days while talks were still going on, Yahya met Mir Bizenjo and said “If your friend Mujib doesn’t behave, my army knows how to shoot their way through.”2 Mir Bizenjo asked Yahya if he thinks using force will solve this problem. Yahya strangely answered in negative. This means that President Yahya was not very keen on solving the issue through dialogue and at the same time he was also not sure about the success of military operation. The inability of General Yahya to reach a conclusive decision cost Pakistan heavily.
Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo took oath of Governor of Balochistan on 28th April 1972. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then President of Pakistan, created all sorts of problems for the National Awami Party (NAP)’s government in Balochistan and its Governor, Mir Bizenjo, till dismissal of both on 15th February 1973. One interesting incident quoted in this book relates to the arrival of Princess Ashraf Pehalvi, sister of Shah of Iran, to Quetta. NAP government had assumed power for only two weeks when Z.A Bhutto asked it to host a foreign dignitary. This was a deliberate attempt by Bhutto, according to Mir Bizenjo, to prove that NAP government is incompetent. On 19th May 1972, Princess Ashraf landed in Quetta and NAP government despite all odds managed to handle the issue well. Z.A Bhutto and his ally Qayyum Khan had brought their supporters along with them to Quetta. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) workers who had come to Quetta remained low-profile but Qayyum Khan’s men played havoc in Quetta. They marched in city with Guns, shouted slogans against NAP government and opened fire on NAP supporters. This resulted in death of Mohsin Kasi, a rickshaw driver, who was a NAP supporter. NAP supporters protested this gruesome act and Mir Bizenjo ordered to arrest all the goons which Qayyum Khan had brought with him. Hearing this, federal ministers asked Bhutto to do something to prevent the arrest of Qayyum’s Men. Bhutto told them “I Know Bizenjo. Better accept his demand and surrender the men. Other option is that I ask army to take control of Quetta city (and sack Bizenjo) which is the worst thing to do, in the presence of foreign dignitaries.”3 This proves that Mir Bizenjo had a reputation of being a man of his words and even Bhutto had no option but to respect his judgment.
Today Sardari system is the most common argument for those who tend to defend federal government’s highhandedness against Balochistan. However this book quotes a resolution passed in Balochistan Assembly which blasts this notion. Nawab Khair Baksh Marri moved a resolution in Balochistan Assembly recommending the abolition of Sardari system. Sardar Ataullah Mengal, then Chief Minister, seconded the motion. However such system has been a subject of federal jurisdiction and the government of Z.A Bhutto did not abolish the Sardari system for his own vested interests.4 This means that against the common notions, the political leadership of Balochistan did want to end the Sardari system but the federal government is keen on retaining it. The reason is simple, federal government uses the support of crooked Sardars to control the province while keeping the genuine representatives of people away from power. Even today the same treatment is meted out to the real representatives of Balochistan.
In Search of Solutions is a very useful book for the students of history and those who are interested in knowing the reality about Balochistan. The book is mostly based on the anecdotal narrative of Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo but other sources can be corroborated to confirm these facts. Mir Bizenjo was a true democratic politician who always believed in negotiations. That’s why his detractors often mocked him by using the title of Baba-e-Muzakarahat (Father of Dialogue) for him. Famous Journalist, Selig H. Harrison, writes in his book, In Afghanistan’s Shadow; “He is one of the ablest politicians of Pakistan and could have played a major role in Islamabad but for his Baloch identity and his commitment to the Baloch cause.”5
1 Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, In search of Solutions 2009, p 148.
2 Ibid, p153
3 Ibid, p 171
4 Ibid p 173
5 Ibid, p 218
(Adnan Aamir is a Freelance writer and Blogger. He tweets at @iAdnanAamir)