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Akbar Bugti: Remembering the Balochistan Hero on his 11th Martyrdom Anniversary

With age being no factor, the Nawab fought for Balochistan till his dying breath

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Martyrdom Anniversary
Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti died fighting for Baloch freedom. Facebook
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  • Akbar Bugti was the governor and CM of Balochistan
  • The Martyr bravely died in his fight to liberate Balochistan from oppressive Pakistani forces
  • He was martyred on 26 August 2006 in a battle against Pakistani military

August 26, 2017: Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is a name that can never be erased from Balochistan history. The Baloch hero sacrificed a prosperous and luxurious life for the people of Balochistan.

When the people of Balochistan were in dire need of help, Nawab Akbar Bugti stood up for them. With age being no factor, the Nawab fought for Balochistan till his dying breath.

Here are 15 things you need to know about the Baloch hero, Akbar Bugti:

1. Born in Barkhan, Balochistan on 12th July 1927, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti went on to attend the Oxford University in London. At just 13 years of age, Akbar Bugti was declared the chief of his tribe after his father’s death in 1939.

2. Bugti favored the separation of Pakistan from India, but while he was a Pakistani nationalist, he was a stronger Baloch nationalist. In 1947, he also advocated the accession of Balochistan from Pakistan.

3. He was appointed as Interior Minister of the State in 1958, thus starting his political career.

4. From the beginning till mid-1960’s, Akbar Bugti was imprisoned for supporting a National Awami Candidate and helping him defeat Field Marshal Ayub Khan. This had left Ayub Khan embarrassed who ordered for Bugti’s imprisonment. He was finally let go after a long hunger strike.

Also Read: Seminar in Washington to Pay Tributes to Former Balochistan Governor and Chief Minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti

5. He was appointed the governor of Balochistan by the Federal Government in the early 1970s but resigned after Pakistan Military began massive oppression of Baloch people.

6. Akbar Bugti became the Chief Minister of Balochistan National Alliance in 1988 but resigned when Gen. Muhammad Musa Khan dissolved the provincial assembly.

Martyrdom Anniversary
Akbar Bugti in Dera Bugti. Twitter

7. Bugti, several years later, formed his political party called Jamhoori Watan Party. The party became rapidly popular among the people of Balochistan. In 1997, he was re-elected to National Assembly.

8. After the 2005 rape incident involving a young Sindhi girl and a Pakistani officer, Bugti demanded justice, but it yielded no results. Parvez Musharraf refused to speed up the trial of accused officer.

9. As heated remarks came from both sides, Musharraf launched a military attack on Bugti and his forces. The fighting continued for months with troops dying from both sides.

10. Pakistani forces on 26th August 2006 carried out the encounter of Bugti and 23 of his troops. Musharraf was quoted in December 2005 saying, “There are two or three tribal chiefs and feudal lords behind whats going on in Balochistan. My government is determined to establish its writ. It will be a fight to the finish.”

11. During the battle between Bugti’s forces and Pakistan Military, Bugti’s base of operations Dera Bugti was heavily bombarded. As a result of this offense, 1,60,000 people were displaced from the region.

12. While Musharraf hoped that Bugti’s death would suppress demands for a separate Baloch, more fuel was added to the fire that was once ignited by Akbar Bugti. Separatist movements sparked higher.

13. Musharraf always maintained that the goal was to capture Bugti alive. Some stories also say that Bugti killed himself when the Pakistani military cornered him.

14. Gen. Parvez Musharraf was acquitted of the charges against him for the murder of Akbar Bugti in January 2016.

15. One of Bugti’s quotes that define his life came in a telephonic interview with TIME in the year 2016, “It is better to die-as the Americans say-with your spurs on. Instead of a slow death in bed, I’d rather death come to me while I am fighting for a purpose.” Bugti died at 79 years of age.

Baloch people will never forget the contributions and acts of bravery exhibited by Akbar Bugti. His courage continues to inspire the very youth that seeks the same purpose: Separation from Oppressive Pakistan. 


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Pakistan Fears Economic Turmoil, Re-thinks ‘Silk Road’ Project With China

In 2017, Pakistan turned down Chinese funding for a $14 billion mega-dam project in the Himalayas because of cost concerns.

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Pakistan
A man passes through a railing while others board a train as they make their way home at the Cantonment railway station in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

After lengthy delays, an $8.2 billion revamp of a colonial-era rail line snaking from the Arabian Sea to the foothills of the Hindu Kush has become a test of Pakistan ’s ability to rethink signature Chinese “Silk Road” projects because of debt concerns.

The rail megaproject linking the coastal metropolis of Karachi to the northwestern city of Peshawar is China’s biggest Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project in Pakistan, but Islamabad has balked at the cost and financing terms.

Resistance has stiffened under the new government of populist Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has voiced alarm about rising debt levels and says the country must wean itself off foreign loans.

“We are seeing how to develop a model so the government of Pakistan wouldn’t have all the risk,” Khusro Bakhtyar, minister in Pakistan’s planning ministry, told reporters recently.

Pakistan
Visitors read instruction material about land that was reclaimed from the Indian Ocean for the Colombo Port City project, on the Galle Face sea promenade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 2, 2018. The Port City project was initiated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. VOA

Unease elsewhere

The cooling of enthusiasm for China’s investments mirrors the unease of incoming governments in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Maldives, where new administrations have come to power wary of Chinese deals struck by their predecessors.

Pakistan’s new government had wanted to review all BRI contracts. Officials say there are concerns the deals were badly negotiated, too expensive or overly favored China.

But to Islamabad’s frustration, Beijing is only willing to review projects that have not yet begun, three senior government officials have told Reuters.

China’s Foreign Ministry said, in a statement in response to questions faxed by Reuters, that both sides were committed to pressing forward with BRI projects, “to ensure those projects that are already built operate as normal, and those which are being built proceed smoothly.”

Pakistani officials say they remain committed to Chinese investment but want to push harder on price and affordability, while re-orientating the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for which Beijing has pledged about $60 billion in infrastructure funds, to focus on projects that deliver social development in line with Khan’s election platform.

Pakistan
China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, Islamabad. VOA

‘Mutual consultation’

China’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, told Reuters that Beijing was open to changes proposed by the new government and “we will definitely follow their agenda” to work out a roadmap for BRI projects based on “mutual consultation.”

“It constitutes a process of discussion with each other about this kind of model, about this kind of roadmap for the future,” Yao said.

Beijing would only proceed with projects that Pakistan wanted, he added.

“This is Pakistan’s economy, this is their society,” Yao said.

IMF bailout likely

Islamabad’s efforts to recalibrate CPEC are made trickier by its dependence on Chinese loans to prop up its vulnerable economy.

Growing fissures in relations with the United States, Pakistan’s historic ally, have also weakened the country’s negotiating hand, as has a current account crisis likely to lead to a bailout by the International Monetary Fund, which may demand spending cuts.

“We have reservations, but no other country is investing in Pakistan. What can we do?” one Pakistani minister told Reuters.

Pakistan
Laborers dig the ground before replacing concrete sleepers along railway tracks in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Crumbling railways

The ML-1 rail line is the spine of country’s dilapidated rail network, which has in recent years been edging toward collapse as passenger numbers plunge, train lines close and the vital freight business nosedives.

Khan’s government has vowed to make the 1,872 km (1,163 mile) line a priority CPEC project, saying it will help the poor travel across the vast South Asian nation.

But Islamabad is exploring funding options for CPEC projects that depart from the traditional BRI lending model, whereby host nations take on Chinese debt to finance construction of infrastructure, and has invited Saudi Arabia and other countries to invest.

One option for ML-1, according to Pakistani officials, is the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, which would see investors or companies finance and build the project and recoup their investment from cash flows generated mainly by the rail freight business, before returning it to Pakistan in a few decades time.

Yao, the Chinese envoy, said Beijing was open to BOT and would “encourage” its companies to invest.

Pakistan
A man waits to cross a portion of track once shared with the Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Large rail projects, problems

Rail mega-projects under China’s BRI umbrella have run into problems elsewhere in Asia. A line linking Thailand and Laos has been beset by delays over financing, while Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad outright canceled the Chinese-funded $20 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

Beijing is happy to offer loans, but reticent to invest in the Pakistan venture as such projects are seldom profitable, according to Andrew Small, author of a book on China-Pakistan relations.

“The problem is that the Chinese don’t think they can make money on this project and are not keen on BOT,” Small said.

Off-books debt

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in 2015, the ML-1 line was placed among a list of “early harvest” CPEC projects that would be prioritized, along with power plants urgently needed to end crippling electricity shortages.

But while many other projects from that list have now been completed, the rail scheme has been stuck.

Pakistan
. The difference between the two validate the investments made on the road, and give a hopeful image for the future.

Pakistani officials say they became wary of how early BRI contracts were awarded to Chinese firms, and are pushing for a public tender for ML-1.

Partly to help with price discovery, Pakistan asked the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance a chunk of the rail project through tendering. The ADB began discussions on a $1.5-$2 billion loan, but China insisted the project was “too strategic,” and Islamabad kicked out the ADB under pressure from Beijing in early 2017, according to Pakistani and ADB officials.

“If it’s such a strategic project then it should be a viable project for them to finance on very concessional terms or invest in?” said one senior Pakistani official familiar with the project, referring to the BOT model.

China’s foreign ministry said Beijing was engaged in “friendly consultations” with Pakistan on the rail project.

Chinese companies participated in BRI projects in an open and transparent way, “pooling benefits and sharing risks,” it said.

Pakistan
In this file photo taken Oct. 10, 2015, a bus moves past by solar power and wind power farms in northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui region.

Chinese debt or no project

Analysts say Pakistan will struggle to attract non-Chinese investors into the project, which may force it to choose between piling on Chinese debt or walking away from the project.

In 2017, Pakistan turned down Chinese funding for a $14 billion mega-dam project in the Himalayas because of cost concerns and worries Beijing could end up owning a vital national asset if Pakistan could not repay loans, as occurred with a Sri Lankan port.

Khan’s government chafes at several Chinese intercity mass transport projects in Punjab, the voter heartland of the previous government, which now need hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies every year.

Also Read: Creating a New Silk Road: China’s Billion Dollar Investments to Expand Its Transportation Network

They also fume about the risk of accumulating off-books sovereign debt through power contracts, where annual profits of above 20 percent, in dollar terms, were guaranteed by the previous administration.

With the ML-1 line, there are also those who harbor doubts closer to home, including the previous government’s finance minister, Miftah Ismail, who said his ministry had always had concerns about its viability.

“When people say it’s a project of national importance, that usually means it makes no sense financially,” he said. (VOA)