Kiyya Qadir Baloch
Islamabad- Though the previous Balochistan government received a lion’s share of funds under the NFC Award, the fate of Dera Bugti people remained unchanged and the insurgency-hit district is giving a deserted look.
No new schools, colleges, learning centres, roads or health centres were established after Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’s assassination and the status quo is still maintained.
The province’s least developed and most resource-rich district is also the most impoverished; over 80% of the entire population of the district is living below the poverty line while there are no proper communication systems like mobile phone services, Internet and cable in the entire district.
A survey conducted by Daily Times also revealed that over 100 shops, three masques, one Hindu temple and 300 houses were destroyed as collateral damages during the military operation launched in Dera Bugti district of Balochistan in August 2006, causing a loss of billions of Rupees to tribesmen but no steps have been taken by the government to rehabilitate the affected people.
Speaking to Daily Times tribal leader and grandson of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Nawabzada Gohram said that “We don’t know the exact number of homes destroyed, but it’s huge,” adding that “It was the military and paramilitary forces that are to blame for this destruction, because they planted mines in civilian houses and main roads everywhere.”
Sikandar Hayat, former Nazim of the area when asked about the destruction said he did not know how many homes had been destroyed in the operation, but put the number of demolitions since March 2005 to August 2006 at 180, including homes and other structures.
The number seemed well below the destruction indicated by the tribal leader.
These collateral damages have occurred in Dera Bugti, Phelawagh and Sui areas when army and frontier core combined launched a full-fledged operation against Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and his supporters in August 2006.
This was the most severe operation in the tribal region since security forces` offensive against militants in 2005 in Kohlu and Dera Bugti, which had displaced over 200,000 tribesmen.
Gohram Bugti representing the Bugti refugees said that over 300 houses of the tribesmen had been destroyed and 82 people had been killed in the operation on 26 August 2006 with his grandfather.
When asked about the compensation he said “I don’t know exactly how many people have received compensation yet, but there are hundreds of people waiting to claim for their losses and many who already have put in claims but I know that the destruction of homes has been most extensive in our hometown”. In neighboring Sui, he said that a few families had been compensated for destruction of their homes or other property.
Gohram said that previous government had announced RS 1 Billion for affectees and in this regard hundreds of reminders had been dispatched to the federal and provincial governments to release the amount for onward distribution among the affected families.
“Billions of rupees are needed for restructuring the entire district; if government of Pakistan is reluctant to compensate affectees then we will take up the matter with international organizations including super power countries to come for our help,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that in 2005 and 006 in many cases the militants active in the area and paramilitary forces had destroyed homes by firing rockets or planting mines, even when there were not any persons However, military rejects these allegations and said only a few houses were destroyed because of military “operational needs”.
Breaking the silence former Nazim of Dera Bugti said, “From the testimonies that we’ve had with, lots of demolitions – houses, schools and shops demolished either by firing rockets or explosives – were done after the area was under FC and army control,”
After demolishing their houses military gave some money to the owners but People are not happy with the compensation,” said former Nazim Dera Bugti, who said he was afraid to speak before colonels, generals during his regime but their compensation is just kicking dirt in our eyes.
Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance journalist associated with Daily Times Lahore currently based in Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org