A politician smuggles landmines and anti-aircraft guns from Afghanistan. His cousin runs a terror group protected by foreign governments. Are politicians and political parties allowed to do this in a democracy or is it time to correct these flawed practices in Pakistan?
A video has surfaced that shows politician Shahzain Bugti telling the police he smuggled sophisticated military-grade weapons into Pakistan hours after misleading the media by saying the weapons were planted in his convoy.
The video was recorded by cellphone at around noon on Dec. 22, 2011. Bugti is shown sitting on a sofa in what appears to be the office of a police official, telling the men in the room he did smuggle the weapons, including anti-aircraft guns and landmines. He also admits he lied to the media, claiming the weapons were planted in his convoy that traveled from the Afghan border to the outskirts of the provincial capital Quetta where Bugti was caught.
The video was filmed a few hours after Bugti was arrested at dawn, around 0430 hours, trying to smuggle lethal weapons in a convoy of sixteen cars. Tipped off by Pakistani intelligence, the Frontier Corp stopped Bugti’s convoy at Quetta’s entrance. The FC, treating Bugti with respect as a politician, negotiated with him for three hours to grant permission to check the convoy. Finally, the police and FC searched the cars and netted a dazzling list of weapons.
The weapons included:
50 Sub Machine Guns [SMGs]
4 Light Machine Guns [LMGs]
2 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft guns [See here]
2 14.2 mm Anti-Aircraft guns
1 SPG-9 [See details here]
1 9mm pistol
1 AUG assault rifle [See here]
46,000 rounds of SMG
1,600 rounds of 12.7/14.5
570 rounds of AUG
880 rounds of sniper rifle
39 rounds of 9mm pistol
17 mobile phones
Shahzain is the son of Tala Bugti, the chairman of the Jamhooro Watan Party, or JWP, and a grandson of Akbar Bugti.
Akbar launched an armed rebellion against the state in January 2005, unleashing a private army laced with sophisticated weapons smuggled from Afghanistan. He committed suicide in late 2006 inside a cave to avoid capture by soldiers who came to arrest him. He is known to have worked with the intelligence services of three countries operating in Afghanistan to help break Balochistan away from the rest of the country.
For this purpose, Bugti and his foreign backers revived a terror group called BLA, or Balochistan Liberation Army. The terror outfit was first created by India and the Soviet Union in the 1970s to carry out bombings in Pakistan. The group was re-launched after the United States landed in Afghanistan as a joint operation involving Indians, the CIA and Afghan warlords.
The BLA is led by Brahamdagh Bugti, Akbar’s grandson and Shazain’s cousin, who has been hiding in Kabul for several years, protected by CIA and Afghan intelligence.
Brahamdagh’s cover was blown in early 2009 after his terror group kidnapped a UN official in Quetta who turned out to be a US citizen.
Several local Baloch supporters of Brahamdagh broke away from their boss and cooperated with Pakistani authorities in blowing his cover. [The episode was an embarrassment for CIA and opened the eyes of other parts of US government to what their main spy agency was doing in Afghanistan.]
Instead of handing him over to Pakistani authorities, the CIA negotiated an asylum deal for Brahamdagh in Switzerland, to keep him there as a tool to blackmail Pakistan.
In March 2012, Pakistan has warned Britain and Switzerland over their roles in supporting terror in Pakistan by giving asylum to BLA terror chiefs who orchestrate bombings that kill innocent citizens.
Unfortunately, the Balochistan High Court released Shahzain Bugti in January despite the huge cache of weapons that indicate Shahzain’s intent to wage war against his country and people in cohorts with foreign powers in Afghanistan. But the Supreme Court intervened and cancelled his bail on April 4. Despite this, Shahzain refused to appear before the court. The court waited for him for three weeks before finally issuing his arrest warrant over the weekend.
The case raises serious questions about federal government’s practice of giving tribal chiefs like Shahzain and his family millions of dollars of gas royalties instead of directly spending them on the impoverished people of the province. Tribal chiefs like Shahzain spend the money on building private properties abroad and recruiting and arming private armies that indulge in abduction of businessmen for ransom and killing citizens.
The case also raises questions about the involvement of almost all Pakistani political parties in creating and running private armies, in direct violation of the Political Parties Act and the laws. The State is yet to ban or disarm any of these parties.
Pakistani investigators should probe the role of BLA and its secret supporters like Shahzain Bugti in smuggling advanced weapons from Afghanistan to Karachi, where three armed ‘political parties’ are holding the country’s business hub hostage for years.