The News on Sunday: When and why did
you choose to leave Pakistan?
Hyrbyair Marri: I left Pakistan at
the end of 1999 for holiday in Europe. I had plans to
return to Pakistan but on Jan 7, 2000 Justice Nawaz Marri
was assassinated in Balochistan and false cases were
registered against my father Khair Bakh Marri, my brothers
Ghazan, late Balach, and Mehran and myself. It was alleged
that we had shot the judge. Ironically, when the unfortunate
murder happened, I was in London with Mehran and Balach
while Ghazan was in Karachi. Only Humza Marri was in
Quetta. The FIR was actually registered two days prior
to the murder. After Musharraf took over, he sent me
messages through emissaries that his government wanted
to explore oil and gas in our area and thought I will
be able to convince my father to agree. I was offered
huge bribes but I told Musharraf we cannot agree to any
exploration that will not benefit Baloch people. We had
the example of Sui before us. The Sui gas never benefited
Bugtis or the Baloch people.
TNS: How would you sum up your main
grievances against Pakistan?
HM: There are so many that I don't
know where to begin. Pakistan has stamped over all kinds
of international law in the case of Balochistan. Crimes
against humanity have been committed in Balochistan.
Our sovereignty was violated on March 23, 1948 when Pakistani
tanks rolled in. Khan of Kalat's palace was taken over
and the whole province was run over. We were intimidated
into signing the treaty of accession. The attitude of
Punjabi elite towards Baloch people has been that of
master and slave. They are so arrogant that they don't
even consider us humans. We have been treated as salves
in our own homeland.
There have been massacres, ethnic cleansings
and ethnic flooding into Balochistan of non-Balochs to
make us a minority. The repression forced Baloch people
to wage insurgencies five times over. Khan of Kalat was
not allowed to return to his homeland for 17 years. Was
I want to make it clear here that we
are not against Punjabis or any other ethnic groups.
It is our rights to stand for our distinguished culture
and rich heritage and say that we want equality and betterment
for our people.
TNS: With so much grudge, why did you
become a part of the government?
HM: I won vote and became minister.
That is the proof that we wanted to give Pakistan a chance
and thought things will improve but I was proven wrong.
Later, Balach fought elections and won but gave up his
TNS: What geography do you have in
mind for a hypothetical independent Balochistan? Does
it include Iran and Afghan parts as well?
HM: When I speak for Balochs, I speak
for the Baloch people wherever they are. But when I speak
for independence, it's for the part occupied by Pakistan.
I do sympathise with the Iranian and Afghan parts as
well and they should be given due rights. I would support
them in their struggle.
It's a tragedy that Balochs have been
divided in systematic way by the British. Their obsession
with Russian influence and their own interests in the
region led them to hand out Baloch land here and there.
TNS: Can an independent Balochistan
survive as a viable state?
HM: I think its survival as an independent
entity is beyond any doubt. We have got the natural resources,
the sea; we can survive much better than any other country.
It's our wealth which is driving the engine of Pakistan.
Our wealth is being exploited by Pakistani elite to benefit
Punjab. Almost 80 percent of Punjab's industry is being
run on Sui gas from Balochistan. However, I am not sure
if Pakistan will survive without Balochistan's wealth.
TNS: Tells us about the terrorism charges
levelled against you and incarceration in UK's Belmarsh
HM: There were altogether five charges
against me and my friend Faiz Baloch. These were incitement
to commit an act of terror; collecting information of
a kind likely to be used to terrorist purpose; possession
of an article for a purpose connected with the commission,
preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism; and
preparation of terrorist acts. An additional charge against
me was for the possession of a prohibited weapon (basically
it was a spray gas canister). These cases were fabricated.
I am aghast that Britain colluded so
much with Pakistan. Only after I was arrested I knew
the extent of surveillance and investigation that not
only my movements were being recorded but my friends
all over the world were stopped and asked about me on
airports. One of my friends was kidnapped in Dubai and
taken to Pakistan for interrogation and held there for
three months. He was asked to sack me from his consultancy
I know that Pakistan was using the
war on terror to ask Britain to extradite me, my brother
Mehran Baloch and four other exiled Balochs. In exchange
Pakistan was to extradite Rashid Rauf, wanted in connection
with the airline terror plot but now believed to be killed
in a US drone attack.
That I was persecuted in world's oldest
democracy in this manner is astonishing. I am glad that
the British courts threw out all charges due to lack
of evidence. We knew through our friends in Islamabad
that high level delegations, including Aftab Sherpao
and few others, were visiting Britain to negotiate the
arrest and deportation of myself and Mehran.
The prison strengthened our resolve.
I got more time to reflect on my life and work and I
hope my resolve has become stronger and I will never
go back on my position of an independent Balochistan.
TNS: How do you see the future of non-Balochs
in Balochistan, especially Pashtuns and Punjabis?
HM: First of all, we are not an ethnic
group. We are a nation with centuries-old history, culture
and traditions. It is to tarnish our name that we are
called an ethnic group. We believe everybody should be
treated as equal citizens of Balochistan. We are not
against any nationality. We are against those who are
diluting our culture.
TNS: Some reports say the recent killings
of three nationalist Baloch leaders (Ghulam Mohammad
Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch) have
something to do with the spoils as a result of the release
of UN official John Solecki?
HM: Look who is spreading these news.
There is no evidence to support this claim. No bounty
was paid to anyone. This is a blatant lie and it's a
[character] assassination campaign against 'Proud Baloch'
character. Security agencies are behind such rumours
to divert attention from the brutal murders. I believe
they were killed because of their political beliefs.
TNS: Rehman Malik said on television
your role was crucial in the release of John Solecki?
HM: My role was to get John released
unharmed. Any harm to him would have served no one, especially
the cause of Baloch people. I didn't do so for any benefit
but to get a good name for Baloch people. The fact that
John was released unharmed and that Ghulam Muhammad had
a big role in his release didn't go down well with the
Pakistani security establishment because they wanted
to portray us as brutal and radical terrorists. They
were not expecting John to come out in one piece.
TNS: And then there are the targeted
killings of Punjabis and Kashmiri workers?
HM: All killings are regrettable but
I am not in a position to condone or condemn these. What
about the targeted killings of Balochs for decades by
Pakistani security forces -- from leadership down to
shepherds? They have killed anyone who came in their
way. Till only a few years back, there was no problem
with non-Balochs living and working in Balochistan. Ours
has always been a civil protest against the attitude
of military's attitude towards us.
Things changed drastically after the
killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and it came as a rude shock
to all. Youth have become frustrated and they don't have
any hope left. You cannot talk Gandhian peace to them
when they are being bombed with cluster and phosphorous
bombs. Whole villages have been displaced. Many have
become so angry that it's not possible for anyone to
ask them to put the weapons down. The weapons they have
picked up in self-defence.
TNS: What is your position on Balochistan
Liberation Army (BLA)? Any idea who is rolling it?
HM: I cannot speak for BLA. I have
got no idea who funds BLA. Someone belonging to that
organisation will comment better on that. UK Police made
me subject to investigation worth millions of pounds
and found no evidence that I was behind acts of violence,
so I don't know. I have no contact with any foreign country
or agency to fund our national liberation movement. But
as a Baloch representative, I will go to the whole world.
If they are willing to give us fund for Baloch people,
I will be willing to talk to them. I will ask them to
open our embassies and recognise us. I want the world
to recognise the problem of Balochistan. We need recognition.
The organisations involved in armed fight are fighting
a fascist army that is killing Balochs day and night,
TNS: Is there any way out for reconciliation
at some level? What will be your conditions?
HM: It's simple. Pakistan army should
pull out from Balochistan and give us back our statehood.
Otherwise, there will be bloodshed. We are ready to live
with Pakistan as good neighbours but that's it. When
Americans occupied Iraq, they gave a timetable of pullout;
Balochs want a timetable from Pakistan army. Occupation
should end now. Finish the cantonments and garrisons.
After massacres and plundering of our wealth, there can
be no patch-up. I know we are facing the world's fifth
largest and one of the most powerful army but let's not
forget mighty powers crumble. I was a student in Soviet
Union when the unbelievable USSR crumbled in front of
our eyes. Our resolve is stronger and we will stay the
TNS: Would you support autonomy against
independence in accordance with the 1973 constitution?
HM: Majority of Baloch representatives
didn't even sign the 1973 constitution. It should not
be applied to Balochistan. Our consent was not involved.
It's not for us. It has not done anything to protect
TNS: How do you view the current insurgency/unrest?
HM: I will not call it insurgency.
People are defending themselves because they are on the
brink of extinction. They are defending their motherland.
Ten years ago they were looking for jobs and were not
bothered much with the national question; today the question
of their motherland tops all priorities. Now everyone
knows the importance of sacrifice for freedom of the
TNS: How do you view the role of various
Baloch tribes and sardars?
HM: Everyone is pursuing his own agenda.
Some sardars are patriotic and working for the interests
of Baloch nation while others are working for their own.
Generally I am happy with Baloch public. They are more
conscious today than before.