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Interview with Nawabzada Gazain Marri

by Wendy Johnson, conducted via email, Mar 7, 2008

Nawabzada Gazain Marri is a prominent Baloch politician and the son of famed Baloch leader Khair Baksh Marri. His brothers include slain Baloch leader Balach Marri, imprisoned human rights activist Hyrbiar Marri, and Mehran Baluch, the Baloch representative to the UN Human Rights Council.

Nawabzada Gazain Marri Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri Balach Marri Hairbiar Marri Mehran Baluch

Q:  Since 9/11, the West has appeased Musharraf by branding the Baloch, who strive for autonomy in their own land and seek justice from a military dictatorship, as 'terrorists'. This includes your own brother held on trumped-up terrorism charges in London. Has this branding of the BLA affected Balochistan's ability to defend itself?

A: The West's biggest blunder post 9/11 was to support the military dictator General Parvez Musharraf in the hope that he would serve as an ally in the war against terror, not taking into account the fact that General Musharraf was the only benefactor of 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The British government's attitude towards the Baloch is regrettable, and to a certain extent shameful, because of the entire process of banning Baloch organizations, persecuting and arresting Baloch nationals on the behest of Musharraf.

As to your question whether the attitude of the British government has impaired the ability of the Baloch to defend themselves, the answer is very simply, No! The problem of Balochistan and the implications of Pakistan 's occupation are far greater and way beyond the confines of a single organization or an individual.

Q: Following the killings of Nawab Bugti and Balach Marri, where do you see the leadership of the Baloch Nation coming from?

A: The killing of our two supreme leaders is irreplaceable for the Baloch nation, yet this by no means will stop the Baloch struggle for independence. Now the dynamics of the Baloch struggle have changed, due to the sacrifices of these two supreme leaders, and the new generation has gained great inspiration from these two leaders. Without a doubt our future leaders will also command equal greatness.

Q: Sardar Ataullah Mengal said in an interview with the Friday Times in 2006, We want the federal government to deal with only three subjects: foreign affairs, defence and currency. All other matters must be in the hands of the provinces. We have been insisting that the provinces should be granted provincial autonomy as enshrined by the 1973 Constitution." (unamended, in its original form). Would you support autonomy vs. independence if the 1973 constitution, in its original form, was enacted?

A: I believe that 60 years of occupation, oppression and subjugation of the Baloch Nation by the federal government of Pakistan leaves us with no other options, but to opt for independence.

Q: Would the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), BRA (Baloch Republican Army) and other groups put down their arms in exchange for autonomy? Or will they accept only independence at this point?

A: I am not the spokesperson for the named organizations, but in my opinion (and it's public knowledge that they have stated this) they will accept nothing short of an independent Balochistan.

Q: In the same interview noted above, Sardar Mengal was asked if he would support Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti's call for a single Baloch National Party. For various reasons, this party was not established. Would you support an effort to organize such a party if it were to help the Baloch win autonomy or independence? Or do you believe your goals can be achieved without such an organization?

A: The need for a single Baloch national party is paramount, because Pakistan's rulers have consistently implemented their "divide and rule" policy on the Baloch, and succeeded internationally to defame the Baloch on the pretext that we are a divided nation.

Q: Have the Baloch made any errors since 1947?

A: Yes they have made many; it's through trials and errors that nations come to know their true destiny.

Q: In November 2006, following the death of Nawab Bugti, the few Baloch leaders we spoke to in Balochistan (Nawab Raisani, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, and Khan of Kalat Suleiman Ahmedzai) voiced their support for taking the Baloch case for autonomy or independence to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Do you support such a move?

A: I fully support any move by any Baloch, which would sincerely result in justice for the Baloch. This includes taking the case of Balochistan to The Hague , as well as the Baloch representatives taking the case of Baloch human rights violations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Q: It is my understanding that the Marri tribe, along with other nationalist parties (including Prince Karim) opposed signing the accession agreement with Pakistan. Can you explain what the position of the Marri tribe was at the time in 1947?

A: It is pertinent to mention that the Marri tribe at all times pre 1947, fought against and repelled foreign invaders and the stance of the Mari tribe did not change in 1947 or post 1947.

Q: There are now greater numbers of Baloch spread around the world than there are in their own homeland. Do you see any parallels with the Jewish Nation's plight? Under what conditions, if any, do you see the Baloch Nation, spread to all corners of the globe, returning home?

A: The only parallel that one can run between the Jews and the Baloch is the fact that we have both suffered genocide and holocaust by Aggressors, the Jews by the hands of Nazis and the Baloch by the hands of a fascist Pakistan army who are the Nazis of today.

The Baloch will return home, once the Baloch nation rids themselves from the Punjabi aggressors.

Q: If independence proves unrealistic to achieve, would you work from within Pakistan for the benefit of all the people in Balochistan, including the other provinces?

A: Baloch independence might seem unrealistic to some today, but ultimately it's our destiny.

Q: The Dawn and DailyTimes newspapers report variously that you were a) repatriated from Dubai in April 2006, b) were tried in an anti-terrorist court in Pakistan, c) arrested in Dubai on money-laundering charges early in 2006 and d) are wanted in Pakistan on various charges, including the murder of a judge of the Balochistan High Court, Justice Nawaz Marri over the ownership of mines in Balochistan. Can you comment on any of these charges?

A: The Pakistani establishment has consistently tried to implicate and malign my family because we believe in justice for Balochistan and stand against the illegal occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan . Therefore the charges against me and my family are nothing more then Pakistan's attempt to silence us.

Q: The DailyTimes reported on Sept 2, 2006 that you and your brother Hairbiar Marri were trying to set up a 'Balochistan High Commission' and a TV channel in Dubai to internationalize the Baloch struggle. Can you elaborate on this?

A: The report of the Daily Times Sep 2, 2006 is very enchanting, although we had no such plans.

Q: Can you provide information on Hyrbiar's status? Is he held in Belmarsh? Does his family have access to him? There is virtually no information in the media about him at present.

A: Hyrbiar is being held at Belmarsh high security prison. At the last hearing he was not even presented at the court, but the hearing took place via video link. His family has no access to him. This proves that the British authorities are obliging Musharraf's regime over and above the normal protocol.
The Scotland Yard team that arrested Hyrbiar Marri and Faiz Baluch in London on Musharraf's false allegations and trumped-up charges is the same team that was sent to Karachi at Musharraf's request to investigate the Benazir Bhutto assassination. This seems to be not a coincidence that Musharraf is using these particular individuals from Scotland Yard to carry out his dirty work, because even in Benazir's case they came out with exactly the same conclusion as Musharraf had done. The enthusiasm with which this team is harassing, intimidating and trying to implicate Hyrbiar Marri and his family for wrongdoings raises the suspicion in my mind, knowing the mentality of the ISI, that corruption might be at play. I have conveyed my concerns about the Scotland Yard team to the Pakistan People's Party. The Scotland Yard team, through their prosecutor, has employed every trick in the book to stall Hyrbiar's bail request. They have even gone to such lengths as to raise the bail amount to over $700,000 in cash. This seems highly unfair and an unprecedented condition.

Q: Do you believe Hairbiar was arrested as part of an extradition agreement between the UK and Pakistan in exchange for Rashid Rauf? Or was his arrest related simply to Pakistan and its attempts to silence the Marris and/or the BLA?

A: The British government, through their foreign secretary Margaret Becket, asked the Pakistani government for the extradition of Rashid Rauf in March 2006. The Pakistani authorities laid down conditions to reciprocate whereby the Pakistani government would only hand over Rashid Raouf in exchange for eight Baloch residing in the UK , one of whom is the Baloch representative at the United Nations human rights council (Mehran Baluch), another was Hyrbiar.

Q: Can you elaborate further on the murder of your brother Balach Marri? Is it possible that he was killed by NATO forces in Helmand province? Or do people still believe he was killed in Noshki or Kohlu? (There is much public information about the U.S. airforce's ability to very effectively track people with Predator drones, is it possible the Pakistanis provided such information to NATO or to US forces?

A: I don't believe in the sentiment of speculations. Balach Marri heroically fought the enemy to defend his motherland and in the process he was martyred.

Q: Can you speak about the BLA today? I still see reports at balochvoice.com about their activities. There is much speculation about their funding, as well as funding for the BRA and other groups. Can you speak to this topic at all?

A: I don't believe that speaking about the reality should be a taboo, but unfortunately my knowledge about their activities and funding is as limited as yours.