The Future of Dr. Allah Nazar

By Malik Siraj Akbar

Dr. Allah Nazar did not accidentally become a Baloch nationalist. However, his dramatic rise as a popular commander of the ongoing Baloch resistance movement owes a great deal to the Pakistani military’s aggressive policies in Balochistan.

In March 2005, Nazar, then a student of Quetta’s Bolan Medical College, was whisked away by the personnel of the intelligence agencies from a flat in Karachi along with some other comrades from the Baloch Students Organization (BSO). They had presumably been spotted by the intelligence agents after they staged a protest rally in front of the Karachi Press Club to denounce the attack on Nawab Akbar Bugti‘s fort by the Frontier Corps (FC).

Dr. Nazar, not widely popular in Balochistan by that  time, was a young Baloch with a dream to become a professional doctor to help the people of his backward Awaran district.Being a member of the BSO did not necessarily mean to be a ‘rebel’ in its truest  sense. Besides the political ideology, the BSO attracts a lot of young Balochs who freshly come to Quetta, Balochistan’s capital,  to study at Bolan Medical College or other universities. They  view the BSO as a community organization to socialize with fellow Balochs from other districts and resolve their university-related administrative problems  (such as admission or allotment of rooms in the hostel). Once these initial priorities are addressed, the BSO takes a step further to either peacefully raise its voice about Baloch rights via press releases and seminars or through strident protest rallies and demonstrations.

In 2002, he founded the Azad faction of the BSO, which is pro-independence and supportive of the armed resistance.

Dr. Nazar’s mysterious disappearance in 2005 continued for days, weeks and even  months. It was clearly tantamount to shattering a young ambitious man’s dream of becoming a doctor after much hardship. Some of his friends, who were released after several months of detention, disclosed that they had been subjected to severe torture and investigated about the Baloch nationalist movement. However, when he was recovered after many months from the custody of the Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF), newspaper images showed him  chained and physically too weak. [See the image on the right]He had been tortured so badly that he could not easily talk or walk. Hence, he was admitted in the Jail Ward of Quetta’s Sandeman Hospital for many days.

After authorities could not substantiate charges of murder and sedition against him, they released the young doctor. He disappeared again. But this time, it was a different type of disappearance. It was the time when the myth of Allah Nazar had newly generated. Some speculated that he had decided to reconcile with the government and agreed to abandon politics after months of brutal torture while the others insisted that he had joined the Balcoh armed struggle to avenge personal humiliation and the collective oppression of the Baloch people by the security forces. Nobody every questioned the intelligence and commitment of Dr. Nazar but people still found it unconvincing that he would go an extra mile to join the armed struggle.

In the subsequent days, it turned out that he had practically joined the resistance movement. Nazar emerged as the poster-boy for the young Baloch activists who glorified him as their “real hero”. [see the poster image of Dr. Nazar on right] What made him so charismatic? After all, he rose on the nationalistic arena at a time when iconic figures like Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Balach Marri and Bramdagh Bugti  had already become either “martyrs” or “guerrilla commanders”.

The obvious reason for Nazar’s popularity was his middle class background. The Baloch youth viewed him as the “guy we met at BMC” or  the “guy who rode the local bus” to get to the college. He was young, educated and someone among  the youth. Plus, he belonged to a district which did not have a strong tribal set-up or a past history of hosting insurgents.

Besides becoming the poster-boy, Dr. Nazar has become Balochistan’s “Youtube-commander” and the selling theme for folk singers, poets and writers. (Click here to listen to Balochi folk song dedicated to Dr. Nazar)

In the last five years, Dr. Nazar has traveled a long way from a student leader and a guerrilla fighter to a full-fledged commander of the ongoing insurgency. After the killing of Nawab Bugti, Balach Marri and Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, he is the only resistance leader left inside Balochistan who is practically heading and popularizing the armed movement in areas without a tribal system. Two other key leaders of the pro-independence movement, Nawabzada Hairbayari Marri and Bramdagh Bugti, are both currently living overseas on exile.

Thus, the changing circumstances have imposed unexpected but overriding responsibilities of leadership on Dr. Nazar. As time passes and responsibilities increase, Dr. Nazar, experts say, may give a hard time to Islamabad in its efforts to quell the insurgency in Balochistan which is now about to compete a full decade since its inception in the latest phase.

In recent times, Dr. Nazar has, nonetheless, committed a few strategic blunders, which, if committed again and again, may cause him serious trouble in the future. It is understandable how leaders behave when their charisma skyrockets and they become a household name. Developing fondness for media and public appearance is one of such mistake guerrilla commanders cannot afford to make. Iranian rebel leader Abdul Malik Regi also loved interviews, media and interactions with the outside world which eventually gave the Iranian government a sense of his appearance and his hideouts.

Only time can confirm if Dr. Nazar will overcome these immature temptations of the media or the Pakistani security forces will take his interactions and background of the video images as an opportunity and a technique to kill him. There is ample evidence that governments or insurgents use media interactions, phone calls, interviews  as an opportunity to attain their targets. For instance, Ahmed Shah Masood, the popular leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, was killed on September 9, 2001 when two terrorists posing as journalists wanting to interview the Panjsheri leader approached him. Abdul Malik Regi made the same mistake and now Allah Nazar seems to be increasingly falling in the same trap of media charm which does not always bode well for leaders with mass following on the one hand and an organized manhunt against them on the other hand.