Essay: Santosh Kumar, ex-RAW officer
In the 90's decade, post Nawab Marri's return to Balochistan after ending his self-imposed exile in Afghanistan, his informal founding of the Haq-e-Tawar Study Circle, and then seeing the changing world situation and the insurgency in Balochistan, and especially the policy to reduce China's influence, Hyrbyair Marri got an opportunity by virtue and trust of being the son of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri. Since it was the wish of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, and being his son, he managed this responsibility and started an armed struggle under the name of the BLA, while he himself along with his children moved to London under the pretext of diplomacy and service to the Baloch nation.
In Balochistan, educated youth founded an armed organization by the name of BLF, and trusting the name of Khair Bakhsh Marri, they coordinated with Hyrbyair. Armed struggle began on a regular basis in Balochistan starting in the year 2000, under the name of these two organizations. Then from 2005 onwards, Nawab Akbar Bugti began a protest in regards to Balochistan, first from Sui and then Dera Bugti. Then the rape of a lady named Dr. Shazia by an Army Captain was made the basis of the beginning of armed struggle, although the real motivation of this step was to whitewash his lifelong loyalty and obedience to the Pakistan state and to establish his own personality as a hero in the context of Baloch nationhood. Apart from this there was nothing special - if there was, he would have instituted some functional system, so that people could follow in his footsteps.
Anyway after the death of Akbar Khan, his grandson Brahamdagh Bugti rose up as a dependable successor to Nawab Akbar Khan in the world's eyes. Thus, anti-Pakistan powers gave every possible material assistance to Hyrbyair Marri and Brahamdagh Bugti, so that armed resistance to Pakistan in Balochistan continued. Mutual differences emerged when the British government, upon the demand of the Pakistani establishment, arrested Hyrbyair Marri, and his brother Balach Marri met with a sudden and mysterious death.
Then a few months later, Hyrbyair was released on bail as a result of a deal with Pakistan. Pakistan took back its case against Hyrbyair Marri in Britain, and Hyrbyair gave Pakistan the assurance that not only BLA but also BLF and BRA were also in his control, and he could take responsibility for all of these and shut the war down. As proof he also facilitated a temporary ceasefire. This ceasefire, along with the death of Balach Marri, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri was upset with Hyrbyair Marri and viewed him with suspicion. During that time, perhaps understanding the reality, the BRA and BLF resumed the armed struggle against Hyrbyair's orders. Pakistani pressure on Hyrbyair continued to increase, and Hyrbyair continued to assure that he will take responsibility and continue to weaken the armed resistance and put a complete end to it.
The first action he took was to contradict Khair Bakhsh. Khair Bakhsh was already upset with Hyrbyair. He then also accused Mehran Marri of corruption. There was some truth to the corruption charges, but the real motive of the accusation was unconnected to Khair Bakhsh, and was to weaken the armed resistance - because Hyrbyair understood very well that by reducing the influence of Mehran Marri, Khair Bakhsh would be further annoyed. So the corruption issue was a nice opportunity. During this, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri tried again and again to keep this issue discreet - these were two brothers, whatever happened has happened, etc. - Nawab Khair Bakhsh's attempt was to make sure that no news of this reaches the Baloch nation. But Hyrbyair kept refusing to keep this discreet because he was executing the task assigned by Pakistan on a war footing. Eventually, Khair Bakhsh parted ways. Although he had full knowledge of all matters related to Hyrbyair, in view of his blood relation and filial bond, he maintained silence.
Rather, he simply brought forward his other son Mehran Marri, who could now avail of foreign funding that was meant to fuel the Baloch armed struggle. That way, half of that funding could go to Mehran and the other half would continue to go to Hyrbyair, thereby mitigating disputes between his two sons, and also hoping that the confidence of the Baloch nation in his family did not diminish.
But Hyrbyair had his own agenda, and worked away at the tasks given to him - to firstly punish the BLF and BRA for violating the ceasefire and continuing to battle Pakistani forces in Balochistan, and secondly to end the war altogether he initiated a concerted campaign of negative propaganda on social media against every pro-freedom Baloch group that existed in addition to the BLF and BRA.
The aim of this campaign was that apart from benefitting the enemy of the Baloch, it would also spread despondency and disillusion among common Baloch people. There were some benefits from this, and after the passing of Nawab Marri, Hyrbyair initiated internecine warfare between the BLA and the UBA. One objective of this step was to get that portion of the funding that Mehran had appropriated during the time Hyrbyair was incarcerated. The other objective was to cause bloody infighting within the Marri clan, which would engender a disgust for the Baloch freedom struggle among ordinary Baloch, retracting their grassroots support for it and thereby help open up the Marri territories from which oil could then be extracted safely. An agreement to extract oil has been signed in 2013 with an international oil rig company with the blessings of the Khan of Qalat and along with Hyrbyair.
Bear in mind that he left the onus of taking this 'oil plan' to its completion on his brother Gazain Marri. After clashing with the UBA, Hyrbyair began to corner his close and active companions in order to subvert and disperse the movement and BLA, so that armed struggle was put to an end. He continues to undermine the armed resistence even now, and has made assurances that Chinese interests will be protected. He has not given up taking foreign funding, with which he runs his operations under the name FBM, to which Pakistan has no objection or loss. On the other hand, in order to participate in Pakistani politics and ensure the profits for the Marri clan elites, Hyrbyair and Mehran Marri dispatched their brother Gazain Marri to Pakistan according to a considered plan after consultations, so that they may profit from Pakistan as well and the Marri clan's benefits are safeguarded.
On the domestic front, Gazain Marri is doing whatever Hyrbyair and Mehran tell him to do, as per this arrangement. Similarly, Javed Mengal and his son sit abroad and do business in the name of independence, while Akhtar Mengal stays back in Pakistan by mutual consent and accrues other benefits. In the same way, Brahamdagh Bugti has tried several times to return to Pakistan, but the Pakistani establishment is not agreeing to his conditions. Brahamdagh will return soon, but before that he will need to take certain steps in order to restore trust with Pakistan. Casting doubt on March 27th as Balochistan Occupation Day is one such step in that direction. Along with that, he could increase the intensity of his armed operations in Balochistan in order to blackmail Pakistan.
As for Hyrbyair Marri, Mehran Marri and Javed Mengal - they will never return to Pakistan, because their trusted people are already present in Pakistan in the form of Akhtar Mengal and Gazain Marri. These people themselves are doing the work that they would need to do there. Secondly, they now also do hundreds of crores worth of business abroad. Hyrbyair has a big business in Poland, which his brother Hamza Marri runs. In the Gulf (Dubai), Hyrbyair and Mehran have a special person deputed, who is from the Marri tribe, and who is handling the entire business operation there. This Marri would always be with Gazain Marri in Dubai, and these people live a lavish lifestyle abroad using the funds given for the movement. They spend thousands of dollars to celebrate their children's birthdays. Informed sources have confirmed that the powers that were unreservedly giving them financial support earlier are now not trusting them anymore because instead of spending the funds on the "real work" they have been running private businesses with it. In spite of this, because of enmity with Pakistan, these powers are not rejecting them in plain language.
In regards to the Balochistan movement, it now depends on those youth who are not under the control of Hyrbyair, Mehran, Javed and Brahamdagh. What can they do, how shall they gain control of this movement, restore the faith of the common people and take this movement in the right direction after giving it an organized structure? If they cannot do this, then this time the Balochistan movement will face retreat once again, even after shedding so much of their own blood.