Friend of Baloch and Balochistan: Asad Rahman passed away
By Yousaf Ajab Baloch
It was shocking news when I heard Asad Rahman, alias Chakar Khan 62 years, a prominent human rights activist, journalist and guerrilla leader of 1973-77 war in Balochistan has passed away on October 29, 2012.
Asaad Rahma was front line campaigner for Baloch rights. As guerrilla leader
, he led Baloch Resistance Movement. Being a journalist, he ever wrote in favor of Baloch rights. As program organizer or director he measured to provide platform the Baloch Nationalists, journalists and Human Rights Activists to raise voice for rights and come-up with a justified system. He was given the name ‘Chakkar Khan’, a legendary sign of 15th century Baloch statesman, during his stay among the political workers in Balochistan.
I met Asad Rahman In June, 2010, during an amplified conference about Balochistan at Islamabad, conducted by Sungi Development Foundation, where Asad Rahman directed the programs. It was one of the remarkable programs in which he had invited Baloch Nationalists, Human Rights Activist, Journalist and influential authorities, like the Governor of Balochistan Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Senator Raza Rabbani to deliver them that “Aghaz-e-Haqooq-Balochistan Package” was not panacea Baloch ailment.
Among Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Senator Raza Rabbani, Habib Jalib BNP-Mengal, Tahir Bizejo (National Party) Hamdan Bugti, Mahbat Khan Marri, Deputy Chairman Senate Jan Muhammad Jamali and I was also one of the participant who delivered speech as Baloch Journalist and Human Rights Activist in conference on Baloch Issue at Islamabad.
In the first meeting, I was surprised; he had command and fluency of speaking Balochi Language. That how could an English dressed man with French styled bread fluently speaking Balochi? Where I got familiarized with him, he is Asad Rahman, alias Chakar Khan. He admired me for my articles, published in the Baloch Hal, with title “kill and dump” policy of Baloch journalists, even wrote a comment on my blog ‘Good article Ajab I will circulate it”. Since 2010, I was ambitious to read about him. He was interviewed candidly by Malik Siraj Akbar, a well known Baloch journalist and Editor-in-Chief of first Baloch Online English newspaper, the discussed interview is a great contribution in Baloch history.
Asad Rehman was scion of late Justice S.A. Rahman family, who retired as Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1968. Asad Rehman was born in Murree district of Rawalpindi on 11th august, 1950, and educated at Lahore. As a student and campaigner of Government College Lahore, he played significant role during 68-69 in the anti-Ayubi movement. When he completed his intermediate in 1969, he left for London to study architect subject. One of his brothers, Rashid Rahman, is a well-known journalist and political analyst.
During the study at London, a study group of 25 members was established comprising on bother genders male and female. The group would study literature of different schools of thoughts, like Marxism, Maoism, Leninism, and Stalinism by study circles and in other ways. According to the late Asad Rehman, these studies propelled him for going Balochistan and educating there’s masses Humanity, Human Rights and swell of sense among common Baloch against exploitation by the rulers’ elites. The prominent members of London Group were Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rashid, Rashid Rahman, (Brother of Asad Rahman) and Dilip Dass.
London Group was publishing a monthly magazine with title ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. When mentioned group felt wrongful the Civil War in East Pakistan in 1970, then magazine focused topics; nation’s rights, minorities’ rights, fundamental human rights. The magazine identified East Pakistan’s main rebellion causes, like economic exploitation and through magazine London, Manchester and Birmingham authorities were notified about misfortune. Similarly, by distribution of magazine Pakistan’s indigenous Left inclined masses were made aware. Ali Baksh Talpur delivered magazine to Sher Mohammad Marri and Khair Baksh Marri with intention to extract their attentions.
This magazine created an interaction bridge between London Group and Marri tribesmen Sher Mohammad and Khair Bakshi. After long discussions the seven members of the group decided to go Balochistan and participate practically in Baloch Resistance Movement. Hence, seven members were definite to go Balochistan and yet five members: Asad Rehman, his brother Rashid Rehman, Ahmed Rashid, Dalip Dass and Najam Sethi came Pakistan and participated in movement.
In March, 1971, Asad Rahman was first and the youngest one who had arrived Karachi with intention to join Baloch guerrilla war, where a Marri man received him. A town Lehri, where Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani (the Baloch tribal chief who headed the resistance movement) had received him while entering in Marri tribe area. A common camp was established at Bhamboor in a mountain venue called Miandadtot, where they stayed for two months until they were shifted to Tadri.
In interview to Malik Siraj Akbar, he revealed “He was hosted by Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani. Where father of Mr Bijarani the Gula Khan, who died in 1975 at the age of 105, would tell him about Baloch history, folklore, customs, traditions, the does and don’ts of the tribal society, the administration of tribal society. Mir Gula Khan had fought at a young age against the British when they invaded the Marri area and he financed the war lasted four years.
Ahmed Rashid and Dilip Dass joined them in the mountains and worked with Asad Rahman. Mohammad Ali Talpur joined them as a paramedic; he was not the member of the original London Group.
The London Group modernized the thoughts and technique in the resistance movement of guerilla warfare was fought in Balochistan, because they had studied books on Che Guevara, General VO Nguyen Giap, even non-communist generals of Cyprus and had good idea of guerilla warfare. About the resistance, he revealed in the famous interview that he purchased a Dara-made 303 rifle, in 1972, and had not owned sophisticated weapons. They would capture weapons from the forces. They had shortage of weapons and ammunition. Pashtoon traders would sell ammunition and Kalashnikovs to them.
In 1973 , After the NAP government dismissal, the paramilitary forces were surrounding the Marri and Bugti, as well as the Mengal and Bizenjo areas.The forces launched operation in Balochistan and killed many Baloch mainly from Marri tribe. Then Mir Hazar Khan deputized Asad Rahman as commander of the Marri tribal units, having about 1500 guerillas.
“When the forces invaded Baloch areas, then shah of Iran provided helicopters to belligerent Pakistani forces them because at that time Pakistan army had not have helicopters, especially the Chinook which the Iranians possessed. They also gave gunship helicopters to Pakistan and provided entire war disbursement because the Shah of Iran was feared that if the NAP government in Balochistan got established and strengthened, then it would support the Iranian Balochistan Movement. The Shah wanted the NAP government to be immediately sacked. Bhutto looked at his personal interests based on relationship with the Shah of Iran rather than considering the national interest of Pakistan. The Bhutto-Reza Shah alliance actually started the war. It was the bloodiest war in Balochistan has ever seen. Even today, that kind of fighting is not taking place. Nearly 5000 causalities were suffered by the army, out of which 1500 were killed and 3500 injured. On the Baloch guerrilla side, we only lost about 70 guerillas but 15000 Baloch old men, women and children were killed or wounded” revealed Asad Rahman in interview with Malik Siraj Akbar.
Asad Rahman commanded right from Pie Slaman down to Marri tribal areas and Dera Gazi Khan, while Meharullah Khan Mengal, a brother of Sardar Attaullah Mengal, had a group in Mengal area. Aslam Gichki led a group in Lasbela and Mir Safar Khan Zarakzai was operating in Sarawan. The resistance movement continued till July 1977. Till the Zia-ul-Haq uncovered the Hyderabad Conspiracy case and announced general amnesty for the Baloch leaders, was this amnesty.
The huge and indiscriminate operations against Baloch women, men, children in 1974 compelled Baloch tribes to go Afghanistan and take refuge there. When the general amnesty was given to Balochs the members of London Group Rashid Rahman, Ahmed Rashid and Mohammad Ali Talpur and Ajmal Khatta, were denied amnesty. In January 1979, Asad Rahman went to Afghanistan after Mir Hazar Khan called him for assistance in establishing the refugee camps of 10,000 families from Balochistan.
Being in Afghanistan he could not participate in funeral ritual of his father when he passed away in February, 1979. From Afghanistan he flew to London in May 1980. He came back to Pakistan in June, 1980.
Asad Rahman in his resistance movement played a significant role. He ambushed the Pakistani military convoys and took away ammunition from them to sustain the movement. He was one of an eyewitness of Baloch ‘genocide” in the 70s. Rahman alias Chakar Khan was once arrested in 1975 when he had fallen seriously ill. He went to Karachi for treatment and was arrested there, but fortunately he was not identified.
After returning in 1980, Rehman adopted human rights line of work, got associated with Aurat Foundation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and more recently as an executive director of Sungi.
About his death the Daily Times reported that Mr. Rahman, along with his 30-year-old son, were manhandle by Punjab Police in front of their residence in Lahore, after they had tried to save life of a rickshaw driver who had sustained injury in a road accident. Rashid Rahman, both father and son had badly got injured by the Punjab Police. It is alleged that Mr. Rahman couldn’t bear the humiliation and ill-treatment by Punjab Police and had fallen ill in the wake of the police beating and eventually passed-away on 29th October, 2012.
1.A trusted comrade: By Malik Siraj Akbar
2.Chakar Khan: an intrepid warrior for justice Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
3.Tribute to a comrade: Sanaullah Baloch
4.Revisiting the Che Guevara-like days of Baloch resistance movement with Asad Rehman: By Malik Siraj Akbar