We are happy to announce good news to the fans of Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur and our readers that every Sunday we will publish an article of Waja Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur. His last article published in Pakistan’s so-called mainstream media was “Gwadar conundrum” which was published on 21 Nov 2015 in Daily Times. It is fortunate for us that all his articles are preserved in his official app “Ustad Talpur” from which we will select an article datewise starting from his bio which is published in it.
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur was born to Mir Ali Ahmed Talpur in Hyderabad on the 31st of December 1945 in the city of Hyderabad at their ancestral place. The Talpur family of Hyderabad ruled Sindh from 1783 to February 17th 1843 when they lost it to Britain after the Battle of Miani where more than 6000 Baloch lost their lives defending Sindh. It wouldn’t be out of place to mention that Talpurs came to Sindh around 1670 from Bhurgra which is in Dera Ghazi Khan which though illegally made part of Punjab in 1952 was Balochistan and is still considered as such by Baloch. The Talpur though having stayed for around 350 years haven’t lost touch with their Baloch ancestry and Mir Mohammad Ali grew up hearing his father say that ‘I am first a Baloch and only then a Muslim’.
He had his education in Karachi which was more advantageous for education than Hyderabad. The education does matter for all but the real thing is the ethos that is found in the home. His father had lost his father when only 16 but had made a mark in the political and social fields with his integrity and fearlessness. Mir Ali Ahmed had opposed the British rule and had joined the Khaksar Tehreek (KT) of Allama Inyatullah Mashriqui. KT wanted freedom of India from Britain and during the political struggle against British rule both Allama Sahib and Mir Sahib were jailed. Mir Sahib was the Deputy head of the KT and when Allama Sahib was in jail Mir Sahib was the acting head.
After partition Mir Ali Ahmed Sahib was elected member of Legislative Assembly of Sindh and he opposed those in power at that time. His younger brother Mir Rasool Bakhsh Talpur too opposed the government and was incarcerated a few times for his opposition to government and standing up for the rights of the people. It was in this ethos that young Mir Mohammad Ali grew up; he saw his father and uncle fight for the rights of people and bravely oppose the government of the day in the times when most people preferred to support the government for their own benefit.
Anyone brought up on the staple diet of politics and especially of defiance of the government and support of peoples’ rights would certainly be influenced by what was happening around him and more so when stories of valor of his ancestors against the Afghans and English in the past were often recounted. The frequent incarceration of Mir Rasool Bakhsh created resentment in the young mind and this continued stance of defiance of the government inculcated a spirit of defiance in the young mind and this led to his understanding the inherently tyrannical nature of the Pakistani establishment.
An event which went a long way in influencing the young mind occurred on 15th July 1960 when sons, relatives and friends of Nawab Nauroz Khan Zarakzai were hanged at Hyderabad and Sukkur Jails. Afraid of the Martial Law regime people were hesitant of claiming the bodies of the three martyrs hanged in Hyderabad Jail so Mir Rasool Bakhsh Sahib went and took charge of the bodies had the required rituals performed and made arrangements to transport bodies to their hometown. It needs to be mentioned that Mir Sahib’s mother had gone to Hajj some years before and she had brought shrouds for herself and others she gave those for the martyred Baloch.
Mir Mohammad Ali was fortunate to meet Nawab Nauroz Khan, Ataullah Mengal and Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo in Hyderabad jail in 1961 as he had gone there for vacations and it was Eid time. Mir Rasool Bakhsh often visited Baloch leaders in jail but on Eid days had food specially prepared for them. He accompanied his uncle and met them and sitting there saw how brave and defiant Nawab Nauroz was in spite of the hangings a year ago and how determined the other two were. This meeting made a lasting impression and gave birth to the idea of being with Baloch in their struggle against Pakistan.
Around this time he was fortunate to meet another Baloch struggle legend Mir Sher Mohammad Marri who was barred from entering Balochistan and was in forced exile in Sindh. He was invited for lunch by Mir Ali Ahmed Sahib and it was during his talks about the Baloch struggle that Mohammad Ali learned about more aspects of Baloch struggle as to how the Baloch leaders were falsely accused of getting arms from Soviet Union and how there were unjustly denied the right to live in their land. He also realized that the Baloch leaders had an unwavering commitment to Balochistan and Baloch people and were undeterred by the obstacles that Pakistan put up for them. Learning such things helped steel the determination that serving Baloch is the most honourable thing to do. It should be mentioned that in 1962 Sher Mohammad Marri jumped bail and went mountains of Balochistan first in Lakhra mountain and then to Marri area and successfully organized resistance there.
The Baloch were undeterred by the harsh and severe penalties that were imposed on them for demanding their liberty. The resistance to Pakistan continued in the Marri area under leadership of Sher Mohammad Marri and in the Mengal area by Ali Mohammad Mengal. The Baloch were in no mood to give up their rights though there many Sardars and Moatbars who were groveling before Pakistan. The people understood that a life of dignity means more than getting bread and butter. With the passage of time more and more people came to understand the need to protect their resources and their inherent right over the same.
In 1964 Fatima Jinnah contested elections against Ayub Khan and both Mir Ali Ahmed and Mir Rasool Bakhsh supported her and when she visited Hyderabad she stayed at their house. These elections further exposed the futility of the elections in Pakistani context and how these could be manipulated. These elections put paid to the hope that any change could come here through so called democratic means. Here what counted was not who stood for what but who had the army and state machinery behind him.
After the September 1965 war Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto parted ways with Ayub Khan and in Sindh none of the politicians would even meet him. In 1967 he came to Hyderabad and wanted to stay at the Hotel Orient owned by the Qazi family and which he had inaugurated a few years back but was told there was no vacancy. He came to Mir Rasool Bakhsh whose mother had recently expired for condolence and was offered hospitality. Till he became the President in late 1971 he always stayed at Mir Sahibans’ house. Later differences arose between them.
In 1968 people started demonstrating against Ayub Khan’s rule and it slowly gathered momentum. Mir Mohammad Ali participated in it in Karachi marching with protestors and making speeches. In March 1969 Ayub Khan gave charge to Yaha Khan and another Martial Law was enforced. This showed that however much people may sacrifice and struggle the power here would always remain in hands of those who had the gun.
Mir Mohammad Ali in 1969 passed his Bachelor’s exam and joined the Journalism Department for his Masters. In the University there always was confrontation and tussle with the Jamiat-e-Tulba (JT) the student wing of Jammat-e-Islami and the leftist students of the National Students Federation. He along with resisting the the administration supported JT studied hard.
In 1970 Mir Ali Ahmed Talpur was arrested for criticizing the Martial Law policies and sentenced to six months jail. It was at this that Mir Mohammad Ali decided to quit his studies though he did appear for the exams and secured the second position in the class. Elections were held by Yahya Khan and Awami League (AL) of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman won the most seats while Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) was placed second. In Balochistan and Frontier the National Awami Party (NAP) of Wali Khan won a majority. The military and its ally the PPP were not in the mood to allow those who won the elections to exercise power and started creating hurdles in the transfer of authority to the AL and it slowly developed towards a massive and bloody confrontation as the people of Bengal weren’t ready to relinquish their right.
On March 14th 1971 Mir Mohammad Ali said good bye to his father and went to Jamesabad now known as Kot Ghulam Mohammad to a relative Dr. Ghulam Qadir Nizamani to work as his assistant to learn medicine which he thought would be more useful to people wherever he got an opportunity to work with them. On March 25th the Pakistani army began a massive and genocidal crackdown on Bengali people in which hundreds of thousands were killed and raped. This crackdown on the Bengali majority only strengthened his resolve to fight for the rights of people and cleared his mind that nothing good could be expected from Pakistan for people of Balochistan and Sindh. He continued to work hard learning about medicine in practice and reading books on medicine. It was hard work waking up at dawn and working till sunset to cope with the continuous stream of patients but this came in handy for him when he went to work among people in Balochistan.
On October 18th 1971 on the wedding of his sister he received a message from a friend asking him to come to Balochistan to serve people by treating them. The friend was Mohammad Bhabha a South African whose family had shifted to Karachi. Bhabha had met Sher Mohammad Marri in 1970 and arranged with him and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Khan Marri of his coming into Marri area with some friends to work with and serve people there. On 21st October he left Hyderabad for Marri area with a couple of Marri friends and a cousin of Bhabha and his younger brother Mir Haider Ali Talpur. After an all night drive they reached near Dingra a place on the Lahri plains and started walk with the Marri friends while the other two returned. They walked all day and then rested a few hours and then began our walk and came across a household of Jats at the time of fasting as the Ramzan had begun and a friend went and got a bread of millet which they ate. They reached house of a Marri near the Marri hills in the morning and rested there for a few days until friends arranged transport. When the horses arrived they left for the camp in the mountains and on the 29th of October reached there late in the evening.
The life in the camp was not an easy one for people used to city life but it was all about mind over matter; if you want to do something you can do it. There in the camp apart from Bhabha were also Ahmed Rashid of the book “Taliban’ fame and Asad Rahman better known as Chakar among Marris. He was soon going around treating people who fell sick in the vicinity of the camp. In early December Duleep Dass aka Dali came and joined the camp. In the camp were Marris too all trusted friends of Mir Hazar Khan who had been second in Command to Mir Sher Mohammad while he was there. Winters in Marri area are quite severe but they managed well. A clarification is required Mir Mohammad Ali’s name is often included in what is known as London Group which included Mohammad Bhabha, Asad Rahman, Ahmed Rashid, Duleep Dass, Najam Sethi and Rashed Rahman because they were together in the struggle. He has never been to London and only met them after he went to Marri area. However it should be acknowledged that these friends of London Group played an important role in the 1973-77 insurgency though after 1977 some of them gave up support to Baloch.
On 17th December the Pakistani army surrendered in Dacca and that was the end of the entire philosophy on which Pakistan was based but the remaining Pakistan had the army which is mostly from Punjab and whose interests had forced the Bengalis out but they were determined to keep others under subjugation. Bhutto became the president and the chief martial law administrator and his dream was fulfilled.
The activists in Marri area continued to teach and treat people and also learn from them. In a freak accident in March 1972 there was an explosion and Mir Mohammad Ali lost his hands and Bhabha’s eyes were injured. As there were no medical facilities available it took doctor friends six days to come and treat the injured and they couldn’t stay more than a day they did whatever they could and left. Bhabha was transferred to Karachi for treatment while Mir Mohammad Ali had to do with whatever treatment he could get but fortunately human resilience comes into play during adversity and in spite of odds and with help of Dali, Chakar and Marri friends he was able to survive. The accident so soon after his arrival meant that he was disabled for a long time unable to treat or teach people. It should be of interest that the two doctors who treated them still do not want their name to be divulged for security reasons.
As the NAP had majority in Balochistan and Frontier Bhutto had to appease them and on false promises made them partner and gave Ataullah Mengal the chance to be the Chief Minister of Balochistan in May 1972. Though NAP was given the chance but Bhutto started creating problems from the day one. Eventually on 13th February after staging the drama of arms find in the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad the Mengal government was dismissed. Interestingly Mir Rasool Bakhsh who was at time Governor of Sindh also resigned because his elder brother Mir Ali Ahmed was accused of involvement in the arms find. All this just reinforced the belief of Baloch people that Pakistan would never give them their rights.
With the dismissal of Ataullah government the Marris feared the worst and the camp locations were changed. The government started deploying Frontier Corps on the fringes of Marri area to block rations from the drought stricken Marri area. This was extreme provocation as people depended on food supplies from Sibi, Talli and Lahri; their intention was to force people to beg for help so that their writ could be re-established. The PPP government wanted to have rule of its supporters in Balochistan and additionally the Shah of Iran didn’t want the Baloch under Iranian occupation to get moral or material support from across the border. Mir Mohammad Ali’s hands were still being bandaged as after the trip by doctors there had been no further treatment but he was slowly regaining the use of hands. It was difficult for him in these circumstances but he persisted to do what he could. He dictated notes regarding treatment for different diseases to friends so these could be used by them.
The blockade by the government gradually became more severe and then on May 18th 1973 an eight man patrol of Sibi Scouts was ambushed by Baloch near Tandoori and all were killed. Within three days troops ferried by helicopters arrived in Mawand and thus began the long fight till 1977 in which the army according to some sources suffered some 6000 dead and injured. The Baloch fought bravely and intelligently and in spite of massive army deployment they were able to carry out attacks and keep army confined to posts.
In October 1974 exactly three years after he came to the Marri mountains the senior friend Mir Hazar Khan Ramkani asked him to go to Sindh for safety as the army operations were intensifying; he wanted to stay behind but accepted the decision and went to Sindh with Ahmed Rashid. Life in Sindh was not easy as there always was fear of being discovered as all of them were on the wanted list in Hyderabad Tribunal set up to try Baloch and other NAP leaders. In Sindh he lived with family of Mir Hazar Khan Ramkani which too was sought by state and they had to live in rural areas of Sindh and it was not an easy life. Here he taught the children in the family and treated those who fell ill. Though his family was in Hyderabad he did not go there and when his mother died in January 1977 knowing that the intelligence agencies would be watching he did not go to her funeral for fear of endangering other people.
In July 1977 Bhutto was replaced by Zia ul Haq but the danger for Baloch did not recede. Although the other NAP leaders were soon released the Baloch leaders were kept in jail for some more time. The Baloch had started going to Afghanistan to seek refuge in late 1975 because the Marri fighters wanted a safe place for their families. In June 1978 after nearly 4 years of hiding in rural areas of Sindh arrangements to go to Afghanistan, where the Saur Revolution had taken place in April, were made and after going to Quetta by vehicle he and the family began the journey to Shorawak via Sarlat on foot. After a travel of three days they reached the camp at Shorawak from thereon to Kandhar in truck and then onwards to Apo Tangi in Zabul province.
There already were a few thousand Baloch, mostly Marris, living in Kandahar and Apo Tangi as refugees. Interestingly Sardar Mohammad Daoud had agreed to send the Baloch back but the Khalq Party which initiated the Saur Revolution said that Baloch could live there as long as they wanted and they would be provided with rations and a small stipend. Now here in Apo Tangi he had to treat the many children and people who fell sick as it was in the mountains away from any town or city. The Baloch had been provided with some medicine by a French group through Mohammad Bhabha who had some years before gone there to garner support. This medicine greatly helped in treatment of the people.
Apo Tangi had severe winters and there was snow for about two months which caused a lot of pulmonary complications for the young and old so he remained quite busy treating people and also teaching the Marri children who were taught by Afghan government appointed teachers in the morning and by him in the evening. As this place was away from the roads the elements hostile to the Khalq government started to create problems for the Baloch at Apo Tangi and there were a few clashes in which some Baloch lost their lives. Although he rarely visited Kabul he happened to be there on December 27th 1979 when Hafizullah Amin was ousted by Russain troops and Babrak Karmal put in charge. He was also there on 29th February 1980 when the people of Kabul demonstrated against the Russians.
Eventually in April 1981 the government made arrangements to transport the Baloch families from Apo Tangi to Lashkargah in Helmand province. He continued to treat the Baloch and to teach them. The school in Lashkargah was unique in the sense that in it children as young as 4 years and men of ages above forty studied. The Baloch refugees there were anxious to get education and this school was constructed and managed by the students themselves. The Marris harassed by the state kept coming to Afghanistan and there was a huge influx of refugees in 1987 and the number of the people swelled to around ten thousand people. With that the number of patients and students also swelled but as the city of Lashkargah was near patients of severe nature could go to the hospital. The students continued to study in government school in the morning and in the afternoons with him. The government then provided the opportunity of going to Soviet Union for further studies to those who had completed their education at school in city; many students availed the opportunity and returned as qualified doctors and engineers.
Apart from teaching and treating the Baloch he arranged lectures for the students and once a week late in the evenings the students gathered where there would be political discussion about the aims and methods of the national struggle. The Baloch paid a lot of attention to what was going on in the world and were very much alive to the progress in the scientific and political world. He also held regular classes for a group of around 15 students who were taught the basics of medicine so that they could serve their people when the need arose. He returned home on April 3rd 1991after an absence of twenty long years of service of the Great Baloch Nation.
He tried to be practically useful during his association with Baloch struggle first in Balochistan and Sindh and then in Afghanistan to the Baloch Nation that he had dedicated his life to and continues to try to serve them through the medium of writing and has devoted his efforts to issues of Balochistan in ‘Dawn’, ‘Daily Times’ and other publications like ‘Newsline’ magazine, a daily ‘The Post’ from Lahore and a monthly ‘The Reporter’ from Hyderabad. Not content with writing alone he joined the protest Long March by Mama Qadeer and the Brave Banuks whose relatives had been kidnapped by the Pakistani state. He was with these brave marchers for 25 days of the total 106 days that those brave Baloch marched.
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