Friday October 23, 2015 will remain a red letter day in my life. It was indeed one of the best days when I took Pakistan by the horn at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC.
I stood up and put Pakistan on the mat in front of the whole wide world for its war crimes in Balochistan by challenging the leader of a rogue nation.
“Free, free Balochistan,” I yelled no sooner than the then premier Nawaz Sharif began to speak. “Free free Balochistan,” I said more than a couple of times, my voice echoing in the vast hall. Sharif had to stop his speech, looking scared and nervous.
Then I yelled, “You are bin Laden friend, you are bin Laden friend,” adding to the nervousness of the Pakistani premier. There were widespread reports that bin Laden had ganged up with the Sharifs to oust the government of Pakistan’s first woman premier, Benazir Bhutto, 11 years before he masterminded the 911 attacks on the US.
I knew the guards will come to shove me out of the hall and when they came close to me I chanted “Stop the war crimes in Balochistan, stop the war crimes in Balochistan.”
The question is how did I get the courage to do what I did just two days after my 56th birthday? The answer is in my eyes were the pictures of my university friend Lala Munir, who was with me in the Baloch Students Organization, later with Baloch National Movement (BNM) who was kidnapped from the office of his attorney Kachkol Ali Advocate, along with his comrades Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, the BNM president whom I knew, and Sher Mohammed Baloch of the Baloch Republican Party. I also had in my mind’s camera the picture of Nawab Akbar Khan, 79, who knowingly threw the gauntlet at Pakistan army dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Moeed Yusuf, a director at the USIP, was looking at me sheepishly after I was shoved out of the hall and the USIP called in the Secret Service. I told them frankly that US was wrong in trusting Pakistan. Yusuf played a key role in inviting Sharif, the leader from his homeland Punjab, and was obviously miffed at me. Yusuf enjoys the reputation of pushing Pakistan causes at the USIP. Even though the War on the Rocks disowned her views, Prof C. Christine Fair, a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Peace and Security Studies Program, within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, wrote Yusuf is a proxy of Pakistani officials.
I also had a poster that read “China, Pakistan: Hands off Balochistan.” The protest was widely covered in the Indian media, making me almost a celebrity in the country that I call Mother India. I was delighted I was of service to Balochistan and India and of course Afghanistan.
I think my performance was appreciated even by those I had failed to impress for many years. One of them was now Harvard-educated Malik Siraj Akbar. Akbar who was feeling the heat of the ISI when he exposed Pakistan’s support to the Quetta Shura and had called me from Pakistan one day in spring 2009 asking me he wanted to flee the country which is also called Gaibistan– the land of the disappeared. I advised him not to leave Pakistan in haste but to apply for scholarship or fellowship which he will surely get. Akbat wrote an article in the Huffington Post in which he praised me by saying I “had packaged his message very elegantly.”
But honestly, more than heckling Sharif I had enjoyed heckling Pakistan military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf when he came to speak at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, which was filled with 2,000 people– the hall has a seating capacity of nearly 2,500. When Musharraf began selling his lies about why peace was essential between India and Pakistan, I heckled, “Kargil…..Kargil…..Kargil….Kargil.” The general was taken aback but pretended as if nothing happened. Then when he was trying to lie about Afghanistan, saying that Taliban is an internal issue of Afghanistan and Pakistan had nothing to do with it, I shouted, “You created Taliban…. You created Taliban…. You created Taliban…. You created Taliban.” Musharraf at one another point was trying to shift the blame of terrorism on Afghanistan and I yelled, “Pakistan….Pakistan….Pakistan….Pakistan.”
But the main scene was when I calmly yelled, “Dictator….Dictactor….Dictator….Dictator.” At this Musharraf shot back. “Yes, I was a dictator. I wish you were there so I could have handled you also.” I had succeed in making a dictator admit before 2,000 people that he was a dictator. I was very calmly heckling Musharraf as on that day as in my mind’s camera was the picture of former governor and chief minister of Balochistan Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79. Though most of his life Nawab Bugti was no different than any other feudal tyrant of Balochistan and Sindh, his last two years until his martyrdom was indeed heroic when he had thrown the gauntlet at General Musharraf.
In fact I was surprised that I succeeded in getting into the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall as I thought the Secret Service who accompanied Gen Musharraf would stop me at the gate since I was earlier protesting outside with a group by holding his picture and a slipper in my hand slamming his picture moments. That was when a white American guy came to us and said it means he was doing something wrong by going to listen to what Musharraf was saying.
I said yes the dictator had committed crimes against humanity in Balochistan, was hiding bin Laden and indeed it was a shame that Americans were paying him tens of thousands of dollars to listen to his lies. I offered him the slipper to go throw at Musharraf but he declined. After about 15 or 20 minutes the white guy came back to me and said since his friend did not show up he would like to offer me the ticket. I gladly took the ticket worth $265 to sneak inside,
Before going to the event I had called Javed Soomro, BBC Urdu correspondent based in Washington DC, to inform him about the event and he had come there but we never met in the hall or outside. After returning home i gave Soomro a call to ask him if he had gone there and heard the exchange a guy had with Musharraf. He said sure and I triumphantly told him, that guy was I. Soomro wrote a blog about the incident in BBC Urdu and many Urdu newspapers in Pakistan did run his story.
Returning to the the Sharif protest, when I shared the Youtube video during a discussion doing my online purchase the guy immediately gave me a 25 percent discount on the purchase.
Pakistan had bled India as operation Gulmarg was launched just one week after the British created the country and sliced off one-third of Kashmir. Seven and half months later the bastard child of the British forcibly merged France-sized Balochistan.
As my protest against Sharif got national coverage in the Indian TV channels, I was certain that all my brothers and sisters in India, numbering 1.324 billion will be happy to send me one cent each ($13.24 million) and all my 60 million Baloch and Afghan folks will send at least half cents each ($300,000), as a reward. After all I had put Pakistan in her birth-suit in front of the whole wide world for its wrongs against India, Balochistan, and Afghanistan.
So I guesstimated my reward will enable me to dedicate my life to work for the freedom of Balochistan without worrying for the next meal on the table. But as they say, if wishes could be horses, fools would ride on them!