Original Articles

Najam Sethi’s role in the Baloch resistance movement of 1970s – by Laibaah

Three most trusted civilian allies of Pakistan army

Cross-posted from Pakistan Blogzine

For a counter view, read this post: LUBP must not consciously malign Najam Sethi


Najam Sethi, according to some of his “urban liberal” colleagues (some of whom are employees/columnists of The Friday Times or Daily Times), is one of the most credible names in Pakistani journalism today. While the myth of Mr. Sethi’s credibility has been effectively shattered elsewhere, the aim of this post is to examine one last urban legend which is uncritically circulated about Mr. Sethi’s participation in the Balochistan movement in 1970s.

The legend is: Sethi bravely fought along with the people of Balochistan in their armed struggle against the military establishment in 1973-77. The reality, however, is much different, which was stated by none other than Asad Rehman, a veteran writer and political activist, who was himself a part of the Baloch resistance movement .

Asad Rehman was a member of the Baloch resistance during the 1970s. Originally from Lahore, he and a number of his contemporaries (including Najam Sethi and Ahmad Rashid) supported the Baloch nationalist struggle. Asad Rehman spent a lot of time in Balochistan, and also fought against the Pakistan Army.

Here is a link to an interview of his (he rarely speaks to the media), which reveals a lot about Najam Sethi’s dubious role in the Baloch struggle, that how Sethi conveniently informed military about his own location in Balochistan and was rescued by a military chopper, after which he severed all connections with the Baloch resistance movement. In fact he used his connections with the army to oversee a building / development project that he had invested in Balochistan as an army-assisted development consultant. Whether Sethi’s rescue on a military chopper was an outcome of his NRO with Pakistan army or was he an army plant right from the beginning is something we would leave to the best judgement of the critical readers.

Here is a relevant extract from Asad Rehman’s interview:

Q: Who were the prominent members of the London Group?

Asad Rahman with Malik Siraj Akbar

Asad Rehman (AR): There was Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rashid, my brother, Rashid Rehman, Dilip Dass. These are the people who originally came to support the Balochistan movement. These are the names I am willing to disclose because they are well-known as having played a part in the Balochistan movement.

AR: In December 1978, Zia disbanded the Hyderabad Tribunal case and released all the Baloch leaders. Najam Sethi had been arrested in 1976. He was also in the jail and released with the Baloch and Pashtun leaders.

Q: How was Najam Sethi captured?

AR: He made a “very stupid” move –I call it a “stupid move”. As the cover we had in Karachi, Rashid was running an automobile workshop while Najam was with some architects and development consultants. Najam persuaded them to bid for some development projects in Marri area under Bhutto’s government. In the meanwhile, some people from the original London Group had been arrested from Karachi. They disclosed the names of all of us. He had at that time gone to Quetta and was flying in a military helicopter to go and see the site of a project that they wanted to build.

Q: How did he get into a “military helicopter” as you people were already fighting against the military?

AR: Now that is the whole question. We don’t know. Maybe the government gave them the consultancy and asked the army to take him there. I don’t know. The benefit of doubt has to be given over there. In any case, the message was sent to the pilot of the helicopter that Najam was flying in. Hence, the pilot turned back to Quetta where they arrested Najam and took him to the Hyderabad jail. After that, he had no role whatsoever in the Balochistan movement of the 1970s.


Revisiting the Che Guevara-like days of Baloch resistance movement with Asad Rehman October 19, 2009

Najam Sethi Joins Jang Group / Geo TV (Chagatai Khan)

LUBP Archive on Najam Sethi

About the author

Jehangir Hafsi


Click here to post a comment
  • Thank you for exposing this loyalist of the Deep State. How could the mentor (Sethi) be different from the pupil (Ejaz Haider)?

  • Najam Sethi sahib is the clean shaven version of Ansar Abbasi. The only difference is that Ansar is naive and unrefined. Both of them serve the same masters.

  • I condemn this abusive article against grand father of Pakistani liberals, Najam Sethi Qiblah. All the TFT and Daily Times employees (except those still waiting for their salaries) will demonstrate in support of the Qiblah outside Masjid-e-Shuhada baad namaz-e-Zuhr.

  • I am thinking of some other development consultants who remain loyalist to the Deep State. Names such as Mosharraf Zaidi, Ikram Saigol, Aman Ki Asha consultants and ….. come to mind.

  • If Tehreek-e-Insaf = Good looking Jamaat-e-Islami (as per BeyGhairat Brigade)


    Najam Sethi = Good looking Hamid Mir

    asl mein donon aik hein (Ghalib)

  • “The third popular revolt was only three years ago when young lawyers and a free media swept the moderate government of General Pervez Musharraf from power.” (Najam Sethi)

    It is intellectually dishonest or naive to term the removal of Pervez Musharraf as a result of movement of lawyers and media! The political parties are not given credit.


  • Four great leaders of the Baloch resistance movement are: Najam Sethi, Ejaz Haider, Malik Siraj Akbar and Urooj Zia. These civilized, educated Punjabis and Muhajirs taught the Baloch how to read, write and fight.

  • Hmmm … But tell me something, how come when NFP praises Sethi, you say nothing? Yes I have great respect for NFP as well and believe him to be the most straight forward and honest liberal journalists in Pakistan, but he has been praising Sethi a lot on twitter. NFP is one of the most vocal critics of the deep state, but why isn’t HE pointing fingers at Najam?

  • Liabiah
    The interview you quoted is actually not giving any hint of collaboration by Mr Sethi.Mr Rehman has said that there were some other people who disclosed the names of the group and as it appears he is saying that Mr Sethi was part of the group and was working under cover for a project sectioned by Mr Bhutto government.
    Its a very important matter, if Mr Rehman has said something conclusive about this matter please share it as its a very important piece of evidence.
    But from these quotes the case against him is not very convincing.
    At most it could be said he acted carelessly by trying to choose as undercover a project which involved state
    But on the same hand it can be argued that it was move to make him least suspicious and in revolutionary setting such tactics are not unseen in history, people of resistance have actually worked even within the invading army.
    Mr Sethi collaboration with establishment is more convincing in his role with Farooq Leghari and co. But in this situation i am afraid you have not provided us with sufficient evidence to make a judgement

  • Guys, this doesnt make sense at all. Najam Sethi is a much better journalist than any other in the country, especially amongst those who are in the forefront. Yes, he must be having relations with powers that be, but the question is are they influencing him in his analysis? His analysis has been spot on and he doesnt seem to fathom any hidden agenda.
    Yes, there are things he says which hurt me as a PPP worker and die hard supporter, but introspection is also necessary.
    Regarding his joining Jang Group, you must understand that Jang (unfortunately) is the biggest media group in Pakistan. Najam Sethi would need them while Jang needs him to balance the mindlessness ruling the group in the form of Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Mohammad Malick, Shaheen Sehbai etc.
    Najam Sethi has been censored many times with his live programs being abruptly stopped. Maybe his talk is more damaging to the deep state than the political parties.

  • @Shaheryar,

    Conclusive evidence is almost an impossibility in cases of collusion between military establishment and refined operatives and affiliates. It is the circumstantial evidence which is considered satisfactory in such cases, something which this post does offer. In the light of the subsequent collusion of Najam Sethi with army in undermining BB’s government and his current dubious role as Jang Group’s political advisor, the pattern becomes relatively more clear. Also, refer to the end of Asad Rehman’s interview. That too speaks volumes

    You yourself allude to his role with the PPP Judas Farooq Leghari. I think that phase reveals volumes. Do take a look at LUBP’s recent publications on Najam Sethi which I will copy below. They highlight his current role. The pattern/record is most disturbing.

  • Najam Sethi’s support for Pakistan army and their Haqqani Network – by Lakshmi Khatri


    Najam Sethi & ISPR DG General Shaukat Sultan at Daily Times office in 2005

    Since being flown around in a military helicopter in 1976, Mr. Najam Sethi’s relationship with the military establishment has always been cosy. If there is a consistent theme to Sethi’s journalism, its his soft critique for military dictators and Bonapartist generals and his petty and personal vituperations against elected politicians, especially those from the Pakistan People’s Party.

    In his recent editorial in The Friday Times, http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20110923&page=1, he clearly states his preferences:

    “there is only one institutional force that can establish the writ of the state and restore law and order. That is the Pakistan Army.”

    While Sethi provides gentle and vague criticism of the army in order to not appear overly enthusiastic in his support for them, he deceptively manages to position them as a more viable option than elected democracies.

    This he essentially does by dishonestly placing the blame of the ongoing Shia massacres across Pakistan, NOT on the Pakistan army, the primary back of the Jihad project but on the elected government. At this point, Mr. Sethi conveniently omits two crucial facts:

    1. It was a GHQ pliant judiciary that has freed not just Malik Ishaq, leader of the Shia-killing SSP-LeJ but also other Jihadi terrorist assets of GHQ-ISI, e.g. Hafiz Saeed, Qari Saifullah Akhtar etc

    2. That during a terrorist attack, Malik Ishaq was flown in the army chief’s plane by the military to negotiate with terrorists in 2009; what is it with Mr. Sethi and military flying machines

    While we are on omissions, Mr. Sethi also conveniently omits facts that the PPP in particular has suffered terribly at the hands of the Jihadi militants losing Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Mir Nawaz Khan along with hundreds of its brave workers and activists killed while attending democracy rallies.

    Even the ideologically Islamist Nawaz Sharif was attacked by Sipah-e-Sahaba in the 1990’s. While PML N’s pandering to Jihadi elements in Punjab is indeed regrettable, equating the idea of getting militant organization votes during elections (PML N) to creating, sustaining and protecting these organizations (an exclusive territory of army/ISI) is an act of patent dishonesty.

    As a leading military establishment propagandist, Mr. Sethi is a master of obfuscating and equivocation and always attempts to balance out his support for the military establishment with some mild criticism. However, vanity is a great leveler and Sethi’s chauvinism and narcissism often triumph his carefully constructed façade of neutrality. His article here, his pontifications on Geo TV on 21 September and the USIP-JI report once again reemphasize what was obvious to many since the 1990’s:

    1. Najam Sethi is the best, most sophisticated media plant of the army-ISI

    2. In the current crisis, he has been tasked with shifting the blame of the military establishment’s shenanigans onto the elected government of the PPP in the center and PML N at the provincial level; thus causing a nascent democracy to come under enormous pressure and possibly be removed via a (judiciary-initiated?) coup

    3. The most morally reprehensible aspect of Sethi’s propaganda is to emphasize on the narrative that the ongoing massacres of Shias is a law and order issue and NOT the horrific blowback of the military establishment’s policy of strategic depth or strategic DEATH as the late Benazir Bhutto so correctly described it. This is the moral Black Hole which is Mr. Sethi’s universe.

    As recently as last month, Nawaz Sharif has openly come out for peace with India; something that he, Benazir Bhutto and President Zardari have repeatedly stressed on. During the 1990′s, three elected governments (BB1, BB2 and NS2) were removed via coups and other anti-democracy initiatives and during atleast two of them, Mr. Najam Sethi stood with the military establishment. He was actually a part of the 1996 caretaker government and after General Musharraf’s military coup of the Nawaz Sharif government, Mr. Sethi played an instrumental part in promoting a “soft” image for Musharraf and publically enjoyed a warm relationship as the primary journalist insider for this military dictator.

    Atleast two elected democracies (BB1 and NS2) were removed because their efforts to make peace with India and Najam Sethi sided with the architect and planner of Kargil that lead to the overthrow of the Nawaz Sharif government. Can he really expect us to take him seriously when he once again been tasked to malign yet another elected government!

    The Peace-with-India aspirations of those like the late Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and President Zardari, whose political parties actually have grass roots in the masses, is unacceptable to the India-Centric policy that protects the economic interests of the military establishment. Without perpetual animosity with India, the edifice of the policy of strategic depth comes tumbling down and in the process, removes the reason d’être of supporting non-state Jihadi militias (e.g., LeT, JeM, TTP, SSP, LeJ nearly all of whom are virtually indistinguishable from the Taliban).

    Where Mr. Sethi stands on this, despite his mild apprehensions, can be correctly gauged from the uncontested recommendations of the USIP-JI report of which Mr. Sethi and his media associates (Ejaz Haider and several others) are an essential part of. By standing with a report that presumptuously recommends the accommodation of the Taliban in a future Afghan government, Mr. Sethi should be ashamed of his faux moral outrage at the Shia massacres. How can one support the Taliban and simultaneously condemn its inter-connected affiliates is a contradiction that even the glib Najam “Shady” might find hard to explain away.

  • Najam Shady ringing alarm bells – Dilshad Chandio

    Shady Pontificating on GEO


    On wednesday night ( September 21st, 2011) in his show, Najam Sethi alluded to a joint ghairat brigade assault on the PPP govt given deteriorating relations with America on the Haqqani network issue. His analysis went thus: the US exasperated by the lack of will to take on the Haqqani network by the Pakistanis will do an intensive strike – drone or otherwise – in North Waziristan.

    According to Sethi (known as shady by those who have known him a long time!) this will create a massive uproar by the media, most political parties and even the judiciary. There may be an incident (according to NS), say, in a massive demo outside the US embassy, which will trigger massive unrest. The fallguy in all this will be the PPP govt and Zardari in particular. Sethi also stated that the entire process will be controlled/manipulated by the army. He also stated that ANP will go along with N League once the chorus starts and join the right wing coalition. Also MQM will make a familiar volte face and join the side that appears more powerful.

    There are obviously a number of issues this ‘analysis’ or rather fed information to Mr. Shady raises. First, Shady says that he is 100% sure the US will attack with much greater force than in the past. He kept on repeating that if drone strikes may kill 200 in a day. While this maybe informed conjecture but by no means is a foregone conclusion. The US has many other military as well economic-diplomatic tools to arm twist the Pakistani deep state.

    Second, even if we assume Shady is correct, why should the civilian govt become the fall guy for the exclusive mendacity of the deep state? This is not a moral issue but Shady conveniently jumps to the strange conclusion based on dubious assumptions. He assumes that the US knowingly will do something that will lead to the demise of its own civilian support base in Pakstan and push Pakistan completely in the embrace of the rightists.

    He also says that after the right wing coalition takes over, relations with the US will normalize to the extent that the two important groups dependent on America – the army and big business – will go back to business as usual viz. Pak-US relations. This is, to say the least a heroic assumption. You remove the largest civilian group from power based on anti-US sentiment on the street and the US will work happily ever after with the right wing coalition!

    Third, he also states that the ANP will join the right wingers on the coat tails of N league. While there may be some sympathisers of N league amongst the ANP leadership, this will be suicidal for the party. It will effectively amount to joining the ranks of the Taliban and give up its identity of a secular pashtun nationalist outfit. One can expect such political blunders on the part of MQM but not from ANP.

    Fourth, Shady also did not factor in the politics that Zardari will play if such a situation occurs. He will obviously not tamely surrender; that is not how he has done politics in this round. And what about the poitical fallout in Sindh and Balochistan where there is little sympathy for such right wing sentiments?

    This is not to say that a dip in Pak-US relations, thanks to the incorrigible bad boy antics of the deep state, will create serious problems in the near future. But for Shady to twist this to claim that the civilian govt will be the biggest loser seems like a plant from some desperate fantasizer in Aabpara. Having followed Shady’s writings for more than a decade, I can safely say all the points raised here would have been considered by him if he was not pushing the Aabpara agenda in this instance.

  • A few observations on this misleading post but first I’d like to clarify something. In one of the comments, Mr Thadani states that NS was “an essential part of” the USIP-JI report. This is incorrect. NS was among many people interviewed by Moeed Yusuf. But there isn’t even a single comment in the report attributed to NS. He was never a member of the board of analysts associated with the report. This is clear from the lists of those who were participants in the report and those who were merely interviewed for it.

    Regarding the helicopter episode, why not check what the documents of the Hyderabad Tribunal reveal? Why not ask the pilot of the helicopter, a retired Major who is alive and well as a successful businessman/columnist, what his instructions were regarding NS? His name can be revealed and he can be asked. His instructions from the military authorities were “to throw NS overboard from the helicopter and finish him off” but these were changed in mid air and NS was brought to Quetta airport and arrested, tortured, put in solitary confinement for seven months and then charged in the Hyderabad Tribunal along with 54 others, mostly Baloch and Pathan members of parliament, a confinement that lasted nearly two years! Would this have been the fate of someone who was an agent of the military? Would General Zia-ul-Haq have put him in prison in 1984 if he had been “their” man? The great irony is that the ISI and its supporters are painting NS as an anti-army person while Laibaah, etc, are painting him as an ISI man. The truth is known to millions who follow NS on his top ranking TV program and thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers, more than any single media person in Pakistan

    But such facts are unimportant to those whose purpose is to consciously malign NS to protect their crooked vested interests in any state institution or political party or religious group.

  • omarchakarzai Omar Chakarzai
    by ArchenBaloch@
    @najamsethi @ArchenBaloch no it doesn’t. long live Pakistan means, long live Paki army, ISI, MI & their Punjabi masters & death to Baloch.
    8 Nov

    omarchakarzai Omar Chakarzai
    by ArchenBaloch
    @najamsethi @ArchenBaloch Long love Pakistan also means death to Baloch and destruction to civilised world and stronger Taliban and Alqaeda.
    8 Nov

    SN_Bugti Shah Nawaz Bugti
    by ArchenBaloch@
    We Baloch Receiving The Mutlated bodies of our loved Ones on #IED Day From ur #Islamic State of #Pakistan @ArchenBaloch @najamsethi

    najamsethi Najam Sethi
    @ArchenBaloch Long Live Pakistan also means Long Live Baluch, Sindhis, Pashtuns, Punjabis and other Peoples of Pakistan!
    7 Nov

    ArchenBaloch Archen Baloch
    @najamsethi Now read this article, and say long live Jihadi Pak criticalppp.com/archives/61697
    8 Nov

    ArchenBaloch Archen Baloch
    @najamsethi despite a personal appeal 2Najam Sethi by the relatives of Mr. Rind, Bt he & Jang Group paid no coverage to Mr. Rind’s abduction
    8 Nov

    ArchenBaloch Archen Baloch
    @aliarqam The hypocrites Ppl like @najamsethi are the maincuz of the failure of secular values in Punjab & Pushton belt @Razarumi

    ArchenBaloch Archen Baloch
    @najamsethi Long live Pakistan at the cost of Baloch demise? Waja Najam Sethi?
    7 Nov

    najamsethi Najam Sethi
    Eid Mubarak to all! Thank you for your affection and support. Long live Pakistan.
    7 Nov

  • Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    @BalochTawar frontline leader doesnt mean they were fighting on mountains. But this “london group” was very influential. @najamsethi
    In reply to Jihand Baloch
    27m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    @BalochTawar “London Group” @najamsethi
    In reply to Jihand Baloch
    28m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    Only a Pakistani can take that big U-turns.
    30m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    @najamsethi once was a “frontline leader” in Baloch resistance of 70s and now a “Pakka Pakistani”.
    32m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    Want an example that why Baloch should not trust a “foreigner”? Consider @najamsethi’s example.
    36m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    Now it makes clear sense why during 70s @najamsethi was flying in military Helicopters while other Leaders were in jail.
    37m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    @najamsethi the only argument he gives in favor is that let civilians to decide this national Interest (read kill and dump) nt military.
    38m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    @najamsethi says India has killed more than one lac people in Kashmir in last few years whereas in Balochistan only few have been killed.
    39m Sohaib Mengal Baloch ‏ @MirSohaib Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
    @najamsethi justified kill and dump in Balochistan in his last night’s show. Calls it national interest.

    Jihand Baloch ‏ @BalochTawar · Open
    @MirSohaib @najamsethi I guess najam was not on frontline may be on backhand in a city not mountains

  • The thin red line
    Nadeem F. Paracha

    When Omar Shaikh was arrested and sentenced to death in 2002 for the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal correspondent, Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, many Pakistanis were shocked. But what was there to be shocked about?

    Shaikh had well-known links with a number of clandestine jihadist organisations and had already been jailed in 1993 by an Indian court for entering India and taking part in the kidnapping of a number of foreign tourists to raise money for the so-called ‘Kashmir jihad’.

    Shaikh was released in 1999 when jihadists hijacked an Indian airliner and negotiated Shaikh’s and others’ release from Indian prisons. The surprise was triggered in most Pakistanis when details of Shaikh’s personal background emerged after his sentencing. It had to do with the fact that he belonged to a well-to-do urban middle-class family and had studied in prestigious British schools and at the equally prestigious Atchison in Lahore. Then he’d gone on to get a degree in economics from London School of Economics.

    Till then jihadists and extremists in Pakistan were largely believed to have come from poverty-stricken or tribal backgrounds.
    Shaikh’s links with extremist terror outfits quickly called for a reassessment of the way terrorism’s demographics were understood. After Shaikh, more cases have emerged in which the arrested or killed extremists have turned out to be members of educated middle-class families.

    But though this phenomenon may be relatively new in the spheres of terrorism involving Islamists, it was first fully realised during the spat of left-wing terrorism witnessed in the United States, Germany, France, Greece and Italy between the late 1960s and the early 1980s. In spite of the fact that the terror outfits operating in these countries were supposedly striving to overthrow capitalism and impose communist regimes, almost all of their leadership comprised young people with college degrees and having urban middle-class backgrounds.

    Sociologists pointed at the deep social-political fissures that took place due to the rampant cultural and economic changes that had been taking place in the West after the Second World War as one of the main reasons behind the phenomenon. Middle-class youth in Pakistan was also radicalised, especially after the enigmatic end to the 1965 Pakistan-India war. But even though radicalisation too was largely leftist in nature, it remained focused in the politics of street agitation and on campuses.

    Shaikh was not exactly the first known well-to-do Pakistani middle-class youth to have got embroiled in the more militant aspects of radical politics. That honour goes to a group of young Pakistanis who were collectively known as the London Group.
    The group was a study circle formed in London (in 1969) by Marxist Pakistani students studying in colleges and universities.

    There were about 25 such students in the group who used to meet to discuss various left-wing movements and literature. They also began publishing a magazine called ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ that (in 1971) had to be smuggled into Pakistan because it was highly critical of the Pakistani military’s role in the former East Pakistan. The magazine helped the group to forge a relationship with some Baloch nationalists who invited the group members to travel to Balochistan and help the nationalists set into motion some education related projects.

    After the loss of East Pakistan in 1971, the populist PPP had formed a new elected government at the centre, whereas the leftist NAP was heading the provincial government in Balochistan. In 1973, the PPP regime accused NAP of fostering a separatist movement in Balochistan and dismissed it. In reaction, hordes of Baloch tribesmen picked up arms and triggered a full-fledged guerrilla war with the Pakistan Army.

    About five members of the London Club decided to quit their studies in London, travel back to Pakistan and join the insurgency on the Baloch nationalists’ side. They were all between the ages of 21 and 25, came from well-off families and, what’s more, none of them was Baloch. In fact they were all from Punjab. They included Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rashid, Rashid and Asad Rehman and Dalip Dass (a Pakistani from a middle-class Hindu family).

    Asad Rehman, Ahmed Rashid and Dalip Dass were the three who escaped into the mountains to join the Baloch tribesmen, whereas Najam Sethi and Rashid Rehman stationed themselves in Karachi to raise funds and awareness about the Baloch cause.
    Each one of them believed that the government’s move against the NAP regime was akin to the establishment’s attitude towards the Bengalis of the former East Pakistan.

    The young men’s parents all thought their sons were in London, studying. It was only in 1974 when the government revealed their names that the parents came to know. The three men in the mountains took active part in the conflict, facing an army that used heavy weaponry and war helicopters that were supplied by the Shah of Iran and piloted by Iranian pilots.

    More than 5,000 Baloch men and women lost their lives in the war that ended when the PPP regime was toppled in a reactionary military coup in 1977. Dalip Dass and Najam Sethi were arrested. Dass was later killed and his body was never found. Sethi, after he was released, went on to become a successful publisher, journalist and political analyst.

    Asad Rehman remained underground till 1978 before departing for London. Ahmed Rashid also escaped to London and today he is a respected author. Asad Rehman accompanied the Baloch leaders who went into exile to Afghanistan in 1979 where they were looked after the Soviet backed regime in Kabul. He returned in 1980 before going back to London, this time to escape the right-wing dictatorship of Ziaul Haq. Rashid Rehman took up journalism as a profession.

    It is unfair really to equate the radical enthusiasm of the London Group with that of men like Omar Shaikh and others like him.
    Just like some middle-class young Pakistanis who fought a guerrilla war against the Soviet army in Afghanistan, the London Group too fought a war against an army they thought was unjust. Never did these young radicals take their war to the civilians to bully the state; nor did they indulge in gruesome acts of slaughtering innocent people in mosques, shrines and markets. It is a thin line, but a line nevertheless.


  • RIP Asad Rehman: ‘Chakar Khan’ buried in Lahore, remembered in Balochistan
    By Sher KhanPublished: October 31, 2012

    Asad Rehman PHOTO:FILE
    Human rights activist Asad Rehman was buried in his family graveyard at Guru Mangat Road on Tuesday evening.
    His nephew Taimur Rehman said Asad Rehman had been hospitalised after a heart attack 12-13 days ago. He said his lungs got infected when some fluid built up and his kidney was unable to recover after an operation. He passed away on Monday night.
    Rehman, the youngest of a group of Marxists, joined the Baloch guerilla struggle in the 1970s. He was given the name ‘Chakkar Khan,’ a legendary 15th century Baloch statesman, during his stay in Balochistan.
    “Chakar Khan was a name which fit his character,” Mir Muhammed Ali Talpur said. Talpur, a columnist and activist, worked as a paramedic during Rehman’s stay in Balochistan. “People today are grateful to Asad Rehman… if you visit Facebook today you will see how well he is remembered,” he said.
    Rehman was part of a generation that had been affected by the break-up of East Pakistan. The silence over the injustices in Bengal and Balochistan had shaken Rehman and he defied his class upbringing to show solidarity with the Baloch during the 1970s insurgency.
    “The injustices happening in Balochistan today were happening in the 1970s too. Myself, Asad [Rehman], Rashid [Rehman] and Ahmed Rashid had gone to raise a voice for the Baloch people,” Talpur said
    Rehman was born in Murree on August 11, 1950. He was the son of late Supreme Court Justice SA Rahman, a member of the Boundary Commission who had worked closely with Pakistan’s founding father MA Jinnah and Lord Radcliffe. In 1969, Rehmad left to study architecture in London. Here he became part of the London Group, a study circle formed by young Pakistani Marxists studying in universities in England.
    The London Group began publishing a monthly magazine titled Pakistani Nationalist, which provided an alternative perspective to the war in East Pakistan. Later, five members of the London Group quit their studies in England to return to Pakistan and join the Baloch nationalists. The group included Asad Rehman, his brother Rashid Rehman, Ahmed Rashid, Dalip Dass and Najam Sethi. Asad Rehman, Ahmed Rashid and Dalip Dass would go in the mountains to learn the language and culture of the Baloch people and join their struggle. Dass was later killed by the Pakistani security forces while the rest were granted general amnesty under Zia.
    His brother Rashid Rehman, editor of Daily Times, said, “Earlier in life, in another avatar, he had been a resistance fighter and guerilla commander in Balochistan who was popularly known as Chakar. When he returned he immersed himself in human rights activism.”
    “He had been a consistent advocate of Baloch rights. I have been inundated with calls from Baloch friends mourning him as one of their own,” Rashid Rehman said.
    After returning in 1978, Rehman became a human rights activist associated with Aurat Foundation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and more recently as an executive director of Sungi.
    IA Rehman, a human rights activist and a journalist, said Asad Rehman had worked courageously to defend human rights and never let his support for the Baloch people wither.
    “His work will always be remembered. He was part of a group young people who showed solidarity with the Baloch people. Till the very end his friendship with the Baloch people remained,” he said.
    Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.


  • Regarding the Balochistan situation, Sethi, who fought in the Baloch resistance movement in the 70s and was imprisoned for four years, said that there were deep-rooted Baloch grievances because they had been mistreated by successive regimes.

    However, the resistance has assumed a secessionist tendency, and no state in the world would allow secession, which is why there is repression in Balochistan, he added.

    He said that everywhere, separatist movements express willingness to accept aid from anywhere. Thus, the Balochistan situation may be tit-for-tat, he said referring to India’s role in it and Pakistan’s role in Kashmir.