QUETTA: Veteran politician from Balochistan, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, has died at the age of 93. He was ill and had been hospitalised at a private hospital in Karachi for the last one week, his family has confirmed.
According to Agha Hassan Baloch of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), Mengal’s body will be transported from Karachi at 5am tomorrow to his hometown of Wadh, in district Khuzdar, where his funeral will be held at 3pm.
People and party workers are expected to pay tribute as the procession passes through. The BNP has announced a 40-day mourning period and in this time, the party flag will remain at half mast.
Sardar Ataullah Mengal was born in Lasbela and was the first chief minister of Balochistan. After spending his childhood there, he moved to Karachi.
In 1954, he was declared the chief (sardar) of the Mengal tribe. It was Mir Ghaus BakhshBizenjo, a founding member of the National Awami Party (NAP), who introduced Mengal to the world of politics. In 1962, Mengal was elected to the West Pakistan provincial assembly.
Mengal was known for his outspoken nature and his fight for the rights of the Baloch people. According to an article by Herald, in 1973, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s PPP defeated NAP’s government in Balochistan and called a meeting of the politicians to inform them that he would form a new government after coming back from a trip abroad. Mengal demanded that there was no time for delay and the provincial government must be formed immediately.
Mengal’s words infuriated Bhutto, who then questioned him what he would do if his demand were not met right away. In response, Mengal said: “I would struggle against the injustices inflicted upon the Baloch and stand against you.”
Per the piece, Mengal, along with three other Baloch leaders and members of the NAP, was imprisoned soon afterwards under what is known as the “Hyderabad Conspiracy case.” Ataullah Mengal was the father of Balochistan National Party chief Akhtar Mengal.
President Arif Alvi prayed for the departed soul and for his family to find the patience to bear the irreparable loss. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed profound grief at Mengal's demise.
"News of Sardar Ataullah Mengal's demise is shocking," a statement by the PPP quoted Bilawal as saying. "The death of Sardar Ataullah Mengal marks the end of an era of prudence, tolerance and dignified politics in Pakistan," the PPP chairman said.
Bilawal went on to state that Mengal's "long struggle for rights and democracy in Balochistan is an unforgettable chapter of our history". "May Allah Almighty, in His infinite mercy, raise the ranks of Sardar Ataullah Mengal," he added.
The PPP chairman extended his condolences to Akhtar Mengal and all the mourners and prayed that they find the patience to bear this loss. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also expressed grief and sorrow over the death of the veteran Baloch leader. PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi also extended their condolences to the family of Mengal over his passing.
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