KARACHI: Veteran politician and founder of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), Sardar Ataullah Mengal, passed away in Karachi on Thursday, party leader Sanaullah Baloch said. He had been ill for a long time and was admitted to a private hospital in Karachi. He was 92.
Born in 1929, Mengal spent his childhood in Lasbela and later moved to Karachi. He was declared the chief (sardar) of the Mengal tribe in 1954.
Mengal breathed his last at a private hospital in Karachi, where he was under treatment. He was buried on Friday in Wadh, a small town of Balochistan’s Khuzdar district. He hailed also from the Wadh tehsil.
Mengal was introduced to politics by Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, a founding member of the National Awami Party (NAP) – who also briefly served as the governor of Balochistan in 1972-73. In 1962, Mengal was elected to the West Pakistan provincial assembly; Bezinjo ran his election campaign.
Mengal became the first chief minister of Balochistan in May 1972 and remained in that position until his government was dismissed by then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Feb 1973.
Mengal chose to go into self-exile in London during General Ziaul Haq’s era. He returned to Pakistan in the 1990s and formed the BNP.
He also remained the head of the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (Ponm).
Mengal was introduced to politics by Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, a founding member of the National Awami Party (NAP) — who also briefly served as the governor of Balochistan in 1972-73.
In 1962, Mengal was elected to West Pakistan’s provincial assembly. Bizenjo ran his election campaign. Mengal was put behind bars for opposing then military dictator Ayub Khan’s rule.
He went on to become the first chief minister of Balochistan in May 1972. Mengal remained in that position until his government was dismissed by then premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in February 1973.
Mengal and then governor Bizenjo were jailed on charges of involvement in armed rebellion. However, the charges were never proved and Mengal went into self-exile in the UK during Gen Ziaul Haq’s era.
He returned from exile after 18 years in the 1990s and established his political party, the BNP. He also headed the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement.
Paying rich tribute to his father, the late leader’s son and current BNP chief, Akhtar Mengal, said he had not lost only his parent but also his “guiding light and teacher”.
“He taught me the difference between the good and the bad. To fight for injustice with conviction. He was a beacon of hope for our nation and land,” Akhtar said.
Condolences poured in from politicians and journalists on Mengal’s death. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said he was saddened to hear about Mengal’s passing away.
“An era of intellect, tolerance and honourable politics has concluded in Pakistan with Sardar Ataullah Mengal’s death. His long struggle for Balochistan’s rights and democracy is an unforgettable part of our history,” Bilawal said.
World Sindhi Congress (WSC) is deeply grieved at the demise of Saeen Attaullah Mengal.
Balochs lost the last living legend of the struggle for freedom of Balochistan and Sindhis lost a great friend and supporter of their cause. It is an irreparable loss for all the oppressed nations in Pakistan
WSC profoundly cherishes working very closely with Saeen Attaullah Mengal in London.
Under his mentorship, we established the Sindhi Baloch Forum (SBF) in the early 2000s, which continues to serve the cause of the Baloch and Sindhi people.
On behalf of the Sindhi nation and WSC, we offer our deep condolences to the family of Saeen Attaullah Mengal to the Baloch and Sindhi people