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, according to the BNP. 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 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).
He hailed from the Wadh tehsil in Balochistan’s Khuzdar.
The late Baloch leader will be buried in his ancestral graveyard in Wadh and details of his funeral will be announced later, the BNP said.
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.