Senior lawyer and bar leader Ali Ahmad Kurd
Ali Ahmad Kurd, a senior lawyer and a national leader in the legal fraternity, is known for his emotionally charged, hard-hitting speeches against rulers and the oppressive class. He is known to speak for the plight of the masses and justice for the downtrodden. Born in Quetta valley in 1948, Kurd began receiving his primary education at Special High school, but was expelled along with a few friends for being troublesome. He then moved to his native town, Mastung, to finish his metric. Soon after beginning his college education he landed in jail for six months. Kurd is beloved in the legal fraternity and many political circus, having a career spanning five decades. The following are excerpts of his exclusive interview with Bol News.
Q. How did you start your political career?
AAK: I did my jail yatra at the age of 19 from my town of Mastung. In college I met some of my cousins who, along with a group of youngsters, were active against One Unit issue. I was chosen for affixing hand written pamphlets across the main bazaars and streets of the city. Being a member of a political family, as well as, being known for my political activities, the next morning the local police arrested me and put me in jail. My family had laid the foundation of nationalist politics in Balochistan, as my uncle Mir Izzat Aziz Kurd and Nawab Yousaf Aziz Magsi, were the pioneers of Baloch nationalism. I am lucky that in jail I found some good people, including a big personality and his son, due to whose influence the jail staff treated me well. From thereon, any apparent or unseen fear of going to jail vanished and I gave seven golden years to the famous jails of the country.
Q. In the family who inspired or supported you?
AAK: Since I belong to a political family, I used to arrange agitation and public meetings. My family never stopped me. My brother, with his secular thinking and petty government salary was very supportive. He met my all needs in jail and became a shelter for me. Whatever I have wanted to do, I have done.
Q. Have you had any association with Baloch Student Organisation (BSO)?
AAK: I have never been a BSO activist, but ordinary member. I took part in their elections for the opportunity to become President. I contested elections against a group of big leaders like Khair Jan Baloch, Dr Hakeem Lahri, Bismillah Kakar, Aslam Kurd, Hissamuddin, Dr Hai Baloch, Ziauddin Zeyai, Bezen Bezenjo and Haneef Baloch, among others. I used to say them that you are senior leaders just because of having patronage of big political figures, while I didn’t have any such patronage. In fact compared to them all I had were my God gifted abilities, and the day I gave me the first speech they couldn’t pull me back – I have surpassed them.
Q. People think that you’re a rebel. You join a political party, but very soon quit it. Why is that?
AAK: I am not rebellious. I would term it as resistance. No one can point out a single statement of mine in favour of any Chief Minister, government and ministers, however, uncountable statements against them can be found easily. That is my style and that is why I am alive politically.
Q. You have been close to many the leaders during your long political struggle. Who impressed you?
AAK: I was impressed by two personalities: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti. Although I have suffered because of Bhutto for arranging rallies and meetings against him, I am his fan. I was the first victim of Suppression of Terrorist Act, 1974, for my political activities. Despite that I still think that he was a genuine leader who ruled the hearts of people. I still feel sorry for not shaking hand with him, despite being at the distance of five feet in a corner meeting with party workers in Quetta. The second personality who influenced me was Nawab Bugti, who was really graceful and impressive.
Q. You claimed to have suffered a lot because of Bhutto. Why did you join is party?
AAK: I never thought that he would be hanged. Everyone predicted that he would be executed, but my heart never accepted that. I was on my way to the court on the morning after his execution in rickshaw, when I noticed people on the pavements with a special supplement in their hands. I’ve only wept twice in my life, this first was Bhutto’s execution and second when Pakistan was dismembered. The next day I joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). That was difficult time for the party, but I was made General Secretary with Yayah Bakhtiar as President and enjoyed powers. We kept PPP alive by bringing the people, though in small numbers, in the demonstration against tyranny of former President General Ziaul Haq.
Q. Why do you keep changing political parties?
AAK: I think deeply; not as philosophers or thinkers, but as an ordinary man. Human beings are a composition of three things; eagerness for doing anything they desire; enthusiasm and; passion. If these three things are taken out from a human being, he would be alive but without any feeling. The hanging of Bhutto moved me and so I expressed my anger against the hanging of a great leader by joining PPP.
Q. What happened when police came with a suspicious bag to implicate in a case?
AAK: Bhutto had decided to ban the National Awami Party (NAP) so he started concocting cases against its workers. The police come to my house and started searching purposelessly, which made me realise that they had come to plant something in my home. One of the officers had a leather bag. Sensing foul play, I seized the officer with one hand, the bag with the other and started shouting. The whole neighbourhood gathered and police rushed out of the house without any achievement. I assume that they came to drop some documents in my house that would help them to implicate me in a conspiracy related to Afghanistan. The next day party office bearers and MNAs addressed the press exposing the government and police. After few days, I was arrested on another fabricated charge of having ownership of a few hand grenades recovered from a graveyard and was awarded a four-year term.
Q. Which party and you have enjoyed the most?
AAK: the PPP and NAP, as they turned me into a refined product.
Q. How was the experience with Tahriq-e Istaqlal of Air Marshal Asghar Khan?
AAK: Very good. He was gentle man and I have honour and respect for him. A week prior to Bhutto’s hanging I was in Bannu with Asghar Khan when he received a call from Pindi. I left him alone, but I think, he was taken into confidence by General Zia over Bhutto’s execution. After the execution, I realised that it made no sense for a main-steam leader to be touring the interior areas. I feel sorry about not trying to convince Asghar Khan to stand against Bhutto’s execution.
Q. Don’t you think both Bhutto and PNA leaders went to the extent that they turned their political differences into personal enmities?
AAK: Yes, of course! I am not defending Bhutto. He had a feudal mindset and made political workers suffer through the use of third-grade torture techniques. Both sides had reached the point of no return.
Q. Do you have an unfulfilled wishes?
AAK: Yes, I still have a wish to do something as my political journey is incomplete. The political situation in the country has become polluted due to row between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM). I feel sorry that lawyers are not in this movement, because of lack political acumen in their present leadership. There are about 20 lawyers who are sincere and the people like them. I am one of them. If we take to streets these parties would be irrelevant.
Q. So why don’t you do?
AAK: I am a moody person, and when I feel like it. I can come out alone, but I want to take these 20 lawyers with me.
Q. You’ve struggled for five decades for people who have never voted for you. Why?
AAK: I have no longing for an assembly seat. I contested elections against Shiekh Rasheed in Pindi, but it was not really an election since he spent a lot of money campaigning. What would be the use of such a National Assembly seat? So I gave up, leaving the election for the opponent. I could have just as easily amassed the money had I made appeal to Pakistanis to donate, but would that be winning?
Q. Don’t you realise that without money one can’t take part in elections?
AAK: This should be changed and I am struggling for that change. Like India, there should be a party of common men taking up the issues of the common men.
Q. Then why do these common men vote for other parties instead of the people like you?
AAK: There is no political training of people. I meet nearly a 100 people every day and I can see that they are aspirant for change after observing the elite class, that has never brought about change. If we leave out the privileged few, some 220 million people have no bread to eat, but elite class spends millions on liquor and big feasts.
Q. Did you ever want to be a judge?
AAK: After the death of Mir Mohammad Nawaz Marri, the then Balochistan High Court (BHC), Chief Justice Jawaid Iqbal offered me the post as a judge of the High Court. I thanked him for being considered and declined to accept. I him that if I don’t meet 50 to 80 people daily and spend my day at BHC instead I would become ill and die.
Q. What is difference between the political leadership of today and the past?
AAK: There is vast difference. The old generation including, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, Malik Qasim, Fatayab Ali Khan, Mahmood Qasuri, Gillanis, Bacha Khan, Wali Khan, GM Syed, Sardar Atta Mengal, Nawab Akbar Bugti, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Samad Khan Achakzai, were gentlemen. No one can accuse them for any corruption. This is not the case today.