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Mir Gul Khan Nasir was a prominent progressive poet, politician, historian, and journalist of Balochistan. Born on 14 May 1914 in Noshki. Gul Khan Nasir was named after the political agent of Kharan who had stopped in Noshki on his way to Kharan the very same day that Mir Gul Khan was born. His father’s name was Mir Habib Khan. Habib Khan belonged to the celebrated Paindzai subclan of the Zagr Mengal branch of the Mengal Tribe. Mir Gul Khan’s mother was Bibi Hooran. She was the sister of Mir Raheem Khan, the head of the Rakhshani Badini Tribe. She was a learned woman who knew how to read Persian and also the Quran (which is in Arabic) which, at that time, was considered quite an achievement for a man, let alone a woman. She played a most pivotal role in moulding her sons. Gul Khan was number four among five brothers. He also had three sisters. His eldest brother Mir Samand Khan (born c.1889) had served in the British Army and also as a commander in Khan of Kalat’s army. His second brother Mir Lawang Khan (born c.1901) was a well known tribal politician and also had the reputation of being an excellent self-taught local doctor. He died on 7th August, 1973 while fighting with the Pakistan Army during the 1973 Military Operation carried out in Balochistan by the Federal Government of Pakistan. Mir Lawang Khan holds an important place in the hearts and souls of the Baloch people as one of the many martyrs of the Balochistan. Mir Gul Khan’s third brother Mir Lal Bux Mengal (born c.1906) also served for a while in Khan of Kalat’s army during which time he held a commanding position in Makran. On the fourth number was Gul Khan, himself. His younger bother Sultan Mohammad Khan (born c.1918) served in the British Army before the Partition of India and in the Pakistan Army after the Partition. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Pakistan Army and retired in 1966. Sultan Mohammad also held pivotal positions in Balochistan after his retirement, such as the Vice Chancellor of The Balochistan University, The Commander of Dehi Muhaafiz (now known as Balochistan Reserve Police) and as the Project Director Kohlu.
Gul Khan Nasir studied until fifth grade in Noshki. Then he went to Mastung where his uncle was in service. He didn’t spend much time there because soon after, his uncle was posted to Quetta. Here, Gul Khan got admission in Government Sandeman High School where he studied until tenth grade. After doing his matriculation from Quetta, Mir Gul Khan went to Lahore where he got admission in Islamia College Lahore in F.Sc. Medical. During the course of his studies, an eye of Mir Gul Khan got infected. In time the infection got so bad that he had to quit his studies and move back to Balochistan.
While Mir Gul Khan was studying in Mastung, he was quite impressed by Abdul Aziz Kurd, Malik Faiz Muhammad Yousafzai, Mir Mohammad Aazam Khan Shahwani and others who were running a secret political group, the “Anjuman-i Ithihaad-i Balochaan”. It was in Mastung that Mir Gul Khan became friends with Malik Abdul Rahim Khwajakhel who was a year senior to Mir Gul Khan. Malik Abdul Rahim Khwajakhel and Mir Gul Khan remained close friends until Malik Rahim’s death.
Mir Gul Khan had been doing poetry since the age of eight but it was during his time in Lahore when he began writing Urdu poetry which was of a revolutionary nature. This poetry of his became very popular and was published in the newspapers under his pen name Nasir which he chose as a tribute to Mir Nasir Khan The First (The Ninth Khan of Kalat, also known as Noori Nasir Khan). These Urdu poems of his, like Nawab Youzaf Ali Khan Magsi and Mohammad Hussain Anqa’s poems, were aimed at raising the political awareness of the Baloch people, especially, the youth. During his time at Lahore Mir Gul Khan played an important role in the students organization “Baloch aur Balochistani Thalbaa kee Anjuman” (B.B.S.O) which was formed by Mureed Hussain Khan Magsi and other Baloch students on the advice of Mir Yousaf Ali Khan Magsi.
Mir Gul Khan Nasir studied until Fourth Grade in his village. For further studies he was sent to Quetta where he got admission in Government Sandeman High School. After passing his matriculation examination from this school, he went to Lahore in order to pursue a higher education in Islamia College Lahore. During his second year in Islamia College, a piece of coal went into Mir Gul Khan’s eye due to which he had to discontinue his education and return to Quetta. Lahore, at that time, was the hub of knowledge and political and social activities. The political, cultural, social and literary movements in Lahore made quite an impression on Mir Gul Khan Nasir. When he returned to Quetta Balochistan was split into several parts namely The Chief Commissioner’s Province and The Balochistani princely states. The province of Balochistan was under direct British rule while the Balochistani States was indirectly controlled by the British through the Tribal Chiefs (sardars) and rulers,whom they had bought. In this situation the rulers of Balochistan were in no hurry to make the state progress and better the lives of its inhabitants. Because of these conditions Mir Gul Khan Nasir stepped into politics in order to join the other leaders who were fighting to liberate the people of Balochistan from the Imperialist powers.
When he went to Lahore, Mir Gul Khan Nasir saw the students taking part in different sports so he immediately tried out for the college football team and was selected. But with time, he got interested in boxing and began learning the sport. It didn’t take him long to become quite good at it. His height (above 6’00”) also provided him with an advantage in the game.
“Boxing helped Gul Khan Nasir get out of many a tight spot in his life” – Aqil Khan Mengal After his training, Mir Gul Khan began participating in boxing tournaments. In the All India Universities Boxing Championship he was the runner up. It was in this tournament that he broke his nose.
Anjuman-e-Ithihaad-e-Balochistan Anjuman-e-Islamia Ryasat-e-Kalat
In 1921 an organization named “Anjuman-e-Ithihaad-e-Balochistan” was formed to struggle for the rights of the people of Balochistan. When Mir Gul Khan Nasir came back to Kalat, he joined this organization and was an active participant in it. During this time he also briefly held the office of Vice-Minister of Jhalawan in Kalat State. By 1936 Anjuman-e-Ithihaad-e-Balochistan had become inactive so The Baloch youth formed another organization “Anjuman-e-Islamia Ryasat-e-Kalat”. Malik Abdul Raheem Khwaja Khail was elected the General Secretary of this organization while Mir Gul Khan Nasir was the President. Mir Gul Khan resigned from his designation as the Vice-Minister of Jhalawan in order to promote the new organization. Afraid of the popularity of the Anjuman, the political agents of Kalat conspired against the party and managed to have it banned in Kalat State.
Kalat State National Party
After the ban on “Anjuman-e-Islamia Ryasat-e-Kalat”, On 5 February 1937 the Baloch youth once again got together and formed a new political organization by the name of “Kalat State National Party” (KSNP). Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd was elected its President, Mir Gul Khan Nasir the Vice President and Malik Faiz Muhammad Yousafzai became the Secretary General. The Kalat State National Party was affiliated with the Indian National Congress. It played an important role in curbing the power and influence of the Tribal Chieftains or Sardars, abolition of cruel and unusual taxes imposed on the poor by the Sardars and formation of a democratically elected Parliament fashioned after the British Parliament on Kalat State’s independence. The KSNP had several ups and downs with the Khan of Kalat.
At first most of the top leaders of the party such as Abdul Aziz Kurd, Faiz Muhammad Yoyusafzai, Gul Khan Nasir, Abdul Rahim Khwajakhel etc. were serving as government officials. In 1939, during an annual session of KSNP in which Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo was also taking part as a representative of a Karachi-based political party, some thugs sent by the local sardars tried to disrupt the rally by firing at the participants. After that all the members of the Party who had government jobs resigned and were arrested. This was the incident which caused Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo to join the KSNP. After some time the Khan reconciled with the KSNP leaders and re-employed them as government officials. Once again tensions rose between the KSNP and the Khan of Kalat and this time the KSNP leadership resigned for good never to work as government servants again. Paul Titus and Nina Swidler in their book “Knights Not Pawns: Ethno-Nationalism and Regional Dynamics In Post-Colonial Balochistan” write:
The Khan attempted to play off nationalist and sardari differences by maintaining his authority as the traditional head of the Balochi tribes while appealing to the leaders of the Balochi nation. This was not always possible, and by 1939 the activities of the nationalists had so antagonized the sardars and British that they pressured the Khan to declare KSNP illegal in Kalat State. The ban on the party was lifted after World War II, though antagonism between the sardars and nationalists March 1946, for example the Balochi activist poet Gul Khan Nasir was expelled from Kalat State following complaints to the agent to the Governor-General in Balochistan from the Badini, Jamaldini and Zagar Mengal sardars. They claimed that Nasir and other activists had created disturbances in the town of Noshki by making speeches charging that the sardars were appropriating and selling local residents’ wheat rations.
After Kalat’s accession to Pakistan in 1948, the KSNP broke up. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmedyar Khan joined Muslim League after the accession but was hesitant to do it alone so he sent Mir Ajmal Khan to Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo and Gul Khan Nasir to persuade them into joining the Muslim League with the Khan. Both Gul Khan and Ghaus Bakhsh thought that joining the ML would provide them the platform they needed to raise the voice for Kalat’s rights. But within days they realized that they would never be able to achieve what they wanted while they were in the Muslim League. So they left the ML never to turn back to it ever again.
In the years that followed, Pakistan went through many changes. In 1954 the Communist Party was banned in Pakistan and then in 1955, all the provinces of West Pakistan were merged into one unit. In these conditions the Baloch ethnic nationalist politicians under the leadership of Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Mir Gul Khan Nasir, Agha Abdul Karim Khan (the brother of Khan of Kalat), Mohammad Hussain Anqa and Qadir Bux Nizamani formed the “Usthman Gal” which is Balochi for “The People’s Party”. Agha Abdul Karim was elected as the President of this party.
Pakistan National Party
In 1956, the “Usthman Gal” was merged into the Pakistan National Party which also included “Khudai Khidmatgar” from N.W.F.P, “Azaad Pakistan Party” from Punjab, “Sindh Mahaz” from Sindh and “Woror Pashtun” from the Pashtun dominated areas of Balochistan. In this way, the Pakistan National Party emerged as the largest Left-Wing Political Party in West Pakistan.
National Awami Party
In 1957, The PNP merged with Maulana Bhashani’s Awami League to form the National Awami Party. It was the principle opposition party to the military regime for much of the late 1950s and mid-1960s. The party split in 1969 into two factions, the head of one faction remained in newly formed Bangladesh, while the remaining faction became the principle opposition party to the rule of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The party was outlawed by the Pakistani government in 1975 and much of its leadership subsequently imprisoned for alleged anti-state activities.
During this period of Ayub Khan’s rule, most of the Baloch leadership including Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Gul Khan Nasir and Faiz Muhammad Yousafzai were arrested on different charges. They were imprisoned in Quetta’s Quli Camp which was famous for the inhumane torture of its prisoners. Here the Baloch Leaders were subjected to different kinds of torture. They were hung upside down from their feet and beaten, not allowed to sleep for days, laid facedown on the floor while soldiers jumped on their backs with army boots. By the time he was released, Mir Gul Khan couldn’t even walk straight. This was a very important period for the politics of Balochistan because it was in these years that the young and dynamic Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri entered Balochistan’s political scene. It was also during this period that Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was sacked from his position as the Minister of State for Interior of Pakistan and arrested. As a result of this, he also joined the NAP.
During 1960-1970 the National Awami Party or NAP presented strong resistance to the Ayub Regime and for this reason, its leaders were constantly in and out of jail. In this decade Ataullah Mengal was catapulted to the top of the Baloch leadership because of his charismatic personality and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri also earned a lot of fame because of his political philosophy. Mir Gul Khan Nasir went to jail around 5-6 times from 1962 – 1970. As a result of NAP’s struggle during this decade, the One Unit was discarded and Balochistan got the status of a province.
In 1970, General Election were held in Pakistan in which the NAP managed to get a majority in Balochistan and N.W.F.P while the Pakistan People’s Party got most of the seats of Punjab and Sindh. Mir Gul Khan Nasir won a seat in the Provincial Assembly after defeating a big landlord of Chaghi. East Pakistan broke away from Pakistan and Bangladesh was formed because of controversy that arose over the election’s result. After the fall of East Pakistan, Bhutto wasn’t willing to allow the NAP form its governments in N.W.F.P and Balochistan. But as a result of extensive dialogue held between Z.A.Bhutto and Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, NAP was able to form coalition governments in both the provinces in 1972.
In Balochistan Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal was elected as the First Chief Minister of Balochistan while Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo became the Governor. Gul Khan Nasir was a Senior Minister in this government and held the portfolios of Education, Health, Information, Social Welfare and Tourism. Later, Tourism and Information portfolios were given to other ministers. As the Minister of Education, Gul Khan managed to lay down the foundation for the Bolan Medical College which is, to this day, the only medical college in Balochistan.
During this time differences had arisen between Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and the rest of the NAP Leaders. Bhutto, who was looking for a way to remove the NAP government, saw this and used Akbar Bugti to dismiss the NAP government. The N.W.F.P government resigned in protest. Governor’s Rule was imposed with Nawab AKbar Khan Bugti as appointed as the Governor of Balochistan. Three months after the dismissal of the NAP government, Gul Khan Nasir was arrested on various charges before any other leader. In August 1973 Mir Gul Khan’s brother, Mir Lawang Khan died in an operation carried out by the Pakistani Military. Mir Gul Khan’s younger brother, Colonel (R) Sultan Mohammad Khan (who was the head of the Balochistan Reserve Police), was arrested the day he returned to Quetta after burying Mir Lawang Khan. Along with Colonel Sultan, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Ataullah Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri and Bizen Bizenjo were also arrested. Since all this happened during Akbar Bugti’s regime therefore the public sentiment was against him in Balochistan at that time. Mir Gul Khan Nasir wrote a lot of poems against Bugti during his imprisonment. Later, a commission known as Hyderabad tribunal, was set up and Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Gul Khan Nasir, Nawab Marri, Wali Khan, Qaswar Gardezai, Habib Jalib and many others had to defend themselves in a treason case in front of the tribunal.
While in prison differences arose between the Baloch Leaders. After the ouster of Bhutto’s government by General Zia-ul-Haq, negotiations for the winding up of the Hyderabad tribunal and the release of all detainees was initiated leading to their eventual release in 1979. On their release, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Gul Khan Nasir and Ataullah Mengal brought back their followers who had taken refuge in Afghanistan while Khair Bakhsh Marri and Shero Marri, themselves, went to Afghanistan. Sardar Ataullah Mengal also left for London. Gul Khan Nasir and Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo joined Wali Khan’s National Democratic Party.
Pakistan National Party
After sometime, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo had a falling out with Wali Khan over the Saur Revolution of Afghanistan. Mir Ghaus Bakhsh and Mir Gul Khan left the NDP and formed the Pakistan National Party or PNP. Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo was elected as PNP’s President while Gul Khan Nasir became the President of PNP Balochistan.
Even though Gul Khan had joined Mir Ghaus Bakhsh’s party, he was of the opinion that the Baloch should not be pushed into another term of turmoil by pitting them against the Martial Law Regime but rather they should be educated, trained and made ready for the future conditions that might change the situation and geography of the subcontinent. But Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo thought that the Martial Law should be fought head on to make democracy in Pakistan stronger. The Establishment, taking advantage of the situation, set the state machinery into motion and by using different tools, especially the media, aggravated the differences between the two leaders to the extent that Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo demanded a resignation from Gul Khan Nasir which Gul Khan refused to tender in. But after the lapse of some more time, Mir Gul Khan tendered in his resignation and concentrated all of his abilities towards his literary work.
Mir Gul Khan Nasir was arrested on several occasions from 1939 to 1978 on many different charges, all of them pertaining to politics. He collectively spent almost 15 years of his life in jail.
Mir Gul Khan Nasir wrote poems in English, Urdu, Balochi, Brahui and Persian. Most of his poems are in Balochi language. He was good friends with Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Once Faiz Sahib offered to translate Mir Gul Khan’s poems in urdu but Mir Gul Khan turned down the offer. Most of Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s Urdu poetry was written between 1933–1950 and there has bee no publication of his Urdu poetry to this date.
Mir Gul Khan’s poetry is filled with revolutionary and anti-imperialist themes and it reflects his progressive nature and socialist ideals. Mir Gul Khan Nasir was very much against the class differences that prevailed at that time, and still do. His poems exhibit his dislike for the chauvinistic attitude of the rich towards the poor. A famous quatrain of his goes as follows:
Wáhde pa ĝaríbáñ ki jaháñ tang bibít
Láp húrak, badan lúč pa badrang bibít
Haq int ča čušeñ wár o azábeñ zindá
Máří bisučant, sar birawant, jang bibít
When the world starts to constrict around the poor man
His mutilated naked form is left to fend for his hungry gut
Then it’s better from this life of misery and torture
If war ensues, heads roll & lavish palaces are burnt to the ground
Mir Gul Khan wrote many books on history and poetry and translated several works from other languages into Balochi and Urdu. A list of some of his books is given below:
•Gul Baang (1951) was his first collection of Balochi Poetry.
•History of Balochistan (1952) (Urdu) Volume 1 – After much research Mir Gul Khan published this book which consists of 340 pages. It is a history of the Baloch Race and removes many mis-conceptions about the Baloch which were prevalent at that time.
•History of Balochistan (1957) (Urdu) Volume 2 – This volume consists of 15 chapters and deals with the history of Balochistan from Khan Khudadad Khan to Khan Ahmed Yar Khan until 1955.
•Daastaan-e-Dostain o Sheereen (1964) is considered to be one of the best books of Mir Gul Khan Nasir. In this book he has penned the classical Balochi Love Story of Dostain and Sheereen. In the preface of this book the famous Baloch author Azaat Jamaldini called Mir Gul Khan “The Great Poet of the Balochi Language”.
•Koch o Baloch (1969) was a book in which Mir Gul Khan, through intellectual reasoning proved that the Brahvis and the Balochis actually came from the same race.
•Garand (1971) is an important collection of Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s poems.
•Balochistan Kay Sarhadi Chaapa Maar (1979) is an Urdu translation of General Dyre’s “Raiders of the Frontier” by Mir Gul Khan Nasir.
•Seenai Keechaga (1980) is a Balochi translation of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Sar-e-Waadi-e-Seena by Mir Gul Khan Nasir.
•Mashad Na Jang Naama (1981) – Mir Gul Khan Nasir completed this Brahvi book when he was a student in the 8th grade but it was published in 1981.
•Shah Latif Gusheet (1983) is a Balochi translation of that part of Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai’s poetry which concerns the Balochs.
•Gulgaal (1993) is the ninth compilation Mir Gul Khan’s poetry.
•Shanblaak (1996) is Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s tenth collection of Balochi Poetry which also includes Urdu translations by himself.
Mir Gul Khan Nasir was posthumously awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz (President’s Award) in 2001 for his literary services. Other Sitara-i-Imtiaz winners that year were
In 1962, when the USSR government decided to award Faiz Ahmed Faiz with the Lenin Prize, they also wanted to present Mir Gul Khan Nasir with the Prize but because of his (Mir Gul Khan’s) differences with the Ayub Khan Regime of that time, he wasn’t allowed to go to Moscow.
Soon after resigning from the leadeship of PNP, Mir Gul Khan’s health deteriorated and he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Not having enough money, or accepting any from his relatives, he was not able to procure treatment in time. It was only after his condition became so bad that he could not leave his bed that he was taken to Karachi, where doctors, after checking him, gave him only a few days to live. Mir Gul Khan Nasir died on 5 December 1983 in the Mid East Hospital, Karachi. He was taken back to his village, Noshki, in a huge procession. On 7 December 1983 he was laid to rest in his village’s cemetery. The funeral proceedings were attended by a large number of people. Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Malik Faiz Miuhammad Yousafzai and other leaders were not able to attend because they were in jail, while Nawab Akbar Bugti’s movement had been restricted to Quetta. Ataullah Mengal and Khair Bakhsh Marri were abroad, in self-exile.