Sardar Attullah Khan Mengal was born on January 13, 1930, in Sardar Rasool Bukhsh’s home in the Lasbela district of Balochistan. He was the eldest son of Sardar Rasool Bukhsh Mengal.
He received his primary education in Lasbela and continued his studies at Sindh Madrasatul Islam Karachi. In 1948, he resided in the Mangopeer area of Karachi. Due to his father’s disputes with the Khan of Kalat, the Khan of Kalat issued orders to expel him from the area, which forced Sardar Rasool Bukhsh Mengal to relocate to Bela in the Lasbela State.
Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal frequently conversed with his father, and on one occasion, he inquired about the reason for not going to Wadh. His father explained the situation to him, and he respectfully responded, “Khan of Kalat has prohibited your entry to Wadh, so please grant me permission to go.” After obtaining permission, he entered Wadh via Sarrona, Shah Noorani, and Adanji. Upon arriving in Wadh, Sardar Attaullah Khan convened a Jirga consisting of dignitaries, tribal leaders, and tribal heads, seeking their support based on his truthfulness, courage, and leadership abilities. Khan Karam Khan of Kalat became increasingly active against him, fearing his activities, popularity, and influence.
Upon learning of Khan Karam Khan’s opposition, Sardar Attaullah Khan approached his uncle, Chief Mohammad Hassani of Mashke, and explained the entire situation. Sardar Baloch Khan made efforts to resolve the issue in accordance with Baloch traditions and ultimately succeeded.
In the 1930s, Balochistan, especially Jahalawan, was gripped by insurgency. The story of Noora Mengal and his companions’ struggle against the British was on everyone’s tongue. Sardar Attaullah Khan was also born in the same era and grew up listening to the stories of Noora Mengal’s resistance, bravery, and struggle. That’s why the tragic events of Dodoki and Wadh and the effects of the struggle against imperialism were deeply ingrained in his mind. Noori Naseer Khan, Hammal Jiand, and the martyrs of Kohistan Marri, as well as the leaders of the Indian independence movement, the events surrounding Khan Mehrab Khan’s martyrdom in the fight against the British, the conspiratorial ambitions of the East India Company in the 18th century, and the first three decades of the 19th century, including the events of the first and second world wars, the League of Nations, the emergence of the United Nations, and the era of historical changes – in this landscape, a brave and courageous leader named Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal was born on the land of Balochistan.
He loved his motherland, Balochistan, to a great extent and was deeply concerned about the people of Balochistan. The circumstances of repression and deprivation in Balochistan took away his innocent childhood and made him mature and wise beyond his years. His emotions, enthusiasm, determination, and speed of expression endeared him to people, and nature had bestowed upon him the gift of oratory. When he spoke, it felt as though he had captured the essence of political discourse in the art of arguments and logic.
Describing his political background, we find that his father was known for his honesty, integrity, and courage. This reputation led the Khans and Sardars of that time to expel him from Wadh. When Sardar Attaullah Khan, as the eldest son, took over the tribal and regional duties of his father, he became known everywhere. People were convinced of his truthfulness, honesty, courage, and honor. Examples of his high character were cited in every part of Balochistan. During a time when media was non-existent, his words and narratives were on everyone’s lips. He was known as the uncrowned king of tribal jirgas and socio-political meetings, always mindful of tough and complicated situations. When he embarked on his political career, Nawab Khair Bukhsh Marri, Mir Ghous Bukhs Bezinjo, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, and Gull Khan Naseer were among his close associates.
Sardar Attullah’s entry into politics is an interesting event. At the time, he was performing his duties as a Sardar, and there was no road from Khuzdar to Wadh. A road was constructed with his help and the support of the people of Wadh. After the completion of road construction, it was decided that the road would be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Kalat.
When the Khan of Kalat, along with his Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, and companions, visited for the inaugural ceremony, Sardar Attaullah thought that the Prime Minister and other guests might lose their way. So, he led the caravan to guide them. Upon reaching their destination, it was lunchtime, and all the guests were having lunch. The Deputy Commissioner addressed Sardar Attaullah Khan and mentioned that the Prime Minister had expressed his displeasure because Sardar Attaullah’s car had raised dust and dirt, which fell on them.
This incident had a profound impact on him, as the arrogant attitude of state officials disappointed Sardar Attaullah Khan. He realized that it was the state’s apathy that led to the people’s poverty and backwardness. As a result, he decided to enter politics to uplift the Baloch nation and their homeland from deprivation.
Sardar Attaullah Khan officially entered politics in 1956, distinct from the traditional feudal politics. In the 1950s, the “One Unit” policy was imposed on Western Pakistan, leading to tensions between Ayub Khan and Baloch leaders. The first rebellion against Ayub Khan occurred in 1958/59, resulting in casualties on both sides. Due to the insistence of his political associates, he contested the 1962 election and was elected as an MNA from the Kalat division. His popularity and public support made him one of the leading politicians in Pakistan. He initiated a movement against the dictatorial regime of President Ayub Khan. As a result, Mengal, Marri, Bugti, the father of Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Sardar Rasool Bukhsh Mengal, and hundreds of other political workers were arrested and jailed. A rebellion erupted in Mengal, Marri, and Bugti against these arrests. The army was called in.
In 1969, Yahya Khan met with Mengal, Marri, and Bugti and agreed to abolish the “One Unit” policy due to their efforts. As a result of their struggle, Balochistan gained the status of a full-fledged province for the first time, 23 years after the formation of Pakistan. In the 1970s elections, people elected NAP’s Sardar Attaullah as the majority leader. He was a fearless and true leader, well-known for his virtues among the masses. After his release from jail, he organized NAP in Balochistan and campaigned against the abolition of the “One Unit” policy. In 1971, JUI and NAP formed a provincial government, with Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal as the first CM and Mir Ghous Bukhsh Bezinjo elected as the governor on May 1, 1972. He considered education vital for Balochistan’s development and planned to establish educational institutes to empower Baloch youth. His first decree was to hand over the coastal belt to the Balochistan government. He, along with his political companions Nawab Khair Bukhsh Khan Marri and Mir Ghous Bukhsh Bezinjo, took revolutionary steps, making NAP popular among the people.
Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became concerned about NAP’s popularity and started a conspiracy against NAP, creating unrest in Lasbela to destabilize the provincial government. As CM, Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal issued orders to security agencies to quell the unrest in Lasbela, but allegations were spread against him, claiming he formed his own tribal forces. A fake arms recovery drama at the Iraqi embassy was staged to substantiate these allegations and impose governor rule in Balochistan. He was removed from the position of chief minister and sent to Hyderabad jail, along with other NAP leaders, in this conspiracy case. A military operation was launched in Balochistan, and Sardar Attaullah Khan’s government was abolished on February 13th, 1973.
In a later interview, Sardar Attaullah Khan stated that Bhutto was never satisfied because the Pakistan army was facing Indian troops on the borders, making it difficult for Balochistan to compromise with nationalists. However, hurdles were created in Balochistan from the very beginning when national leader Sardar Attaullah assumed power. Sardar Attaullah recalls that after a meeting with ZA Bhutto in the Government House in Karachi, when he was leaving, Bhutto stopped him at the door and asked, “Do you think democracy can rule in this country?” Sardar Attaullah Khan replied, “I do not know about that, but I do know that if there is no democracy, there will be no Bhutto.” Bhutto responded, “You are wrong; I will rule this country by force if necessary, and then we will see how the people of Balochistan, after 26 years of creation, enjoy representation for one year.”
Bhutto created division among Baloch nationalists shortly after the federal government’s announcement. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was appointed as the governor of Balochistan, and rumors circulated that a cache of arms belonging to Iraq had been seized in Islamabad, intended for use in Balochistan to disrupt law and order. He ordered the army to be deployed in Balochistan, leading to clashes between locals and Pakistan armed forces involving approximately 100,000 soldiers. According to Sardar Attaullah Khan, they were not considered citizens but subordinates.
Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal was in jail when his elder son Asadullah Mengal and his friend Ahmed Shah Kurd were kidnapped in 1974. After leaving Mir Balakh Sher Mazari’s house, he was shifted to an unknown location and is still missing. Sardar Attaullah Mengal’s son Munir Mengal, brother Meherullah Khan Mengal, Ali Muhammad Mengal, Jangi Khan Mengal, Muhammad Ali Sasoli, Mir Murad Jan Bizenjo, Mir Hammal Bizenjo, Chairman BSO Khair Jan Baloch, Safar Khan Zarakzai, Abdul Hakim Lehri, Sardar Arif Muhammad Hassani, Mir Aslam Gichki, and thousands of Marris, Mengals, and other tribes resisted the overthrow of the elected government of Balochistan and protested against it.
In 1977, martial law was imposed by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, and Bhutto was arrested on July 5th. A general amnesty was announced for political prisoners of Balochistan. All NAP leadership, including Sardar Attaullah Khan, was released. The hardships of imprisonment could not weaken the determination and devotion of Sardar Attaullah. The political situation became worse for him after his release from jail. Sardar Attaullah left for Britain for medical treatment, while Nawab Khair Bukhsh Marri went to Afghanistan. Now, Sardar Attaullah also went into exile and had to live there for a long time. During his exile, he continued to carefully evaluate the objective and subjective conditions of Balochistan.
His fame spread from Kech Makran to Kachi, from Nasirabad to Chaghi Kharan, from Sarawan to Jhalawan, from Sindh to Helmand’s Lashkar Gah, and from Zabul to Sistan. The leadership ability of Sardar Attaullah Khan had made people his followers in every political, tribal, and social circle. He formed the World Baloch Organization. On behalf of Balochistan’s youth, he established an organization in 1987 named Balochistan National Youth Movement, which had the full support of Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal. In the meantime, he decided to send Akhtar Jan Mengal back to Balochistan, so his close friends said to him that Akhtar Mengal would suffer and be a victim of difficulties. He replied, ‘I have thrown Akhtar Mengal into a political sea. If he learns to swim, he will become a leader; if not, he will also drown in the sea like others.’ He is the trusted son of a strong leader who is struggling for Baloch National rights by highlighting the National voice of Balochistan, following in the footsteps of Sardar Attaullah Mengal. After the demise of Zia ul Haq, elections were scheduled in Balochistan on 17th August 1988. The Balochistan National Alliance (BNA) was formed along with BNYM, and BNA was given the opportunity to establish government again in Balochistan after the 70s by electing the majority.
After the death of Mir Ghous Bukhsh Bezinjo, Sardar Attaullah Khan returned to Balochistan on August 11, 1989. He directly reached Nall, the hometown of Mir Ghous Bukhsh Bezinjo, from Khuzdar airport to offer condolences. Upon his return to Balochistan, he initiated negotiations with Baloch youth and other elites in the region on various issues. After a short period, he went back to London and later returned to Balochistan, spending a short period in London. In 1996, the Balochistan National Party (BNP) was established to provide the people of Balochistan with a strong national platform aimed at promoting unity and solidarity based on their national and political roles. Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal was elected as the first head of the Balochistan National Party (BNP).
In the general election of 1997, the people of Balochistan gave a heavy mandate to BNP, electing Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal, Nawab Khair Bukhsh Khan Marri, and Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. They together elected Akhtar Jan Mengal as Chief Minister. However, as per tradition, the ruling forces did not accept this coalition government, and a conspiracy was hatched in 1998 to abolish the government, leading to political anarchy in Balochistan. Despite this, Sardar Attaullah Khan used his political experience to energize the struggle.
During General Musharraf’s regime, the movement of Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun, and Siraiki people was organized in the form of PONM. PONM emerged as the best platform for oppressed people throughout Pakistan, but the leadership of PONM was not allowed to carry out political activities in Islamabad. PONM recorded its protests in open fields. Sardar Attaullah Khan was the founder of PONM after BNP but continued to guide BNP as the founder throughout his life.
Due to old age, he remained ill, and on September 2nd, 2021, at the age of 92, he met his true creator in a local hospital in Karachi, leaving his admirers and ideological children with a true leader and hero of Balochistan who will remain immortal forever.