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Meet the Malayali Marxist living in self-exile in Pakistan

August 10, 2011 11:59 IST

In his autobiography, B M Kutty chronicles his life as a Malayali Marxist living in the restive region of Baluchistan, reports Sahim Salim

B M Kutty, fondly known as BMK, is a Pakistani citizen who speaks impeccable Malayalam. The octogenarian, who was born in Tirur near Calicut (now Kozhikode) in Kerala, migrated to Pakistan in 1949 when he was 19 years old.

BMK is a political activist who has also spent time behind bars for his political beliefs. Today, he is the political secretary of the Baluchistan National Party.

Speaking to rediff.com after the launch of his autobiography Sixty years in Self-Exile: No regrets, Kutty said, "Nobody pushed me out of Kerala. I went to Pakistan and became a part of its political system on my own accord. That explains the term 'self-exile' in the title of my autobiography. Right after that, there is the phrase 'no regrets'. That is the truth of my life. I have no regrets for the choices I made."

Explaining the title of his book, Kutty told rediff.com, "During my visit to Delhi in 2007, I met (social activist) Nirmala Deshpande and told her that I was planning on writing a memoir. She suggested the title. I thought it would reflect and summarise my entire life in just one line. She is one of the people I have dedicated my book to."

Alok Bansal, who has authored a book on Baluchistan, finished Kutty's book in two days.

"It was an extraordinary account. But six decades of an active political life confined to just 562 pages are not enough. I think he should write more," Bansal said at Kutty's book launch.

Former external affairs minister K Natwar Singh, who was also present at the book launch, said, "Kutty has led an extraordinary life. He had a very difficult time in Pakistan as he was a Marxist. I have read quite a bit of the book and found it fascinating."

Hailing Kutty's book, Pakistani High Commissioner Shahid Malik said, "Your book is a fascinating account of political developments in Pakistan. Your book also took me down memory lane as it describes various developments in Lahore, which is my birthplace."

In his book, said Kutty, he didn't have to beat around the bush as he was not a politician.

"I have been a political activist all my life and thus writing about my life was easy. The photograph on the book cover is me reading Malayala Manorama in my house. That's why they say that you cannot take Kerala out of a Malayali," Kutty said.

Kutty has been closely associated with political developments in Baluchistan. At the book launch, a panel comprising Singh and Bansal held a discussion about the region which was moderated by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar.

"Is Baluchistan wishing to secede from Pakistan or is it only demanding a provincial right within a federal Pakistan? Is there a united Baluchistan movement or are the inhabitants far too divisive in terms of economic and tribal rivalries? Does the Indian experience in its northeast hold lessons for Pakistan and vice versa," Aiyar asked. 

"Should India interfere in Baluchistan? I mean, till we have a reasonable relationship with each other, Pakistan will be an albatross around our neck and we, in turn, an albatross around Pakistan's," he pointed out. 

Bansal opined that every single tribe in Baluchistan supported the insurgency. 

"Yes, there are differences of opinions among the various tribes in Baluchistan. But when it comes to the conflict with Pakistan, they are united. As far as Pakistan dealing with the insurgency is concerned, there are a few lessons that it can learn from India. I mean, wherever there has been an insurgency in Pakistan, whether it is Baluchistan or south Waziristan, Pakistan has used aerial bombing and medium artillery to control it. There are allegations that Pakistan used chemical weapons in Baluchistan. This should change because it leads to further isolation of the Baluchs," Bansal said.

Yusuf Mastik Khan, a resident of Baluchistan and a member of the Pakistani Workers' Party, stated that breaking up a country was not the solution to the unrest.

"India was broken and Pakistan was formed. Did it solve the problem? No. So I don't think breaking a country or a state is an option here. Yes, Baluchistan did not want to join Pakistan, but what is done is done. The problem is that the Baluch youth don't listen to us. We tell them to negotiate, to push for maximum autonomy within the federation of Pakistan. We cite the example of the Tamil rebellion in Sri Lanka, which was much more organised and powerful. Eventually, they were crushed," Khan said.

"I think we should all strive to form an Asian union. We should all strive for unity like Europe did," he added.

According to Kutty, Pakistan's tragedy was its constant state of turmoil since its very inception 64 years ago.

"We have heard statements like 'Pakistan is going through its gravest period' from the very beginning. This attitude needs to change. I think that Baluchistan is the future of Pakistan. The truth remains that Baluchistan, with its inexhaustible natural resources, is the future of Pakistan," Kutty said.

Sahim Salim