In Pakistan’s version of the war of roses, Shahzain Bugti seems to have taken the mantle of Bugti leader from Brahamdagh in a statement that has revealed infighting and divisions within the Bugti tribe. While Brahamdagh is seeking asylum in India and issuing anti-Pakistan statements, his cousin has sworn that the Bugti tribe will defend the country against India at all costs.

The name Bugti will always be significant in Balochi politics, which is why keeping the tribe involved in the national mainstream will be necessary whenever there is a conversation about the future of Balochistan; but that in no way means that Brahamdagh is the one that we must talk to. Nor does it imply that his views reflect the larger opinions of the people of Balochistan.

After the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, there were disagreements over who would assume control, and while it is believed that Brahamdagh was his chosen political successor, by seeking asylum in India and essentially parroting its stance on Pakistan’s “role as a terrorism exporting country” he has all but closed the door to any possibility of reconciliation.

But even beyond this, Shahzain Bugti has a stronger claim to his grandfather’s political legacy for many other reasons as well. Shahzain Bugti has the support of the party formed by his grandfather, the Jamoori Watan Party (JWP), and ever since he has been at the head, the party has always acted as a bridge between the people of Balochistan and the Pakistani state. Shahzain has always displayed staunch patriotism, and a willingness to negotiate, which his cousin has not. Add that to the fact that Brahamdagh Bugti has been in exile since 2006 while his cousin has been adding to his political support; Brahamdagh Bugti might not be the voice of the Baloch like he thinks he is.

Brahamdagh Bugti then, may have a claim to the leadership of the Bugti tribe, but this claim is getting increasingly tenuous with time. He has bid farewell to a very legitimate claim to both tribal and political leadership by seeking India’s assistance. His cousins, Shahzain and Mir Aali Bugti have already seemingly divided control over tribal and political affairs of the Bugti tribe. Brahamdagh Bugti then, can form a Balochi government in exile, but it will be one of name only; the real power will lie firmly in the hands of his cousins in Balochistan.