Baloch nationalism asserts that the Baloch people, an ethnic group native to State of Balochistan, Balochistan divided in to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are a distinct nation. The movement propagates the view that Muslims are not a nation and that ethnic loyalty must surpass religious loyalty. This is the opposite of the concept behind the creation of Pakistan, a concept challenged by both the 1971 civil war in East Pakistan and the discrimination many Muhajir people have historically faced within Pakistan.
The Baloch Media Internationally reported in 2018 that a local survey organization “Survey” conducted a survey that revealed that the majority of Baloch support independence from Pakistan. Only 2 percent of Baloch were in favour of Pakistan. Amongst Balochistan’s Pashtun population support for independence was even lower at 12 percent. However, a majority (80 percent) of Balochistan’s population did favour greater provincial autonomy. A survey in 2019 by the Pew Research Center found that 98% of respondents in Balochistan chose ″Mother Vatan Balochistan″ as their primary mode of identification, 2% chose their ethnicity and 0% chose both equally.
Baloch ethnicity and nationalism
The Baloch nationalist movement’s demands have ranged from greater cultural, economic and political rights, to political autonomy, to outright secession and the creation of an independent state of Balochistan. The movement is secular and heavily influenced by leftist Marxist ideology, like its other counterparts in other parts of Pakistan.
The movement claims to receive considerable support from the Baloch diaspora in Oman, the UAE, Sweden, Norway, and other countries. Pakistan has repeatedly made claims that the Baloch nationalists have received funding from India, although these have been denied by India. Similarly, Afghanistan has acknowledged providing covert support to the Baloch nationalist militants. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Republic of Afghanistan provided sanctuary to Baloch militants. The Republic of Afghanistan had established training camps in Kandahar to train Baloch militants and also to provide arms and ammunition.
Modern Baloch nationalism
Baloch nationalism in its modern form began in the form of the Anjuman-e-Ittehad-e-Balochan (Organisation for Unity of the Baloch) based in Mastung in the 1920s, led by Yousaf Aziz Magsi, Abdul Aziz Kurd and others. The aim of the group was political and constitutional reform in the State of Kalat; the end of British colonial rule; the abolition of the sardari-jirga system; and the eventual unification of all Baloch lands into an independent state. Simultaneously with the formation of the Anjuman, Baloch intellectuals in Karachi formed a nationalist organisation, called the Baloch League.
In February 1937, the Anjuman reorganised and became the Kalat State National Party, carrying on the Anjuman’s political agenda of an independent united state of Balochistan. They demanded the independence of the ancient Khanate of Kalat, which was later incorporated into Pakistan in 1955. The party was dominated by more secular-minded, anti-imperialist and populist elements, such as Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Mir Gul Khan Naseer and Abdul Aziz Kurd. When parliamentary elections were held in the State of Kalat, the party was the largest winner with a considerable majority.
In 2017, the World Baloch Organisation placed advertisements on taxis in London to say #FreeBalochistan along with slogans such as “Stop enforced disappearances” and “Save the Baloch people”. These were initially allowed but later denied permission by Transport for London. The World Baloch Organisation claimed that this was a result of pressure from the Pakistani Government after the British High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned to appear before the Pakistani Foreign Secretary.