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Balochistan on Fire

Lt. Gen Prakash Katoch

10 Pakistani soldiers were killed at a check-post when rebels attacked it in Kech district of southwestern Balochistan on the night of January 25-26, 2022. In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), media wing of the military, said that the fire raid by militants occurred on the night of January 25-26, during intense exchange of fire, 10 soldiers and one terrorist were killed, several others injured in the incident, and that the armed forces are determined to eliminate terrorists from our soil no matter what the cost. It also said that three terrorists had been apprehended in clearance operation.

The BLA issued an official statement on February 3 saying “Baloch fidayeens have so far killed more than 100 enemy personnel.

But the Pakistani establishment perhaps never realized this was just the trailer of what was to follow. On February 2, suicide bomber squads from Majeed Brigade of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) simultaneously attacked the Pakistani Frontier Corps (FC) Headquarters in Noshki and Panjgur districts of Balochistan. According to details provided by the BLA, the suicide bomber rammed vehicle laden with explosives into the main gates of both the FC HQ making way for the others to penetrate inside. Three suicide bombers were martyred in both the attacks while the others were still confronting the FC personnel by tightening the siege six hours after the attack.

The BLA issued an official statement on February 3 saying “Baloch fidayeens have so far killed more than 100 enemy personnel. Large parts of camps are completely destroyed. Backup troops have arrived for the enemy forces, however, they have failed to weaken fidayeen positions inside the camp. After the successful major attack by fidayeens, the occupying state has banned its media from reporting events. It has also disconnected all telecommunication networks. The Pakistani military’s ISPR is claiming today’s attacks were repulsed, this is a complete lie and BLA’s today’s operations are still underway with full intensity.”

Of the over 100 FC personnel killed by the BLA in both attacks, 50 Pakistani soldiers killed by BLA Majeed Brigade were in the FC HQ at Panjgur alone. The Pakistanis killed by the BLA in Noshki included Major General Ayman Bilal Safdar in an ambush. Concurrently, one Pakistani gunship helicopter was shot down in Panjgur by the Majeed Brigade.

The Pakistani establishment is shaken up and engaged in major cover up. The Pakistan military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) denied the intensity of the attack and declared a small number of FC personnel killed.  Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, Pakistan’s Interior Minister stated that only 15 militants and four Pakistani soldiers had lost their lives as ‘terrorists’ attempted to enter the security force’s camp in Panjgur and Naushki. It would not be surprising if Rasheed Ahmad took the number of four soldiers killed from the fake Chinese script of only four PLA soldiers killed at Galwan on June 15, 2020.

Since 2000, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has conducted numerous attacks on the Pakistani security forces and their supporters.

The Baloch region comprises the Pakistani province of Balochistan, Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and southern areas of Afghanistan including Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces. In Pakistan’s Balochistan province, Baloch nationalists have fought occupying Pakistani security forces in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–1977. The ongoing uprising beginning 2003 has picked up pace with Pakistan plundering gas and mineral wealth of Balochistan, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and associated projects through Balochistan, and China-backed Pakistani genocide against Baloch population.  

Since 2000, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has conducted numerous attacks on the Pakistani security forces and their supporters. Human rights activists have accused the Government of Pakistan of human rights abuses and genocidal suppression of insurgency. But ironically, the US continues to ignore the genocide of the Baloch population and instead has declared the BLA a terrorist organization just because the US has been using Pakistani terrorist organizations as proxies. Being America’s protégé, Britain too has declared the BLA a terrorist organization.

Baloch nationalists groups have been targeting the CPEC and Chinese nationals associated with the CPEC. During 2021, they have eliminated some 450 Pakistani security forces and supporters. On January 5, 2022, two Pakistani soldiers and as many terrorists were killed in two separate intelligence-based operations (IBOs) conducted by security forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). On January 21, 2022, Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterated resolve of the army to fight against terrorism till its elimination from the country, according to Pakistani media. Bajwa vowed that sacrifices of those killed would not go in vain and complete peace would return to Pakistan.

According to the newspaper ‘Pakistan Today’ published in Lahore, Punjab; Karachi, Sindh; and Islamabad, Balochistan is the richest-in-resources province of Pakistan with a small population of 12.34 million, but still the most neglected among all the four provinces – especially when it comes to education, health and employment. Due to negligence of the Pakistan government, 76 per cent of Balochistan’s girls remain out of school with a primary enrolment of 3,22,000 girls; of whom only 20,046 persist after they finish their matriculation.

…India urged Pakistan to stop human rights violations in Balochistan province as human rights groups…

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), a non-government organization, represents family members of people who have been subject to enforced disappearances in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan. The VBMP aims to push the Supreme Court of Pakistan to order that police stations issue first information reports (FIRs) demanded by families of the missing in Balochistan. VBMP alleges that people are disappearing because of Pakistan’s security agencies, including the Pakistan army, Frontier Corps, and its various intelligence agencies including the ISPR and military intelligence. At the same time, VBMP calls for a political rather than military or violent solution to the atrocities by the Pakistani establishment. According to a 2019 titled “Balochistan: Neglected Still”, Mama Qadeer, VBMP chairperson, claimed that 47,000 Balochis and around 35,000 Pashtuns are missing.

Recently, the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (IVBMP), a collective representing family members of Baluchistan’s forcibly disappeared, has strongly condemned the killing of Razzaq Mandai, a Baloch political refugee in Afghanistan. In a statement to the media, IVBMP said, “We are aware of his case. He fled Baluchistan to save his life. He was facing life threats because of his political struggle against Pakistani oppression in Balochistan.” IVBMP rejected the lies propagated by Pakistan Army-sponsored journalists and social media figures, who have falsely claimed that Razzaq was a senior commander of an armed group. “In fact, he was a refugee who went to Afghanistan because he could not flee to a third and safer country from Balochistan.”

On January 28, 2022, India urged Pakistan to stop human rights violations in Balochistan province as human rights groups and activists have raised concerns over their targeted killing in the region, particularly demanding action over the killing of Baloch political refugee Razzaq Mandai in Afghanistan on 23 January. “We request Pakistani authorities that the human rights violations which are currently going on in Balochistan should be stopped,” said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) when asked what India has to say on the current situation of Balochistan.

The US knows very well that sitting in China’s lap Pakistan is the very reason for instability in the region, and an independent Balochistan would cut both China and Pakistan to size. Not supporting Baloch independence movement and instead labeling the BLA a terrorist organizations indicates that the US is actually scared of China notwithstanding the outward oomph.

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