On 2nd December, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) posted a detailed statement on Baloch Liberation Voices. In a detailed statement, the High Command of BLA claimed to inform about the post-24th July, 2017 situation and about its reported alliance with Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF). The crux of the statement was that BLA has suspended its Commanders Aslam Baloch and Bashirzeb Baloch for an indefinite time period because they, along with the support of BLF and Naela Quadri, tried to overthrow the leadership of the terror outfit. The statement also denied the news of an alliance with BLF. The release of this statement earlier this month has brought the fractionalized nature of Balochistan insurgency once again in the spotlight.
The detailed statement is in Urdu, the English translation of which was released on 6th December, 2017, also contained some other key details which are as follows:-
- Aslam Baloch left for India without the permission of BLA’s High Command on 1st June, 2017.
- Bashirzeb Baloch used suspended Spokesperson Jeehand Baloch’s name to accuse that the High Command and Spokesperson Azad Baloch are Pakistani agents.
- Both suspended Commanders claimed that BLA’s social media account has been hacked and later created fake social media accounts and website.
- BLF and Commanders of several Baloch sub-nationalist groups are working as Iranian proxies.
- The High Command does not support the BLF’s anti-media policy.
- BLF’s leadership and Iran want to disband and weaken BLA.
- Azad Baloch is the sole Spokesperson of BLA. Secondary Spokespersons Jeehand Baloch and Meerak Baloch are terminated.
- BLF used the suspended Commanders to release a statement about BLF-BLA alliance on 30th October, 2017.
- In view of BLF’s conspiracies, BLA announced to disband the negotiating team formed last year.
In reply to a statement of BLA’s High Command, the BLA’s faction, led by Aslam Baloch and Bashirzeb Baloch, released a statement in which they condemned the statement of the former and claimed that no ‘High Command’ body exists in BLA. The statement also stated that the terror outfit had faced such issues in the past and instructed its partners and sympathizers to not divulge themselves into debating these issues on social media.
The latest reported rift was already on cards for past few months. According to media reports, Aslam Baloch was planning to create a new organization with the financial help of Naela Quadri. These revelations surfaced during Aslam Baloch’s visit to India.
This latest rift within BLA is also not something new. After the killing of Balach Marri in November, 2007 and arrest of Hyrbyair Marri in London the month after that, Mehran Marri was appointed as the new Chief of BLA. Mehran was accused of running the affairs of the outfit in a mismanaged manner. Consequently, reported rift between Mehran and Hyrbyair led to the creation of United Baloch Army (UBA). Mehran, along with his companions, was accused of stealing $3 million funds and weapons worth Rs. 800 million with which he created UBA.
Similarly, the rivalry between BLA and BLF also has a long history. The early footprints of the rivalry can be traced back to the attitude of BLF leadership to recognize UBA as a separate entity. Later, it was also revealed that Qadir Marri, Mehran’s confidante, had been providing weapons to BLF which were stolen from BLA.
The creation of Balochistan National Liberation Front by BLF Commanders Salim Baloch and Allah Bakhsh Jago in 2012 was seen as a BLA-backed move by analysts. Because of non-cooperation between BLA and BLF, security forces were successfully able to weaken the latter in Awaran, which was considered as BLF’s stronghold. In 2014, the BLF termed BLA as an ‘obstacle’.
On the latest rift, BLF, in a statement, said that baseless accusations by BLA only show its frustration against BLF. The latter also claimed that the former has been involved in a malicious campaign against the BLF leadership, Baloch National Movement, Baloch Students Organization and Baloch Republican Party (the political arm of Baloch Republican Army). The statement claimed that clashes between BLA and UBA resulted in several people dissociating themselves from the on-going insurgency. It was also claimed that the BLF leadership showed a policy of restraint when BLA tried to kill BLF’s cadre in Pasni. The statement enquired why BLA’s High Command did not object when news of a reported alliance between BLA and BLF was released and why the suspended Commanders of BLA were not dissociated from BLA when negotiations were going on with BLF.
In one of my previous articles, I have written in detail about the factionalism in Balochistan insurgency and how it has negatively affected it. This latest rift within BLA has come at a time when the insurgency has been weakened to a great extent. More than 2,600 men who have surrendered have joined national mainstream by realizing that the objectives of the foreign-sponsored insurgency are unachievable and are marred by infighting and power struggles. In fact, nearly 150 separatists associated with BLA have surrendered since the reported rift within BLA started in late July, 2017.
The rift within BLA has proved to further factionalize the already weakened insurgency. Baloch sub-nationalist groups (BSNGs) have themselves realized that infighting among them has negatively affected the on-going insurgency and has benefitted Pakistan. The Pakistani state should exploit the rift within BLA and the rivalry of BLA and BLF to its advantage by getting more separatists to surrender themselves and create a sense of mistrust between BSNGs so that their focus should divert towards infightings than targeting innocent civilians and security forces personnel.
Fahad Nabeel is currently pursuing M.Phil in International Relations from National Defence University. He has graduated in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Virtual University of Pakistan. Fahad has considerably researched on regional geo-political issues and militancy trends. Currently, he is working as a Senior Research Associate at CSCR.