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One can be left rather perplexed trying to figure out the number of Baloch nationalist parties out there and their many factions and sub-factions. Even though one can say the same about Sindhi nationalist outfits as well, the difference is that unlike the Sindhi parties, the Baloch parties actually have it in them to win national and provincial elections.

The question is, if almost all Baloch parties and their factions have the capability as well as a history of winning NA and PA seats, and the fact that, more or less, they all stand for the same things, why don't they simply merge into becoming a single and more effective electoral unit?

One reason is that in spite of the fact that all Baloch parties and factions have roots in left-wing politics, are staunchly secular, and analyse the economic and politics issues facing Balochistan with almost similar lenses, they are divided on the basis of class and in their solutions to tackling these issues.

For example, some Baloch parties claim to be made up of middle-class Baloch leadership and are likely to criticise another Baloch outfit of being under the influence of a Baloch sardar or tribal lord.

Secondly, some Baloch parties believe in solving the many problems that the Baloch nationalists have faced from the state of Pakistan through political and democratic means, whereas other Baloch groups support an armed insurgency as the solution.

At the moment there are about 10 Baloch political parties operating in the troubled province.

The leading parties in this respect are Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), BNP-Awami, National Party (NP), Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) and Baloch Republican Party (BPR).

Apart from these there are various factions of the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) and insurgent groups such as Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF).

Out of these, the two BNP factions, NP, JWP and maybe BPR are expected to contest the May 11 general election.

The BNP factions emerged from the Balochistan National Party (BNP) formed in 1996. The BNP itself surfaced from Balochistan National Movement (BNM) that sprang from Balochistan National Alliance (BNA), a left-wing alliance of youth leaders belonging to BSO and radical Baloch politicians.

BNA was formed in 1987 and managed to win two NA seats from Balochistan in the 1988 elections. It evolved into becoming Balochistan National Movement that split into BNM-Mengal and BNM-Hayee. The Mengal faction then became Balochistan National Party (BNP) but that too split into BNP-M and BNP-A.

The National Party (NP) emerged in 2004 when the BNA-Hayee faction merged with the Pakistan National Democratic Party (PNDP which itself was an evolutionary offshoot of the Pakistan National Party (PNP), formed in the late 1980s as a centre-left Baloch party that shunned Baloch separatism.

The PNP failed to win any NA seat in the 1988 election. In 1990 it won one NA seat and none in 1993. In did not take part in the 1997 election and had become the Balochistan National Democratic Party (BNDP) for the 2002 elections but failed to win a seat. In the 2008 elections it merged with BNM-Hayee to become National Party but couldn’t win any NA seat.

Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) was formed in 1989. It won two NA seats in 1990, 1993, 1997 and one in 2002 but boycotted the 2008 election.

Recently, a faction split from JWP and formed the Baloch Republican Party.

Before it split into three factions, the Balochistan National Party (BNP) won three NA seats in 1997 but failed to win any seat in 2002.

After the split, only the BNP-A faction contested the 2008 election, winning just one NA seat.

None of these parties seem inclined to launch a joint electoral venture for the forthcoming elections. Yet, interestingly, almost each and every party mentioned here has roots in a united political singularity called the National Awami Party (NAP).

Formed in 1957, NAP was an outfit made up of mainly Punjabi and Mohajir communists merged with leading Sindhi, Baloch, Pakhtun and Bengali nationalist groups.

Many believe that had the promised direct general elections been allowed to take place in 1958, NAP was in a position to win the largest number of seats in both the wings of the country (East and West).

NAP was banned in 1959 when Ayub Khan imposed martial law. It revived itself as the country’s largest left-wing party in 1962, broke into two factions at the onset of another leftist party, the PPP in 1967.

The pro-China faction of NAP became NAP-Bhashani and the pro-Soviet faction became NAP-Wali. The Wali faction (named after Pakhtun nationalist, Wali Khan) was the larger faction, having in its fold leading Pakhtun and Baloch nationalists and Marxist Mohajir and Punjabi members.

During the 1970 elections, NAP-Wali won the largest number of NA and PA seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan. It managed to form coalition governments in these two provinces whereas Sindh, Punjab and the Federal government went to Bhutto’s PPP.

In 1973, the Bhutto regime dismissed the NAP set-up in Balochistan (on charges of instigating a Baloch separatist movement). The KP government resigned in protest.

On the plea of the federal government, the Supreme Court banned NAP in 1975. With most of NAP’s leadership in jail, the remaining Baloch, Sindhi and Pakhtun members of NAP formed the National Democratic Party (NDP) and became part of the anti-PPP alliance, the PNA, for the 1977 elections.

However, after Ziaul Haq's military coup (in July 1977), differences erupted in NDP and its Pashtun, Sindhi and Baloch leaders formed their own nationalist parties.

In 1986 these parties merged once again to form the Awami National Party (ANP). But by the time the 1988 elections were held, ANP had become a Pakhtun nationalist party when the party’s Baloch and Sindhi leadership broke away to again form their own localised outfits.

Out of these only some Baloch outfits (apart from the Pashtun version of ANP), has exhibited any ability to win seats during NA and PA elections.

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (40) Closed

T.A.M. Apr 07, 2013 04:16am
None of the mentioned parties sounds like a household name. However, what is astonishing as a revelation here is that the Balochis are staunchly secular, and analyse the economic and politics issues. Oh by George, have we been missing something for the past 65 years? It seems fitting then that we unanimously let Balochis rule and run Pakistan. What a far cry from the corrupt and intolerant non-secular bunch of hotch potch we have right now.
Nasrat Baloch Apr 07, 2013 06:12am
It is only self interests not Baloch interests; Just simple is that. fight for chair and sell Balochs nationalism.
Aarif Baloch Apr 07, 2013 06:28am
Balochis have never been Pakistanis and we ask that Pakistan end its occupation of our land.
observer Apr 07, 2013 06:41am
Good information in this article. There is no reason as to why small parties and factions not merge into a single party. This will make raising voice for Baluch rights and better division of resources easier.
Nony Apr 07, 2013 07:33am
All these nationalist and liberal parties have been replaced by PPP, which unfortunately proved to be a party of feudal ready to compromise on anything for the treasury benches. PPP has always acted in a furious way against nationalists and liberal parties of sindh, whenever, PPP is in govt they start witch-hunting of nationalists and nationalist parties. This so called federal party has always used sindh card and their feudal resources to get elected and we have always seen the urban liberals supporting them despite their ill performance and policies in small towns (interior).
Chachu Apr 07, 2013 07:49am
And Zardari is Baloch Too. What a Great, Non Corrupt person we have.
Addy Apr 07, 2013 07:49am
Maybe nitpicking, but the pre-2011 entity should more accurately be referred to as NWFP, not KP. Thanks
Shahryar Shirazi Apr 07, 2013 07:52am
Thats an interesting comment Aarif. Perhaps my knowledge of history is not at par with you. Can you please share some references on why you say this ? Thanks! Are you guys interested in joining the Iranian Baluchistan province ?
Yawaralibhatti Apr 07, 2013 08:08am
Well done, NFP. The way you went about understanding and then explaining the whirlpool of Baloch electoral politics is admirable.
Krish Chennai Apr 07, 2013 09:27am
The way forward, Aarif Saab, is unity, not division. Please read about the great leader, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, from whom we Indians too have to learn lessons today.
observer Apr 07, 2013 10:49am
Sorry but this is actually nitpicking.
ConsiderThis Apr 07, 2013 10:57am
just because someone is secular does not mean they are level headed, there have been reports that some criminal cases are in parts of Baluchistan are settled by making the accused walk, bare feet, over hot coals, if the coals burn the feet the accused is guilty otherwise the accused is innocent.
Karachi Wala Apr 07, 2013 11:34am
Mengal for PM.
Aarif Baloch Apr 07, 2013 11:41am
We wish to be an independent and separate country, enemies of neither Pakistan nor Iran.
Nony Apr 07, 2013 11:57am
On 14th Aug 1947 Baluchistan did not get independence as a province of Pakistan, rather it was a separate country being ruled by khan of kalaat (partially) under their own constitution called Rawaj. Later Jinnah negotiated with khan of kalaat to sign an agreement wherein he was allowed rule under some arrangement like FATA. However, this agreement is also considered controvercial. Later due to increasing interfere of Pakistan in the administration of Khannate, there started some resistance and Pakistan Army took control of Baluchistan on 15th Apr 1948 (some 8 months after creation of Pakistan). Since then there have been many separatist movements in Baluchistan calling for their independence in the same state as all the regions got independence from birtish rule. The first separatist movement was started by Abdul Karim Khan (younger brother of Ahmed Yar Khan, khaan of kalaat) during May 1948 (just a month after Pakistan Army took control of Baluchistan).
khanm Apr 07, 2013 12:54pm
that is in the making "the conspiracy theory?... where the Sindh with Bombay, Punjab with east Punjab and Pathoon khaw with Afghanistan..... It been circulated for a long time may be there is some truth in it....May be the country has already been sold by our corrupt leaders and the people are UN aware of !!!!!!! Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.
abbastoronto Apr 07, 2013 01:08pm
Balochistan is soil-poor, water-poor, rich in mineral resources. Its pre-agrarian economy is ?pastoral? for which the natural social setup is tribal (lord, warlord and his Tribe). In this economy little human effort is required as the wealth is grazed whether it is food for animals, or minerals from ground. Nationalism (love of the land) is for agrarian economy where you must hold and defend the land for long enough to work on it and wait for result that comes out some times later. The social set up is family based from bottom to the top (Feudal families, King, Queen, Princes). Sind?s economy is by and large agrarian. Therefore, nationalism is stronger here.
Aarif Baloch Apr 07, 2013 02:55pm
Not to worry. Balochistan and Sindhudesh will be both fin on their own once the Punjabis leave us alone and free. We will build commercial alliances with Iran and India and, if they want to, with the Punjabis. Hopefully the Pakistani Army will be reduced in size so that both the oppression and the revenue drain will be in the past tense. The Iran to India pipeline will bring fee revenue to both the countries, Balchistan and Sindhudesh.
Capt C M Khan Apr 07, 2013 04:26pm
My frend uou forget to mention it is part of Mulim Ummah which will rule the world one day.
Shakeel Apr 07, 2013 05:32pm
Seems like there is going to be plenty of job opportunities in the hi-tech field for grazing cattle and sheep in Balochistan. Let me check on the internet if any of the universities offer full time BSc courses in shepherding. Now let me see, yes there is one college in Shepherds Bush in London....that's close enough. In the meantime, mineral extraction is a specialized technology. Oh curse our luck, we will have to get infidels to do that for us since they have the technology and hence bang goes our dreams and regression backward to agrarian economy.
observer Apr 07, 2013 05:51pm
shut up
sharma Apr 07, 2013 06:46pm
Still living in fool's paradise.
U.S. Baloch Apr 07, 2013 07:09pm
Pakistanis don't need to worry about Specialized Technology. We will easily get that from U.S, India and/or Israel just like Pakistani are getting that from China. Just get the heck out of Balochistan and we will handle our affairs.
bawar baloch Apr 07, 2013 07:16pm
A good One !!
bawar baloch Apr 07, 2013 07:23pm
What did you mean by stronger sir. ? i can't understood that. " Action speaks louder than words." And that one is missing from Sind. (Unfortunately)
bawar baloch Apr 07, 2013 07:32pm
A distinction must necessarily be made between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and that of an oppressed nation, the nationalism of a big nation and of a small nation. Lenin
bawar baloch Apr 07, 2013 07:38pm
He is not a Baloch by any means even he isn't have any one "Baloch code of honor" . And he confirmed it by naming his son " Bilawal Bhutto Zardari ". And he is happy with this b/c it take everything from someone if he remain a " BALOCH"
Shakeel NY Apr 07, 2013 08:00pm
That to me sounds quite fit as taking a few steps closer (sorry for the pun) towards a new horizon of the Trading Economy era as predicted by a loose-screwed crank seen posting his comments on this and other pages.
Muhammad Ahmed Mufti Apr 07, 2013 09:01pm
The right sindhi is Sindhu-Watan. Desh is from Hindi a foreign word just like the movement for SindhuDesh. Balochistan indeed needs freedom and InshAllah will get freedom, not from Pakistan but from these Sardars who have been collecting the royalties and have kept Baloch people deprived of social justice and basic rights like health and education.
London Balcoh Apr 07, 2013 10:03pm
Nice Mr Nadeem Paracha. Another well written pro establishment article. Did you get excerpts from military establishment or junior security guard of the ISI complex. We have for last 65 years listen to old pakistani establishment ill founded mantra that baloch society is racial, cast and feudal based. Tell us something new Mr. Paracha. Perhaps you are afraid if you bring out genocide of baloch by pakistani coward army, your body might be dumped along side a road in quetta or somewhere near Karachi. A country who assassinate her own founding father ( Mr. Pork Eater M. Ali Jinnah) cannot guarantee safety of their ordinary people. let alone the lives of baloch, who has never accepted pakistan as their legitimate country.
Mansur Balouch Apr 07, 2013 10:55pm
@Aarif I can understand your feelings, my friend I disagree with you. Yes we have FAILED, all have failed us, the Politicans, Army but we forget the BEUARACRATS . The Beuaractrats were the only educated personnel in the country from 1947 onwards in Governements and could have guided the Politicans and Army Generals to work for the country but NO...they worked for them. Quiad used to call them SERVANTS of people but they got corrupted and started working for Politicans/Army instead. Dear Aarif you want to join with IRAN who are Shias and to the North East You have Talibaans Sunni who are already killing Shias there. My dear you CANNOT survive and will be a KILLING FEILD. Strong/WELL GOVERNMEND IS THE ONLY hope for us.
Saeed Apr 07, 2013 11:00pm
you have summed up impressively well the social and political phenomenon in Baluchistan, thanks indeed
Capt C M Khan Apr 07, 2013 11:13pm
@Aarif I can understand your feelings, you are from a MINORITY STATE. Minorities are being crushed in Pakistan but I still disagree with you my friend . Yes we have FAILED, all have failed us, the Politicians, Army but we forget the BUREAUCRATICS . The Beuaractrats were the only educated personnel in the country from 1947 onward in Governments and could have guided the Politicians and Army Generals to work for the country but NO...they worked for them. Quaid e Azam used to call them SERVANTS of people but they got corrupted and started working for Politicians/Army instead of people. Dear Aarif you want to join with IRAN who are Shias and to the North East You have Talibaans Sunni who are already killing Shias there and taking over Baluchistan . My dear you CANNOT survive and will be a KILLING FIELD. Strong/WELL GOVERNED Pakistan IS THE ONLY hope for us. JOIN AND KICK OUT TT/LEJ who are having numerous Saudi sponsored Madressas and are causing misery to other Pakistanis. Practice RESPECT to all humans there and one day Baluchistan will be as developed and peaceful as Dubai.
Liberal Fascist Apr 07, 2013 11:26pm
Don't say this. Nationalities are even recognized in the Quran but countries are not.
EQ8Rhomes Apr 08, 2013 12:29am
When Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwa under their nationalist movements become independent, what will be left of Pakistan?Then there is "Azad" Kashmir (POK). How azad is it? will its azadi offer a model for IOK so that IOK Kashmiris may join it? Cheating a little here: The British sponsored poll on Youth disappointment with democracy should read : Youth disappointed in Pakistani democracy! but democracy is not loveable on many levels anywhere---- because of human greed and hubris.
EQ8Rhomes Apr 08, 2013 01:19am
Seems Punjabis are not very popular in Pakistan either! what passes for Nationalism is really tribalism. once Pakistan overcomes its religious holier-than-thou predilection, it should be fine for the Balochi, Pashtun, and the Scindhia.
EQ8Rhomes Apr 08, 2013 01:25am
Islam is finished as a conquering force. The only fight it has left is internal, especially between the Sunni and Shia. Muslims need to relax, RELAX, relax! Their world is NOT going to fall apart if they stop their obsession with Ummah and micro-managing other's lives. Your own scholars say that, but not loudly enough, I guess! That "one day" fantasy is sad and speaks of looking in the rear view mirror to find the future.
EQ8Rhomes Apr 08, 2013 01:29am
Now, now, Sheik "Observer", when you lose and argument, esp. to a very funny Shakeel, you just have "Shut Up" in response? Pity! The high priests of authoritarianism do not tolerate divergence of opinion, esp. funny and pithy ones! That is when democracy, in its broadest sense, fails as in your Ummah!
S.A.Hyder.Ph.D. Apr 08, 2013 03:32am
"let alone the lives of baloch, who has never accepted----"Mr. London Balcoh, did you assassinate Mr. Jinnah? Since only you in the world knows that Mr. Jinnah was assassinated, then it must be you who did it. If you are in fact a Londoner then I pity Britishers' command over their own language. Have you ever studied English grammar? Apparently not !
Baloch Denmark Apr 08, 2013 07:06pm
Conflict of interest is the beauty of politics but i am not favoring the division and sub division of politics. The divide and rule game by state forces is not hidden, we saw what they did with Bugti family. The situation doesn't favors a single Baloch party atm but we assure you that Baloch will be united again under an umbrella like they did in 1970s. Currently we have two school of thoughts in Balochistan, one being nationalists who are contesting elections and other being the separatists division, therefore we could say that all the parties could be divided into these two categories but when time is right there would be only one. It's in the hands of ISI,army and rest of the forces that which category they want to presume, the way i am seeing it with rest of Balochistan is "separatists" since they are getting stronger day by day due to the brutal violations by state forces against common Baloch.