The Baloch saga

Published September 10, 2015

BRAHMDAGH Bugti’s willingness to negotiate with the military establishment might be considered a good omen by some. But it will not yield the desired result unless all Baloch organisations — whether banned, political or students’ groups — are taken on board.

There are more than six major Baloch militant groups, including the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), United Baloch Army (UBA), Lashkar-i-Balochistan etc.

While they are all working independent of each other, their goal is shared: a separate Baloch state. They are led by different leaders, although the areas in which they operate overlap each other in many places.

In order to reach the roots of Baloch nationalism, we should realise that the mother of all insurgent or political forces in the province has been the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad (BSO). The group has been banned for the past many years.

A large number of BSO leaders have been killed and several have been reportedly picked up by intelligence agencies after it was banned. BSO chairman Zahid Baloch and Zakir Majeed, another senior office-bearer in the organisation, have also been picked up by the agencies; its serving secretary-general, Raza Jahangir, was killed in August 2013. The BSO is presently run by acting chairperson, Banuk Karima Baloch.

This ‘mother organisation’ not only opposes the military establishment, it is also against the tribal system in Balochistan. Therefore the nawabs and sardars have always been afraid of the BSO’s politics.


Earlier Baloch insurgencies were settled through negotiations.


Almost all the Baloch leadership comes from the folds of BSO. This long list includes Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch, Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Dr Allah Nazar, Habib Jalib Baloch, Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, Hasil Bizenjo, former senator Sana Baloch and many other parliamentarians. Therefore, to resolve the Balochistan issue, a better understand of BSO is required.

Like the political leadership, insurgent lea­ders of different groups were also BSO members during their academic career. Dr Allah Nazar was a former chairman of the organisation. Mir Ghulam Nabi Bangulzai, who heads the UBA, was also a former chairman. Several other Baloch militants were active members of the BSO, therefore the group influences insurgent organisations indirectly.

The bloody conflict between the military establishment and Baloch separatist organisations has taken a heavy toll. Hundreds of political workers have been killed and thousands of others are allegedly in the custody of intelligence agencies. Thousands of people have been forced to migrate from conflict zones in Balochistan to safer havens.

In view of the above-mentioned issues, the possibility that negotiations between Brahmdagh Bugti and the military establishment would lead to peace is remote, unless all other stakeholders come on board.

The ongoing insurgency is not between the Bugti tribe and the military. Instead, all Baloch militants are stakeholders. Dera Bugti is home to hardly 180,000 people. There are many Bugti subtribes including Raija, Masoori, Kalpar etc. Brahmdagh belongs to the Raija, which constitutes a very small number in Dera Bugti. Also, Brahmdagh’s Baloch Republican Party, has not been able to leave its mark on Balochistan’s politics.

In terms of his tribal influence, the angry young man has no strong foothold in his ancestral hometown of Dera Bugti, where the Kalpars have always challenged his position.

Besides the Baloch militants and the BSO, Sardar Akhtar Mengal has a prominent position in Baloch politics. His party, the Balochistan National Party (BNP) has a strong position and Akhtar Mengal has served as provincial chief minister, as has his father Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal.

Another political entity is the Baloch National Movement (BNM), a group popular with Baloch youth; its president, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, was killed in Turbat some years back. His confidants — Sher Mohammad Baloch and Munir Baloch — were also killed amid the kill-and-dump wave in Balochistan.

The BNM has effective street power in Balochistan, under the leadership of Khalil Baloch and Dr Manan Baloch. Both leaders went underground as they were wanted by the law-enforcement agencies in many cases.

Insurgencies by Baloch militants have occurred in 1948, 1958, and 1973. The ongoing one began in 2005. In the past the Baloch wanted greater autonomy and increased royalties from natural resources for provincial revenue. But in the current insurgency, the demands of the insurgents have toughened: many want separation from Pakistan.

We should not forget our past. In all of the above-mentioned insurgencies the conflict was settled through negotiated deals. Suppression of dissenting voices would not serve any good to the province or the country. The use of force is only fuelling the conflict, while the solution clearly lies in the political way.

The writer is a documentary film-maker and freelance journalist.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2015

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