US designates Balochistan Liberation Army as global terrorist group

Published July 2, 2019
The US makes it a crime for anyone in the country to assist the BLA militants. — AFP/File
The US makes it a crime for anyone in the country to assist the BLA militants. — AFP/File

The United States on Tuesday designated militants fighting Pakistani rule in Balochistan as terrorists after it carried out deadly attacks targeting Chinese interests.

The US State Department said it was classifying the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a global terrorist group, making it a crime for anyone in the US to assist the militants and freezing any US assets they may have.

Take a look: 'Attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi planned in Afghanistan with support of Indian agency'

The banned BLA “is an armed group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in Baloch areas of Pakistan,” the State Department said in its designation.

The security forces have been fighting terrorists in Balochistan since 2004, with the militants recently finding a new focus in rallying against China's investment that is part of its major Belt and Road initiative.

The BLA has targeted Chinese nationals in Pakistan multiple times, including a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi that killed four people in November 2018.

In May, five people including a soldier were killed after gunmen stormed the only five-star hotel in Gwadar, the port city which Islamabad is hoping to develop into a major commercial hub.

Claiming responsibility for the hotel attack, the BLA warned China to stop its “exploitative projects in Balochistan” and threatened further attacks.

The US designation of the group comes despite vocal concerns by Washington over the Belt and Road initiative, with Washington accusing China of imposing debt traps on developing nations.

Following the US announcement, the Foreign Office (FO) issued a statement, taking note of the designation by the US administration.

"It is hoped that this designation will ensure that BLA’s space to operate is minimised," the statement read.

The FO pointed out that the BLA has been a proscribed entity in Pakistan since 2006.

"It is important that the perpetrators, organisers, financers and external sponsors including those glorifying these acts of terror against Pakistan are held accountable and brought to justice."

Opinion

PML-N bad cop outfoxed
Updated 13 Jun 2021

PML-N bad cop outfoxed

The feel-good factor can cancel out some of the very negative perceptions about the PTI among low-income voters.
Sink or swim
13 Jun 2021

Sink or swim

What have schools learnt during Covid?
Decoding Digitisation
Updated 12 Jun 2021

Decoding Digitisation

The scope of information technology or digitisation continues to be discussed in a rather limited manner in mainstream discourse.

Editorial

Covid strategy
Updated 13 Jun 2021

Covid strategy

It is critical for govt to demonstrate to the public how badly health, business and education have suffered during the pandemic.
13 Jun 2021

Women in Balochistan

THE Balochistan government seems to be taking steps to improve women’s integration into society and the workforce...
13 Jun 2021

Deprived of cricket

THE federal cabinet has disallowed PTV to enter into an agreement with an Indian company for broadcast rights to...
12 Jun 2021

Feel-good budget

WE have been here before. Every time a government gets some fiscal space it immediately shifts gears to growth,...
Rep Omar’s tweet
Updated 12 Jun 2021

Rep Omar’s tweet

Over the last several decades, America has been instrumental in destabilising a number of Muslim states.
12 Jun 2021

Poor health indicators

IF the coronavirus has taught the world anything, it is that the old maxim ‘health is wealth’ is true. Though...