New Delhi: Baloch nationalist leaders, representing the political and military arms of the revolution, believe that it was at the instance of China that the United States declared the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist group. The declaration of the BLA as a terror group has made Pakistan happy.
Senior Baloch leader, Dr Allah Nazar Baloch told The Sunday Guardian: “Just a few months ago, the US was talking about imposing sanctions on Pakistan for failing to act on terror, and now they have banned us, the same organisation which Pakistan calls its enemy number one. The Baloch National Movement is the one which is fighting terror groups like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jaish-ul-Adl and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, but it seems that US policymakers have bent backwards to appease the Chinese and the Pakistani governments.”
According to him, the continued attacks on Chinese-Pakistani assets—that are a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Balochistan—by Baloch nationalists, were the primary reason for this recent development.
“We are not a terrorist group; we don’t have any international aspirations. We just want the end of Pakistan’s occupation of our territory, which it has leased out to China. The US, which calls itself a democracy, should have at least sent a fact-finding team to Balochistan to ascertain how many of our men, women and children have simply vanished. The team would have seen how the common Baloch are struggling to have even safe drinking water, whereas China continues to exploit Balochistan’s natural resources. The Baloch armed groups have carried out more than five attacks in the last few years and these have targeted Chinese interests in the region,” he said.
Commenting on Pakistan’s argument that BLA was a terrorist organisation, Dr Baloch said that there was a difference between terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Baloch freedom fighters. “The former two organisations are jihadi in nature and are proxies of Pakistan. They are fighting in Kashmir, but they have nothing to do with the Kashmiris, while the Baloch Liberation Army is fighting for the independence of Balochistan and is fighting for the liberation of indigenous Baloch people who are under Pakistani occupation. Our movement has never harmed any other nations. The Pakistani army uses these jihadi elements to counter the Baloch insurgency in Balochistan,” he said.
These leaders are also feeling let down by India’s “inaction” in helping their cause. Till now, India has maintained a silence on the whole issue.
“In his Independence Day speech in August 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned Balochistan only once and yet it had a massive impact on the ground for our cause. We got hope that at least now, India being our neighbour and a responsible democratic regional power, would help us in our cause. We hoped that India would help us in setting up a capital-in-exile in India. However, it seems India has left us under pressure from China and the US,” Dr Allah Nazar Baloch added, while appealing to the Indian government to come out in support of the Baloch independence movement.
In an open letter sent to US President Donald Trump earlier in the week, Dr Baloch, who has been declared dead multiple times, only to emerge alive again, questioned the US move to brand them as terrorists.
“Because we are not ready to let Pakistan and China plunder our resources, you have branded us as terrorists. Even if your administration branded every single Baloch as a terrorist, we would keep fighting with our knives and Kalashnikovs. It’s a shame that the champions of a secular and liberal world have failed to extend a helping hand to the Baloch, the only people in the region successfully resisting religious extremism. What shocks me the most is the fact that we have never hurt a single US citizen, and yet we get banned by your administration. There is no problem with your desire for making friends with Pakistan, but do not compromise on your basic values and the essence of your country’s constitution”, he wrote.
Several Baloch groups have stated that Pakistan, for the last two years, is operating multiple concentration camps in the Balochistan region where the common Baloch, including women, children and the aged, are kept in detention and tortured.
Khalil Baloch, chairman of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), said that Government of India should recognise Balochistan as a sovereign country, adding that it was the right time to bring into existence a government-in-exile that can function from Delhi till the time Balochistan achieved freedom.
“By its recent unjustifiable decision, the US wants to appease Pakistan and China, but this action will not bring any positive results or contribute to promoting regional and international peace. Once again, the US will only receive lies and deceits by Pakistan for this undue concession. On 15 August 2016, Indian Premier Narendra Modi took a clear and cogent position on the issue of freedom of Balochistan, but later they didn’t show commitment, consistency and enthusiasm of that level to pursue or highlight the Balochistan issue at international fora. An independent Balochistan is imperative for regional peace, prosperity and connectivity,” he said.