US Ban on Baloch Liberation Army

Mains Paper 2 : India & Its Neighborhood - Relations |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

Background

  • The U.S. on July 2 designated the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a terror organisation.
  • The BLA, the armed wing of the Baloch movement, has carried out several violent attacks in Pakistan.
  • It has about 6,000 cadres spread across the Balochistan Province and in the bordering areas of Afghanistan.

The Baloch Freedom Movement

  • The BLA is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan against the state atrocity.
  • In the seven decades of the Baloch movement, the BLA has survived the longest.
  • It is borne out of the tradition of armed militants who were earlier indirectly supported by the Marri, Bugti, Mengal and other clans or sardars.
  • The Baloch movement was influenced by the Soviet Union and radical Marxist ideology in the past and some of their leaders were trained by Moscow.
  • The BLA continues to draw from the same revolutionary spirit but has added that to the younger generation of fighters.

Why is ban imposed?

  • The BLA has often been accused of launching attacks on Pakistan’s military targets and on Chinese-built infrastructure.
  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also passing through Balochistan.
  • In 2017, a group of labourers were targeted by Baloch militants. The attack that led to at least 15 deaths was widely condemned as it targeted labourers.

The ideology

  • BLA rebels claim that Pakistan has been exploiting the resources of the Province without giving the due share to the locals and the indigenous Baloch tribes.
  • In recent years, the BLA has emerged as a movement with a network of supporters in both urban and rural areas of Balochistan, and has created a space for itself away from the traditional hold of the sardars of tribes.
  • BLA rebels have claimed that they are aiming for both freedom from Pakistan and internal reform of the Baloch society.
  • They are opposed to the traditional sardar or Kawailey system at home.

Reason behind popularity

  • As a result of its non-traditional approach, BLA has become more popular among young and educated Balochis.
  • The Free Balochistan Movement and the Baloch Republican Party are led by scions of the Marri and Bugti clans.
  • Both the Marris and the Bugtis have suffered in the hands of the Pakistan military but do not espouse a direct military confrontation with the Pakistani state.
  • Observers say that the BLA has jolted not just the grip of Pakistan over Balochistan but also undermined the hold of the traditional tribal chiefs over the Baloch society.

India’s ties with Baloch rebels

  • It is established that BLA commanders, in the past, had sought medical treatment in India’s hospitals, often under disguise or with fake identity.
  • In one such case, a militant commander in charge of Khuzdar city was based in Delhi for at least six months in 2017 when he underwent extensive treatment for kidney-related ailments.
  • Pakistan has blamed India for supporting the Baloch rebels as many secessionist leaders in exile are trying to seek political asylum in India.
  • It is known that the Baloch sardars like the late Akbar Bugti and Ghaus Bukhsh Bizenjo maintained warm personal ties with various Indian political figures.
  • However, visits by militants are often under assumed identities unlike those by prominent well known leaders.

Implications of the ban

  • Pakistan is expected to make it difficult for commanders and module chiefs of the BLA to travel in the region.
  • The fighters are also likely to find fund-raising more difficult.
  • Baloch rebels, however, have indicated that they are planning to intensify the struggle against Pakistan as they remain “the most popular” militant organisation in Balochistan despite Pakistan military’s crackdown.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism
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