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Q&A: ‘Baloch Groups to Unite Against Pakistan’
Karlos Zurutuza interviews ALLAH NAZAR, Balochistan Liberation Front commander.
Baloch fighters at a location in Pakistan. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS.
SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain, Oct 26 2012 (IPS) - Fighters in the Balochistan province of Pakistan will soon set up a common front to take on the Pakistani military in their fight for Baloch independence, a senior commander of the Balochistan Liberation Front tells IPS in an interview.
“We are in full coordination with all Baloch resistance movements and we are soon to form a united command,” Dr. Allah Nazar, a doctor turned guerrilla fighter tells IPS in the interview on the phone earlier this month.
Divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Baloch have their own language, and live across a land the size of France they call “Balochistan.” The rugged terrain under their feet boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, and untapped oil and uranium. But this is also the most underdeveloped region across these countries.
Baloch insurgents in Pakistan are fragmented into several groups, mainly the Baloch Liberation Army, the Baloch Republican Army, the Baloch Liberation Front and the Lashkar-e-Balochistan (Balochistan’s army). Several analysts say this fragmentation reflects the tribal element among the Baloch. But the groups are all secular, and share a common agenda in seeking independence for Balochistan.
This IPS reporter interviewed Dr Nazar on the phone after extended visits earlier to the three parts of the region (Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan) in 2009 and 2010. Excerpts from the interview:
How would you describe the group you lead?
In the Baloch Liberation Front there are people from all walks of life, from peasants to doctors. There are more than 6,000 fighters in our ranks and the number is growing by the day. The BLF is waging a guerrilla war inside East Balochistan which is under Pakistani control.
Do you coordinate with Jundullah (“Army of God”) – the Baloch insurgent movement in neighbouring Iran?
We know the people fighting in Jundullah are also Baloch but we have no relation with them. Ours is a pure nationalist war, miles away from Jundullah´s religious extremism.
Islamabad has always claimed that the Baloch resistance is been backed by India.
That´s just fake propaganda from Pakistani state media in order to show the world that the Baloch are proxies. India is not supporting us.
Pakistan controlled Balochistan has a provincial government. Why have you taken up an armed struggle and not parliamentary politics?
We had been declared an independent state from Pakistan in August 1947, even before Pakistan came into existence. Seven months later, Pakistan occupied our land by force. From the first day the Baloch have not accepted the occupation of Pakistan, so our struggle is a continuation of the struggle of our forefathers. Parliament makes laws brutally against Baloch national identity, our culture and language. And the Supreme Court is legitimising the brutality of the State.
Some Baloch leaders speak of self-determination and not independence.
Leaders such as Akhtar Mengal – former chief minister of the province and leader of the Mengal clan and head of the Balochistan National Party are calling for “national self-determination”, but that’s still a vague term. Self-determination has a broad meaning and it can imply that we remain inside the state. But we have our own history, our own language, our own national identity and so we want our freedom.
What do you think of the Freedom Charter, a road map for Balochistan independence supported by leaders like Hyrbyair Marri, the London-based tribal and political leader?
The Freedom Charter is a very good step as taken by Hyrbyair Marri. All Baloch fighting for freedom should suport the Freedom Charter.
Islamabad claims that projects such as Gwadar’s deep water harbour would boost the economy of Balochistan.
The Gwadar project has been planned in the interest of Punjabi and colonial powers and not for the welfare of Baloch people. It´s meant to bring demographic change in Balochistan; they want to bring in the Muhajirs –immigrants – and other people into Balochistan in order to unbalance demography. Gwadar is a death warrant for Baloch people.
The Baloch say the government in Islamabad is trying to Talibanise Balochistan in order to quell the Baloch nationalist movement.
That’s true. Balochs are basically secular, by their culture, by their tradition, by their historical background, so the Pakistani regime is trying to Talibanise the Baloch society. Just where I am right now, the ISI – the Pakistani secret service – has set up two religious militant groups against the Baloch national struggle: one is Ansar-al-Islam and the other is Tahafuz-e-Hadoodullah (Protectors of God’s Rule).
They have formed these groups in the name of Islam but their real aim is to crush the Baloch freedom movement. Pakistan is the cradle of the Taliban and the breeding ground of the Taliban. Pakistan is nourishing and funneling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists into Afghanistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Yemen… Pakistan is an irresponsible state that is putting the civilised world in danger. A free Baloch state would therefore be in the interest of the whole civilised world.
Washington is reconsidering a pullout from Afghanistan due for 2014. How will this affect the Af-Pak region?
If America and NATO pull out from Afghanistan, that will lead to turbulence and destabilisation. A weak Afghanistan will not only destabilise the region but it will be harmful for the whole civilised world.