There is no justification in calling the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) a terrorist organisation as Pakistan names it, or, a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in Pakistan as the US has designated and sanctioned it.
If the BLA is called a terrorist for self defence against the Pakistan Army’s atrocities on the people of Balochistan, then why the US did not call the Mukti Bahini a terrorist organisation in East Pakistan in 1971.
The world was convinced that the Mukti Bahini was engaged in a just war against the trigger-happy Pakistani soldiers. The BLA is trying not only to protect its people from the trigger-happy Pakistani soldiers and their agents but also the natural wealth of their province from Pakistani and Chinese looters.
Again, the US never called the Taliban terrorists despite their claims to having hundreds of suicide bombers and their frequent terrorist attacks on the Afghan elected government for 20 years. Mukti Bahini and the BLA have exactly the same meaning as liberation army.
The Mukti Bahini emerged in 1971 to counter Pakistani occupying Army’s mission of exterminating Bengalis of East Pakistan. They killed about three million of Bengalis and criminally assaulted lakhs of women. The world supported Mukti Bahini’s right to revenge.
The Baloch hate for Pakistan started in 1948 when the army bombed Balochistan to annex it. The BLA’s origin can be traced to 1973 when then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto dismissed the Balochistan provincial government, jailed its leaders and ordered a military crackdown.
Armed Balochis climbed up mountains to fight the Pakistani Army. Hundreds of them escaped to Afghanistan where Khair Bux Murri organised military training for them. Marri never accepted Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan.
The Baloch Army confrontation lasted from 1973 to 1977. In July 1977 Army Chief Gen. Zialul Haq overthrew Bhutto and called off the military crackdown on the Baloch in December 1977.
During the military crackdown (1973-77) , a Balochistan Independence Movement (BIM) was launched which reflected the aspirations of the common Balochi. This movement slowed down after Gen. Zia called off military action against the Baloch.
But anti-Pakistan sentiments kept simmering because persecution and discrimination against the people of Balochistan were not stopped.
As a result, BIM ultimately was replaced by the BLA in 2000.
The media treated the Mukti Bahini and the BLA very differently. The former received very sympathetic press all over the world. Against this, the latter did not get even the Pakistani media.
The army does not allow newspapers and TV channels to write or air the truth about the human rights violations, lost of natural wealth by Pakistanis and Chinese in Balochistan and reasons of BLA revolt. The media is only free to talk about its terrorist activities.
Human rights organisations and civil society activists are warned against highlighting the suffering of the Baloch. Pakistanis, therefore, do not know about the sufferings in Baluchistan. They also hardly know how Pakistanis and Chinese are looting Balochistan’s natural wealth. They may also not know how young poor Baloch boys risk their lives by working in their gold and coal mines in Balochistan without adequate facilities and wages.
To face the Pakistani Army and its agents who kill or torture Baloch youths at will, the BLA claims to have hundreds of fidayeen who include women also.
Earlier women had kept away from such activities but now continuing disappearances of their fathers, husbands and brothers have forced them to join the man folk to fight the Army. It is noticeable that women outnumber men at sit-in protests in front of different press clubs in Balochistan against disappearances of their dear ones. In Gwadar protests, women and children participate in very large numbers.
Last month, a 25-year old woman suicide bomber, journalist Sumaiya Qalandarani Baloch targeted a five-vehicle convoy of Pakistani secret agencies in Turbat when it was on way to ISI headquarters.
The army did not disclose how many people died.
Sumaiya joined the BLA apparently to take revenge for the disappearance of her grandfather, uncles and cousins on one day-February 18, 2011.
Commenting on Sumaiya’s sacrifice, a BLA spokesman said the revenge for her sacrifice was “complete independence of Baloch motherland”.
He said Pakistan and China should immediately leave Balochistan.
Last year in April, a BLA woman suicide bomber Shari Baloch targeted a vehicle in Karachi and killed its three Chinese occupants. (Agency)