Map of Pakistan, with the province of Balochistan in red.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Liaquat Ali Khan
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
| Karim Khan (POW)
|| BLA: 10,000
|Casualties and losses|
| Pakistani security forces
|~6,000 civilians killed in Pakistan (1973–1977)
The Balochistan conflict is an ongoing conflict between Baloch nationalists and the Government of Pakistan and Government of Iran over Balochistan, a region which includes the Balochistan province in southwestern Pakistan and the Sistan and Baluchestan Province of southeastern Iran.
Issues range from human rights abuses, greater autonomy, increased royalties from natural resources and provincial revenue, and in some cases full secession. Recently, militants have clashed with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its respective Baloch region, which borders Pakistan. Baloch insurgent groups operate in the Pakistani part of the region, the Iranian part and in southern Afghanistan. Since the 2010s, attacks against the Shia community by sectarian groups, though unrelated to the political struggle, have also continued to rise in Balochistan.
Shortly after Pakistan's creation in 1947, the Pakistan Army had to subdue insurgents based in Kalat who rejected the King of Kalat's decision to accede to Pakistan. A subsequent Baloch separatist movement gained momentum during the 1960s, and amid consistent political disorder and instability at the federal level, the government ordered a military operation into the region in 1973, assisted by Iran, and inflicted heavy casualties on the separatists. The insurgency, however, again gained strength in the 1990s and 2000s.
Balochistan is one of Pakistan’s poorest regions although it has vast natural resources. Baloch separatists allege that the central government of Pakistan is systematically suppressing development in Balochistan to keep the Balochs weak.
The Balochistan Liberation Army has been accused by Pakistani state agencies of engaging in several domestic violent incidents when the attacks were however claimed by another group called Lashkar-e-Balochistan. It has been designated as a terrorist group by the Government of Pakistan. Internationally, it has been officially designated as a terrorist group by the Home Office of the government of the United Kingdom. BLA has been accused of numerous terrorist attacks.
- 1 Area of dispute
- 2 Class division
- 3 History
- 4 Foreign support
- 5 Human rights
- 6 Development issues
- 7 Education issue
- 8 Supreme Court investigation
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Area of dispute
Historical Balochistan comprised the Balochistan region. Its western region was the southern part of Sistan o Baluchestan province, Iran. In the east was Pakistani Balochistan. In the northwest the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The Gulf of Oman formed its southern border.
Although historical Balochistan is the largest (44% of the country's area) region of Pakistan, it is the least populated (only 5% of the population) and the least developed area.
Stuart Notholt in his Atlas of Ethnic Conflict describes it as a "nationalist/self-determination conflict".
A report published in Dawn, Pakistan's leading English-language news publication, highlighted the economic dimensions to the conflict. Noting that while Balochistan was considered a "neglected province where a majority of population lacks amenities", its ruling elite enjoyed glamorous lifestyles that provided a different perspective. The report observed that members of Balochistan's elite society, including provincial government ministers and officials, owned "pieces of land greater in size than some small towns of the country", and had luxury vehicles, properties, investments and businesses valued at millions of rupees.
First conflict 1948
The Khan of Kalat, Ahmed Yaar Khan chose independence as this was one of the options given to all of the 535 princely states by Clement Attlee. However, "Nehru persuaded Mountbatten to force the leaders of the princely states to decide whether to join India or Pakistan", and hence independence "was not an option". Nehru later went on to annex other princely states like Hyderabad with military force
Second conflict 1958–59
Nawab Nowroz Khan took up arms in resistance to the One Unit policy, which decreased government representation for tribal leaders. He and his followers started a guerrilla war against Pakistan. Nowroz Khan and his followers were charged with treason and arrested and confined in Hyderabad jail. Five of his family members (sons and nephews) were subsequently hanged under charges of aiding murder of Pakistani troops and treason. Nawab Nowroz Khan later died in captivity.
Third conflict 1963–69
After the second conflict, the federal government sent the Army to build new military bases in the key conflict areas of Balochistan to resist further chaos. Sher Muhammad Bijrani Marri led like-minded militants into guerrilla warfare by creating their own insurgent bases spread out over 45,000 miles (72,000 km) of land, from the Mengal tribal area in the south to the Marri and Bugti tribal areas in the north. Their goal was to force Pakistan to share revenue generated from the Sui gas fields with the tribal leaders. The insurgents bombed railway tracks and ambushed convoys. The Army retaliated by destroying vast areas of the Marri tribe's land. This insurgency ended in 1969 and the Baloch separatists agreed to a ceasefire. Yahya Khan abolished the "One Unit" policy. This eventually led to the recognition of Balochistan as the fourth province of West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan) in 1970, containing all the Balochistani princely states, the High Commissioners Province and Gwadar, an 800 km2 coastal area purchased by the Pakistani government from Oman.
Fourth conflict 1973–77
Citing treason, President Bhutto dismissed the provincial governments of Balochistan and NWFP and imposed martial law in those provinces. Dismissal of the provincial governments led to armed insurgency. Khair Bakhsh Marri formed the Balochistan People’s Liberation Front (BPLF), which led large numbers of Marri and Mengal tribesmen into guerrilla warfare against the central government. According to some authors, the Pakistani military lost 300 to 400 soldiers during the conflict with the Balochi separatists, while between 7,300 and 9,000 Balochi militants and civilians were killed.
Fifth conflict 2004–to date
In 2005, the Baluch political leaders Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri presented a 15-point agenda to the Pakistan government. Their stated demands included greater control of the province's resources and a moratorium on the construction of military bases. On 15 December 2005 inspector general of the Frontier Corps, Major General Shujaat Zamir Dar and his deputy Brigadier Salim Nawaz (the current IGFC) were wounded after shots were fired at their helicopter in the Balochistan province. The provincial interior secretary later said that "both of them were wounded in the leg but both are in stable condition." The two men had been visiting Kohlu, about 220 km (140 mi) southeast of Quetta, when their aircraft came under fire. The helicopter landed safely.
In August 2006, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, 79 years old, was killed in fighting with the Pakistan Army in which at least 60 Pakistani soldiers and 7 officers were killed. He was charged by Pakistan's government of a series of bomb blasts, killings of the people he professed to protect and the rocket attack on President Pervez Musharraf.
In April 2009, Baloch National Movement president Ghulam Mohammed Baloch and two other nationalist leaders (Lala Munir and Sher Muhammad) were seized from a small legal office and were allegedly "handcuffed, blindfolded and hustled into a waiting pickup truck which is in still [sic] use of intelligence forces in front of their lawyer and neighboring shopkeepers." The gunmen were allegedly speaking in Persian (a national language of neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran). Five days later, on 8 April, their bodies, "riddled with bullets" were found in a commercial area. The BLA claimed Pakistani forces were behind the killings, though international experts have deemed it odd that the Pakistani forces would be careless enough to allow the bodies to be found so easily and "light Balochistan on fire" (Herald) if they were truly responsible. The discovery of the bodies sparked "rioting and weeks of strikes, demonstrations and civil resistance" in cities and towns around Balochistan. (See Turbat killings).
On 12 August 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood declared himself ruler of Balochistan and formally announced a Council for Independent Balochistan. The council's claimed domain includes "Baloch of Iran", as well as Pakistani Balochistan, but does not include Afghan Baloch regions, and the council contains "all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti." He claimed that "the UK had a moral responsibility to raise the issue of Balochistan’s illegal occupation at international level."
The Economist writes:
"[The Baloch separatists] are supported—with money, influence or sympathy—by some members of the powerful Bugti tribe and by parts of the Baloch middle class. This makes today’s insurgency stronger than previous ones, but the separatists will nevertheless struggle to prevail over Pakistan’s huge army."—The Economist, April2012
Attacks by Jundallah in Iran
- 2007 Zahedan bombings: 18 people were killed.
- 2009 Zahedan bombing: 20 people were killed.
- 2009 Pishin bombing: 43 people were killed.
- July 2010 Zahedan bombings: 27 people were killed.
- 2010 Chabahar suicide bombing: 38 people were killed.
Among the deaths in the Pishin bombings were two Iranian Revolutionary Guards generals: Noor Ali Shooshtari, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards' ground forces and Rajab Ali Mhammadzadeh, the Revolutionary Guards' Sistan and Baluchistan provincial commander.
From 2006 to 2010, 254-346 people were killed in Jundullah-related violence in Iran.
Pakistan has repeatedly accused India, and occasionally the U.S., of supporting the Baluch rebels to destabilise the country. Both countries have denied the charge. Iran has accused America of supporting Jundallah "for years." America has denied the charge.
According to Robert Wirsing, Pakistan was supporting Islamist extremists, especially Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Hezb-e Islami, and their insurgency against the Afghan government of Mohammed Daoud Khan since the early 1970s. But according to R. T. Naylor, Pakistan supported these groups against Daoud Khan in revenge, who was arming Pakistani pashtuns to raise instability in Pakistan. Daoud also established militant training camps in Afghanistan to train Baloch rebels, that were the first modern training camps in the country.
On the other side, the former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, wrote that during the 1970s training camps were set up in Afghanistan by the then President Mohammed Daoud Khan, to support the Baloch separatists in Pakistan. According to a student paper, "Pakistan’s fear that a communist Afghanistan would embolden the Baloch and Pashtun Marxist separatists in the western Pakistani province of Balochistan was confirmed when Daoud began supporting Marxist Baloch and Pashtun groups in eastern Afghanistan".
|“||As president, Daoud started antagonising Pakistan [...] He set up a training camp outside Kandahar for Baluch rebels to forment trouble across the border in Pakistan...||”|
—Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), p.103
Daoud Khan was removed from power in Afghanistan in 1978 by a communist coup.
In 2012, Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik stated that Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti was operating militant training camps in Afghanistan which were dismantled only after Islamabad conveyed its knowledge of these camps to Kabul. Malik said that the camps in Afghanistan were responsible for training up to 5,000 insurgents who were causing unrest in Balochistan and that Bugti had hired three large houses in Kabul. The Pakistani minister claimed that the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, had accepted that militants based in Afghanistan were fuelling terrorism in Balochistan. Karzai, according to the Pakistani minister, had assured Pakistan that it would close the infiltration of these militants. "President Karzai has promised to stop infiltration of militants from Afghanistan into Pakistan", Malik said. The Pakistani Tribune wrote that, "in response to Islamabad’s request, Kabul has formally given its assurance to stop the infiltration of militants from Kandahar to Balochistan’s border district Chaman." President Karzai himself has always denied that Balochs living in Afghanistan's Baloch areas were supporting an armed struggle in Balochistan. According to wikileaks cables, Karzai said in a 2007 conversation with U.S. officials, "that [Baloch leader] Bugti had once tried to call Karzai but he had refused for the sake of good relations with Pakistan. Now he cannot forgive himself for refusing. Karzai assessed that Pakistan had troubles with many other tribes too, as a result of its trying to divide and conquer and turn the tribes against each other. Pakistan needed to address the bigger picture, Karzai urged." Baloch leaders such as Bugti left Afghanistan for Switzerland. Against the backdrop of heavy criticism against Pakistan's Frontier Corps "over its alleged role in forced disappearances and human rights violations in Balochistan", the chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps troops in Balochistan, Major General Obaidullah Khan Khattak, said in June 2012 that "over 30 militant camps" had been established in Afghanistan which were being used "to launch terrorist and anti-state activities in Balochistan".
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has been accused of working with the Afghan Taliban in Balochistan, with the Taliban's leadership council, Quetta Shura, named after the provincial capital Quetta. Some observers hope that the anti-Taliban Baloch separatists could act against the spread of Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces which are operating in Pakistani Balochistan and crossing into Afghanistan.
Brahamdagh Bugti in an interview stated he would accept aid from India, Afghanistan and Iran which would help in the defence of Baluchistan. Pakistan has repeatedly accused India, and occasionally the U.S., of supporting the Baluch rebels to destabilise the country claiming undeniable evidence which it failed to present. Wright-Neville writes that besides Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). In August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said Pakistan's fears over India's role in afghanistan are “not groundless. Defence Secretary and former Senator Chuck Hagel said "India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border". However, former Af-Pak envoy, Richard Holbrooke, said in 2011 that while Pakistan had repeatedly shared its allegations with Washington it had failed to provide any evidence to the United States that India was involved in separatist movements in Balochistan. He did not consider Pakistan's accusations against India credible. Holbrooke also strongly rejected the allegation India was using its consulates in Afghanistan as launching pads, saying he had "no reason to believe Islamabad's charges", and "Pakistan would do well to examine its own internal problems".
India has categorically denied the allegations and pointed to Pakistan failing to provide any evidence.
On 10 February 1973, Pakistani police and paramilitary raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad without prior permission of the Iraqi government, during which a large cache of small arms, ammunition, grenades and other supplies were found in crates marked 'Foreign Ministry, Baghdad'. The ammunition and weaponry was believed to be destined for Baloch rebels. Pakistan responded by expelling and declaring persona non grata the Iraqi Ambassador Hikmat Sulaiman and other consular staff. In a letter to President Nixon on February 14, Bhutto blamed India and Afghanistan, besides Iraq and the Soviet Union, for involvement in a “conspiracy … [with] subversive and irredentist elements which seek to disrupt Pakistan’s integrity”
Alleged Israeli and American state involvement
CIA memos reveal Israel posing its agents as American spies to recruit agents from Jundallah to carry out false flag operations against Iran.
Syed F. Hasnat alleges that Russia during the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989) helped establish the Balochistan Liberation Army,[not in citation given] however, David Wright-Neville writes that the Balochistan Liberation Army was only established in 2000.
In February 2010 a Jundullah leader (Abdulmalek Rigi) captured by Iran alleged on Iranian TV "that the US had promised to provide" Jundullah "with military equipment and a base in Afghanistan, near the Iranian border" for its fight against Iran. Rigi did not mention assistance in fighting Pakistan (which Iran accuses of backing the Jundullah, according to the BBC). The US has denied links with Jundullah, and according to the BBC, "it is not possible" to determine whether Abdolmalek Rigi "made the statement freely or under duress."
In late 2011, the Balochistan conflict became the issue of a dialogue on a new U.S. South Asia strategy brought up by some U.S. congressmen which said they were frustrated over Pakistan's alleged continued support to the Afghan Taliban which they said led to the continuation of the War in Afghanistan (2001-present). Though this alternative to the "Obama Administration's Af-Pak policy" is said to have growing activity, "its advocates clearly do not yet have broad support".
In the 1980s the CIA, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, Pakistani Sunni extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and the Mujahedin e-Kalq supported a Baluchi tribal uprising against Iran. A February 2011 article by Selig S. Harrison of the Center for International Policy has called for supporting "anti-Islamist forces" along the southern Arabian Sea coast including "Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan" as a means of weakening the “rising tide of anti-American passion” in Pakistan and any alliance between Islamabad and Beijing — Pakistan having granted China access to a naval base at Gwadar.
In the period from 2003 to 2012 it is estimated that 8000 people were kidnapped by Pakistani security forces in the province. In 2008 alone an estimated 1102 Baloch people disappeared. There have also been reports of torture. An increasing number of bodies "with burn marks, broken limbs, nails pulled out, and sometimes with holes drilled in their heads" are being found on roadsides because of a "kill and dump" campaign conducted by Pakistani security forces especially by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and theFrontier Corps (FC) — which until 9/11 fought alongside the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. In July 2011, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report on illegal disappearances in Balochistan and identified ISI and Frontier Corps as the perpetrators. The Pakistan Rangers are also alleged to have committed a vast part of the human rights violations in the region. No one has been held responsible for the crimes.
According to Indian claims the Government of Pakistan has repeatedly stated its intention to bring industrialisation to the province, and continues to claim that progress has been made and introduced a Economic Package called "Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan". This is vehemently challenged by Baloch nationalist groups, who argue the benefits of these policies have not accrued to the native Baloch residents of the province. Baloch nationalist groups continue to highlight the extraction of natural resources, especially natural gas, from the province, without discernible economic benefit to the Baloch people. Nonetheless, the government of Pakistan continues to insist that industrial zones are planned along the new Gawadar-Karachi highway. According to the government, this development is envisaged to bring accelerated progress in the future for the Baloch. On the third of May 2004 Three Chinese engineers working on a hydropower project that would enable irrigation for poor Baloch farmers as part of Pakistani government's initiatives to develop Baloch agricultural capacity were killed while another 11 injured in a car bomb attack by BLA. China called back her engineers working on the project in Balochistan. The progress in the hydro-power sector has been slow since then. However, the people of the region have been largely forced to maintain a nomadic lifestyle due to extreme poverty, illiteracy and inability to respond to changing modern environment.[not in citation given] The indigenous people are continuously threatened by war and other means of oppression which has resulted in loss of thousands of innocent lives for many years. Presently, according to Amnesty International, Baluch activists, politicians and student leaders are among those that are being targeted in forced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests and cases of torture and other ill-treatment.
The resources of the local inhabitants such as natural gas, minerals, oceans and others have been used to produce energy for Pakistan and generated. Balochistan gets Rs32.71 per unit on account of gas revenues which includes a royalty of Rs13.90, excise duty of Rs5.09 and gas development surcharge of Rs13.72. Also many private individuals with gas storages on their land also receive payments. Many Balochs argue that such royalties are too low. In response in 2011 Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced a further Rs. 120 billion (US$2.5 billion) under Balochistan gas development surcharge and royalty part of the "Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan" package The royalties often do not trickle down to the common people in Balochistan due to corruption and wealth-hoarding of Baloch tribal chiefs. This has hindered the growth of infrastructure.
Multiculturalism and immigration
Skill is imported from other regions, due to the historical shortage of skilled workers in the sparsely populated and inaccessible terrain. The arrival of skilled workers means new industries can develop and boost the local economy; nationalists argue that this creates resentment amongst the local inhabitants. Like Karachi, which after migration from Balouchistan, Central Asia, Iran, East Asia and especially a large number of people arriving from other areas of Pakistan in search of daily living settled there, it has been a national financial hub in Pakistan. thus the local inhabitants (Sindhis) became a minority in the largest city of their province. Nationalists argue against multiculturalism and non-Baloch immigration. Karachi city has been playing a key role as a financial hub for Pakistan and its economy has exploded to become on the major cities in Asia as a seaport. However, the city continues be a home for ethnic and sectarian violence. Balouch nationalist argue that migration leads to such events, and they are opposed to similar situation in Baluchistan. Mir Suleiman Dawood claims that the people in Balochistan remain deeply resentful of Pakistan's policies in the region and he, apart from other, rather militant, Baloch nationalist organisations have openly called for India's assistance in Balochistan's separation from Pakistan. On 12 August 2009, Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood declared himself ruler of Balochistan and formally made announcement of a Council for Independent Balochistan. The Council's claimed domain includes "Baloch of Iran", apart from Pakistani Balochistan, but does not include Afghan Baloch regions, and the Council contains "all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti.".
Economic effects and shortage of skilled workers and goods
The chief minister of the province has said
"A large number of professors, teachers, engineers, barbers and masons are leaving the province for fear of attacks, This inhuman act will push the Baloch nation at least one century back. The Baloch nation will never forgive whoever is involved in target killings... He said the government has approved three university campuses, three medical colleges and hospitals for Turbat, Mastung, Naseerabad and Loralai districts but there was shortage of teachers in the area".
Rice traders from Punjab have also been killed in target killing, this has resulting in higher prices of foods items in Balochistan. Almost 40 people of non-Balochi ethnic groups were killed in 2009.
MPA personal development budget
Balochistan’s annual development programme for 2010–11 was Rs27bn as compared to Rs13bn in 2007–08. This allowed each Member of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan to have a personal development budget for his or her consistency of Rs 180 million which will be increased to Rs 250 million in 2011–2012. However, critics argue development funding is not a substitute for deep political issues, and MPA have no incentive to find a political solution with the insurgents as they believe as long as the insurgency continues they will get more funds. There have also been allegations that MPAs are exploiting the PSDP programme to get kickbacks and engage in corruption.
Gadani Energy Corridor
Four coal-fired power plants will be built Gadani, creating a power corridor in Balochistan based on Houston Energy Corridor. This was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during to the region, the project will be called Gadani Power Park and it is expected to generate 5200 MW. Some nationalist groups objected to the project, saying they had not been consulted and instead favoured expanding access to electricity in the province rather than increasing capacity. However, Nawaz Sharif's PMLN party is the largest party in the Provincial Assembly.
The Federal government announced it would transfer Rs4 billion subsidy to Provincial Government to be passed onto farmers in Balochistan to promote for tube-wells. The Provincial Government announced it would spend further Rs 3 billion to support the Federal Programme. However, high levels of corruption amongst civil servants and senior ministers may mean the common man only gets partial benefit.
Education is a major factor in the Balouchistan conflict, which nationalist feeling as sense of being neglected. The government of Pakistan recognises that importing skilled labour from other regions causing tensions in the region, so it has sought to encourage scholarships for Balochistan students so they can go home and lead development programmes. The quota for Baloch students in Punjab university was doubled in 2010 under the Cheema Long Scheme on the order of CM Shabaz Sharif. The provincial governments of Sindh, Punjab and KP said they would take steps to encourage Balochistan students to enroll and benefits from 100% scholarships. However, nationalists argue that not enough education development is taking place, and the government has neglected its duty.
Army Education City at Sui
The Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in January 2011 announced the establishment of Education City in Sui. The military said it had built colleges in Balouchistan to promote education levels such as Balochistan Institute of Technical Education (BITE) and the Gwadar Institute of Technical Education (GITE), approximately 1,673 individuals had graduated from the technical colleges. Historically, the military administrated institutions are less corrupted than civilian managed ones. Presently, around 22,786 Baloch students are studying in military-run educational institutions.
Supreme Court investigation
There are more than 5,000 cases of ‘forced disappearances’ in Balochistan. Many are innocent and stuck in Pakistan's slow court system whilst other are in prison awaiting charges on a range of things such as gun smuggling and robbery. The chief justice of an apex court of Pakistan asked about the situation and said it was going out of control in Balochistan. The Supreme Court is currently investigating the "missing persons" and issued an arrest warrant for the former Military Dictator Pervez Musharaff. Furthermore, the Chief Justice of the court said the military must act under the government's direction and follow well-defined parameters set by the Constitution.
Missing people found
In June 2011, the prime minister was informed that 41 missing people had returned to their homes, false cases against 38 had been withdrawn and several others had been traced. The PM urged police to trace the missing people and help them to return to their homes.
Supreme Court orders
The Supreme Court apex court headed by Justice Iqbal decided ordered the government to the grant of subsistence allowance to the affected families. Justice Iqbal advised families not to lose hope. He said the issue of missing persons had become a chronic problem and, therefore, the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, constituted on the orders of the apex court, should be made permanent.
- Baluchistan (Chief Commissioner's Province)
- Las Bela
- Khanate of Kalat
- Baluchistan States Union
- Human rights violations in Balochistan
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- Unrest simmers in Pakistan province
- Turbat killings
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- The real Balochistan by Sana Baloch
- Balochistan in focus by Rahimullah Yusufzai