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Balochistan Liberation Army

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Balochistan Liberation Army
Participant in Balochistan conflict
BRA flag.jpg
Flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army
Ideology Baloch nationalism

Khair Bakhsh Marri[1]

Hyrbyair Marri
Area of operations Balochistan, Pakistan
Strength 10,000[3]
Allies Baloch Liberation Front, Baloch Republican Army, Lashkar-e-Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation United Front, BSO (Azad),
Opponents  Pakistan[4]
Battles and wars Balochistan Conflict

The Balochistan Liberation Army (also Baloch Liberation Army, or BLA) is a militant organization and separatist group in Pakistan.The BLA were designated a terrorist group in 2006 by the United Kingdom[6] and by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.[7][8] Based in Balochistan, a mountainous region of western Pakistan. The Baloch Liberation Army became publicly known during the summer of 2000, after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.[9] Allegations have been made that Hyrbyair Marri[10] has been the groups leader since 2007, but in an interview in 2015 he denied having any contact with the group.[11] Hyrbyair's brother Balach led the group from 2000 until he was assassinated in 2007.[12]


Misha and Sasha were among the architects of the original BLA.[13] The BLA remained active during the Russo-Afghan war and then it disappeared from the surface, mostly because its main source of funding – the Soviet Union – disappeared from the scene.[14][not in citation given]

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"[15][16]

Wright-Neville wrote that besides Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).[17] However, in August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said “The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction as well."So Pakistan's concerns aren't groundless. They are simply, in our judgement, somewhat exaggerated."[18]

Foreign involvement

It has been claimed that Brahumdagh Bugti is one of the founders of the BLA.[19] Pakistan has accused the BLA of being an Indian proxy, and Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for providing arms, training and financial aid to the BLA in an attempt to destabilize Pakistan[20][21] However Hyrbyair Marri has denied the group has any links with India.[11]

In a Wikileaks cable it was revealed that ISI believed, “India and the UAE (reportedly due to opposition to construction of the Gwadar port) were funding and arming the Baloch. Pasha also claimed that the Russian government was directly involved in funding/training/supporting the insurgency".[22]

Terrorist designation

Pakistan designated the Balochistan Liberation Army as a terrorist organisation on 7 April 2006 after the group conducted a series of attacks targeting security personnel.[23] On 17 July 2006, the British government followed suit, listing the BLA as a "proscribed group" based on the Terrorism Act 2000,[24] although the U.K. has harboured Hyrbyair Marri, leader of the BLA, as a refugee, something Pakistani leader Raheel Sharif has strongly protested against.[25] The group's actions have been described as terrorism by the United States Department of State.[26]


On 14 December 2005, BLA militants launched six rockets at a paramilitary camp in Balochistan's Kohlu district that then-President Pervez Musharraf was visiting. Though Musharraf's life was never in any real danger, the Pakistani government labeled the attack an attempt on his life and initiated a sweeping army operation in Kohlu.[27]

On 14 June 2009, masked gunmen shot dead Anwar Baig, a school teacher in Kalat. Baig had opposed recitation of the Baloch anthem in schools. The killing was part of a larger campaign against educators who were seen to be sympathetic to the Pakistani state.[28]

On 30 July 2009, BLA militants kidnapped 19 Pakistani police in Sui, killed one and injured 16. Over the course of 3 weeks all but one of the kidnapped police were killed by their captors.[29]

On 14 August 2010, BLA militants killed 6 Punjabi laborers and wounded 3 others while they were on their way home from work. The workers were targeted because they were Punjabi and, according to the BLA, taking part in the economic colonization of Balochistan.[30]

On 21 November 2011, BLA insurgents attacked government security personnel who were guarding a private coal mine in the northern Musakhel district, killing 14 and wounding 10 more. The BLA claimed to have killed 40.[31] On 31 December 31 2011, BLA militants placed a car bomb outside the house of Mir Naseer Mengal, a former minister of state, killing 13 and wounding 30 more.[32]

On 21 December 2015, BLA militants bombed and then shot and killed 16 soldiers, wounding an additional 13 soldiers in two attacks in Marwar and Chamalang.[33]

Quaid-e-Azam Residency

The Quaid-e-Azam Residency, a historical residence in Balochistan where Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent the last days of his life, was attacked by rockets on 15 June 2013. The building was nearly demolished as a result of the attack. Militants belonging to the Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility. The militants also removed the flag of Pakistan from the monument site, replacing it with a BLA flag.[34] The reconstruction work was completed and the rehabilitated Ziarat Residency opened on August 14, 2014 by Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.[35]


  1. ^ Cyril Almeida (2010-07-25). "All Baloch shouldn't be tarred with same brush". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  2. ^ "Balochistan Liberation Army". Violent Extremism Knowledge Base. Institute for the Study of Violent Groups. Archived from the original on 2013-01-02. 
  3. ^ Krishna, Maloy (10 August 2009). "Balochistan: Cruces of History- Part II". Maloy Krishna Dhar. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Office, Home (15 July 2016). PROSCRIBED TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS (PDF). Home Office. p. 9. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "List of banned organisations in Pakistan". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Terrorist Organization Profile - START - National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism". Archived from the original on 2012-06-23. Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  9. ^ Butt, Qaiser (1947-08-14). "Heritage under attack: PkMAP says it views Ziarat Residency as a 'symbol of slavery' – The Express Tribune". Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  10. ^ Samad, Yunas (2015). State and Nation-Building in Pakistan: Beyond Islam and Security. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-1138903470. 
  11. ^ a b Marri, Hyrbyair (2015). "Will never seek help from India: Hyrbyair Marri". Dawn. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  12. ^ Karlos Zurutuza (June 24, 2015). "Understanding Pakistan's Baloch Insurgency". The Diplomat. 
  13. ^ "[Archive Material] Pakistan: Unveiling the Mystery of Balochistan Insurgency — Part Two". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Williams, Kristen P. (2001). Despite Nationalist Conflicts: Theory and Practice of Maintaining World Peace. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-96934-7. 
  15. ^ "The Friday Times:Caught! (But what?) by Shahid Saeed". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Baluch, Ahmad K. Inside Baluchistan, a Political Authorbiography by Mir Ahmad Khan Baluch. 
  17. ^ David Wright-Neville (11 May 2010). Dictionary of Terrorism (1st ed.). Polity. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-0745643021. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  18. ^ APP. "US acknowledges Pakistan's fears of Indian presence in Afghanistan". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  19. ^ Siddiqi, Farhan Hanif (2015). "4". The Political Economy of Conflict in South Asia. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137397430. 
  20. ^ MPs told Russia, India and UAE involved in Baloch insurgency – The Express Tribune
  21. ^|'RAW Is Training 600 Balochis In Afghanistan'
  22. ^ "MPs told Russia, India and UAE involved in Baloch insurgency". The Express Tribune. December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Names of 61 banned outfits in Pakistan, JuD under observation". Dispatch News Desk. December 18, 2015. 
  24. ^ Richard Ford (18 July 2006). "Militant Islamist groups banned under terror law". The Times. 
  25. ^ Army chief in London: UK urged to act against HuT, Baloch separatists
  26. ^ "Chapter 2 -- Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview". Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. April 30, 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-02-04. 
  27. ^ "The Baloch Insurgency and its Threat to Pakistan's Energy Sector". The Jamestown Foundation. March 21, 2006. 
  28. ^ "Testimony of Ali Dayan Hasan before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding Human Rights in Balochistan - Human Rights Watch". Human Rights Watch. 
  29. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 200907300006". 
  30. ^ "Incident Summary for GTDID: 201008140001". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "Pakistan troops killed in ambush in Balochistan". BBC. November 21, 2011. 
  32. ^ "BLA claims responsibility of the blast in Quetta: 13 killed". Dawn. December 31, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Balochistan: Baloch Liberation Army claimed to have killed 16 Pakistani soldiers". Balochwarna News. 
  34. ^ "BLA destroys Jinnah's Residency in Ziarat". The Express Tribune. June 16, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Rehabilitated Ziarat Residency to be inaugurated on August 14th".