Baluch Liberation Front

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Balochistan Liberation Front
Leader(s)Sher Mohammad Marri (deceased)
Allah Nazar Baloch (2009-present)
Active regionsBalochistan
IdeologyMarxism–Leninism[1]
Baluch nationalism[1]
StatusActive. Designated as terrorist organisation by Pakistan

The Balochistan Liberation Front (Urdu: بلوچستان لبریشن فرنٹ‎; BLF) is a militant group operating in the Balochistan region of southwestern Asia. The group was founded by Jumma Khan Marri in 1964 in Damascus, and played an important role in the 1968-1973 insurgency in Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran and 1973-1977 insurgency in Balochistan province of Pakistan.[2] However, the group was defeated in both the insurgency by Pakistan and Iran and the status of the group became unknown until 2004. The group re-emerged in 2004 after Allah Nazar Baloch took command of the group in 2003.[2][1] Since then the group has took responsibility for attacks on civilians, journalists, government officials and military personnel.[3][4][5]

In February 2018, the founder of Baluch Liberation Front (BLF), Dr. Jumma Khan Marri, announced his and his followers separation from the separatist groups. Jumma Khan Marri said that he and his followers have pledged allegiance to Pakistan. He stated that "he sacrificed everything for a movement which turned out to be fundamentally faulty and empty from within". He stated that BLF and Baloch freedom struggle was hijacked by India. Dr. Marri insists that India is behind the unrest in Balochistan. He disclosed that if India stops the money supplies, the insurgency will end the next day.[6]

History[edit]

The group was founded by Jumma Khan Marri in 1964 in Damascus, Syria. Four years after its formation, the group took part in Iranian Baloch revolt against the government of Iran. During this time Iraqi government publicly supported and provided Baluch Liberation Front (BLF) with weapons and operational support.[2] However, after five years of fighting, BLF and other Baloch militant groups were decimated by Iran. The militant groups negotiated an end to fighting with government of Iran and Iraq stopped openly supporting BLF with arms support. However, government of Iraq still maintained relation with group's leadership.[2]

Following the end of conflict with Iran, BLF and other Baloch militant groups started inciting insurgency against the government of Pakistan from 1973 to 1977. Initially Iraqi government covertly provided BLF and other militant groups with arms and ammunition.[2] Indian journalist, Avinash Paliwal, states that during the 1970s, Junior level Indian intelligence officials were actively involved in operations in Balochistan. Those officers state that "we gave Baloch everything, from money to guns, during the 1970s, everything".[7] On 10 February 1973, Pakistani government raided Iraqi embassy in Islamabad and uncovered crates of small arms and ammunition that were allegedly being supplied to BLF and other militant groups.[2] In response, Pakistani government launched military operation against BLF which pushed BLF out of Balochistan into Afghanistan by the end of 1974.[2] Republic of Afghanistan was sanctuary for all anti-Pakistani militant groups and from 1975-1980, it was estimated that Republic of Afghanistan provided BLF members based in Afghanistan with $875,000 annually.[8] While in exile in Afghanistan, Soviet Union also allegedly helped BLF to regroup, allowing it rejoin 1973 to 1977 insurgency. The insurgency came to an end in November 1977 with government of Pakistan emerging victorious.[2] From 1977 to 2004, BLF status was unknown. However, according to reports, BLF did not disband. The group re-emerged in 2004 after Allah Nazar Baloch took command of the group in 2003.[2]

In 2015, The Hindu newspaper reported that it was contacted by Baluch Liberation Front (BLF). BLF confirmed its growing connections with India[9] In February 2018, Dr. Jumma Khan Marri, the founder of Baluch Liberation Front (BLF), stated that he and his followers have left the separatists groups. He and his followers pledged their allegiance towards Pakistan and established 'Overseas Pakistani Balochi Community' for the Baloch people living abroad. He stated that "sacrificed everything for a movement which turned out to be fundamentally faulty and empty from within". He state that BLF and Baloch freedom struggle was hijacked by India. Dr. Marri insists that India is behind the unrest in Balochistan. He disclosed that if India stops the money supplies, the insurgency will end the next day.[6]

Attacks[edit]

The group is responsible for attack on civilian, journalist, government officials and military personnel in Balochistan since it re-emerged in 2004. The group along with another terrorist group named Baloch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for killing 27 Journalists out of the total 38 journalists killed in Balochistan province since 2007.[10] Some other attacks for which group has claimed responsibility for are:

In August 2012, Reporters without borders announced that BBC’s Urdu service correspondent in Quetta Ayub Tareen has been threatened by the BLF for his perceived partisan reporting on the group's political activities.[11]

On early 27 July 2013, gunmen attacked a coastguard checkpost in Suntsar, Gwadar District. The attack was carried out by 24 armed gunmen which resulted in death of seven coast guards and injured seven others. Two injured coast guards were also kidnapped by the militants. Baluch Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack on the coastguard checkpost. BLF also stated that two of their militants were also killed in the attack.[12]

In 12 April 2015, 20 construction workers from Punjab and Sindh province were gunned down in Turbat by armed gunmen, which the BLF later claimed responsibility for. After the attack, the Home Minister of Balochistan, Sarfraz Bugti claimed that Indian intelligence agencies were involved in supporting the BLF in carrying out such attacks.[13] BLF claimed that the workers were members of Frontier Works Organization, which is a body linked to the Pakistani Army.[14]

On 16 November 2017, the bullet-riddled bodies of 15 migrants were discovered in the city of Turbat. Security officials state that while attempting to cross the border, the migrants were kidnapped by armed men who later killed them. The BLF later claimed responsibility for the murder of the 15 migrants.[15] The mastermind of the attack, Younas Taukali, was killed by Pakistani security forces in November 2017. Younas Taukali was one of the top eight commanders of Baluch Liberation Front.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Balochistan Liberation Front". Database of People with Extremist Linkages. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Baluch Liberation Front - Mapping Millitant Organisation". web.stanford.edu. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Security forces kill 'BLF commander involved' in Turbat massacre". Express Tribune. 17 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Three labourers gunned down in Balochistan". Pakistan Today. 14 May 2019.
  5. ^ "BBC correspondent in Quetta threatened by Baloch Liberation Front". Reporters Without Border (RSF). 1 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Baloch Separatist Leader Defects in Moscow, Blames India for Hijacking Struggle". Sputnik News. 23 February 2018. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018.
  7. ^ Paliwal, Avinash (2017). My Enemy's Enemy: India in Afghanistan from the Soviet Invasion to US Withdrawal. Oxford University Press. p. 38.
  8. ^ Phadnis, Phadni; Ganguly, Rajat (22 January 2001). Ethnicity and Nation-building in South Asia. Sage Publications India.
  9. ^ "Pakistan outraged at presence of Baloch activist in India". The Hindu. 9 October 2015.
  10. ^ "In Balochistan, Violence Continues to Target Journalists". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 9 October 2014.
  11. ^ BBC CORRESPONDENT IN QUETTA THREATENED BY BALOCH LIBERATION FRONT Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Reporters without borders, 1 August 2012
  12. ^ "Bloodshed in Gwadar: Gunmen storm Coast Guards check post". The Express Tribune. 28 July 2013.
  13. ^ "20 labourers gunned down in Turbat" Dawn, 12 April 2015
  14. ^ Diplomat, Karlos Zurutuza, The. "Understanding Pakistan's Baloch Insurgency". The Diplomat. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  15. ^ "15 men from Punjab found dead in Kech". The Express Tribune. 15 November 2017.