Separatist movements of Pakistan

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There are separatist movements in Pakistan which are based on ethnic and regional nationalism, including independence movements in Balawaristan,[1] Sindh, and Balochistan.[2] The government of Pakistan has attempted to crush these separatist movements.[1]


Pakistan was established in 1947 as a state for Muslims. The driving force behind the Pakistan Movement were the Muslims in the Muslim minority provinces of United Province and Bombay Presidency rather than the Muslims from the Muslim majority provinces.[3] Its formation was based on the basis of Islamic nationalism.

However, rampant corruption within the ranks of the government and bureaucracy, economic inequality between the country's two wings caused mainly by a lack of representative government and the government's indifference to the efforts of fierce ethno-nationalistic politicians like Mujeeb-ur-Rehman from East Pakistan, resulted in civil war in Pakistan and subsequent separation of East Pakistan as the new state of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.[citation needed]

In 2009, the Pew Research Center conducted a Global Attitudes survey across Pakistan, in which it questioned respondents whether they viewed their primary identity as Pakistani or that of their ethnicity. The sample covered an area representing 90% of the adult population, and included all major ethnic groups.[4] According to the findings, 96% of Punjabis identified themselves first as Pakistanis, as did 92% each of Pashtuns and Muhajirs; 55% of Sindhis chose a Pakistani identification, while 28% chose Sindhi and 16% selected "both equally"; whereas 58% of Baloch respondents chose Pakistani and 32% selected their ethnicity.[4] Collectively, 89% of the sample opted their primary identity as Pakistani.[4] Similarly in 2010, Chatham House conducted an opinion poll in the Pakistani and Indian-administered regions of Kashmir asking respondents if they favoured independence or an accession to either countries; in Azad Kashmir, 95% of respondents voted for all of Kashmir to accede to Pakistan, 4% voted for independence, and only 1% voted for accession to India.[5] In the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan, longstanding local sentiments oppose any merger of the area with Kashmir, and instead demand a constitutional integration with Pakistan.[6][7][8][9]


The Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) separatist group was founded by Jumma Khan Marri in 1964 in Damascus, and played an important role in the 1968-1980 insurgency in Pakistani Balochistan and Iranian Balochistan. Mir Hazar Ramkhani, the father of Jumma Khan Marri, took over the group in the 1980s. The Balochistan Liberation Army (also Baloch Liberation Army or Baluchistan Liberation army) (BLA) is a Baloch nationalist militant secessionist organization. However, Jumma Khan Marri ended his opposition and pledged allegiance to Pakistan on 17 February 2018.[10] The stated goals of the organization include the establishment of an independent state of Balochistan separate from Pakistan and Iran. The name Baloch Liberation Army first became public in summer 2000, after the organization claimed credit for a series of bomb attacks in markets and railways lines. The BLA has also claimed responsibility for the systematic ethnic genocide of Punjabis, Pashtuns and Sindhis in Balochistan (about 25,000 as of July 2010) as well as blowing up of gas pipelines.[11][12][13][14][15] Local Balochs have also been targeted by the separatist groups in the province.[16] Brahamdagh Khan Bugti, alleged leader of Baloch liberation army (BLA), also asked native Balochs to conduct ethnic cleansing of Non-Baloch citizens from the province.[17] In 2006, the BLA was declared to be a terrorist organization by the Pakistani and British governments.[18]

However, insurgency led by the Baloch separatist in the province is on its last leg. Baloch separatist have been losing their leaders and they have been unable to fill their ranks. Their is also a currently ongoing infighting between the different insurgents groups. The last insurgents leader, Balach Marri, was able to keep the different insurgents groups united. However, after his death in Afghanistan[19], infighting broke out between various insurgent groups. The insurgents were unable to replace him. Similarly, Baloch separatist follow Marxism. However, the Marxism ideology died across the world and there is no other ideologies to succeed it. So the founding father of Baloch separatist are dead.[20][21]

Similarly, support for Baloch separatist groups have also been reduced. Pakistan Baloch Unity (PBU) Organization held ceremony in Kholu district of Balochistan which was was once a strong hold of Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). The ceremony was attended by thousands of Balochs. The participants held Pro-Pakistani banners and raised Pro-Pakistani slogans.[22]


Sindhudesh (Sindhi: سنڌو ديش‎, literally "Sindhi Country") is an idea of a separate Homeland for Sindhis[23][24] proposed by Sindhi nationalist parties for the creation of a Sindhi state, which would be independent from Pakistan.[2][25] The movement is based in the Sindh region of Pakistan and was conceived by the Sindhi political leader G. M. Syed. A Sindhi literary movement emerged in 1967 under the leadership of Syed and Pir Ali Mohammed Rashdi, in opposition to the One Unit policy, the imposition of Urdu by the central government and to the presence of a large number of Muhajir (Indian Muslim refugees) settled in the province.[26]

Sindhi separatists totally reject the parliamentary way of struggle for getting freedom and rights.[27] Therefore, no Sindhi nationalist party has been ever voted into power in Sindh at any level of government.[28][29] Some nationalist parties and associations are banned for "terrorist, anti-state and sabotage" activities by the Pakistani government.[30] A Sindhudesh rally was organised in Karachi in March 2012, which had a notably low turnout,[31] followed by a freedom march by the pro-separatist Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) which, according to sources, gathered hundreds of thousands of people to demand independence for Sindhudesh.[2]

A strike called by the pro-separatist Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) on 25 January 2014, resulted in a complete strike in the province, excluding some areas of Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Matiari and Ghotki.[32] Sindhis feel that they are a separate and full-fledged nation, so they have been struggling for self-determination of Sindh.[33]

Sindh is the member of UNPO and its declared as Occupied & Unrecognized territory by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization and Sindh is represented in (UNPO) by the World Sindhi Congress.[34]

Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan[edit]

flag of Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement
Location of Gilgit-Baltistan

An independence movement currently exists in Gilgit-Baltistan (called "Balawaristan" by its supporters).[35]

The Pakistani government has tried to "crush ruthlessly" the separatist movement for a free Balawaristan.[1] Before the GBUM,[clarification needed] there was a Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance (GBNA), promoting the same claims, together with the Balawaristan National Front (claiming the independence of a larger political entity, Balawaristan).[36]

Sardar Arif Shahid, an activist wanting Azad Kashmiri to be free from Pakistani rule, was shot to death, an action his supporters allege "was a targeted killing by the state."[1] Within the area, "Custodial torture and intimidation of independence supporters and other activists" has occurred.[1]

Jinnahpur and Muhajir Sooba[edit]

Location of Karachi where the mujahir movement is mostly based

Jinnahpur refers to an alleged plot in Pakistan to form a breakaway autonomous state to serve as a homeland for the Karachi based Urdu-speaking Muhajir community.[37] Mohajirs are immigrants who came to Pakistan from India in the wake of the violence that followed the independence of Pakistan in 1947. The alleged name to be given to the proposed breakaway state was "Jinnahpur", named after Mohammed Ali Jinnah. In 1992, the Pakistani military claimed it had found maps of the proposed Jinnahpur state in the offices of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (now renamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement), despite the party's strong denial of the authenticity of the maps. Despite the party's strong commitment to the Pakistani state, at that time government of Nawaz Sharif chose to use it as the basis for the military operation against the MQM, known as Operation Clean-up.[38]

The Muhajir Sooba (literally meaning 'Immigrant Province') is a political movement which seeks to represent the Muhajir people of Sindh.[39][40] This concept floated as a political bargaining tool by the leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Altaf Hussain for the creation of a Muhajir province for the Muhajir-majority areas of Sindh, which would be independent from Sindh government.

The movement kickstarted a freedom campaign called #FreeKarachi after the murder of MQM leader Dr. Hasan Zafar Arif. Banners advocating the freedom of Karachi were placed on taxi cars in Washington, DC.[41]


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