Balochistan conflict

Balochistan conflict
Balochistan conflict
Frontier between Balochistan and Afghanistan before the Durand agreement of 1893.
Date In Pakistan, 1948 – present.
In Iran, 2003 – present
Location Balochistan
Result Ongoing
Pakistan Pakistan

Iran Iran[1]


Supported by:
Afghanistan Taliban[4][5]
Iran Mujahedin e-Kalq[6]
 United States (against Iran)[6]
 India (against Pakistan)[7]
 Iraq (in the 1980s against Iran)[6]

Commanders and leaders
Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan

Pakistan Ayub Khan
Pakistan Yahya Khan
Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Pakistan Tikka Khan
Pakistan Zia ul-Haq
Pakistan Rahimuddin Khan
Pakistan Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani
Pakistan Tariq Majid
Pakistan Khalid Wynne

Iran Ali Khamenei
Iran Mohammad Khatami
Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran Hassan Firouzabadi

Karim Khan (POW)

Nowroz Khan (POW)
Khair Bakhsh Marri
Balach Marri  
Akbar Bugti  
Brahamdagh Bugti[4]
Allah Nazar Baloch

Dad Shah
Abdolmalek Rigi (POW)
Abdolhamid Rigi (POW)
Muhammad Dhahir Baluch[8]

Pakistan Army: 50,000[9]

Pakistan Frontier Corps: 30,000[9]

Iran Military of Iran: unknown

BLA: 10,000[10]

Jundallah: 700[11]-2,000[12]

Casualties and losses

3,000-3,300 killed[13]
303+ killed[14]

 Iran: 154 killed (security forces and civilians)[15]
320 injured (security forces and civilians)[15]

Pakistan Rebels:

5,300 killed[13]
380+ killed[14]

Jundallah: unknown

~6,000 Pakistan civilians killed (1973-1977)[13]

1,628+ Pakistani civilians killed (2004-2009)[9][14]
~4,500 Arrested (2004-2005[9]
~140,000 Displaced(2004–2005)[9]

*The CIA backed a Baluchi tribal insurgency against Iran in the early 80s.[6] They are currently accused of supporting Jundullah.[16]

Note: Only the currently active insurgent groups are listed in the infobox

The Balochistan conflict is an ongoing conflict between Baloch nationalists and the Government of Pakistan over Balochistan, the country's largest province.[17] Recently, separatists have also clashed with Islamic Republic of Iran over its respective Baloch region, which borders Pakistan. Shortly after Pakistan's creation in 1947, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan had to subdue insurgents based in Kalat who rejected the King of Kalat decision to accede to Pakistan, reminiscent of the Indian Army's operation in the Principality state of Hyderabad . The movement gained momentum during the 1960s, and amid consistent political disorder, the government ordered a military operation into the region in 1973, assisted by Iran, and inflicted heavy casualties on the separatists. The movement was largely quelled after the imposition of martial law in 1977, after Pakistan experienced an Economic Boom and Baluchistan witnessed significant development . After insurgency groups again mushroomed in the 1990s and 2000s, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the war in North-West Pakistan exacerbated the conflict, most recently manifested in the killings of non-Baloch settlers in the province by separatists since 2006.


Area of dispute

Distribution of Balochs is marked in pink.

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.[18]

Main characters

There are four distinct parties involved and affected by this conflict:

  • Central government of Pakistan (since 1948)
  • Government of Iran (since 2003)
  • People of the Iranian region
  • Sardars (Tribal chiefs)of Pakistani region

First conflict 1948 (led by Prince Abdul Karim Khan)

In April 1948, Baloch nationalists claim that the central government sent the Pakistan army, which allegedly forced Mir Ahmed Yar Khan to give up his state, Kalat. Kalat was a landlocked British protectorate that comprised roughly 22%–23% of Balochistan. Mir Ahmed Yar Khan signed an accession agreement ending Kalat's de facto independence. His brother, Prince Abdul Karim Khan, was a powerful governor of a section of Kalat, a position that he was removed from after accession. He decided to initiate an insurgency against Pakistan.[19] On the night of May 16, 1948 Prince Abdul Karim Khan initiated a separatist movement against the Pakistani government. He conducted guerrilla warfare based in Afghanistan against the Pakistan army.[20]

Second conflict 1958–59 (led by Nawab Nowroz Khan)

Nawab Nowroz Khan took up arms in resistance to the One Unit policy, which decreased government represenation 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.[21]

Third conflict 1963–69 (led by Nawab Khair Baksh marri)

After the second conflict, the Federal government sent the Army to build new military bases in the key conflict areas of Balochistan in order to resist further chaos. Nawab Khair Baksh marri appointed an unknow shero marri to lead like-minded militants in 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.[22] 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 (led by Nawab Khair Baksh Marri)

Citing treason, President Bhutto dismissed the provincial governments of Balochistan and NWFP and imposed martial law in those provinces.[23] 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.[24] 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.[13]

Fifth conflict 2004 – to date (led by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri)

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.[25] On 15 December 2005, Inspector-General of Frontier Corps Maj Gen Shujaat Zamir Dar and his deputy Brig Salim Nawaz (the current IGFC) were wounded after shots were fired at their helicopter in 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) south-east of Quetta, when their aircraft came under fire. The helicopter landed safely.[26]

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 the President Pervez Musharraf.[27]

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 use of intelligence forces in front of their lawyer and neighboring shopkeepers."The gunmen were allegedly speaking in Persian (a national language of neighboring Afghanistan and Iran) Five days later on April 8 their bodies, "riddled with bullets" were found in a commercial area.The BLA claims 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.[28] The discovery of the bodies sparked "rioting and weeks of strikes, demonstrations and civil resistance" in cities and towns around Balochistan.[29] (See Turbat killings).

On August 12, 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", as well as Pakistani Balochistan, but does not include Afghani Baloch regions,and the Council contains "all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti." He claims that "the UK had a moral responsibility to raise the issue of Balochistan’s illegal occupation at international level."[30]

Alleged Foreign Support for Baluch rebels

Pakistan has repeatedly accused India, and occasionally the U.S., of supporting the Baluch rebels in order to destabilize the country and claiming undeniable evidence.[31][32] India has categorically denied the allegations, pointing to a lack of concrete evidence.[32] Iran asserts that the U.S. provides Jundullah support. Captured Jundullah leader Abdulmalek Rigi confirmed the allegations, though the U.S. government continues to deny providing assistance to Jundullah.[16] Neutral observers[who?] have noted that the Baloch nationalist groups are poorly-trained in military tactics and strategy, and are currently outgunned by the Pakistani state. The groups are mainly armed with small non-automatic weapons and AK-47s, which are widely available in Pakistan, and they are not skilled at using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The poor state of the force's organization and equipment would seem to indicate that any external support is minimal.

Baluchi rebels in Pakistan are said to receive significant support from the Taliban in Afghanistan.[5][33] In the 1980s the CIA, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, Pakistani Sunni extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and the Mujahedin e-Kalq all supported a Baluchi tribal uprising against Iran.[6]. Pakistan has also accused India of giving citizenship to a senior Baluch Separatist[who?].

Selig S. Harrison of the George Soros-funded Center for International Policy has called for dividing Pakistan and supporting an independent Baluch province as a means of weakening any alliance between Islamabad and Beijing. Relations between the two countries have warmed, with Pakistan granting China access to a naval base at Gwadar.[34] Similar views have been promoted by Ralph Peters, a strategic affairs analyst, former U.S. Army officer, and an expert on the Middle East and the Islamic world.

The biggest attacks of the terrorist group 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.[35]

Economic Effects and Shortage of Skilled Workers

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" [36]

Development and Human Rights Issues

The Government of Pakistan has repeatedly stated its intention to bring industrialization 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.[37] 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.[38][39][40] 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.[41]

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.[42] In response in 2011 Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced a further Rs. 120 billion ($2.5 USD) under Balochistan gas development surcharge and royalty part of the "Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan" package[43] The royalties often do not trickle down to the common people in Balochistan due to corruption and welath-hoarding of Baloch tribal chiefs. This has hindered the growth of infrastructure.

Multiculturalism and immigration

Skill is imported from other regions, due to shortage of skilled workers in the region. The arrival of skilled workers means new industries can develop and boost the local economy however nationalist argue that this creates resentment amongst the local inhabitants. Previously,Sindhi people had been the indigenous people of the city Karachi in Sindh but after migration from Balouchistan, Central Asia, Iran, East Asia and particularly India, large number of immigrants were settled in Karachi [44] 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 organizations have openly called for India's assistance in Balochistan's separation from Pakistan. On August 12, 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 fron Pakistani Balochistan,but does not include Afghani Baloch regions,and the Council contains "all separatist leaders including Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti.".[45]

Supreme Court Investigation into Balochistan

There are more than 5,000 cases of ‘forced disappearances’ in Balochistan.[46][47] The chief Justice of an apex court of Pakistan asked about the situation and said situation was going out of control in Balochistan.[46][47].The Supreme Court is currently investigation the missing persons and issued an arrest warrant for the former president Pervez Musharaff

See also

  • List of wars 2003-current


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