Dr Allah Nizar Baloch, the leader of Baluchistan Liberation Front, who is fighting for an independent Baluchistan and is among the most wanted men by Pak Army

Dr Allah Nizar Baloch, who heads the Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF), the oldest organization that was formed in 1964 and is fighting for an independent Baluchistan, is among the most wanted men by the Pakistan Army, which is spending huge amounts to locate him as his organization has been blamed by China for not letting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) attain its objectives.

Baloch, also called the “Che Guevara” of Pakistan, along-with Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) chief, Aslam Baloch, formed the BRAS aka Baloch Nation Liberation Coalition, which is an umbrella organisation of at least four ethnic separatist groups in Baluchistan and the Sindh province of Pakistan, in November 2018. As per sources, he is leading the BRAS now.

Baloch spoke to The Sunday Guardian on the genesis of the demand of an independent Baluchistan, on the talk of cooperation between BRAS and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the role played by these groups in frustrating Pakistan-China attempt to monetise CPEC projects.

Q. Why don”t you and other individuals and groups (political and armed) that are fighting for a separate Baluchistan accept the rule of Pakistan? Is it not true that Khan Mir Ahmad Yar Khan Ahmedzai, the last king of Kalat, had signed a legal document to join Pakistan in March 1948?

A. First I want to clear it that Baloch national movement is an independence movement, so painting it as a separatist one is incorrect.

After a long nerve racking marathon of conspiracies, inducements, pressures and aggression, the Khan of Kalat was forced by Pakistan to sign the instrument of accession on March 27, 1948 but his country’s more than 75%, including the British Baluchistan, the Makkoran, the Lasbela, the Kharan had already been invaded and illegally occupied by Pakistan before the Khan’s signing of the instrument of accession.

The Khan has written in his autobiography that he had explained to Mr Muhhamad Ali Jinnah in a meeting with him at Dhadar that he wasn’t legally, constitutionally, traditionally and morally authorized to sign the accession papers, because he wasn’t a monarch, instead he was heading a system based on Baloch traditions and democratic norms which bound the Khanate to the will of the people, expressed by a national council comprising of the notable chieftains.

After independence in August 1947, the Khan Mir Ahmed Yar Khan had updated the governing system of the country by introducing a written Constitution bringing the system in line with modern democratic norms.

He had established a parliament comprising two houses i.e the Darul Umara (the house of lords that consisted of the tribal chieftains) and Darul Awam (the lower houses consisting of the elected representatives). The both houses of the Kalat Parliament had rejected the proposal for accession to Pakistan. That is why Baloch people, under the leadership of Khan’s younger brother Agha Abdul Kareem Baloch revolted and resisted Pakistan’s forcible occupation of Kalat, Baluchistan in the very beginning. Today’s independence struggle is a continuation of the movement that commenced in 1948 soon after the invasion of Baluchistan.

In fact Britain, in the context of the Cold-War, wanted its presence in the region by a vassal/client state to protect its interests in the region, and the creation of Pakistan was thought to be the best way to accomplish that goal.

So, Britain created Pakistan, handed it over to its loyalists consisting of a bunch of different elements including the India’s Muslim elite under the banner of Muslim League, the loyal and tamed regiments of the British India’s colonial Army and colonial civil services.

Due to Baluchistan’s geo-strategic importance, the British authorities had planned to incorporate it into Pakistan. The process of forcible merger of Baluchistan had begun on 29 June 1947 when a British serviceman had illegally announced the British Baluchistan province’s accession to Pakistan. That promulgation was made by ignoring international law and the will of the people. It’s worthy to mention here that the chieftains of the Leghari, the Marri, the Bugti and the Sanjarani Baloch tribes had written letters to the British authorities expressing their wishing to rejoin their Baloch brethren in Kalat Baluchistan.

Ignoring Kalat state’s request to the Commonwealth for arms and ammunition manifested another deliberate act of the British government aiming to facilitate Pakistan’s invasion of Baluchistan.

When the sovereign Baluchistan’s Kalat parliament rejected the proposal for the accession to Pakistan, then Pakistan’s authorities resorted to bare aggression. Pakistan’s foreign ministry had illegally announced the annexation of Kalat’s provinces of Lasbella, Kharan and districts of Makkuran to Pakistan on 17 March 1947. Forcing Mir Ahmed Yar Khan on 27 March 1948 for signing the instrument of accession was the last blow to the centuries old independence of Baluchistan that laid down the basis of Baloch armed resistance against Pakistan.

In view of the above mentioned facts it’s very clear that Khan Ahmed Yar’s signature was taken by force. It lacked the free will of the Baloch people, the legal and moral requisites. So Baluchistan was forcibly occupied. It can’t be termed as a legal and legitimate accession to Pakistan. Why don’t we accept Pakistan’s rule? Answer lies in the reasoning that led all the colonies to independence from colonial rule.

Q. Pakistan and China see the Baloch armed groups as terrorist groups. The United States too banned one such organization, the BLA in 2019. The UK too had banned it in 2006. Considering the attacks on military and civilian entities in and around Baluchistan that has been carried out by those groups who seek a separate Baluchistan, is it not correct to call them “terror groups”?

A. It’s a sad characteristic of the prevalent nation state system that heroes of a nation are usually deemed as villains by the rival or enemy nations. However, Baloch armed struggle is in accordance with international law and traditions, the United Nations (UN) charter and resolutions regarding the independence movement against colonialism. The Baloch people see the Baloch armed organizations as saviours and give them high esteem by calling them “Sarmachaar” which means “freedom fighters”.

Governments see things with the prisms of their so-called national interest. Most of the leaders of the freedom movements around the globe have at some point of their struggle been termed as terrorists by the various governments. At one time, the great Nelson Mandela was also called a terrorist by the authorities of the USA and many other governments. So it’s not a matter of concern for us on what others call us.

Q. Observers based in Pakistan and in other Western countries contend that the multiple Baloch armed organizations are mostly “small groups” which have no traction or following on the ground among the people they claim to represent. How would you respond to this observation?

A. What are their sources of information for such observations? If any observers have doubts about Baloch peoples’ support for freedom fighters, they should visit occupied Baluchistan, meet and interview the masses in a safe and free atmosphere.

Despite Pakistan’s savage military operations, repressive policies of enforced disappearance, kill and dump, erecting proxy militias against the freedom movement, the survival and continuing armed operations of the freedom fighters is enough to nullify such unfounded observations.

Q. Apart from your “achievement” in context of carrying out the attacks against Pakistan military which the groups regularly share publicly, the other claims that you make is that you have ensured that the Chinese backed CPEC projects, which you say exploit the people of Baluchistan, has not taken off due to the resistance of the Baloch separatists. Is not that a tall claim to make?

A. On 22 May 2013, when China and Pakistan established the Economic Corridor, the CPEC, estimated at US dollars 47 billion, it was planned to be completed by 2018. It’s now 2022 and still it’s far from completion. It’s only Baloch armed resistance that has stood firmly in the way of this exploitative colonial scheme. Now both Pakistan’s Punjabi political elite and Army publicly acknowledge the failure of the CPEC while blaming each other for the failure. So our claims regarding the failure of the CPEC can’t be termed as an exaggeration.

Q. Is it not true that Baloch separatism or “revolution” movement as you call it is composed of multiple groups, all trying to emerge as the most “genuine” voice of the Balochs which has ensured infighting among each other? As an outside observer, how does one decide which organization or group is the genuine one that is connected to the people on the ground?

A. It’s true that there are multiple armed organizations fighting against Pakistan’s colonial occupation of Baluchistan. However, there is no infighting among them.

All of them are struggling for a common cause, that is the independence of Baluchistan. The most active armed organizations, the BLF, the BLA (J) and the BRG have formed an alliance named BRAS in 2018. It’s easy for outside observers to find which are the most genuine organizations that are connected to the people on ground . One way is to monitor their activities, not their claims.

Q. How many armed men and women do the Baloch armed groups have? How do they function? Do they follow any hierarchical system? Who decides what they will do?

A. The Baloch armed organizations have enough freedom fighters to chase their goal of independence. Nevertheless, it would be unwise for them to disclose the real strength of their members, their organizational structure and command and control systems. Their consistent fighting against Pakistan’s occupation is enough to show their strength, their institutions and discipline.

Q. Pakistan based media, quoting local intelligence agencies, have reported that the Baloch groups are working in close coordination with other armed groups, especially the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Is this true? And if yes then when was this alliance formed? And how do you respond to the argument that while TTP is fighting for establishment of Shariah, your objective is totally different, that of a separate Baluchistan?

A. The goals of Baloch independence movement and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have no nexus. The fighting grounds of both are separate and far from each other. However, both, the Baloch and the TTP are fighting against a common enemy, that’s Pakistan and its hypocrite Army, so naturally the armed resistance of both the groups support each other by dividing the attention of the enemy and its military strength, which Pakistan’s dishonest media, observers and intelligence portray as “coordination”.

Q. India, all through these years, through action and words, has made it absolutely clear that contrary to Pakistan’s claim, it has never interfered in what is happening in Baluchistan nor it intends to in the near future even though it sympathises with the horrors that the people of Baluchistan are facing, including forced disappearances and encounter killings. Are you disappointed with India’s stance? Or you never expected any such kind of help from India?

A. By spreading such false propaganda of blaming India for Baluchistan’s freedom struggle, Pakistan aims at multiple goals including the portraying of the genuine indigenous Baloch freedom movement as a proxy war against Pakistan and thereby demeaning its genuineness, secondly to cover up Pakistan’s policy of sponsoring terrorism against India and Afghanistan, and thirdly to gain public support among the Punjabi masses for its savagely military actions, war crimes and gross human rights abuses in occupied Baluchistan

As far as our expectations are concerned, we obviously expect India, Afghanistan, Iran and neighbouring Arab countries in particular and UN and the great powers of the world to take action against Pakistan for its crimes in occupied Baluchistan and help the Baloch struggle for independence, as in view of the prevalent nation state system, Baluchistan’s independence is a legitimate and lawful goal.