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Pakistani Army losses mount in daring attacks by Baloch nationalists

Pakistani Army losses mount in daring attacks by Baloch nationalists

The mineral-rich Balochistan province of Pakistan has seen a spectacular rise in resistance against the Pakistani Army in April with the army losing a large number of soldiers, including officers.

At a time when the rest of the world was battling the deadly coronavirus, Pakistan was quietly intensifying military operations against the Baloch people who are fighting for independence from Pakistan. The intensified operations met with resistance as the Pakistani Army had to face a large number of casualties.

A worried Pakistani Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, spoke with his Iranian counterpart to discuss an attack on the Army in Balochistan that had killed six Pakistani personnel, including an officer, just a few days back.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which is spearheading the demand for independence, claimed responsibility for the blast. The six Pakistani Army soldiers died when their vehicle was blown up with an improvised explosive device just 14 km from the Iran border.

Beside the death of the Pakistani soldiers, the two generals also discussed drug smuggling as well as cross-border movement of various militant groups. Balochistan shares a porous border with Iran and Afghanistan—both of which are caught in deadly conflict.

Balochistan has been in news over the past few weeks for other reasons as well. <a href="https://indianarrative.com/world/body-of-missing-pakistani-journalist-found-in-sweden-1617.html"><strong>Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain</strong></a>, who had escaped Pakistan for writing on enforced disappearances, was found dead earlier this month in mysterious circumstances. Europe-based rights groups believe that Pakistan had a role in the scribe's death whose body was found in a Swedish river. In recent months, many Pakistani journalists have reportedly been threatened or beaten up in Europe.

In restive Balochistan, nearly five dozen Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives in the last three months alone. The role of the Army has come under severe criticism, as it has been accused of severe human rights violations, which also include abducting women and children. The Pakistani Army has raised local armed mercenaries called, death squads, which aid it in military operations. The death squads are staffed with local criminals and support the Pakistani Army in carrying out its agenda to crush the nationalists.

The Baloch people have held a long grudge against Pakistan for exploiting the region for its vast energy resources while simultaneously keeping the region poor and backward. The <a href="http://thebalochistanpoint.com/human-development-index-uncovering-where-balochistan-stands/"><strong>human development indicators</strong> </a>for Balochistan remain one of the lowest in Pakistan.

The condition of the Balochs worsened after China included the region for the development of its ambitious $64-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Fearing further marginalization, the Baloch nationalists began launching attacks on Chinese interests as well. At least three such attacks have been carried out on Chinese workers and engineers in recent months. These included an attack on a convoy of vehicles that was carrying Chinese engineers in April this year. The Pakistani media did not release the number of people killed in the attack, which was carried out at a time when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was visiting Balochistan.

The most daring resistance to the CPEC was shown when Baloch nationalists attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November 2018. In another major attack, the only five-star hotel in the port city of Gwadar was stormed by armed gunmen. A spokesperson for the BLA, Jeeyan Baloch, has threatened to continue such attacks till Pakistan and China cancel the contract related to Balochistan.

The Pakistani Army has been accused of forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and dumping bodies of young men across the land. It has also been accused of fomenting trouble by pitting different ethnic groups against each other. On their part, the Balochs have been running a six-decade long independence struggle against Pakistan.

The ham-handed activities by the Army have<a href="https://bharatshakti.in/pakistan-armys-atrocities-in-balochistan/"><strong> further fueled insurgency</strong></a> in the region while many Balochs have been raising the issue globally at human rights forums. Some of the prominent Baloch organizations putting pressure on Pakistan and seeking accountability for its army include the Baloch HR Council, the Baloch Voice Association, and the Baloch Republican Party..