“Only the Baloch sarmachars (freedom fighters) will decide if they want to hold dialogue or not, not the oppressive Pakistani state,” said Bashir Zeb, the chief of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to the Balochistan Post on Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “wish” to hold talks with “disgruntled extremists who are offering resistance in Balochistan”.
On July 5, Imran Khan, on a day long visit to the Gwadar Port–the starting point of the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said that he had always thought that when his party, the PTI , would come to power, the government would pay attention to Balochistan because the stability of Balochistan is deeply intertwined with peace in Pakistan. On Wednesday, Khan, in fact appointed Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti as his Special Assistant (SAPM) on Reconciliation and Harmony in Balochistan. Bugti is a grandson of former Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. His appointment is seen as an attempt to initiate dialogue with the ‘angry’ Baloch insurgents.
But according to the Balochistan Post, the separatist and pro-Independence leaders of Balochistan are not ready to participate in any talks initiated by the Imran Khan government.
“The moment we picked up arms, we put forward our conditions for a political settlement: the independence of Balochistan and the complete expulsion of the Pakistani troops from the Baloch soil, to reduce the loss of human lives. If Pakistani authorities are amenable to these conditions, we are ready for dialogue in the presence of an international mediator,” the BLA chief Bashir Zeb told Balochistan Post.
“The pro-independence fighters don’t care whether Imran Khan considers negotiations or not —only the Baloch sarmachars will decide if they want to hold dialogue or not, not the oppressive Pakistani state,” he asserted.
In 2018, all the separatist groups formed an umbrella organisation, BRAS or Baloch Raaji Aajohi e Sangar comprising four organisations, BLA, Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), BRA and BRG.
The Chief of BLF Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch said that the Pakistani government cannot be trusted. The Baloch freedom struggle has an established and very clear political strategy and that is the main reason behind its continuous success. “We are ready for a dialogue in the presence of the UNO, but only if the Pakistani state is compliant on our demand for an independent Balochistan and agrees to pull out its military from the Baloch land, otherwise the considerations for negotiations are simply preposterous,” the Post quoted him saying.
The mistrust between the Balochs and the successive governments and Pakistani military establishment has only grown wider with every facile promise, every sham election and every ‘development package’ that never delivered what it claimed to. And the stories of the missing Baloch add to the sense of historical injustice.
According to the Baloch leaders, China has increased their projects manifold, which include mass plundering of natural resources. China is seen as Pakistan’s accomplice in the “Baloch genocide” and there is no chance of negotiation with the Pakistan government without an involvement of a third party like the UN, Baloch leaders said.